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Diaspora's role is in investment not politics– Prof. Rajaratnam Sivachandran- BY Mirudhula Thambiah:

 

Diaspora's role is in investment not politics– Prof. Rajaratnam Sivachandran- BY Mirudhula Thambiah:

 

Political Analyst and former Arts Faculty Dean of Jaffna University Prof. Rajaratnam Sivachandran said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) should make use of the favourable opportunity to quickly solve the ethnic issue with the new government. They should make use of the golden opportunity to develop the North and East. "TNA has obtained a very good opportunity unlike in the past 65 years, they should learn to solve the ethnic issue diplomatically," he said   Following are excerpts:

?: Tamil people in the North and East have given their mandate to the TNA in the recent election. What would these people expect in return? How do you think the party should function in the near future to fulfil promises?
A: This is a golden opportunity. This is similar to the change we experienced on 8 January. TNA has become a demanding force in the present hung Parliament. Since they are in a position to demand; many issues in both provinces can be solved. Therefore, the ethnic issue can be solved early. By 2016 as promised by leader R. Sampanthan at his election meetings. Everyone should be happy that racist ideas have diminished among the people in the North - East and South. Election results have proved that people have rejected racism. It is evident that people are expecting development; not racist statements and communal divisions. I also feel that the national government will be in a position to accept a fair solution to the ethnic issue. People are clear and ready to accept devolution within a united Sri Lanka.


It is evident even other countries expect a solution in Sri Lanka as one country. That is one of the reasons to defeat LTTE. Thus TNA has obtained a very good opportunity unlike in the past 65 years; they should learn to solve the ethnic issue diplomatically.
TNA is always blamed for not concentrating on economic and social issues. It is true that the party is just concerned about raising slogans. The United Kingdom has not allowed Scotland segregation due to its economic power. Scotland has become demanding as the economy is faring well.


They should also table a proper plan to solve resettlement, issues of war widows, missing persons and political prisoners.
TNA should do away with emotional politics and learn to adopt practical politics. They should seek the advice of experts and engage in intellectual politics. This will assist to develop local authorities. Such local authorities should only talk about development not politics. Provincial Councillors should only talk about development not international inquiry or other politics.

?: Some of the TNA candidates as well as other party candidates have failed to retain their parliamentary seats. Do you think this reflects any change of attitude? Did people change their political views when casting preferential votes?
A: Tamil people should learn to change their political culture. People began to believe that TNA would solve issues in an easy manner without any complications. People have thought if they elect the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF), there will be more extreme problems like in the past. At the same time people rejected the Crusaders as they believed there would be involvements and mentalities of the LTTE. People in the North and East only believe in moderate politics at the moment.
Past history of Suresh Premachandran had many faults and that was spoken at many election meetings. Also those who lost in the Vanni District have similar histories involving armed struggles.


Many people did not know that TNA is a coalition instead they thought it has only representatives of the ITAK. People have learned to differentiate that TNA is a coalition.
At the same time PLOTE Sidtharthan and TELO Adaikkalanthan and some of the others who managed to enter Parliament, have organized themselves.


Meanwhile, Jaffna faced water issues in the past; S. Sritharan who was against the water distribution from the Iranamadu Tank has managed to secure the most number of preferential votes. I should say that people need more political maturity in the North and East when they cast preferential votes. Therefore, people should be aware of whom they are electing. Also preferential votes were obtained by emphasizing the Tamil identity. Everywhere they spoke about 'Tamils' to obtain votes. If this is completely stopped, people will begin to choose different representatives through a changed political culture. Now it is time to stop talking about differences among communities.


?: How do you view the entry and defeat of the TNPF and the Crusaders at the recent Parliamentary Elections?
A: People are scared to think according to the TNPF policies. People feel reluctant to accept the concept of one country two nations as they feel another situation like Mullivaikkal will be occur as those are indirect concepts similar to LTTE policies.
Also the TNPF used indecent language at the election platform during meetings. TNPF candidates Gajendrakumar and Pathmini are mostly criticized among Tamils and their campaign selection was not convincing. However, we also have to accept that some set of people like Gajendrakumar.


