General Fonseka Never Said Sinhala Only, Or did He?

by Thomas Johnpulle

(September 30, London, Sri Lanka guardian) Expressing oneself is not a crime; in fact it is a right of every individual. In every society there are limitations placed by law and custom against certain forms of expressions. However, the ambit of freedom afforded is far greater than what is restricted. General Sarath Fonseka would never have thought that his statement to the Canadian National Post will stir up a controversy. What did he say? He said Sri Lanka belongs to the Singhalese. Did he say Sri Lanka belongs only to the Singhalese? Nope. Although it would have been better had he phrased it to convey that Sri Lanka belongs to all Sri Lankans, his statement still holds true. For example, the statement “all tigers are quadrupeds” doesn’t mean all the quadrupeds are tigers. It means tigers are quadrupeds.

He must be fully aware that there are Tamils, Muslims and others serving alongside the Singhalese in the army. If for some reason Sri Lanka belongs only to the Singhalese, what are the others doing in the army? Obviously it is not so as he conveyed in the same interview at length; this country belongs to people of all races.

Therefore demanding punishment for General Fonseka is not a wise move as he has not committed a crime, hasn’t said anything nasty and hasn’t made a derogatory remark at the very least. He was saved by the Almighty for a good reason when a suicide bomber severely injured him in 2006. He must be allowed to complete his job.

Jesus used to teach people with parables and the parable of the sower is an important one. According to that a sower throws seeds in many different grounds. Those seeds that fell by the way side were eaten by fouls while those that fell on rock couldn’t grow well and eventually died. Those seeds that fell by the way side were eaten by fowls while those that fell on rock couldn’t grow well and eventually died down, but, those that fell in fertile ground grew to give an abundant harvest. Although Jesus likened it to the reception of different individuals to the (same) word of God, the opposite is also true. An assumed tribal statement gets implanted only in the minds fertile enough to make a seedling out of such a statement. It failed to create anything in the minds of most Sri Lankans.

Nevertheless his superiors have complete faith in him and there is simply no chance of them taking any action against him. That doesn’t affect the warfront because most of those concerned about his statement never supported a military resolution anyway. Had he said something inappropriate (not incomplete), the government would be seriously considering action against him, if his statement divided the pro-war camp. A split in the anti-war camp simply doesn’t concern the government as it cannot affect the war.

However, it would have been better had the Army Commander made a politically correct statement in the likes of what politicians regularly make. May be its time he start speaking what Sri Lankans want to hear through actions rather than words.

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- Sri Lanka Guardian