May 03, 2019
Apropos the letter ‘Sri Lanka’s failure’ by G. H. Peiris is well off the mark. First, Sumanthiran though a successful lawyer does not come from an “affluent” family. He comes from a typical Jaffna middle-class family. His parents are teachers like so many others in the Tamil community.
Recently Sumanthiran declared his assets one of only 5 MPs to do so voluntarily. The others were Tharaka Balasuriya, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, M.A. Sumanthiran, Vidura Wickramanayake and State Minister Eran Wickramaratne. The declaration was facilitated by Transparency International Sri Lanka.
Sumanthiran owns 3 houses built in 1920 (ancestral property in Jaffna) and in 1947 and 1949. His bank deposits amount to Rs.10,000,000 and jewellery worth Rs.500,000 (approximately).
Sumanthiran was called to the bar in 1991 and appointed as a PC in 2017. Undoubtedly Sumanthiran plays a major role in bridging the gulf between the ethnicities and the restoration of Tamil rights through democratic means.
He is one of Sri Lanka’s top human rights and constitutional lawyers. He along with Kanag Iswaran PC successfully argued against the dissolution of parliament by president Sirisena as unconstitutional last year.
As for the basic values, the answer is simple. In a plural society, every citizen must be treated equally. In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms enacted in 1982 forms part of the constitution that lays down the fundamental rights of each citizen. The Charter guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens and the civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of the government those rights and freedoms that Canadians believe are necessary for a free and democratic society.
It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights.
Though Canada is home to more than 100 ethnic groups, there is peace in the country. There are no laws like the Sinhala Only Act or the constitutional provision giving foremost place to Buddhism. The principle of separation of state and religion is followed faithfully.
In contrast, both the ethnic minorities, the Tamils and Muslims feel they have no equal protection under the law. When mosques and Muslim shops are attacked seldom or never the culprits are punished in a court of law. When Muslim traders complained to Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was president about the attacks by Buddhist mobs led by saffron-robed Bhikkus he told them to meet the attackers and seek peace!
Finally, I refuse to believe that G.H. Peiris is ignorant as he likes us to believe. He is only refusing to accept the reality that Sri Lanka is an island that has a geography from heaven and a history from hell.
The two policemen on duty at Vavunatheevu check post 3 km from Batticaloa were killed on November 30th by IS terrorists not by ex-LTTE cadres. The CID got the IS terrorists to assassinate the poor policemen just to prove that LTTE remnants are regrouping! It was a subterfuge that has backfired. Had the government not hushed up the murder of the two policemen the tragedy that struck the island nation would have been easily avoided.
What we need today is a serious paradigm shift in the way we think and the way we govern the country. The way how we look at the world and understand geopolitics.
Sri Lanka’s Failure?
May 3, 2019
M. A. Sumanthiran,
M. A. Sumanthiran, TNA MP, was reported (The Island, 1 May) to have alleged that the “Easter Sunday carnage was a result of Sri Lanka’s failure to ensure certain basic values”, and “warned of dire consequences unless the government addressed the grievance of the minorities”. That he did make such a statement with all the solemnity and suavity at his disposal was confirmed by a live TV broadcast of parts of his presentation at an event staged at the BIMCH the previous day.
Sumanthiran, I am told by those who know him, hails from an affluent family. He has lived almost throughout his life in Colombo among the multiethnic social elite of Sri Lanka, enjoying all the privileges which the nation has accorded to that elite regardless of its ethnic diversities. By attributing the “carnage” to a general failure of the nation to ensure certain “basic values” he has, implicitly, rationalized (if not justified) the carnage, just as much he would probably justify the horrendous attacks of comparable magnitude on civilians by the LTTE even as recently as a decade or so ago. Such a syllogistic speculation seems reasonable in the context of the fact that several among the present leader of the TNA were permitted to survive during the Eelam War because of their willingness to serve as the “boys” of the LTTE (a fascinating reversal of roles in our political tragicomedy), while the invincible thalaivar liquidated several others.
What, may we ask, are the “basic values” which he says our nation has failed to ensure – which presumably other nations of the world supposedly subscribing to democratic ideals have been ensuring their ‘minorities’ and thus averted terrorist attacks?
What is also of pathetic relevance is that, except for a brief denial of Sumanthiran’s charge by Dinesh Gunawardena, none of the other leaders of the country has responded to the aforesaid comment because, I believe, the pursuit of the ‘Muslim Vote’ is their overarching consideration.
G. H. Peiris