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Letters


A mandate for the merger?

TNA Parliamentary group leader, R. Sampanthan making a special statement in Parliament on January 10 on the ‘Peace Process And The Current Situation Pertaining to the Civil Population in the North East of Sri Lanka’ has undermined the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on October 16, 2006 saying that it has only pointed out a procedural flaw in the proclamation made by the late President J. R. Jayewardene in 1988. He states further that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa did not obtain a mandate from the country for the dismantling of the North-East merger.

Mr. Sampanthan, a septuagenarian serving a very long stint in parliament, we believe, is not suffering from amnesia or some aberration that could erase from his memory the history of just the past two decades. He should surely remember the infamous and abominable invasion of Sri Lanka’s air space by India to air drop ‘parippu’ to the north, violating in the process Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. This was followed by Rajiv Gandi exhibiting India’s bullying tactics to coerce J. R. Jayewardene into acquiescence to enter into the equally infamous ‘Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement’ in a melancholy ceremony which looked more like a funeral service, watched on television by an enraged nation. Sri Lanka’s animosity to India’s blatant and brutish interference in her internal affairs was abundantly manifested to the whole world when a patriotic son of the soil, a Naval rating who participated in a Guard of Honour dealt a thundering blow with the butt of his rifle on Rajiv Gandi’s back. Rajiv Gandi paid for his follies when the tigers who were petted, trained and nurtured by his own mother, snuffed out his life. If Mrs. Indira Gandi did not die at the hands of a Sikh assassin, she would have lived to see her beloved son being blown to pieces by her own creation, the tiger.

Mr. J. R. Jayawardane who harboured a sense of guilt for having betrayed the nation, went public immediately thereafter, saying that he would be the first person to canvass for the de-merger of the Northern Province from the Eastern Province no sooner the referendum proposed in the Agreement is held. Unfortunately he could not do it due to the turbulent and volatile situation that had been created there by the LTTE. Mr. Sampanthan who undoubtedly is a proxy for the tigers, labours hard for the retention of the merger and states that the past presidents postponed the proposed referendum 26 times during the last 18 years, allegedly because they supported the merger and did not consider the holding of a referendum necessary. How could anyone be 80, and so imbecile as to come to such preposterous conclusions? As everyone knows, there was no peaceful and conducive climate in these two provinces to hold such an election. It is because of a mock Parliament election that was held there that some of the TNA tiger acolytes were able to enter Parliament with as few as 8 to 18 votes.

Mr. Sampanthan attributes Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge’s polling of 62.68% at the Presidential Elections in 1994, to her whole-hearted support for the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. He can console and pacify himself by making such ridiculous assumptions, but the real reason for her victory was the disillusionment of the 17 years of corrupt and autocratic rule by the UNP from 1977 to 1994.

The citizens of this country would whole-heartedly agree that the Tamil Community is in a majority in the Northern Province with only a small percentage of Muslims and Sinhalese living there. They were driven out making it the exclusive habitat of the Tamils. How can they claim the entirety of the Eastern Province as theirs when they constitute only 40% of the population? During the presidency of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge, the then DIG of the Western Province Mr. Kotakadeniya who fought a valiant battle to rid the Province of LTTE terrorists, after a careful study of the demographic situating, declared that 60% of the population within the Colombo Municipal Limits were Tamils. Angered by this declaration, a man from the Thottams who considered himself ‘Kingmaker’ brought pressure to bear, and got Mr. Kotakadeniya moved out elsewhere. With the increased exodus of Tamils in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces to the South due to Tiger brutality, this percentage could be higher now. The people of this country would not be surprised if one of these days Mr. Sampanthan claims that the entire western province is the homeland of the Tamils just because they are in a majority within the CMC limits.

Incidentally, has Mr. Sampanthan or his gang of TNA parliamentarians ever declared openly that they would be satisfied with the merger of the two provinces? Never, because they are just the mouth-pieces for the terrorists.
In conclusion, instead of saying that Mahinda Rajapaksa did not get a mandate from the country for the dismantling of the North-East merger, pray Mr. Sampanthan, please answer the question - did the country give J. R. Jayewardane a mandate in 1988 for the merger?
Shirley Senaratne
Kegalle

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Saudi Barbarism: Who Cares!

