Role of an Ambassador

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam 

( November 18, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the analysis published by Sri Lanka Guardian,  under the heading ‘Autonomy within unitary structure paradoxical: Peter Schalk’

Professor Schalk states ‘Sri Lanka’s ambassador in France, Dayan Jayatilleke, calling for “autonomy within a unitary structure,” at a seminar in Paris earlier this month was a political-populist statement ………The seminar in the locality of the CNRS was a propaganda meeting for the policy of the Sri Lankan Government from the beginning to the end. The ambassador came up with the usual and expected anti-LTTE attacks: The LTTE did not want to negotiate and therefore a war of total annihilation of the LTTE in the final end in 2009 was justified…….The ambassador’s tirades of hate against the LTTE has taken sickly proportions and is a true obstacle to reconciliation between a large Tamil population in Paris (“La Chapelle”) and his embassyAccording to him the Sinhalas have a justified fear of the 70 millions of Tamils in South India where still the LTTE is supported.’

This is also a serious issue in relation to Australians of Sri Lankan origin – from both sides. If we do not come to terms with it and know for ourselves why we feel the way we feel – we would be leaving  behind lesser value than we inherited when we were born or migrated to new countries to complete our life in this form.  To the extent we are actively taking one side or the other – we would not be able to observe impartially and therefore would be drawing from the country of residence to feed our side’s activities. If on the other hand we are able to seek and find our ‘internal’ reasons – as the UN has finally started doing – we would have a stronger foundation on which to build our lives in our new countries and/or leave behind a common platform through which we would continue to bless the younger generations to the extent they value our life.

It is obvious from the above account that French Tamils have not reconciled with French Sinhalese. Sinhalese fears of Tamil of Sri Lanka receiving support from Tamil Nadu are well founded. I believe that support happens through :

(1)   objectively measurable help such as visible development assistance;
(2)   human to human with Tamils of Sri Lanka forming partnerships with Indian Tamils in Tamil Nadu. To my mind, if Tamils have formed the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) – that tragedy would have been prevented.
(3)   Intuitively through common belief.

It’s the tertiary  one that is most powerful and cannot be defeated by any amount of money or visible human partnerships.  These common beliefs have been developed over centuries. Similarly Christians of Sri Lanka have developed these common beliefs with the West. To my mind this was the core purpose of  ‘White Australia’ policy. The way it was practiced became obsolete and therefore counterproductive.  

As per Hindu calendar it is now Kanthasashti season – 6 days of fasting to invoke the blessings of Lord Kantha/Muruga – the Presiding Deity of Tamils. The original legend is recorded to have taken place at Thiruchenthoor in Tamil Nadu. Hindus all over the world who believe in the power of this period would connect to each other through those  currently observing this fast and also all those who invested in this religious process from the beginning of this ritual. The outer forms through which we come together is necessary for those who  are not able to believe naturally – with a still mind. Those who already have reached the goal of common belief – would naturally empower others who are following in their footsteps.  Some of them may not even be Hindus. Once we attain that goal of Belief – everyone  who has faith in us through any relationship or commonness would be blessed. When it comes to fighting – Hindus of Sri Lanka do seem to have an advantage over Buddhists due to belief through Kanthan / Murugan  form of God. In Hinduism , as  per my study, most common  forms  of diversity  are  provided for in the forms of Divine personifications. Even Gay marriages have been provided for. But we must be genuine and not take a particular path for the sake of quick benefits. We need to be true to the path we take – whatever the difficulties on the way.

Devolution is also provided for in the form of  Murugan who was apparently defeated by His elder brother Ganesh. The seat of this legend is Palani in Tamil Nadu.  Lord Muruga who chose the ‘global path’ as opposed to His Elder Brother Lord Ganesh who chose the ‘traditional path’ – renounced His inherited wealth to set up His own kingdom at the Hill of Palani.  When all Tamils of Sri Lanka are ready to renounce inherited wealth a Unitary structure  – and are living off their own current earnings – they are already leading Devolved life. If they are still attached to inherited wealth – for example through their positions in Sri Lankan public service – then they are not deserving of devolution.

Professor Schalk states ‘Realising that the violence by the Governments of Lanka is structural and genocidal being practised during decades, it is not possible to classify the present violence as an occasional aberration or as being related to some nuts only.

The ambassador’s presentation ended with the following characterisation of the Lankan state’s policy: It strives for “autonomy within a unitary structure”. A social scientist would not have uttered such a sentence. A unitary structure (=centralised structure) excludes autonomy. But the ambassador’s point is to show that he has listened to Tamil demands for autonomy. It was a political-populist statement.

