The Legitimate Leader of the Tamils of the North & East in the Government and the aspiration for Resolution of Conflict
"We have a leader who has honestly, sincerely and truly endeavoured to create a peaceful environment, improved the country and the standard of living over the years, naturally when the standard of living is higher the cost is higher but some people are obstructing the progress for their vile pursuits - some in the name of religion, some in the name of compassion but all these at the cost of the nation. It is time that affirmative action is taken so as not to eradicate the norms of democracy."
(August 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) How many Tamil Members of Parliament represent the North and the East ? Where are they ? What have they contributed to society ? What have they contributed to the Tamil people of the North and the East ? What have the people of the North and the East experienced in the recent past ? Who amongst these representatives, sends food, clothing, medicines and other essential items to the North ? Who amongst these representatives holds a file and seeks all the basic necessities for the people of the North and the East through the government ? Who amongst these representatives takes care of the people of the North and East ?
Who amongst these representatives gives a hearing and grants an audience to those who have grievances and heals their emotional wounds and takes care of their day to day necessities? Who amongst these representatives has sacrificed his personal life and other luxuries which he could enjoy ? Who amongst these representatives is always clad in white in hand spun clothing and wears sandals and eats only one meal a day? Who amongst these representatives could be contacted any time of the day and night by any person in distress ? Who amongst these representatives wakes up at 3 a.m. in the morning and retires to bed past midnight ? Who amongst these representatives sleeps on a wooden bench ? On whom can the Tamils of the North and East count on ? If all these questions could be answered in the affirmative, then there is none other than one man who fits the description as the sole representative of the Tamils of the North and the East. Who is this man ? He is none other than, Kathiravelu Nithiyananda Devananda better known as ʽDouglas Devananda !ʼ
Douglas Devananda hails from an aristocratic family of Royal descent. Tall, handsome Douglas is a strict disciplinarian having been a militant himself more than 20 years ago. He has been closely associated to successive Presidents of Sri Lanka.
Although we witnessed trials and tribulations as a nation, we must also appreciate the fact that the President Mahinda Rajapakse has so ably guided us to where we are today.
For moving forward is rarely accomplished without considerable grief and sadness and while our sorrow may be profound the clouds will clear and the sun will shine on us again and we shall as a nation rejoice only if we haves everlasting peace.
We need political stability for economic development. We have as a nation suffered too much with too little help from those who ought to co-operate with us to jointly steer towards development. We will in that bright light find ourselves facing a glorious future. A future with exciting challenges and infinite possibility in which the horizon will stretch out before us rimmed in heavenly glow the sunrise of our tomorrow.
We as a nation have had far too many tragedies. The 1983 racial riots nurtured by the then
regime and provoked by the terrorists created a bloody war. Since then, thereafter no
attempt was made to rebuild the nation that was torn apart by war.
Our nation has been torn apart by the evils of terrorism and natural disaster. It is
difficult to feel like the most powerful person in the country at times like that because, there is no answer - there is no justification for the pain. Freedom of choice alone does not guarantee justice. Equal rights are not defined only by political values. Social justice is a triad of freedom, an equation of liberty. Justice is political liberty. Justice is economic independence. Justice is social equality.
Due to our internal conflicts which we could have long resolved, external forces with vested interests have all sought to intervene some in the pretext of resolving the conflict but our experience has proved that the gap of resolution of conflict does not seem to be narrower now.
Those who finance terror, those who launder their money, those that cover their tracks are every bit as guilty as the fanatic who commits the final act.
We look for diplomacy. But there is no diplomacy with some of those opposed to us. We do not consider them opponents but they oppose every conceivable move we make to develop the country. Sometimes, there is no compromise with such people, no meeting of minds - no point of understanding - so we would have a just choice - defeat it or be defeated by it.
We learnt that however much we strive for peace, we need a strong defence capability where a peaceful approach fails. Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far greater. Laws will have to be changed not to deny the basic liberties but to prevent their abuse and protect the most basic liberty of all; freedom from terror. The people are terrorized by certain vested interests in their vile pursuits for power committing crimes and targeting a reflex scenario as if the Government was responsible.
