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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Democracy, Sri Lanka Style > Why not adhere to democratic values in all matters, big or small?
Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...
Why not adhere to democratic values in all matters, big or small?
My favourite columnist "Koththamalli" in addressing 'My dear Mahinda Aiya' in his usual affectionate manner in your issue of 15 November was quite right in his assessment that while you and some senior Ministers seem to be leaning there towards the peace process and a political solution to the ethnic conflict, your brother and Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa and the Army Commander Sarath Fonseka appear to be pushing for war with the support of the JVP, JHU and other Sinhala extremists". Not that '`Kothathamalli", has revealed some secret that all right-minded Sinhalese do not already know, but such self-evident truths emerge in print often only through his columns.That is why reading his column cheers me up.
My purpose in writing this however, is to deal with another aspect that has everything to do with Democracy. In the early years of independence, the UNP was taunted as an Uncle Nephew Party. Then came the Bandaranaikes, who managed to hold power within the family for nearly five decades. It is to the credit of President Rajapaksa that he halted that long run of family power. That is why it is distressing to note that the same man has allowed two of his brothers dictate government policy. One is pushing for war while the other does not like the President to get together with the other major Sinhalese party. He would rather try to crush the latter through subterfuge. Were Gothabaya and Basil elected by the Sinhalese voters to run the govern ment for them?
Think of the deep disrespect for Democracy that even governments
exhibit in their governance. Take the case of the late lamented
Tamil M.P. Raviraj, While thousands and thousands of Sinhalese,
have publicly shown their fair-mindedness and courage in expressing
their sympathy for an elected M.P., even though he was a Tamil, the
Indian government, the 'world's largest democracy' could not find
time to meet him and his fellow elected 23 other members of the
Tamil National Alliance. But the Delhi bureaucrats were prepared to
entertain some political riff-raff who made a political pilgrimage
Take the case of Anandasangari. His is a one man party. Funnily enough the party he is heading stands for Tamil Liberation from the Sinhalese - Tamil United Liberation Front. He was roundly rejected by the Tamil voters at the last parliamentary elections and he carries that grievance with him to the point of maligning Tamil nationalism. But every time he opens his mouth to attack the LTTE or write innumerable letters to Thamby Pirabakaran which end up in the LTTE leader's waste paper basket as the Daily Mirror's own cartoonist mockingly depicted some issues back, what does the paper, - the Daily Mirror (for which I have the highest regard ) do?
Sangari has only to sneeze or cough or blow his nose, the Daily Mirror opens its generous columns to him and publish them along with his mug (not a pleasant one to look at either). What is the secret of the old man's charm? Or does it reveal the Daily Mirror's contempt for democratic values?
Or take the
case of the late Lakshman Kadirgamar. Many Sinhalese applaud him as
the best Foreign Minister Sri Lanka had. He forsook his ethnicity
and the religion into which he was born, and quite rightly died a
hero of the Sinhalese and was quite rightly given a Buddhist
funeral. But the point here is that he was not elected by the
people, not even by the Sinhalese voters. He was a mere appointee of
Chandrika Kumaratunga, to suit her government's own agenda, but what
a brilliant choice it proved to be in the short run. But how
politically disastrous it was to prove at the end in widening the
gulf between the Sinhalese and Tamil peoples, only history can show.
Using diamonds to cut diamonds looks good policy. It was perhaps no
accident that when Indira Gandhi ordered Indian troops into the
Golden Temple, the President of India was a Sikh, Zail Singh. It was
perhaps no accident either when Rajiv Gandhi ordered Indian 'peace-
keepers' to disarm Tamil Tigers, the President of India was R. V.
Venkataraman, a Tamil. Both Prime Ministers of course paid with
their lives, ironically enough, at the hands of Sikhs and Tamils!
Will governments never learn?