Propositions for Tamils in North-East Sri Lanka

These are propositions for Tamils in Northeast region of Sri Lanka as part of their preparation for the 2020 General Election due on August 5, middle of COVID-19 pandemic prevailing in the country. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is the leading political party in the region and as such has a responsibility to set a good example to the other political parties and independent groups fielding candidates at the Parliamentary election scheduled for next month. This post proposes some thoughts in the minds of Tamil voters, to ensure they end up with a team of quality politicians to represent them in parliament for the next five years, considered critical for Tamils living in the NE region.

During the past five years, the TNA had ignored all basic issues the Tamils are facing as its leadership was occupied on lager issues that affect the Tamils in the country as Changes needed to the Constitution and demand to investigate past civil-war crimes. Regrettably with nothing much was accomplished on these issues and to make matters worse for TNA the Northern Provincial Council, that was under its control, went about only to duplicate the efforts of their leadership at the center, rather than resolving all basic issues the Tamils. Further, with already TNA compromising the control of Eastern Provincial Council to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, all economic activities in both provinces stood still during the five years. A typical direct consequence of this inaction was that TNA, went about without sparing a thought to create employment. With no job prospects the Tamil youths were frustrated to state the least. TNA as they could not solve unemployment properly for five years, is however now conjuring up a jobs program to address the issue after the General Elections. The sorry state of affairs for the people in Northeast region is something they themselves caused as it has been is the practice of TNA politician to call the tune and the people follow them like a herd of sheep. That ensured that no TNA politician addressed seriously ever the economic predicament of the Tamils as the politicians were busy on ‘larger issues’ related to nationalism as self rule for NE. In reality, while the leadership was busy on such larger issues, the minions could have shared basic issues among themselves with a view of resolving them, to justify the perks and privileges they get as parliamentarians. The fault is on the leadership for not utilizing the available human resources in their direct control.

Whereas, the Tamils remember that the TNA was formed by Tamil civil minded groups to fill vacuum left by earlier Tamil MPs, to be the voice of Tamils in parliament to resolve all issues of all the NE people. Prior to 2009, as the war against self-rule prevailing in most parts of that region; the TNA was not able to move freely in the region and the leadership failed to lift a finger about real issues of the Tamil people as unemployment, housing, education or even health. Instead the TNA followed events in the northeast mostly from Colombo to make statements in parliament on war related issues of their people.

However, all changed when the war ended in 2009 and TNA was left with their own political motivation to incorporate everything caused by the conflict and this includes the general well-being of the Tamils and the country as a whole, something they were unable to accomplish under negative peace that was prevailing in the region up to  Yahapalana rule. Still they failed to address the basic day to day issues of the people, that they could have done utilizing the two provincial councils, but as reported they failed in that too.It is a fact that for over a decade the majority governments were not supportive of the politics of Tamil minority and that of the TNA as demo graphical politics has not appealed by and large to their voters, at least not in the same manner it has viscerally appealed to the TNA’s voting bloc in northeast.

Today without real Tamil political leadership emerging, that sincerely wants to create jobs and address their many issues the Tamil people, who are long-suffering, hapless and living at the mercy of the politicians who make rare visits to their electorates between elections. Thus the Tamils are not looking forward to the 2020 General Elections due on August 5, especially with the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Under these circumstances, at this eleventh hour, let me through this post on behave of the Tamils, throw a thought as a lifesaving rope into the quicksand pit that was created by TNA leadership, where all NE Tamil politicians are dumped at present; to enable all Tamil politicians of all colours and shades to rise up and reach hard ground at the top to safety. With these objectives in mind listed below are the recommendations:

A) All politicians elected to parliament have to serve the people who elect them than serving themselves; for the parliamentary seat they get is not to make money or seek power. Keeping in mind that parliament is a place to discuss issues of their people and make necessary laws to resolve said issues and together with those representing other communities keep development of the country on course for the betterment of the whole population.

B) Get out of the present mindset of looking at others contesting for votes as enemies, be it from your own political party or from other political parties and stop seeking devious means to win elections. Regrettably, there is no denying this has been the past history. Where elections are rigged, manipulated and even opponents and murdered to win a seat in parliament, the Tamil politicians too have followed these methods as those of the other communities.

C) TNA was originally intended as its name implies “Tamil National Alliance” an alliance of Tamil National political parties representing the Tamil people in North and East Provinces. Unfortunately, right from the very start not all political parties of the Tamils in the said provinces were included, notable exception was EPDP, that field a Minister in the government. Then when it came to electing candidates for the General Elections; there were manipulations committed at the top level to prevent more Tamil political parties entering the Alliance. Few more political parties have left the alliance since then and there is cold war going on within those left in the Alliance, so much so they have survived without registering the Alliance as a political entity. It reflects bad on the leadership and what is more those active members in the alliance are left to carry the shaky alliance, while the inactive members are exploiting their power and exploring avenues to increase their assets in the five years, while enjoying all the perks and privileges they get as MPs. No wonder Tamils are upset with the leadership of TNA.

D) For TNA to come out of its present mess, first Tamil voters must weed out the inactive members and as replacement vote in new younger members. While TNA as they have released their Election Manifesto should confirm that it would change the leadership and invite all Tamil political parties not already in the alliance to join them. This to include those who left the alliance earlier, as they were disappointed with the leadership. Then after the General Election, meet to elect a new leader and thereafter register the Alliance as a political entity.

E) Last but not least TNA must not bring into to the fold any loosing candidates through the National List; instead use it as it was originally intended to bring in experts to increase the capacities to guide rest of the Alliance members in parliament; the importance of having experts through the National List cannot be over stressed. The National List members should be assigned with subjects not covered by elected members as employment, housing, education, health, women and children care, environment protection and conservation, etc. They shall propose remedies for resolution in parliament, for all issues of the people collected from each electorate by the elected members.  

Regrettable that while the leadership has been supporting the Yahapalana rule in the past five years with the hope of resolving major issues as devolution of power and war related issues of the Tamils; while most of the TNA representatives in parliament have twiddled their thumbs on their own for all intents and purposes, without attending to resolving routine issues of their people.This situation needs to change and propositions stated above in this post are aimed to achieve justifiable conduct of TNA in parliament and in the country as a whole.