24 December 2020
TAMIL DIASPORA’S ROLE IN SRI LANKA
My attention was drawn by Yoga Joseph, to the following news by Jekhan Aruliah:
‘What the Diaspora can do for Sri Lanka: Chris Ponnadurai, Jetwing Jaffna’s founding General Manager’
Jekhan opens the subject matter as follows:
[An appreciation on the retirement of a man who fled Sri Lanka’s communal riots in 1984 to settle in Australia, and returned three decades later in 2015 to setup Jaffna’s first luxury hotel. Devoting five years of his life as the hands-on General Manager of Jetwing Jaffna.]
Chris is about the same age as I and during my stays at Jetwing I did have the opportunity to interact with him. I was impressed by Christopher’s commitment to training staff from zero base. To some extent we could say that the base was negative due to the folks in Jaffna having to pick up from the leftovers of their predecessors, in civilian activities. The civil mind structures in Jaffna were seriously damaged not only by the war but also by welfare handouts through which members of the Diaspora ‘bought’ status.
I identified with the challenges that Chris would face, through my own in Vaddukoddai. In my case, I am not answerable to others but I did not have the corporate backing either. This however, helped me identify with the common truth in that environment which carries the Vaddukoddai Resolution Heritage which is more or less forgotten by most of the Tamil Diaspora. That is our reality.
Most members of the Tamil Diaspora take the Rajapaksa government as their enemy. Yet when Joe Biden says ‘We may be opponents — but we are not enemies’ they are in total agreement! To my mind, when we believe in the whole in common but from different angles we are opponents. Ethically speaking, if we consider the other side as enemies – we have no authority to participate in developing common solution.
This kind of attitude has resulted in internal divisions within the Tamil Diaspora. The most recent one that came to my notice was Global Tamil Forum which was being questioned through the petition : “GTF: Where are your 14 Tamil Organizations?”.
As opposed to that we as customers of merged entities such as Jetwing have promoted employment opportunities of global standards.
All Tamil Political leaders in National Parliament and their supporters can no longer claim the government to be enemy but be conscious that they are opponents through different forms of belief. We do have un-reconcilable differences but our common need is stronger than our differences. When members of the Diaspora act as if we are totally separated our claims become false.
Contributions of Human Resources by the likes of Chris confirm that we are more productive as competitors than as enemies. While many members of the Tamil Diaspora cannot afford to go in person to war affected areas, they contribute to projects that promote sharing of resources including at policy level. Jetwing has facilitated this kind of sharing of corporate wisdom and they are also to be commended for their contribution to post-war development at policy level. In Sri Lanka, Development of Sovereign powers is more comfortably achieved through business enterprises than through politics without belief in the whole.
Jetwing Jaffna and Northgate by Jetwing in Jaffna are like home to me. They are situated in the local neighbourhood that I grew up in. Many members of the staff are like family. Ragavan (who is in the picture) in particular has continuously demonstrated respect for me also as his mentor - confirming the reach of the Energy of our genuine service. Now I know that it was no coincidence that connected us – but our common belief.