Dr. Jayatilleke is not Jaffna Tamil

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( July 18, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘The Wigneswaran Factor: Sampanthan’s Master-Stroke’ by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke.

Dr. Jayatilleke opens the artile by stating ‘In this country, it is a rarity to witness really smart politics on strategic issues. We have just done so and got two breakthrough moves on the same issue. The first was by President Rajapaksa who chose to go ahead with the election to the Northern Provincial Council and have a meeting with Mr Sampanthan, the TNA leader. The second was by Mr Sampanthan who worked hard to persuade his coalition to field Justice Wigneswaran as the Chief Ministerial candidate.’

To my mind, President Rajapaske did not choose out of his own cleverness to go ahead with the Northern Provincial Council elections. Nothing happens through one’s own merit alone. One has to attribute credit to the share by others – before taking credit for the whole at the public level. As per my observations, President Rajapakse has been under some pressure – especially due to his current opposition – the Tamil Diaspora – to go ahead with the Northern Provincial Council elections. Tamil Diaspora itself expresses its feelings in different forms. But the core message is self – governance.

More importantly at home in Sri Lanka – the natural forces supporting former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake – have worked strongly towards this outcome. Anyone who appreciates the outcomes needs to also consciously attribute credit to Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake for the high price she paid by taking a stand in the issue of lawful Provincial powers. Ordinary Sinhalese were aware of the issue through their own interpretations. Every self-governing Sri Lankan contributed to this outcome. A government driven by majority vote rather than law and order – needs to attribute credit to its people and not itself – certainly not the individual unless the common person could see the logic of it.

As for Mr. Sampanthan’s move – it is one that represents his own part of society. Dr. Jayatilleke says ‘Justice Wigneswaran is a candidate that every Tamil can be proud of to have as his and her representative, and may make a Chief Minister that most Sri Lankans of whichever ethnicity or religion can be proud of. In fact he will have the salutary effect of raising the bar of performance for every chief minister and Sri Lankan politician throughout the island.’

Wrong Dr. Jayatilleke – wrong. Given that this is about who represents Jaffna Tamils – I believe I have the natural right to say as per my own identity whether the above is the case with my community. Not so – Dr. Jayatilleke who does not feel part of the Community. Dr. Jayatilleke may think through common principles – but not feel and express on behalf of our Community. The whole issue of Devolution is based on this separation of powers.

That brings us to Justice Wigneswaran’s credentials as an Administrator. This is important given that the Chief Minister’s position is a combination of politics and administration. The same way a Sinhalese Administrator would not suit a Tamil community that is actively seeking self-governance, a candidate of Judicial culture would not be a good Administrator/Executive. The Doctrine of Separation of Powers is based on this reality. The reality is that when we think through one angle – majority times, it would be difficult to switch to think through another angle. Judiciary is the ‘other’ side of the Executive. Judges who have been on the other side of the executive – and who often use theory of law to get the credit – would not only have difficulty connecting to the minds of administrators but also having a feel for the social thinking of the ordinary person without knowledge of law.

Getting credit is one thing. Getting the job done is another – especially now that the world’s eyes are also focused on Jaffna. Dr. Wigneswaran would need a strong advisor to succeed through that position – an advisor with wisdom in Politics (which he could get from Mr. Sampanthan) and also in Administration – starting with Jaffna style and completing outcomes that stand up to World scrutiny. Perhaps he may now better appreciate the challenge faced by President Rajapakse. Our generation is structuring the Government of Tamils. This is what we handover to the next generation. We therefore need to set aside subjective thoughts for a hasty outcome and project on the basis of our own true investments – in this instance in the Tamil Community’s self-governance.