The National People’s Power (NPP) the third force in Sri Lankan politics has agreed with several of the 13 proposals by the Tamil political parties submitted to the candidates contesting the forthcoming presidential election.
The proposals included abolishing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and release of lands occupied by the army, however they were against the proposal to merge the Northern and Eastern provinces.
For NPP consider it as a claim to show the international community that majority in those areas are Tamils, hence the demand a separate administration. As such a proposal has been submitted by Tamil political parties in every election.
The NPP are against this as they would not agree to any proposal that opted for the division of the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.
However the NPP is not against the proposal for the abolition of PTA and they have been advocating the release of lands occupied by the army from the beginning.
NPP has further agreed as a policy to the proposal to resolve the unemployment issue of the youth.
The representatives of five Tamil parties had earlier prepared this presentation of 13 demands for consideration by all the presidential candidates.
The five Tamil parties are the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Tamil Makkal Kooteny (TMK) and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).
The common document outline 13 demands includes among others merging the Northern and Eastern provinces, scrapping the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and releasing those held under the PTA.
The main presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa is yet to respond to these conditions. As expected the other main candidate Gothabaya Rajapaksha has not shown any interest to discuss the matter.
In reality, these proposals were presented by the Tamil political parties knowing well that no main candidate would entertain them; yet they did so to remind once again to the Sinhala people about the long-standing demands of Tamils in the North and the East.
Because these Tamil leaders are in alliance as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), that feel in earnest that theTamil people they represent in parliament, are as a minority group in the country have the right to look after their affairs.
It must be reminded that almost a century ago, while the country was still a British colony, the then Tamil leaders muddled to miss the golden opportunity offered by a section of then Sinhala leaders to them by proposing a federal system of government for the country.
The British considered the proposal favourably, yet the rest of the Sinhala leaders with the Tamil leaders wanted to retain it. Thus, the Tamils could have had self rule in a merged northern and eastern provinces at independence.
Regrettably after independence the Sinhala leadership betrayed the Tamils and the rest is history.
After a bitter civil-war behind them and many thousands of people killed and as many disabled with many more displaced from the two provinces, today the merger is only a political demand of the TNA political leaders to retain their political hold on the Tamils in the two provinces, that was merged for few decades, where the majority are Tamils. With the end of the civil-war the two provinces were demerged on technical grounds.
Today, the people in the two provinces have lost faith in their political representatives; for they have had enough of poor governance.
The only wish of the Tamils is to get on with their lives and are content with the provisions in the thirteenth amendment to the constitution; provided it is fully implemented. For they know this amendment allows for any two adjacent provinces to merge to form a better administrative unit.
Only a demand call from all the people living in North and East by voting in favour at a referendum held in the two provinces will remerge them no fuss. It is a matter for them to decide and not for the President or the government at the center; as such there is no need for TNA or any political parties to include merģer of North and East as a demand to the presidential candidates!