27 June 2018
The Question of Tamil Leadership
Yesterday, in response to my article ‘Judicial King or Political Indian – Who is speaking?’ (at http://austms.blogspot.com.au/ Tamil leader from Europe referred me to the article headed ‘Brother Prabhakaran is always the leader of Tamils – Sampanthan’ published by Canada Mirror – at http://www.canadamirror.com/srilanka/04/131284
My response to the above went as follows:
‘I do not know of anyone in North or East who have expressed their belief that VP is their mentor / leader. There are those who admire VP for his skills. But mentoring requires deep common faith. CVW who was groomed in a different environment has a duty to THAT group. There needs to be separation of powers between armed rebels and official politicians who are officially an arm of the government. Neither Mr Sampanthan nor Mr Wigneswaran has the authority to indiscriminately mix the two. I maintained that separation when helping the LTTE set up democratic civil administration. I needed to not think of armed resistance and I did not. That is because like Gandhi I used the path of peaceful assembly – here in Australia and was sent to prison for it. But then that is not of value to the likes of you. That does not mean that there are no heirs to this heritage.’
Another reader responded as follows:
‘Wigneswaran has been and still is my biggest disappointment. He has in fact disgraced his position as a retired Supreme Court judge and has failed miserably as CM of the NP. He belongs to the garbage of Jaffna - this could be the reason why he has not organised the collection and disposal of the garbage of the province he is in charge of!’
The most mature expression of appreciation of my work went as follows:
‘Great and a refreshing piece that could see Prabakaran in an objective manner.’
The Canadian report distorted Mr Sampanthan’s words and it qualifies to be listed as cheap news. As per their own report, Mr Sampanthan said words to the effect ‘The Liberation Tigers also have a share in TNA.’ There is a huge difference between being a shareholder and being managing director. At Kilinochchi where the Liberation Tigers had their headquarters, Mr Samapanthan was inclusive of them and rightly so. The People of Kilinochchi needed it. But that does not mean that Kilinochchi is the capital of Northern Province.
We need to have our own structures as per our true experiences to prevent such distorted reports from infecting our brain and causing mental disorders.
The separation risk between TNA led by ITAK and Mr Wigneswaran is nothing new. Deeper search informs us that Mr Wigneswaran is supported by Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam – the grandson of the founder of Tamil Congress - the Hon G.G.Ponnambalam. Tamil Congress and ITAK were the leading opposing parties over a long time. If they were united we would fail as a Democracy – just as the Sinhalese did.
In his interview through SBS radio here in Australia, Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam did confirm his stronger consciousness of global influence than most other Tamil Politicians known to me. But in terms of votes in 2018 Local Government Elections, Tamil Congress won only about a quarter of the votes won by ITAK – confirming that the People believed in ITAK much more than they did in Tamil Congress – despite Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam referring to Prabhakaran as Thesiya Thalaivar / National Leader. Those driven by outcomes tend to hijack popular labels. But the ordinary people who have suffered due to the war – would vote against another war and therefore against a group that claims to be led by armed rebels.
To my mind, Tamil Congress in Northern Province is the parallel of TNA in National Parliament. So long as one feels for the victims of war, that Truth would naturally support the party that represents that person at the common level – be it national or global. On True basis – that is how self-governance is achieved including through majority vote. During his interview with SBS, Mr Ponnambalam did demonstrate that the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which brought about the formation of Provincial Governments, was to him not a significant achievement in Tamil Politics. To the extent Mr Wigneswaran relies on Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam – he would dilute his own power as Chief Minister of a Tamil Province. On the other hand, as intellectuals, together they would be healthy opposition to TNA in Northern Province – and particularly in Jaffna – the intellectual capital of Northern Province. The 2018 Local Government elections have also confirmed this – that the Jaffna voter is more intellectually driven relative to the Kilinochchi voter.
When our mind is steady, Truth precedes knowledge. Those who have had the bitter experience of armed war would reject the leadership of Liberation Tigers but due to them being part of ourselves – the individuals would be ‘included’ – as Mr Samapanthan did and I also do in my circles. Unless Prabhakaran was led by Truth I would never accept him as People’s leader of Jaffna. Even in Prabhakaran’s home electorate of Valvettithurai, Tamil Congress achieved only half of ITAK’s votes. The other armed group EPDP came close behind Tamil Congress – confirming that the people of Valvettithurai are strongly driven by armed fight. They would elect an armed fighter and that must be respected and included by the intellectual leader. But that alone does not make Northern Province and certainly will NOT lead Tamils towards self-governance. The emotionally driven armed fighter often indulges in excesses and crosses the border between defence and invasion – as Liberation Tigers did for which the civilian Tamils paid the price.
In his Daily Mirror article ‘TNA set to split as elections approach’ Mr P.K.Balachandran states ‘While the Sampanthan faction has been busy with the process of drafting a new Sri Lankan constitution and taking up Tamil issues in parliament, Wigneswaran and his cohorts have kept debunking these efforts as a farce.’
So long as TNA is conscious of its inheritance from Genuine Political leaders of Sri Lanka – they need not need popular votes to endorse their work. Mr Wigneswaran on the other hand abandoned his inheritance in Common Judiciary of Sri Lanka and has demoted his investment to be popular in Northern Province. Once we demote inheritance to ‘outcomes’ level – we demote our own status. To become an independent politician Mr Wigneswaran needed to renounce his benefits from Judiciary – as Murugan did in the Hindu Mango legend. If on the other hand he needed to stay close to his parents/ancestors in Politics – because like Ganesh he also cannot run as fast as young Sumanthiran – he ought to rely on the wisdom of elders in the party.
True separation is healthy – so long as both sides have contributed equally – one intellectually and the other by actively doing the ground work. The former, if genuine has the opportunity to lead Sri Lanka intellectually. But the moment they want both – they are sent to their lower positions during election time by true voters – who ultimately drive the electorate from within.