10 May 2020
Our Sovereignty & Freedom of Expression
A Tamil Diaspora coordinator referred us to Malinda Seneviratne’s article ‘Sovereignty cannot reside in a dead Parliament’. My own work directed me to Athiyan Silva’s article ‘Tamil National Alliance backs Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse regime on COVID-19’ – published by World Socialist Website. To my mind both are Sinhalese authors but there is a huge difference between the two. Athiyan Silva’s work is seriously lacking in belief. It confirms collusion with Tamils against TNA and therefore against Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka. When one seeks separation – but in mind, depends on the mistakes of the other side that one seeks to separate from - one automatically demotes oneself to frivolous and vexations expressions.
Mr Silva states ‘The TNA held a closed-door meeting on Monday with Mahinda Rajapakse, the former president, current prime minister and brother of the current president. He is despised for overseeing the massacre of defenceless Tamil civilians and defeated fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the final days of the 1983-2009 Sri Lankan Civil War.’
Despised by whom? Tamils – NO. Tamils defeated him politically in the 2015 elections. It was TNA – under the leadership of Mr Sampanthan who joined forces with Sinhalese victims to defeat Mr Rajapaksa. Pain integrated the two at that level. Later in 2018 – the intellectuals amongst Tamils empowered the UNP to oppose Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I believe that my true contribution went towards mind merger at that level. In 2019 – Tamils and Muslims voted against Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa but the UNP was not united enough to represent this merged power. Then also my prayers were with the UNP which stays there to strengthen even in defeat. The way it worked out – UNP would have been seriously demoted by the Sinhalese voters if the they had won the Presidential elections during the Coronavirus pandemic when all nations are facing economic downturns. From time to time we lose to win in a bigger way at a later time. But every unit of true contribution never dies. It mutates beyond our consciousness.
A part of the Tamil civilian pain was caused by the LTTE during the 1983-2009 period. Every person who is forcefully cheated out of her/his enjoyment of her/his true contribution to the Common system produces heirs who would carry that value and manifest it to negate the contribution by the heirs of those who so cheated. When the LTTE submitted to the money power of Tamil Nadu they lost the blessings of Sovereignty of all Tamils who worked with the Sri Lankan resources they had. One who loses the blessings of ancestors has the duty to start from zero base. LTTE hijacked the political agenda after it ‘saw’ the manifested power of democratic Tamils – in 1977. From then on – they were limited to their own sovereign powers which did not cover the whole. By exceeding that real power – in their expressions – they diluted the Sovereign power of the whole community. To the extent LTTE became the media of those affected – directly by the Sri Lankan Government – they were empowered by Sovereignty. But by killing Tamil politicians they diluted that power to manifest in a democratic environment. Otherwise instead of Mr Wigneswaran – Mrs Ananthi Sasitharan would have become the Chief Minister of Northern Province.
In his article ‘National Leadership Of R. Sampanthan’ published by Colombo Telegraph, Mr Harsha Gunasena highlights this as follows:
[It was Sampanthan who brought Vigneswaran to Presidential Secretariat to take oath as the Chief Minister although it could have been done in Jaffna. The government at that time grossly ignored these political messages. ]
Mr Wigneswaran acted as Sri Lankan when he was in Colombo. We have since learnt that a Sri Lankan Tamil can fit leadership position in Jaffna only if s/he were already independent and sovereign in the previous environment. Otherwise their truth manifests in the new environment that is foreign to them. Mr Wigneswaran revealed that he was living in his past by taking senior positions with National level politicians. That is like a retired Chief Justice taking senior position over the current National President. We all have the authority to express as per our sovereignty. Officially no one has the authority to enforce beyond position power.
[Rajapakse is so hated that in the 2019 presidential elections, the TNA felt compelled to call for a vote for the right-wing United National Party (UNP) candidate, Sajith Premadasa, against him. This is because under Mahinda Rajapakse, there was a wave of abductions in white vans of opponents of the war, both Sinhalese and Tamil, who were murdered. So last year, the TNA called for a vote against Rajapakse, saying no one should vote for a dictator. This week, however, Sumanthiran and other TNA officials met with him and then demanded that the population submit to his will.]
TNA did not submit to the Rajapaksas. TNA exercised its sovereign powers independent of the official opposition. They did so on behalf of Tamils who seek to be part of Sri Lanka – not as juniors to either side but as independents.
Malinda in his article ‘’ quotes:
[Political theorist John Dunn, drawing from John Lock’s ‘Two Treatises of Government,’ points out that ‘it is impossible to foresee and so by laws provide for all accidents and necessities that may concern the public.’ Therefore, he argues, ‘there is a latitude left for the Executive Power to do many things of choice which the laws do not prescribe.’]
The two treaties to my mind are –
(1) The one made with the People on the basis of promises during election time
(2) The one made with ancestors of the Parliament on the basis of the structure specified in the Constitution.
Just because the current Parliament is dissolved – does not mean that the Parliament is dead. The souls of all those who contributed to the Sovereignty of the Parliament live in that parliament. To the extent the current constitution spells out that structure – it is the bible. Those who abide by that constitution including through genuine discussions and debate as well as through Judicial involvement – invoke the power of those souls. Hence I conclude that so long as there is even one such active participant – the Parliament is not dead. Also Sovereignty resides beyond the bodies of the current custodians of Parliamentary power.
Malinda goes on to present as follows about the judicial challenges against the current government:
“Interestingly, these constitution-fixated petitioners have found nothing wrong in citing the Covid-19 pandemic in their plea. Constitutions don’t provide caveats for exceptional and clearly unpredictable circumstances such as pandemics. Nevertheless, they lament (see for example the petition submitted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives) that the President dissolved Parliament ‘despite the fact that Covid-19 was spreading across the world, and Sri Lanka too was taking steps to combat it.’ They know now (if they did not know then) that the one irrefutable truth of the circumstances created by Covid-19 is that we did not know yesterday what we know today (and obviously, what we know today may very well be falsified by what we know tomorrow).”
No, we did not know that the pandemic was going to come. But to the extent those who genuinely suffered due to the lawlessness in the war and believed that this government was responsible – intuitively expressed that by voting against the government. In terms of deaths – the war was far more damaging than the pandemic. We do not know the scientific causes of the pandemic nor the lawful logic of the war. One who did not question the exercise of authority during the war has no moral authority to defend the exercise of extrajudicial powers by parliamentarians. One driven by belief would confirm consistency.