New Constitution Prescription for unknown ailment
By Ananda Ariyarathne
It is a well known fact that it was a one horse race for the Tamil extremist propaganda. The almost totally inactive Sri Lankan missions abroad watched on while the image of the nation was being tarnished. In short, the impression outside Sri Lanka was that it had a brutal government run by the chauvinistic Sinhalese majority. However, inside Sri Lanka it was a funny situation where almost 60 per cent of the Tamil people lived in safety among the Sinhalese, hiding from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). When the LTTE was defeated in spite of the financial, physical, and moral support, it became necessary for the extremist elements of the Tamil Diaspora to bounce back, this time with more cunning tactics.
Sri Lanka was heading in an undesirable direction according to the West, especially the United States of America under former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, while even India, our closest neighbour also clearly showed disapproval of the Sino-Lanka relations. They felt that Sri Lanka was growing too big for her shoes and India had enough experience intimidating the island nation and went to the extent of burdening it with an unnecessary load and an unproductive Provincial Council system, creating a very destructive socio-political trend.
The system which served more as 'caramel' to satisfy the growing agitation for a separate State in Sri Lanka in the Tamil political arena where militancy had sprung up demanding separation, leaving their leaders no other choice, but to support them. It was a measure to improve efficiency within the country, causing nine small geographical regions to accommodate a burden of unproductive politicians, most of whom did not know what was really happening. Provincial Councils became a reality, but whether they were going to be productive was debatable. In less than no time the Tamil political leadership which already had an agenda, tried to merge the North and East into one region.
Pleasing India was necessary. The absence of futuristic thinking was a common weakness of all governments. They did not do anything constructive, instead warmed their seats while the dissatisfaction in the Tamil areas turned into a war. Certain people living in the West armed and funded the terrorists. The extremists in the Tamil Diaspora tried to justify what was happening in Sri Lanka.
The government had to multitask and fight the terrorists, which could impact even the remotest villages in the South while feeding and providing healthcare for people in the North and East, and who had gone to the extent of using food packages to barricade their dugouts in the jungle. The fuel sent in to help the people through a humanitarian campaign actually further strengthened the terrorists and as far as the West and Sri Lanka's neighbour were concerned, everything was going as planned.
The way the military help came from those sources, Sri Lanka was compelled to take stronger steps in order to eradicate the menace of terrorism.
Countries such as China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran came to our aid, and it escalated into a full-scale warfare and was no longer a low intensity conflict. This brought those countries closer to Sri Lanka and the government completed the operation very successfully and obliterated the scourge of terrorism. This shocked the supporters of the LTTE who tried to get back at Sri Lanka by making all kinds of baseless allegations, but this didn't work.
In the meantime, for the first time in Sri Lankan history, infrastructure development took place at a very fast pace and the overconfidence of the Rajapaksa regime paved the way for opportunists both domestically and internationally.
The autocratic system of government soon took its toll on the Sri Lankan citizens and people became disgruntled. In order to gain political mileage and secure another term in office the leaders used to regularly declare that they "won the war." The people in the North and East were not provided with concrete solutions and the Tamil extremists pounced on this opportunity.
Tamil people had a lot of grievances, and the solutions to these problems were being provided at a snail's pace. The government did not pay enough attention to the grievances of the Tamil people and instead they focussed on completing their mega projects at a fast pace.
It is a fact that in warfare, there are no winners and losers, although some people claim that "We were the victors and they were the vanquished."
The most harmful effects of the war are emotional wounds, which cannot be seen with the eye. The family members of those who were killed in war often cannot come to terms with their situation. They have lost their loved ones and breadwinners because they went to fight somebody else's war. The war maimed and disabled hundreds of people on both sides. It didn't matter if you were the wife of a terrorist or wife of a Sri Lanka Army soldier, when your husband died you became a widow. In the case of the widows of LTTE cadres they underwent even more grief and suffering.
It has now come to light that the LTTE allowed its female cadres to be harassed by male cadres and looked the other way. Some of them had no choice, but to do as they were told. Some single mothers were subject to extreme social and psychological trials.
This in turn affected their children and the majority of them find it extremely hard to adjust to society as they are growing up.
This creates a witches' brew of problems.
Certain people are of the opinion that the entire country has been occupied by the armed forces and they go to great lengths to popularize this theory. Everyone has conveniently forgotten that at one time certain areas in the country were infested with landmines. The absence of a clear policy has hindered development in the region. Tamil people, the majority of whom were fishermen, are now in a tight spot. Indian fishermen are exploiting our marine resources in the meantime. If solutions are provided for the land and fisheries issues, such problems can be solved?
