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Friday 29 July 2011

Politics and Law

I have to postpone my discussion on Arsenic and related topics as it is felt that the thirteenth amendment to the constitution needs immediate attention. As usual India and west are engaged in arm twisting exercises over the thirteenth amendment especially over police and land distribution powers. In any problem it is desirable, not scientific for anybody’s sake, to go to the origin of the problem though we may be repeating ourselves for the umpteenth time. The thirteenth amendment was imposed on us by force by India to solve a non existing ethnic problem. The amendment was based on experience of India where no unitary, eksesath or some form of centralized government existed prior to English rule. They had only dynastic kingdoms, including the so called Asokan Empire which was an extended dynastic state more than an empire. Even Chola Chola (it has some resemblance to the concept Yara Yara among the so called aborigines in and around Melbourne who named the big river Yara Yara) kingdoms that spread across the sea were mainly dynastic states though we refer to them as empires. The concept of Chola mandala reveals the dynastic character of the state. It was the English who finally ended the dynastic states and established a unitary state.

In Sri Lanka it was entirely different as we had an eksesath rajya almost from the beginning of the Sinhala civilization and we also had Epa Mapa Adipada Yuvaraja managing areas (rata karaweema) on behalf of the king. We never had emperors in this country and the Portuguese who could not understand the system called the king of Sri Lanka who reined from Kotte the Emperor. There were no independent states and even the Jaffna state was subordinate to the king in Gampola or anywhere else as the case may be. On certain occasions some of the “chieftains” tried to challenge the eksesath state and the king had to cut the chieftain down to size. It is unfortunate that no historian has done a proper study on the eksesath rajya, thus giving the Tamil racist politicians to claim that there was an independent state in Jaffna when the Portuguese conquerors came with colonialism of western Christian modernity. In any event the majority of the Jaffna population was Sinhala at that time.

Jaffna has been having a Tamil majority only after the Dutch brought the Vellalas for their tobacco cultivation in Sri Lanka. The Dutch introduced the Vellalas to South Africa as well, especially to the Natal province. The Dutch are responsible for introducing Vellalas and Roman Dutch Law to Sri Lanka and South Africa. The Tamils with the patronage extended by the Dutch soon became the majority and gradually absorbed the Sinhalas in Jaffna into their culture as “low caste” people. The Dutch instigated the Tamils to rewrite history (the infamous Yalpana Vaipava Malai being an example) especially in order to “dethrone” the Sinhala kings (whether they were originally from Andra as revealed by the term Andara Demala that referred to Telugu, or not they were Sinhala kings implying that we did not have a dynastic state, just as much the kings of England are referred to as English kings even if their origin is German) from the present eastern and northern provinces. It has to be reminded that at that time there were no Tamils in the present Eastern Province, the only Tamil speaking people in the area being Muslims who were mainly settled down by King Senerath.

The Vellalas were given preferential treatment by the Dutch and then by the English due to political reasons. The English colonialists wanted to use the English speaking among the Vellalas against the Sinhala Buddhists and wanted them (Vellalas) to be the leaders of the aborted Ceylonese nation after the Burghers were removed from the leadership. In Sri Lanka there were two streams of politics from the time English took control of the country. They being the politics of the English Christian colonialists and the so called Ceylonese nation and that of the colonialists and the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists. The Law always follows politics, and for that matter technology etc., and the politics of English and their Ceylonese nation saw that the Legislative Assembly had one member each to represent Sinhala and Tamil communities though the history, culture and demography of the island did not justify it. The politics of the English Christian colonialists and the Sinhala Buddhist nationalists did not have a legislature as such and continued to take place outside the legislature. Legislatures are there to legalize political conditions and the English had the objective of depriving the Sinhala Buddhists their due place in the country when they established the Legislative Assembly. Since then until the establishment of the State Council in 1931 it was a case of making use of the legislature to promote the English political objective of boosting the Ponnambalam family (Ramanathan, Arunachalam and their cousin Ananda Coomaraswamy) as the political and cultural leaders of Ceylon of the English. Until 1931 it was a case of giving equal or more representation to the elite Vellalas as against the elite Sinhalas. The English almost succeeded in making Ponnambalam Arunachalam the leader of the Ceylonese nation in the legislature but a miscalculation ruined their ambition.

