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Sumanthiran’s statement, a wake-up call

A Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian has advocated a change of attitude of the Tamil diaspora. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran had told his party’s UK branch in London recently, that the current political environment demands that the Tamil diaspora changes its attitude.

His bold and candid statement is not only an eye-opener to all Tamils living here and abroad, but also to his own fellow TNA Parliamentarians. The Government has taken cognizance that the Tamil voters have given a clear mandate to the TNA at the recent Local Government (LG) elections. Hence, it behoves those elected from the TNA to develop those areas with the Government’s financial support.

As Parliamentarian Sumanthiran has pointed out, nobody should thwart the attempts being made to renew the stalled bilateral talks between the Government and the TNA to seek a peaceful and permanent solution to the grievances of people in the North.

There is an ongoing dialogue between the TNA and the Government to find solutions to the problems faced by people in the North and the East. The last three meetings between the TNA and the Government were encouraging and there were positive suggestions by both parties. At this crucial juncture, this could pave the way for an honourable solution acceptable to all, irrespective of their ethnic affiliations.

MP Sumanthiran hit the nail on the head when he said that to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the problems of people in the North, the blessings and endorsement of the majority Sinhala people is essential. The MP has suggested that there should be a positive change of heart and mind among the Tamil diaspora. He said that such an attitude would help expedite the process to find a permanent solution.

His fearless statement is indeed food for thought not only to all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, but also the International Community and the Tamil diaspora which more often than not looks at the positive developments in Sri Lanka with blinkers. These groups and the International Community should make an indepth study on the Government’s efforts to uplift the living standards of people in the North, who had been rescued from the jaws of LTTE terror.

Simultaneously, the UPFA-led Government’s popularity is soaring due to the far-sighted vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The majority of the people throughout the country have wholeheartedly endorsed the decisions taken by the Government and the President.

Should extraneous forces unduly worry about the internal affairs of the country when the masses are supporting the Government to the hilt?

The masses in no uncertain terms have demonstrated their profound gratitude to President Rajapaksa and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) at the Local Government (LG) elections last week. Of the 75 LG bodies where elections were held last Saturday, the UPFA secured control of 45.

The UPFA, with its latest LG polls victory, now controls 250 of the 299 bodies for which elections have been held so far. This literally means that the UPFA has secured power in 75 percent of the LG bodies. Elections to the remaining 23 Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas will be held shortly.

It’s the prime duty of all parties which secured control of 299 LG bodies to develop their areas. Be it the UPFA, TNA, UNP or TULF, it is incumbent on those elected to the 299 LG bodies to do their best for people in the area. The Government has created a conducive environment for people to live in harmony and it is the duty of one and all to make the optimum use of it to develop the country.

There was tremendous response from the Northerners as democracy in the area has been restored after many moons. The overall voter turnout was over 50 percent in the North. Most of the voters in the North had exercised their democratic right for the first time in their lives. This no doubt was a positive sign as people who had only heard the sounds of bullets are now reposing faith in the ballot.

The dividends of peace are now enjoyed by all communities in equal measure in Sri Lanka. The West should look at the current developments in Sri Lanka in a true spirit and an open mind. Tamils and Sinhalese had lived in astounding harmony for many decades in the North. Opportunist and racist politicians, backed by those with vested interests in the West were largely instrumental in destroying Sinhala-Tamil coexistence. Having severed the ancient bond that existed between the two communities, certain INGO nosey parkers are now attempting to advise on peace, purportedly showing an uncanny sympathy for the Tamils.

Tamils by no means have been discriminated against in Sri Lanka as they are free to reach the zenith in any field - be it political or otherwise. Tamils could live in any part of the country in peace, but the LTTE drove out Sinhalese and Muslims living in the North. The LTTE brutally killed and got rid of Sinhalese and Muslims from their traditional settlements in the North and the East. In this scenario, it is as clear as daylight that it were the Sinhalese and the Muslims who had been discriminated against and by no stretch of imagination,the Tamils.

If the Tamils were to face problems in the North, it was not due to their ethnicity, but due to its geographical location. The problems faced by the Tamils in the North are not uncommon to the Muslims and Sinhalese in the North and the East. Nevertheless, certain quarters in the West are determined to project a dismal picture. With peace prevailing in the country, the West or any other country for that matter should not meddle in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and should let the Government resolve its problems with a home-grown solution.

President Rajapaksa and the Government are deeply conscious of the problems faced by the people in the North and the East, who are now enjoying preferential treatment compared to others when it comes to infrastructure development. Parliamentarian Sumanthiran’s statement bears out a lucid message not only to the Tamil diaspora, but also to the West. ‘Moderate Tamil politicians who put their country before self and value ethnic harmony could play a vital and decisive role in the reconciliation process. This would certainly be a big boost in Sri Lanka’s intrepid forward march.

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