Tigers Have Perished On Warfront but Sinhala Buddhists and Govt are Holding on to Those “Tigers”by their Tails



“The human dilemma is not whether to do right or wrong but rather to do right when it matters the most and wrong when it matters the least.” (Unknown writer)

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) are dead. The war was won and the guns have fallen silent. But the drums keep beating and clarion calls for celebrations still continue as if the whole of Sri Lanka’s history has been reborn to an era of plenty, peace and power. This was how the ancient conquerors ruled their subjects. The vanquished are kept to lick their own wounds while the victors are salivating for more, not any more on the battlefield where military prowess was exhibited, but on the economic plains of ‘massive’ infrastructure development work so undertaken by the victors to please an unequal partner of one single nation of “Sri Lankans”.

But such a sophisticated concept seems to be totally alien to the circle of rulers who continue to ‘occupy and rule’ the land that once was almost entirely inhabited by the ones who lost the war. The majority segment of Sri Lanka’s population has chosen to march further forward, northwards, in a demented fury to show the vanquished as to who the real masters are.

While this ‘victory-mania’ has gripped the majority Sinhalese Buddhists and made them look more like a frenzied army of ‘no-do-gooders’, their regime which was elected to office by their secret ballot, keeps responding to the same maniacal calls of those who dwell on the threshold of extremism. Senas and Balakayas have been formed but at the front end of these ‘armies of national pride’ are certain Buddhist monks, or as some would say, ‘hoods in yellow robes’. Whether one agrees with such an extreme assessment or not, the undeniable fact is that magnanimity which usually flows from sincere hearts and minds seems to have deserted the sane and an entirely new dimension has come into being, dominating the Sinhalese Buddhist mind. The Government today is caught up in this cruel dimension and that is why they look so desperate and are acting like a cat on a hot tin roof, jumping every which way they could.

Eleventh hour visit by President’s brother, Minister Basil Rajapaksa to the Indian capital and his attempts to convince the Indian political leadership that the Sri Lankan Government is keen on implementing the 13 A without any changes made to it, goes contrary to the professed stance taken by them before the local public. The Sri Lankan electorate is more than convinced, in the way the ruling circles and their closest political allies have been behaving in the last few months and weeks and very vehemently buttressed by public statements and declarations of the President himself and his other sibling, that the repeal or drastic alterations to the Thirteenth Amendment are a certainty. But as a responsible member of the community of nations, Sri Lanka has a vital role to play as an honest and sincere trouper and play the game straight and orthodox. Dishonesty in governance could be a pardonable felony in the eyes of a public who has been hoodwinked by successive governments and leaders, yet in the international arena dishonesty and double-standards won’t hold any water, nor would it serve right even in the short term.

When J R Jayewardene had giants in his Cabinet such as Premadasa, A C S Hameed, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali and Ronnie de Mel, he too selected his own brother, Queen’s Counsel H W Jayewardene to lead the then government party at Thimpu and subsequent negotiations with the Indian Government. Mahinda Rajapaksa has adopted the same approach. Instead of sending Professor G L Peiris or Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Rajapaksa opted to send his own brother Basil who is widely believed to be a political maestro. Basil’s negotiating skills and communication prowess will be tested in earnest in these talks. Should he succeed in keeping the Indians happy while not allowing any deviations from the local strategy pursued by the Rajapaksas, then he would be hailed as a winner and if not, whatever happens to Basil’s image, the ensuing decline in the political face off vis-à-vis the Indians would eventually have some lasting effects not only on the mutual relationship between the two countries but it may well have an exceptionally adverse effect on the efforts to find a solution to the Tamil question.

What has been learnt in the past is that any negotiator or communicator who is engaged in a specific purpose needs to believe in his own side of the arguments; if his image comes across to the other side of the table as a mere messenger boy instead of a serious partner in the process, then the net result would be a stalemate at best or a further decline of the situation in the worst. Indians are an experienced player in the field of negotiations and they have proven that beyond doubt over and over again. Some say the Indian Civil Service and its brilliant products could run the country much better than some honest politicians. Pitched against such a formidable outfit, Sri Lanka should send her best. Whether Basil fits that bill would be proven only in the coming months and weeks.

For Indian Central Government, one constant in this formula is that Tamil Nadu and her problems have made the Sri Lanka issue very much a local subject. It is being viewed by all Indians as one of local considerations for India. Raising hell via the State-controlled local television and radio, the Sri Lankan Government has exposed her hand not only to the local viewer/listener population but contributed to the strengthening of the slogan of “dishonest and diabolically-motivated regime” proffered by the Tamil Diaspora.

The Northern Provincial Council elections are due to be held in the second or third week of September this year; Daya Master, the former LTTE media guru is the latest recruit to the Government ranks and is rumored to be drafting the UPFA manifesto. Whether that manifesto would be viewed by the voters in the North as a document of genuine motive and aspirations of the Tamil people or discarded as a flight of fancy of some power-hungry politicians is yet to be seen. The Tamil National Alliance would field its own candidates and it is also reported that the United National Party and General Sarath Fonseka’s party too would be in the Jaffna elections field.

Another election season has begun. The Government party will be seen spending unbelievable sums of cash on this campaign. The North is devoid of her self-appointed guardians who came in the guise of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. The Tigers have been massacred and even their remnants are now wearing the Government garb. Yet after such a massive military victory, the Sinhalese Buddhists are not showing any sort of understanding and or compassion. Magnanimity does not seem to have any place either in their vocabulary or culture. An overwhelming majority compared to the number of Tamils living in the country, Sinhalese have chosen to be possessed by an inscrutable sense of minority complex. That is why, although all ‘tigers’ seem to have perished on the warfront, Sinhalese Buddhists it seems, are still holding those very tigers by their tails. It is indeed a pathetic portrayal of a mindset set on sure decline and decay.