Australian Democracy or Lankan Democracy?

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( November 5, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Recently the following response was invoked in relation to the caste issue within the Tamil community:

‘In the late 1960s there was the famous Maviddapuram temple entry case where Chellappah Suntheralingam MP of the Vellala caste opposed the entry of Harijans to the temple while the then Superintendent of Police, Jaffna Ramachandra Sunderalingam supported the right of the Harijans to enter the place. The press reported this under the headline 'BATTLE OF THE SUNS.' The police won the case if I remember right. General Secretary of the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist) N. Shanmugathasan also backed the Harijans.

The 'elite castes' looked down upon not only the Harijans but also hill country Tamils of Indian origin and Batticaloa Tamils.’

My response to the above included the following:

[The above picture of Mr. Sutharalingam confirms the personal family background in which Mr. Suntharalingam was groomed to be a leader. To the extent of that inheritance Mr. Suntharalingam owed a debt to that hierarchical system. One of his close family members recently disciplined me through our lawyer for taking my seat allocated to junior lawyers in the Colombo Court of Appeal! Our lawyer asked me to sit there – because he was conscious of my high contribution to the law. But not so the Lingam relative! But I accepted that as part of that system to which I was still officially an outsider – just like the junior castes that would not have been allowed entry to the temples. That Mr. Suntharalaingam’s daughter Mrs. Isha (Lingeswari) Pasupati – comes first and leaves last to organize the monthly Yoga Swami pooja in Sydney. Most of the menial jobs are done by her and she rarely comes to the front – even though she has every right to do so not only as founding member of that group but also as the wife of a leading Tamil – Mr. Samy Pasupati. An unjust Tamil leader could not have had the honor of fathering such a humble lady. As I often say – there is often conflict between duty and personal interests. One who is yet to settle her/his dues to the system which groomed her/him – is not entitled to express personal Truths.(Yes Minister). I myself had to renounce the benefits from my official position – to challenge the official system here in Australia. The punishment included prison and the mentally ill label – but the opportunities through realisation of the true needs of Australia – were the real returns – much richer than the benefits foregone. The current parallels of the two Suntharalingams are President Rajapaksa and (former) Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. As individuals they may have lived in harmony – within their own True realities. Politics is one sided – at that time at that place. Hence it is often habitual and emotional. So long as such a one sided decision is acceptable to majority – that decision would go towards maintenance of harmony at that place at that time. It would not work outside that ‘local’ environment.]

After sharing that with community members I watched again that particular episode of ‘Yes Minister’ under the heading ‘a clear conscience’ followed by the episode ‘if the right people don’t have power – the wrong people get it’. The wrong people for the Civil Servant included Politicians and Voters and the regional governments driven by the politicians and voters. The senior civil servant also distinguishes between general democracy and ‘British Democracy’.

I noted this also to be the case in terms of Land Rights and other issues as follows: 

1. Between National Government of Sri Lanka and Provincial Government in Northern Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Democracy
2. Between UN and Sri Lanka – American Democracy

When reading the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Unsolicited Tenders (Procurements) For Mega Projects, Create ‘Mega’ Corruption’ by fellow Australian of Lankan origin – Mr. Upasiri de Silva, I saw in my mind, the picture of subjective power – i.e.- Australian ‘telling’ Sri Lankan ‘explaining why “Unsolicited Procurements (Tenders)” can harm the deflated economy of Mother Lanka and provide “Black Money” to make Rajapaksa family, the richest in Asia.’ 

The measure is Australian and not Sri Lankan. However weak the Democratic component in Sri Lankan system may be – Australians do not have subjective powers over Sri Lankans and v.v. The first duty of a Sri Lankan with lower status is to separate her/himself and question the authority of the Australian – including those of Sri Lankan Sinhalese origin. The other way is to come through global structures. If the author Mr. Upasiri de Silva - had been asked to write on Australian officials in charge of such tenders – it is highly likely that he would not get far. This is the reason why many migrants from Sri Lanka accept racial discrimination in Australia while rejecting it in Sri Lanka. They are largely here for economic purposes. Our Australian status is as high as the level at which we discover Truth about us as Australians. I did so through the University which had new American leadership, progressed to State Government and proceeded to Federal Government. In terms of Terrorism – Mr. Howard was listening to his American counterpart – compromising on his responsibilities to global government through UN structures. The issue of war refugees was a good opportunity to invest in that system and its higher values. Mr. Howard compromised and thus lowered our earnings to protect ourselves.

I took the gradual approach – by taking action against individuals on the basis of Racial Discrimination and then consolidated to the institutional level. How they took it became their problem once I drew the line of separation in my mind. As per the Human Resource guidelines, the officials concerned ought to have separated themselves from me and taken up Equal position until they knew otherwise on merit basis. Subjective powers could be used to bring a junior in the system under the senior’s umbrella. But where the junior had actually completed that role successfully – all work beyond that – is ownership work and even if that structure does not recognize it – Natural Powers do. A wise leader would treat the person as a ‘governor’ – with respect above the administrative hierarchy.

In people rich countries like Sri Lanka and India – this stage is often reached by the genuine worker more quickly than in money rich countries like Australia and America. Hence the Australian or American guidelines would not suit Sri Lanka. If they were to be implemented – Sri Lankan Government would need to create more jobs at the top and employ foreigners to operate that part of the system – as the British did. The other alternative is through ‘service’ by expatriates in their own fields of expertise – the path I have chosen.

Leaders on both sides of the Sri Lankan war failed to realize the values of success. This failure was due to their dual systems – one to receive money and the other to spend money. The two do not meet naturally. The wider the gap the longer it would take for us to realize peace.