Since Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war ended in 2009, Nagarathnam Ganeshan has faced a major new uncertainty: how much water he will have to grow his crops.
« A half year after Maithripala Sirisena’s stunning defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa raised hopes for democratic renaissance, the complexities of partisan politics, and Rajapaksa himself, have returned to centre stage. Sirisena’s initial months with a minority government led by the United National Party (UNP) have opened important political space: robust debate and criticism have replaced the fear under Rajapaksa, and important governance reforms have been made, but much remains undone. By initial steps on reconciliation, the government set a more accommodating tone on the legacy of the civil war and the ethnic conflict that drove it. But divisions within government and Sirisena’s failure to take control of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) prevented deeper reform and allowed Rajapaksa and his supporters to mount a comeback. With Sirisena opposing Rajapaksa’s return, the 17 August parliamentary elections will test the continued appeal of the ex-president’s hardline Sinhala nationalism and give a chance for the fresh start that lasting solutions to the country’s social divisions require. »
‘The Cake that was Baked at Home’ attempts to unveil lesser known aspects Kadirgamar’s life. Told through Ajita’s memories, stories and recollections by those who knew him, extracts of published media and tributes composed specifically for the book, she endeavours to shed light on facets of a brilliant and complex man. Kadirgamar spent the last ten years of his life in the harsh and sometimes unforgiving public spotlight, adored by some, declared a traitor by others, all the while knowing he was constantly being targeted by the LTTE.
The 440 page book is also the author’s personal journey of healing and discovery where she poses the question, ‘Do we ever really know a person, even one’s own parent?’ Ajita admits in the concluding chapter, ‘People will certainly ask what kind of a daughter I am, that I can be so critical and judgmental about this much loved and respected man. They will see me as tarnishing a hero’s image. Well, I’m the kind of daughter who tells it like it is, and more so with advancing age. The fact remains that his greatness came at a price. We paid the price. We paid the price for his single minded ambition, drive and brilliance that led him to the highest echelons of public office. We stood in the wings helplessly as, first a woman and then a whole nation hijacked him as their own.’
Different ethnic members in the national party must also find accommodation in the cabinet. Such practices are not new to Sri Lankan politics. In fact, they were adopted under the Westminster model in the 1950s to 1970s. With the Gaullist model however, ethnic parties are having a field day. Religious leaders of the country, particularly the Mahanayakas, should bring pressure on the national parties to avoid pre-election pacts with parties like SLMC. Even if ethnic party candidates succeed in the election and enter the parliament let them sit in the opposition and warm up the seats. Their supporters will soon come to realise the futility of electing them and will switch their allegiance automatically to one of the major parties. An enlightened national party can make the ethnic parties redundant. That will be a healthy outcome to a plural democracy.
(Text of a Press Statement Issued by the Canadian Tamil Congress on August 7th 2015)
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) strongly urges Tamils and all citizens of Sri Lanka to exercise their right to vote at the upcoming Parliamentary elections.
The presidential election of January 8th, 2015 was a turning point in the recent political history of Sri Lanka. Voters turned up in large numbers and voted for change and a new beginning.
While Canada and other members of the international community acknowledged and welcomed these changes it is the duty of all responsible Sri Lankan citizens to ensure that these tenuous beginnings are consolidated without giving any chance for their reversal.
Although many issues of the Tamil people including land rights, political prisoners and disappearances were not addressed as expected, the election did bring about early signs of goodwill, as reflected in some actions that were taken by the current government. CTC believes that these positive developments, together with new-found political optimism, can be further strengthened after the August election.
The resolution of the Tamil problem will invariably involve meaningful negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka, the elected representatives of the Tamil people, and other relevant stakeholders. In this context, Parliamentarians elected by the Tamil people will have a major role to play. One strong united voice speaking for Tamils will have a significant impact at these negotiations.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), under the responsible and experienced leadership of Mr. R. Sampanthan, has earned the recognition and respect of not only the Tamil people, but also other community representatives in Sri Lanka and international community members like Canada, USA and India. He has carefully and consistently articulated the concerns, grievances and aspirations of the Tamil people
CTC works closely with TNA, and our partnership has been crucial in some of the diplomatic achievements made in Canada as well as at the UNHRC in Geneva. TNA’s Secretary for Legal and Foreign Affairs, Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran’s advocacy skills, experience and expertise has been beneficial to both CTC and TNA when meeting various government officials in Canada, Geneva and other parts of the world.
