Reply to M.Sooriasegarm about 50:50 Demand by Tamil Congress

By Dhammika Herath

(February 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) M. Sooriasegarm in his article of “So what went wrong with Tamil Struggle” Feb 24th in Sri Lanka Guardian claimed that 25 percent of Tamils asked for 50 percent share of the representative body for the governance. This 25 percent of Tamil is a myth. During the time of agitation for Sinhala 50: Tamil 50 representation by the Jaffna Tamil elite’s, population of Ceylon Tamil (those who are originally from North and East) was only 13 percent not 25 percent.

This 13 percent was asking for 50 percent seats in the representative legislature! The myth of 25 percent asking 50 percent representation, even though this still is ridiculous, must be busted. The true figure is that 13 percent asking for 50 percent representation. I have seen this erroneous figure of 25 percent of Tamils has been quoted by otherwise sensible people. In 1920s and 1930s when the Tamil elite agitation took place (read De Silva, K.M (1998). Reaping the Whirlwind), a reasonable estimate of the Sri Lankan Tamils in the North and Eastern provinces could be gleaned from Census of 1911 (see below).

Of the total population 4105582 of Ceylon, North and Eastern Tamils were only 449981 or 11 percent. If you include all the Ceylon Tamils in all the other parts of the country, the figure would be 529075 or 13 percent of the total Ceylon population. This 13 percent wanted to capture 50 percent of representation and wanted to relegate a greater number of Indian Tamils (530286) to oblivion by depriving them of citizenship rights. Tamil Congress led by G.G. Ponnambalm voted against for the offer of granting citizenship to Indian Tamils. Do not be mistaken, the unreasonableness of the 13 percent Tamil elites who were power greedy and inward-looking sown the seeds of hatred by misleading many otherwise reasonable Tamil people.

-Sri Lanka Guardian