In history we see many movements that involved in armed struggles have then chosen the democratic path both locally and internationally. Thus the Crusaders too chose democratic concepts. However, in the context of Tamil armed struggles there are differences. LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran said his movement will follow armed struggle and the TNA will follow the democratic in Tamil politics. People completely saw the Crusaders as LTTE cadres. When they entered politics there were many criticisms against them. People suspected the co-ordinator Nadesapillai Vithiyatharan. But I have spoken to the rest of the members; they have been actual LTTE cadres with genuine policies. I told one of the Crusaders that they influenced by the intelligence and there are criticisms. He was very angry and showed the scars on his body. "Show a single place on my body that doesn't have scars. We are genuine," he said.


Tamil politicians including those in the TNA have committed huge mistakes. They should have supported the former LTTE cadres as they were struggling for the last six years after rehabilitation.
Those who talk about the sacrifices of the LTTE have failed to ensure the security of the cadres. They should have protected the Crusaders from the intelligence and the criticism. They were neglected at one point; legal practitioners in the TNA should have protected the cadres. Crusaders said they felt secure after entering the election platform as they were under threat, every time they had to look over their shoulders to see if someone was following them. This is one of the biggest mistakes of the TNA.

?: TNA has pledged their support to the National Government. Do you think they should join the government to accept ministries?
A: We should all accept democracy. We should find ways to obtain solutions through democratic approaches. Therefore, I feel the TNA should join the government and accept ministerial portfolios.
TNA is worried about emotional politics and they are concerned the people would reject them. That is not the reality people have now changed.

?: Is this the right moment to discuss on a political solution with the new government?
A: All countries that assisted the Mullivaikkal battle are now disappointed. Countries are worried of not assisting in a proper political solution in Sri Lanka. Now they think a rapid solution should be found for the affected people. The ethnic issue should be solved at least to accept that LTTE has committed mistakes.

?: What would be a suitable tactic to obtain a political solution?
A: A suitable solution can be found only through the Constitution. We should not postpone the opportunities anymore as there are people to talk more on Tamil and Sinhala nationalism. Equal treatment for all communities is not difficult. I feel that the ethnic issue shouldn't have been exaggerated. It could be solved easily. A suitable political solution would be maximum devolution of power beyond 13th Amendment. Powers should be equally divided among the central and provincial governments. Muslims should be given devolution as well.

?: Tell us how the new Constitution should be amended, providing equal rights to all communities?
A: Dominance of one community and rejecting the others should be avoided. Initially language equality should be given to all communities. Same methods are adopted in Canada and Australia too. Police powers are given to Municipal Councils in Canada. Therefore, such methods should be considered in our country too.

?: How do you think the Tamil and Muslim political parties should respond to the UN probe on war crimes?
A: The United Nations is established to ensure and safeguard Democracy and Human Rights. It is the problem of the UN to examine it. However, our people should not emphasize too much on UN. Culprits should be punished but we shouldn't go beyond reality. Also we should be aware that UN is functioning under their goals not to directly satisfy us, therefore, we shouldn't be dependents.

?: How do you view the role of Diaspora in the future context?
A: Diaspora should learn to refrain from interfering in local politics but invest in our country to develop the economy. They should act in a manner that will not create any doubts regarding the LTTE.
The islands in the North have less population at present; around 100,000 people lived in those islands previously but only 50,000-30,000 people are living there now. They are lacking development facilities. Investments can be done in such areas to provide employment opportunities. If we accept or not, multinational companies will involve in economic development thus the diaspora should learn to invest here. Through which, community development, economic development and other small industries can be boosted.


?: How do you view the role of India and the United States in local affairs?
Do you think their continuous interference in our country will benefit us in the future?
A: We are facing negative as well as positive consequences in our country in the current context due to the interference of both countries. India played a major role in boosting Tamil armed groups in the North and East.
At the same time we should accept that these countries are the reason for the current political change in the country, therefore, we cannot stop them from interfering and that is reality.

-- 

Prof.R.Sivachandran
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