13 October 2020
I am a Jaffna Tamil
When we are self-governing, we automatically identify with or oppose statements about us. There were parts of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution that I automatically opposed. When we so oppose we prevent dilution of our own investment in a different form of governance.
My opposition included the repeal of the changes through the 19th Amendment to limit the immunity of the President. I highlighted my feelings on this through my article ‘Governance Power v Executive Power’ on 10 October. I was happy to note the following in the Ceylon Today report ‘Four Clauses in 20A require Referendum’:
[The Supreme Court has also recommended that the immunity conferred on the President should be subjected to restrictions and a challenge by way of a Fundamental Rights application against an official act rendered permissible.
The Apex Court has informed that if total immunity were to be granted to the President, then that should only be accorded to him after seeking approval from a public referendum.]
This confirmed to me that my mind structure was more in common with the Sri Lankan Judiciary than with the current Government. I accept that there are others to whom the Government would be more common than the Judiciary. When we are common, we feel supported from within.
On that basis, I opposed those Tamils who are taking credit on the basis of Mr Wigneswaran’s claim in parliament which has been rendered importance by Professor Kumar David under the heading ‘Wiggy May Outwit GR-MR & TNA: Tamil Buddhism & Oldness Of Sinhala Lingo Are Beside The Point’
Given that Mr Wigneswaran was Chief Minister of Northern Province, the lack of respect demonstrated by referring to him as ‘Wiggy’ , confirms Mr Kumar David’s own lack of self-respect. It is an insult to the Faculty of Engineering , Peradeniya University, where my husband’s age group were his students. Protocols are important pathways through which we respect our origins.
But some Tamil Diaspora leaders were ready to take the crumbs that Kumar David was throwing around. One wrote:
[Prof. Kumar David's article on Justice C.V Wigneswaran and Tamil politics is interesting and timely. He supports the truth of what Wignes expounded on Tamils being the original inhabitants of SL with what other historians wrote. He dumps TNA's leadership wisdom. Please read on.]
My response was ‘Claiming status on this basis is the vertical parallel of claiming superior status through majority. Both are false’
Interestingly, Dr Subramanian Swami, who seems pro-Rajapaksas has opposed Mr Wigneswaran through his claim on 08 October 2020 in Voice of Asia interview – that Northern Lankan Tamils are actually descendants of Malayalees and that Hill country Tamils were the descendants of Indian Tamils!
When I first went to Kerala in the 90’s I was struck by the commonness in culture – the fences and food were very much like in Jaffna. Not that it matters to me, except in relation to claims such as those made by Mr Wigneswaran whose LTTE Thambi referred to Indian Tamil MG Ramachandran as ‘Anna’. Those who live off the autocratic past – would live off others in democracy. Those who are not bound to us by belief – are ‘others’.
My strength as a person of Jaffna origin – is based on my intellectual development through Missionary school as well as Hindu culture which has always responded to my call when in need. I feel soul-satisfaction to provide at least the parallel of the structure that supported me to develop this belief. If Mr Wigneswaran was likewise appreciative of the Judicial structure – that supported him in his professional life – he would have spoken about the importance of Law instead of trying to claim credit through Tamil language. This could have begun with merging Thesawalamai law applicable to Jaffna Tamils with Common law – wherever current Jaffna culture has fundamentally changed to democracy.
True heritages lead us. When we actively take current benefits out of the heritage, we lose the support of heritage values. Tamil Poet Subramaniya Bharathi, referred to Ceylon as Singala Theevu / Sinhala Island. Poet Bharathi was activist in the Independence Movement. His weapons were his poems.
If I am a self-governing Sri Lankan – including through Tamil Hindu culture – I have every right to live by that culture. Thus far, in Sri Lanka, I have never been prevented from doing so. I have in fact been accepted by many Sinhalese – especially at the workplaces- as their senior . I need to share that as my common heritage. It’s a slow path – but is sure and most reliable.