We must always be on guard for those who will exploit and manipulate religion for their own narrow political ends who will distort the essence of pluralism and tolerance for their own extremist agendas.
People are being tainted by the reckless media. It is a national catastrophe for the nation.
We must work as a community to ensure that everyone not just a privileged few get the collective ability to further the individual's interests.The governing idea of modern social democracy is community founded on the principles of social justice. That people should rise according to merit not birth; that the test of any decent society is not the contentment of the wealthy and strong, but the commitment to the poor and weak.
But values aren't enough. The mantle of leadership comes at a price; the courage to learn and change; to show how values that stand for all ages can be applied in a way relevant to each age. We learnt that equality is about equal worth and not equal outcomes. Today our society is shaped around mutual responsibility; a deal, an agreement between citizens
not a one way gift, from the well off to the dependent.
The standard of living is higher. The expectations of the people are higher. This is a consumer age. People don't take what they are given. They demand more.
We are not alone in this. All round the world governments are struggling with the same problems. The program of reform is huge. We must have co-operation, determination and consensus. We are a community of people, whose self interest and mutual interest at crucial points merge and that it is through a sense of justice that community is born and nurtured. This is the moment to bring the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and heritage a source of unity and strength.
By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we can alone. We must reach beyond our fears and our divisions to a new time of great and common purpose. Let us trace the roots of affirmative action. Let us determine what it is and what it isn't. Let us see where it has worked and where it hasn't and ask ourselves what we need to do now.
Private media freedom is running amok. The news that millions of people in this country including foreign correspondents who convey news overseas receive each night is determined by a handful of men responsible only their corporate employers. The State should have control not to permit abuse of the freedom of the Press.
Deference may be inherited, but affection is earned and the affection this country feels for him is real. We must not permit a contaminated moral environment. Let us not negotiate out of fear, But let us never fear to negotiate.
We have a leader who has honestly, sincerely and truly endeavoured to create a peaceful
environment, improved the country and the standard of living over the years, naturally when the standard of living is higher the cost is higher but some people are obstructing the progress for their vile pursuits - some in the name of religion, some in the name of compassion but all these at the cost of the nation. It is time that affirmative action is taken so as not to eradicate the norms of democracy.
The nature and role of government should be affirmative. If one wants to maintain public
response there must be an effort to change but not to eviscerate the government. A democracy requires a certain amount of common ground.
Resolution of conflict has its requirements. Parties to a dispute cannot threaten and violate the rights of innocent people or those who are performing their duties. If the conflict between the organized form of government and a force not popular on the norms of legality, it is then the duty of the Head of State to take such measures to safeguard the nation by whatever means to protect the nation.
There are individuals and groups who may be critical of the President for political gain, but the President has always taken affirmative action within the norms required of the President. This may not be acceptable to those who are opposed to him.
No progress can be made unless a common ground is established. To endeavour to establish common ground certain specific responsibilities on the people and political leaders should be imposed. More of our people must set an example. People should be made conscious of their conduct. We must learn to discuss matters with those who are different from us. Not just people who agree with us but with somebody who is different.
We need more conversation and less combat. When we differ we ought to offer an alternative. We should say what we are for and just not what we are against. We ought to look relentlessly at the long term and remind the people that the problems we have developed over a long period of time.
Politicians must set an example to those among whom they work. After all, politics is a matter of serving the community which means that is morality in practice. We cannot restore peace unless we can find some way to bring the nation close together. There should be collective responsibility within groups or else the people will be confused.
We have to move beyond division and resentment to common ground. We have to go beyond cynicism to a sense of possibility. There should be only on race - the human race. All religions speak of compassion, love, forgiveness and good conscience.
*[The writer was the Co-ordinating Secretary to the Chief Government Whip of Parliament, Late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle; The Member in charge of the English Media of the Media Observation Unit appointed by Late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle for the Presidential Election Campaign of President Mahinda Rajapakse in 2005; Candidate for the Colombo District for SLFP-PA in the 1994 Parliamentary General Elections; Author; Orator; Member of the World Lawyers & Poets Association; International Legal Consultant , he can be reached at email@example.com )
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