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War Is Over: Now Get On With It

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(June 17, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” was not uttered in vain. 

So we have a military man Major General C.A. Chandrasiri as governor in the North and a former militant Douglas Devananda as a cabinet minister. The duo have brought progress to the North unlike the TNA which is still harping on what powers they do not have instead of the powers they have been bestowed with. Rather than lock horns with them it would be in the interest of Tamils that the NPC work in close co-operation with these leaders rather than splitting hairs over petty issues.

Feeling the pulse of the people is that sustained politicians and if this simple philosophy cannot penetrate our Tamil leaders then they would have lost the plot. Tamil diaspora have seen to it that the UNHRC takes note of war crimes and Channel 4 in UK have carried on the baton exposing war atrocities in its relentless videos provided by soldiers of the government forces who had some kind of conscience that the war had its fair share of crimes against innocent civilians.

But war was over five years ago and those who took over the mantle to bring redress to war afflicted civilians are still sitting on the fence citing India with its newly elected PM Narendra Modi or UNHRC chief Navi Pillai would mete out instant solutions to the Tamil conundrum.

The answer my friends is staring straight in your face. You make the effort with what you already have rather than what you do not. No northerner is waking up each morning whether 13 A or 13 A plus is being implemented. His concern is how he is going to get by with his meagre earnings from day to day.

Even the firebrand ex JPVer, Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa opened a housing scheme in Gurunagar, Jaffna costing Rs 110 million. Weerwansa said that Wigneswaran had been formally invited to attend the opening ceremony and his name was included in the plaque of the opening ceremony.

Wigneswaran had also said that whatever development activity that took place in the North should be done by the Northern Provincial Council, Minister Weerawansa claimed. "Over 160 families have benefited from this housing scheme. Their houses were destroyed by the LTTE 29 years ago. If we are described as traitors for rebuilding this country and providing houses for the Tamils, we are ready to accept that description. People would decide whether providing houses for them amounts to treachery or not."

Minister Weerawansa said the actions of Northern Chief Minister would not lead to true reconciliation and healing of wounds; they would only worsen the situation. "We have saved the Tamilians from the clutches of the LTTE and are rebuilding their lives. The Chief Minister should have been with us at the forefront of this exercise. It is so sad that he, too, is contributing to alienation and estrangement of communities which need to be guided towards harmony," he said.

Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda, Jaffna District EPDP MP Silvestry Alantine, Governor of the Northern Province Maj Gen (retd) G. A. Chandrasiri, Jaffna Mayor Yogeshwari Thankunaraja, Cuban Ambassador in Sri Lanka Indira Lopez, representatives of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka top officials of the Ministry of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities were present on this occasion.

The 15th Prime Minister of India, N.Modi, has already made it clear that his ministers, ministerial secretaries and additional secretaries should inform his office 10 days before they undertake a foreign trip detailing the purpose of their visits and a report soon after return on what they achieved.

TNA which was quick to congratulate Modi’s victory should follow his example and get down to the nitty-gritty in its own turf rather than putting the blame on its abysmal failure to bring redress to the Northerners who pinned all their hopes in electing a Supreme Court Judge believed to resurrect Tamils from their post war trauma.

TNA decries that the NPC budget is not enough for the five districts under its purview. Some 19,481 million rupees is already allocated to the NPC. But it can do a whole lot with this budget. Why cannot it make use of what is already given instead of sitting on it like an infertile hen and moaning it needs five times more to develop the North?

Unless the NPC makes good use of the budget already available it would be taken away and it cannot request more. Also it needs to account for the NPC budget from September 2013 to date how it has disbursed the funds. For crying out loud, spend the budget on self-employment schemes, subsidies for fertilisers, fishing gear for fishermen, getting the land registry to return lands to their rightful owners, and invest in public utilities instead of sending its members abroad to garner support that Tamils are victims of the hitherto concluded war.

“Yalpanaththan idam koduthal madam eduppan”. Jaffna man would take the whole hog if given an inch. Enough is enough. We are falling into the same trap the Federal Party politicians fed the youth that the Sinhala government is side-lining them and making demands for a traditional homeland for Tamils in the North and East.

TNA needs to get off its antiquated stance of Federal Party stalwarts and gear up for 21st century challenges which face our younger generation. ‘My hands are tied’ lament by CM Wigneswaran is old hat and was not at all envisaged by the voters who still have high hopes from this eminent former Supreme Court judge that the North would emerge from the 30 year old protracted war and move on with rebuilding and resurrecting its lost heritage.

Not even Gods would come to our rescue unless we help ourselves instead of being stubborn mules and making excuses the central government is out to get us.

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 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 pearltheva@hotmail.com)

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