The seminar had no scientific qualifications, but it left a tragic insight that the Government represented by Dayan Jayatilleke has not learned any lesson from the past.’

To my mind, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke – like most Ambassadors of Sri Lanka is still influenced by his side – the government. This is fine – provided he limits himself to administering those on  his side only. Beyond that he needs to take a global approach when he is outside Sri Lanka. If he had himself realized freedom through the Unitary structure – and therefore believes in that – he ought to be promoting English with his government.  To govern through a  Unitary structure in Sri Lanka,  we need a strong common culture through which we develop and strengthen common beliefs that have been carried forward through many generations. The only such common structure known to me in Sri Lanka  is our Common Law system based on Roman Dutch Law and the English Law. The practice of these laws have been seriously diluted since the British left in 1948. Those who continue to believe in those laws and/or through those laws also in their professions and regular practice in everyday life – continue to feel connected through that Unitary structure – albeit mentally. Those who seek majority opinion/votes – from areas that have not invested voluntarily in this common structure – would lose connection with these believers and therefore would resort to giving  their own leadership form to their ‘local beliefs’. Hence Sinhala Only by Mr. SWRD Banaranayake followed  JVP on Sinhalese side and Tamil Only by Mr. Chelvanayagam followed by the LTTE. Both political leaders were groomed by the British and hence their ancestry included English culture. This was forgotten towards quick political wins through majority votes. But those who have despite such changes in structures – continued to carry forward those common beliefs – benefit even today through a unitary global power – the Universal Power of Truth.

When Sinhala Only was introduced by the Sinhalese Government – it was Devolving itself from all these investors through the common structure. This may be what Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke was referring to. It is more a mental structure. The apparent one in Colombo is in reality a Devolved structure .

A Unitary structure for Sri Lanka needs to by policy – not by popular vote -  include affirmative action in relation to minorities. This was the 50:50 that Mr. G.G.Ponnmbalam advocated. As per  the above article the grandson of Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam seems to be going for the popular chant of devolution ‘Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam came out with similar views, explaining how the talk of ‘devolution of power’ under unitary structure goes against all realities in the island.

To me the 50:50 was the Unitary structure alternative advocated by Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s grandfather. But then politicians live close to reality and hence – today’s reality that matches JVP in Government is LTTE in that Government. That would uphold the dignity of Tamils who expressed their need for self governance  through every combatant who believed in the cause of self governance. Self Governance is a Universal Power. As one of our Associates working closely with the Northern Administration in Sri Lanka lamented this week - Public Administration in  Jaffna has deteriorated drastically since the times we grew up. Hence any government in that area – to be effective,  needs the support of common political belief to influence reliable outcomes that would satisfy the needs of that area in common. If we converted current reality in Northern Sri Lanka – into a structure – it would not be high enough to measure evenly against a Colombo structure. We therefore need to strengthen our internal Administration in areas where we are weak in common belief.

To my mind,  the way to reconcile between the two systems would be the way we reconcile between grandparent and grandchild. Those who truly seek unitary structure tend to invest in western systems and they are usually of Colombo culture. This needs to represent all minorities through affirmative action. Power in regards to this Central group needs to be in areas/issues where Administration is stronger than Politics. In areas / issues that are governed more by popular vote – devolution needs to take place for there to be fair and just sharing of common wealth. To state that devolution is the only way – sounds as if total devolution is being recommended. Administration promotes vertical growth and Politics – like business promotes lateral growth. Administration of Political issues needs to be become user pays facility.

From the point of view of Tamils – one needs to ask whether Tamils would be able to maintain an Administration of Global standards after autonomy?  As I explained in today’s Human Values lesson – to our group in Northern Sri Lanka – the Demon Sooran took different forms to  continue to enjoy power at the physical level. If therefore we seek to ‘show’ self governance more than we believe in self governance – we are feeding the Soorans in our community. They in turn will invoke the Sinhala Soorans and the war would surface again and again.  It is time for Tamil Politicians also to live as part of the folks at the lowest levels of our community who became their army largely due to economic reasons. This is not different to other official armies. But the few who believe/d in and sacrifice/d for self governance would naturally combine with these juniors and the consolidated form of the two is  the path for the current generation towards a healthier  next  generation/s. Towards this the believers ought to be already sharing with the communities that these juniors come from. Without this, both systems are irrelevant to those who seek self governance.  Ambassadors, like Governors need to share their Belief. Everyone who shares belief on behalf of her/his nation is an Ambassador representing her/his country at International level.

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