What did the government do? For that matter what are they doing now? If the government had paid closer attention to the innocent people who got caught up in somebody else's war, and tried to sort out their issues, people with agendas wouldn't have been able to poke their nose into our business.
The government failed to win the hearts and minds of the people and the Tamil Diaspora seized the opportunity and attacked the government through the United Nations.
Isn't that the reason why the problems have become worse? Tamil people genuinely want to find solutions for the problems created by others (and in some cases by them), but at the end of the day whatever is said and done a problem is a problem and it needs a solution.
Opportunities for extremists
Even though the Tamil extremists and the strategists in the West suffered a major setback, they didn't call it quits. The government was overconfident and made many blunders.
They actually made more enemies than friends in the international community and those with various agendas pounced on the opportunity. Since they can no longer attack us with weapons, they are now intimidating us through international channels and are trying out new strategies. Sadly, the government does not seem to understand what is going on. This not only creates a situation where the Tamil extremists can further their cause with ease, but it also causes diplomatic relations to crumble. The Tamil extremists have pounced on the opportunity to garner support for their cause and rally forces against the government in the international arena.
Tamil extremists have started using new tactics and strategies in the hope that the international community will sympathize with them. The new tactics and strategies seem to be highly effective.
Atrocities, war crimes, and missing people were the main allegations. They used the United Nations as a trap and proceeded to tarnish the image and reputation of Sri Lanka by making wild, astonishing, and sometimes even baseless allegations. Sadly, they managed to 'brainwash' some Sri Lankans as well in the process.
The diplomatic corps were dominated by ill-informed and uncouth characters that weren't capable of performing their jobs efficiently and effectively.
They even went to the extent of trying to brainwash others. This only worsened the situation. They did not appreciate the government's efforts to bring peace to the country.
All the good work was thrown out of the window. The former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to blame because his family members and supporters made him look guilty. His arrogance and overconfidence were the main contributing factors for his downfall. Sadly, he put the citizens of the country also in a tight spot.
In which way are these problems connected to the Constitution? It is not because Tamil people have decided that they need a new Constitution. It is simply because those self-appointed champions have become the saviours of the Tamil people and have started prescribing medications for ailments which they have no knowledge about. Tamil people have become the guinea pigs for the experiments of the extremists and the Tamil Diaspora.
It has become their pastime, but very critical for unsuspecting innocent people. Some politicians are taking them for a ride. In fact, it is not only the Tamil people who have been taken for a ride, but the Sinhalese as well all along.
In order to sort out the problems of the Tamil people, there should first be peace in the country and they should be able to utilize the resources of the country as they too are Sri Lankan citizens. Why do we need a new Constitution when the current Constitution has given equal rights to all citizens including the Tamil people.
Time for change
The reason that people within the party are so frustrated is because certain individuals created a situation where they had to go.
The main issue was the fact that they tried to amend the Constitution. That was how the whole reducing of Presidential powers dilemma came into being. Everyone started criticizing the executive powers of the President, and that was all. This was combined with the agitation of Tamil politicians to have something going beyond the 13th Amendment.
It is quite surprising that the former President is screaming now, because he dug his own grave. There were a few people who did some good work in his party, but all this good work was nullified because of some of his minions who tarnished his image, and are continuing to do so even today. Now that change has come, we are acutely aware of how it happened. Can we be really happy that the expected lofty idea of having a truly national government has been realized? Why should there be such a division if it is a true national government? People get the impression that this has simply been a manipulation.
Has the corruption come to an end? While blaming the previous regime, it is clearly evident that the present regime is no better.
Before they point fingers at other people, they should set a good example. They are not focussing on the main issues instead they are talking about the Constitution.
Even though they are trying to justify the new Constitution by claiming that it will sort out all the issues of the Tamil people, we all know that this is not the case. The government knows that they are in a tight spot by this development which includes the unpardonable lapses and blunders of the previous regime.
This is why there is so much ambiguity when it comes to the Constitution. The government needs to realize that in order to keep the country in one piece, the law needs to be implemented to the letter. If the law is implemented to the letter, nobody will be discriminated.
Dangers unseen or ignored
The extremists are attempting to interfere in our business at every turn. To start with, we cannot justify their argument. There is no proof to suggest that when a country is divided all the issues will get sorted out automatically.
Some of our people are ill informed and are backward in their thinking. Are we ready to experiment? The Constitutional aces might get a kick out of drafting a sophisticated Constitution, but it is highly unlikely that a majority of the citizens will approve of it (except for a few like-minded individuals). In my opinion, they should stop playing around with the lives of innocent people and focus on more important issues.
The writer is a Management Consultant and Visiting Lecturer/Examiner of SLIDA. He is also the author of three books
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