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Federal solution is not a racist option

A federal solution would have given legitimacy and dignity to the Tamils to have the recognition that the North and East........

By Renuka Sharma

(February 03, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) My guru and colleague Satchi Sithananthan and I noted with interests the observations of Sebastian Rasalingam of Toronto in his feature “Critical choice facing Sri Lanka; Throwing out the failed medicine of Vaddukoddai” which appeared in the Sri Guardian February 3, 2009.

We noted the sentence in his feature: This is the "Tamil-Nation mindset". This mindset gives NO PLACE to basic economic needs of the deprived people. This mindset is a racist mindset because it looks at every problem as a contest between the two races - the Majoritarian Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, as entirely undeserved by us had he been mature enough to understand a federal system which has widespread acceptance in many parts of the world. This was highly presumptive.

Mr Rasalingam makes the mistake of judging it from the point of an extreme Sinhala fear that one day Tamilnadu would want to annex Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, our feature has in no way taken into consideration the stand of the Federal Party alias Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi. Mr Sithananthan has never supported this party not even after it metamorphosed as the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).

Mr Rasalingam has tried to label us under “Tamil-Nation Mindset” or even worse “Racist Mindset” both of which are not tolerated by us. As a matter of fact Mr Rasalingam makes the terrible mistake of associating federalism with Tamil racism. While federalism means co-existence within a system that recognizes diversities, racism teeters on separation.

He will be well advised to understand that federalism is one of the many systems of government that has found favour in countries that give due respect to diverse situations not just based on racial diversities alone. Before the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka we had three kingdoms, Kotte, Kandy and Jaffna.

If in a country a unitary system is going to be plagued with the kind of issues that were raised after independence as in Sri Lanka which was most unfortunate, taking an inspiration from a historical reality probably has legitimacy. Further a federal solution need not mean that the North and East are principally or only for the Tamils and the rest for the Sinhalese.

A federal solution would have given legitimacy and dignity to the Tamils to have the recognition that the North and East are traditional homelands of the Tamils; equally to the Sinhalese, the South and the West are the traditional homelands of the Sinhalese.

There is no Tamil-Mindset or Sinhala-Mindset here. We people of Sri Lanka want to live at peace with each other appreciating our diversities as well as our uniqueness and reaching out to each other as equal citizens. If this was not possible under a unitary system, it is better we opt for a country administered under a federal system.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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