| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( September 23, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Yesterday, I received an email from a Sri Lankan whom I respect very much – and attached to it was report on press briefing by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – including on Sri Lanka.
As per this report in relation to Dr. Navaneetham Pillay’s recent visit to Sri Lanka it is reported ‘In this context, she asked why the only flag flying, other than the national flag, in such a symbolic location was that of one religious community, and suggested it might be more inclusive to fly only the national flag which is a symbol that unites the nation, no matter who they are or what religion they adhere to. At no time did she request any flag to be removed.’
It is accepted that Dr. Pillay may not have spoken the words but the message in essence is to remove the religious flag. If we used the rule on the ‘other’ side, the Hindu temple within University of Jaffna also needs to be removed to make the University more secular. This has been an issue with the likes of Dr. Hoole.
People read the same words at different levels – each as per the depth of their investment in the issue. That is the whole purpose of objectivity. The denial from the UN Office is therefore for shallow investors in Sri Lanka. The religious flag confirms that Sri Lanka is effectively one religion country – the way Australia is effectively one language country. That is the way with majority rule. Those of us who accept one language in Australia need to accept one religion in Sri Lanka. Ultimately it is about the Government within us.
When in Colombo recently, I unexpectedly had the wonderful experience of participating in a religious ceremony at the New Kathiresan Hindu temple where the presiding Deity is Ganesh. When I lived in Colombo before 1982, that temple was a place of spiritual communication for me – usually when I had problems. After participating in the special ceremonies, I went to our relative Ms Rani Karthigesan Sinnathamby’s home. Susil Wannigaratne is the auto-rickshaw owner-driver who took me there as usual. Susil’s son donated blood to our cousin Balakrishnan of Vaddukoddai origin - and that made Susil more our family than before. I shared with Susil my experience at the temple and also shared with him my previous experience relating to the temple, in which I ended up meeting the President for approval of some Tsunami Reconstruction projects in Batticaloa. The construction of new homes started happening – and I felt that my Energy was included at the highest level – at the level of Lord Ganesh. No human system that was then available in Sri Lanka could have achieved that for me.
When I shared this with Susil – who is a focused listener – he asked me who was President then? I said Madam Kumaratunga. Then Susil said that the current President had visited his home (parental) when he Susil was young. Mr. Rajapaksa was then coming from Kataragama he said – and came to his home for tea. Susil said that his letters to the President now are being ignored. I said that it was wrong of Susil to use the Presidency for personal purposes. I said that Susil needed to take the old visit as Lord Katragama’s message that Susil’s family home was of a governance standard – fit for future president but it would be wrong to use the old directly to get current benefits. I said ultimately it was the Government Power (Shakthi) within that mattered most. I said when the Government Power within us is stronger than the Beneficiary Power – we are self-governing. Hence I asked Susil to go out and work the forum which has the opportunities he is seeking instead of ‘asking’ like a dependent.
Even a President whose inner powers as beneficiary are stronger than her/his inner powers of self-governance – is a beneficiary and not a Governor. Politicians who are dependent on votes and do not earn their votes – are beneficiaries and a citizen without portfolio has the right to govern such politicians.
The religious flag is for the benefit of those who ‘ask’ and is not specially recognized by those who ‘work’ the system. Whatever the UN may say or not say – until self-governance Power in Sri Lanka is stronger than dependent/beneficiary power we would need this kind of show. Tamils also chose the Tamil-Only show for this purpose. Hence the advice to the Sri Lankan Government is also advice to the Tamil Provincial Governments as well as to the Hindu Jaffna University. Until we are driven by our intellectual force – it is better to have faith based symbols than none at all.