When Saddam Hussein was executed by the Iraqi government, a number of Muslims in Sri Lanka protested loudly. Much outrage was expressed in the mass media. Strong letters were sent to the US Embassy. Even the JVP leaped on the bandwagon and organised public rallies. However, when four Sri Lankan migrant workers were beheaded in Saudi Arabia, and their corpses put on public display, there was a deafening silence on the part of Sri Lankan Muslims. The JVP also seems strangely quiet.

Why? I too was opposed to the execution of Saddam. But Saddam was a mass murderer. The Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia did not kill anyone, nor were they given a fair trial. Is property more important than life? Can any of your Muslim readers enlighten me as to where in either the Qur’an or the Hadith is there any injunction to behead robbers? I can quote surahs to the contrary. Hence my puzzlement!

Saudi Arabia is one of the most barbaric societies on earth. Its women are suppressed, its non-­Sunni minorities persecuted. There is neither religious liberty nor political freedom. The migrant labourers who generate the oil that keeps the ruling elites in power, have few laws to protect them. The Saudi regime calls itself ‘Muslim’, and the custodian of the holy sites of the Islamic world. But the spoilt scions of the ruling families are notorious for their playboy lifestyles in the capital cities of Europe and North America. Wealth sans wisdom leads to corruption and brutality. Such is the dependence of the US and Europe on Saudi oil, that the regime recently compelled the British government to halt an investigation into corrupt arms deals with the company British Aerospace.

Muslim foundations and organizations around the world are so heavily dependent on Saudi government funds that they, too, are easily induced into silence. The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry utterly failed the four Sri Lankans who were executed. They too have put aid and trade relations before basic human rights. In doing so, the Government has once again betrayed its own citizens and lost all credibility when it talks about ‘fighting terrorism’. Citizens and vulnerable foreigners need protection against the terror inflicted by governments.

I write as a Christian who has often defended Muslims against their stereotyping and vilification at the hands of Western critics (secular as well as Jewish and Christian). My concern is that as long as Muslim politicians and organizations in Sri Lanka only speak out against violence when it is committed by non-Muslims against Muslims, and are silent in the face of atrocities committed by rich Muslim states, they will play into the hands of those who claim that all Muslims are selfish, hypocritical, irrational, etc.
I look forward to responses from your readers, Muslims and others.
Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra
Colombo-03

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Inflation and the ‘Chinthanaya’

What is inflation? Inflation is the general escalation of prices of goods and services. The two are interrelated. Inflation may be caused by the manipulation of prices by gerrymandering traders, with political backing. It may be caused by a shortage of goods in the market. The money supply in the country moving up – when Government and Private Sector spending carries with it the upward movement of prices. Many resent and view it as some ill-omen; but in fact, it is a sign of prosperity. If traders are responsible, they should be curbed, as the Government did by amicable discussion with the wholesale importers of everyday consumer goods, or legislation introduced to control the errant; though that is a cumbersome procedure. Many consumer items, such as onions of both varieties, chillies, potatoes, gram and most lentils though imported, could and should be grown locally on a larger scale; sprats harvested by our fishermen and imports reduced, until the Country becomes self sufficient and imports stopped. Imports only fatten foreign farmers and fishermen and traders.

With the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ 10 year plan for development of the country, money is to be, and is being spent on numerous new projects. That money is getting into the hands of people. When foreigners come here to engineer undertakings, like the new Hambantota harbour, the Wirawila airport, the Rock Phosphate project and numerous roads, bridges and irrigation tanks; money will get into the hands of workers, for foreign labour will not be permitted in. That will result in our citizens improving their technical skills, as well as money collecting in their hands. The end result is development, with prices of materials, substances and services moving up. That will be at the beginning, but as agriculture and Industries grow and supplies increase the prices will drop, guided by the supply and demand principle. So also will the prices of services fluctuate. If trained workers emigrate or leave on short stints abroad, a scarcity could arise.

As living standards rise the tendency will be for the cost of living to move up, but the net result will be development of the economy. Development requires equity which may be raised locally or with foreign borrowing and mutual trading, [as is now being proposed by the President] with China and other Countries. Lanka buys Oil and petroleum products and may be in a position to sell fruits and the like to oil Producers. Let us hope the telephone, electricity and water institutions could be kept in check, and prices reduced to actual cost, with leeway for development. Wastage has to be curtailed, for government and semi-government employees are notorious for waste of everything that comes their way! Wastage is like pilfering and robbing, and the remedy should be as in Saudi Arabia, where robbers are beheaded. This Land will prosper and once again shine as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’.
Cyril Gamage
Colombo 10

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