CTC firmly believes that a strong mandate given to the TNA to represent Tamils in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka will strengthen our position during negotiations. Together with a victory for the progressive forces that advocate democracy and good governance in the South, the chances of achieving a negotiated political resolution, accountability and sustainable reconciliation in Sri Lanka will more likely become a reality.
Sections of the Tamil Diaspora are on a virulent campaign against the TNA. Most Tamils abroad are not engaged in politics, because it is dirty and dangerous. Slanderous stories are put out against those not in agreement. Fear of being labelled, leaves the field open to virulent sections of the Diaspora to speak on behalf of all others.
In the US this mantle of Tamil leadership has defaulted to Tamils for Obama. As fair-weather friends, they were Tamils for Clinton when Hilary Clinton seemed likely to win the Democratic Party nomination in 2008 and then, when Obama did, they re-Christened themselves as Tamils for Obama. Now, in 2015, as Obama’s term is ending and Hilary seems likely to be the Democratic Party nominee and ultimately president in Jan. 2017, they wrote shamelessly to her on 10 May 2015 signalling their willingness to turn-coat again: “We are Tamils for Obama. We would like to remind you that before the nomination was settled in 2008, we were Tamils for Clinton. We are still here and eager to offer our support again. We were among your supporters before, and we haven’t changed our minds.”
6,151 Candidates from 21 registered political parties and 201 independent groups are contesting the Sri Lankan Parliamentary elections scheduled for August 17th 2015. Of these 3, 653 are from the 21 parties and 2,498 from independent groups. Predictably the spotlight in general has been on the major political parties both nationally and regionally in g. However a particular group of independents contesting in the north has also attracted much attention. This is because the group comprises former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday cast her lot against her party’s candidate and presidential successor Mahinda Rajapaksa, indirectly urging Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supporters to vote against him at the 17 August election.
« It is hard to achieve a significant sustainable economic development without focusing on the development of the export sector, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
It is an achievable target to increase the export income to US $ 50 billion or more following a systematic approach to export development, he added.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was addressing the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2015, organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce under the theme ‘Towards exports of US $ 50 billion’ in Colombo yesterday. »
C.V.Wigneswaran, who became Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province in 2013 thanks to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), appears to be drifting away from the party which propped him up.
« Valvettithurai is a place that has figured prominently in the politics of Sri Lankan Tamils. Valvettithurai is a coastal town along the Vadamaratchy littoral region of the northern Jaffna peninsula.VVT as Valvettithurai is generally referred to acquired a notorious reputation at one time as the hotbed of smuggling. In later years Valvettithurai became known as the nursery of Tamil militancy. A very large number of VVT youths have been at the forefront of the Tamil armed struggle launched to achieve the secessionist ideal of Tamil Eelam. Chief among these was Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) leader Thiruvengadam Velupillai Prabhakaran. »
« Election mania spreads rapidly in the country with Parliamentary polls being scheduled for August 17th 2015 and the Tamil inhabited areas of the Northern and Eastern provinces are also afflicted. Currently the premier political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamils is the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) consisting of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO)and Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE). The TNA contests elections under the House symbol of its chief constituent ITAK. At the 2010 Parliamentary elections the TNA contesting as ITAK won 13 seats in both provinces and was entitled to a national list seat also.The TNA hopes to increase its parliamentary tally in the 2015 poll. »
Keynote address delivered at the opening night of ‘Watch this space‘ exhibition at the Park Street Mews. The exhibition runs till the 16th of August. Details of the event and the associated public talks, keynotes and theatre here.
« The time will come in the near future where we in Sri Lanka will have to think of memorialization in greater depth. The armed forces would have to find a way of commemorating those who died and communities have to find a way to remember those who were killed, whether at the national or local level. To do this we must go back to Daniel, Nietzsche and Peirce; we must remember the important role of art in this whole process. If we are to have any reconciliation, the artistic community must be fully involved and if I may say so, perhaps take the lead. It is up to all of you to remind us of our humanity, in a way that only you can, and to help take this country forward. I hope this talk will inspire you in that direction. »
‘Nearly 40 percent of voters surveyed at the end of the last month said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the best man for the job and only 27.5 percent chose Rajapaksa, the Centre for Policy Analysis, which conducted the poll, said.’
« It’s potentially very explosive – it might go right to the top, » said analyst Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, who runs a policy think tank and election monitoring group. »