| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(December 20, 2013- London - Sri Lanka Guardian) Kindness comes in ways unexpected. During this season of peace and goodwill I wish to share my personal experience of associating with humble people. I apologise for deviating from the norm of journalistic ethics excluding myself in stories unless it is relevant but this is neither breaking news nor expose.
Five weeks ago I fell down on a slippery plank, sprained my ankle and broke by glasses. I have an aversion for doctors and this was my first visit to a GP (general practitioner) in the 12 ½ years that I have been in the UK this time around.
I have since been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure which I have known all along through symptoms I have experienced and did not want to admit that I am susceptible to old age illnesses.
I have many friends both in high places and ordinary. While the professionals sympathised with my situation and said they would pray for me, it was Sumathy with two young kids under 10 years of age and whose husband ran off with a 20 year old who came daily to cook and do the washing.
Since she had not consummated her marriage she was not entitled to public funds although the kids had benefits. Sumathy, like many refugee Tamils, have no recourse to challenge their position since they cannot articulate in English.
While she paid a Tamil solicitor £600.00 to sort out her immigration status which she could ill-afford, he simply sent two letters in the intervening 12 months to Home Office (UK ministry dealing with asylum and immigration cases) and kept haranguing her with evidence from GP that she is indeed the mother of her kids and that she is a single mother.
Tamil solicitors have cheated so many of their clients demanding fees while Home Office paid Legal Aid in advance to the tune of several thousands of pounds in advance..
The poor clients who work 24/7 to meet legal bills in bakeries and factories have no other recourse and no advice as to whether they should pay these cunning solicitors or cough up their hard-earned money.
Now it is only a handful of Sinhalese solicitors who are allowed Legal Aid and almost all of Tamil solicitors have been struck off.
From Gaithri Nathan to Raj Solicitors in Harrow and Wembley, the Law Society have struck them off and are investigating their dubious deals pertaining to asylum clients.
There is one solicitor who in Newham, Vasuki Shanmugarajah who inflicts cigarette burns on clients to claim torture.
As professionals they also act as trustees of Hindu Kovils such as Sri Kanaga Thurkka Amman Kovil in Ealing in Greater London. This temple provides daily lunch but those who patronise it are not the poor but those who arrive in their four wheel drive with children suffering form obesity who sit through the whole meal partaking in rice and curry and payasam and plantains; all supplied by devotees.
A poonool (holy thread) ceremony to the Hindu Brahmin would cost anything between £50.00 to £500.00 depending on the strength of their demands; be they marriage partner or child birth. They trust more on their poosaris than their gynaecologists.
When Raj Jayadevan pointed out in his article it is not the Sinhalese who dupe Tamils he is not lying. Tamils have a long history of fleecing fellow Tamils. From the defeat of LTTE to the current scenario of Tamils, they would have long ago got autonomy and parity were they not so self-centred.
Greed is an unfortunate malady entrenched in Tamil psyche. My disenchantment with Tamils began during Krishanthi Kumaraswamy’s murder in 1996. When the late Kumar Ponnambaam and myself met her uncle in Wellawatte, all he wanted was the jewellery buried in the family home. He showed no remorse for his sister, Krishanthy’s mother, or his nephew who were also murdered by government soldiers at the checkpoint in Jaffna.
Tamils have to shed their adherence to materialism and instead show they have Hinduistic values of their ancestors who abhorred ostentation and lived a holistic and holy life bereft of worldly possessions.
Are they up to it in the 21st century?
(T he writerhas been a journalist for 24 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)