The English wanted to make their politics more legal and gave universal franchise to the people. They thought that the Sinhalas like the Tamils could be conditioned from top and had faith in the Sinhala Christian elite who were somebodies and Sinhala Buddhist aspiring elite who were nobodies then to influence the ordinary Sinhala Buddhists and make them docile elements who would legalize the politics of the English and their Ceylonese nation. However, what the English did not realize was that Sinhala nationalism worked bottom up and not top down. The Sinhala Buddhist nationalism which had been revived by Asarana Sarana Sarannakara Sangaraja Himi (Please note that natha also means sarana and with Natha Deviyo we are into another phase of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism) was carried further during the English colonialism by Keppetipola Disawa, Puran Appu, Gongalegoda Banda, Anagarika Dharmapala (please refer articles by Gunadasa Amarasekera on this) and others. The Sinhala Buddhist nationalism had an ongoing battle with English Christian colonialism and after the establishment of the legislative assembly the tussle continued to take place outside the legislature not to the satisfaction of the English. However, what was legislated was not any outcome of this politics, but the politics of the English with the English educated elite (Ceylonese nation) in the country. The politics of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and the English colonialists was not reflected even in the state council which was the legislature after 1931. The legislature ignored the politics in the country between Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and western colonialism, and legislated for the politics of the English and their Ceylonese elite though somewhat delayed. From the point of view of the English the state council was established to get the Sinhala Buddhist majority into their stride especially through the Sinhala Buddhist leaders who had been nobodies until a few years previously.

The calculations of the English went astray, and by 1956 Sinhala Buddhist nationalism which had won the political battle outside the legislature to a certain extent, wanted their victory legalized. Fifty six elections victory was the result, but the other politics between the westerners and the Ceylonese nation was able to defeat Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in the Parliament as it had the strength of western Christian legal system. The English invariably used the Ceylonese elite including most of the western educated, against Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, and the legal structures of the westerners made sure that the victories of the Sinhala Buddhists were ignored as much as possible, and reflected the politics of the Western Christian colonialism and the Ceylonese elite.

To cut a long story short even before 1956, Chelvanayakam had realized that one day the politics between Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and western Christian colonialism would come to the forefront, and even before that the Tamils could not become leaders in the legislature, and formed his Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi to establish a separate state in what was later labeled as the Tamil homeland. This movement represented an extension of the politics of Ponnambalam family, and was supported by the west and India against Sinhala Buddhist nationalism while the legal structures were used to prevent an ultimate victory by the Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. Western knowledge including that of Law and Science with its notorious scientific method was used to manipulate the system in the legislature and in schools and universities, but the Tamil racism created and nourished by the west and India could not proceed much. Prabhakaran was the answer to the problem who introduced terrorism borrowed from JVP to the Tamil racist movement. It should be made clear that as far as Tamil racism was concerned there was no difference between Chelvanayakam and Prabhakaran. Both wanted a separate state and supported what came to be known as Vadukodai resolution. The TNA of Sumbandan has neither dissociated from the Vadukodai resolution nor denounced the terrorism of the LTTE, and politically they are not different from Prabhakaran. The Tamil racist politics had the support of the Ceylonese nation and in more than one way the politics of the Ceylonese nation was continued by the TULF.

What has to be realized is that the politics of TNA and LTTE were not different, and the LTTE under Prabhakaran was only following the politics of ITAK, TULF etc., using terrorism. Terrorism, war, operation by the armed forces are part and parcel of the politics and Tamil racism had adopted terrorism when they had realized in the seventies that the methods of the TULF would not bring the results they wanted. Thus when the armed forces defeated the LTTE in Nandikadal it was not only terrorism that was defeated but Tamil racist politics as formulated in the Vadukodai resolution. However, though Tamil racist politics have been defeated in the political field between Sinhala nationalism and western Christian colonialism, it still operates in the political field between the aborted Ceylonese nation and western colonialism. The latter has no mass base even with the so called diaspora, which has become powerless in spite of western sponsorship, and now it is simply a virtual politics maintained through media and cyber space.

On the other hand the law lags behind politics and the thirteenth amendment is a case in point. This amendment reflected the politics between western Christian colonialism and the Ceylonese nation that was supported by India, and was a so called solution to the ethnic problem as formulated by the Ceylonese nation. This politics has been defeated and there is no need for a thirteenth amendment, which was added to the constitution to accommodate the demand of the Ceylonese nation during J R Jayawardene’s time. It reflects the politics of the western Christian colonialism and their Ceylonese nation that has been defeated for good at Nandikadal. It is the politics that was defeated through military power and there is no ground whatsoever for the Ceylonese nation represented by TNA to ask for discussions based on the thirteenth amendment. All these discussions had taken place with IKTA, TULF, LTTE, and after the military defeat of LTTE, the Sri Lankan government should not go back to square one, simply because western powers and India are insisting or implying that the government should do so. It is nothing but interference with the sovereignty of the country and the government should not heed to these foreigners. What has to be done is to legislate to suit the new political conditions or in the words of pundits the post war condition. If Churchill was asked to go back to negotiations with the Nazi rump after the so called second world war how would have he reacted? It is the Ceylonese rump that wants thirteen or thirteen plus which has been defeated by Sinhala Buddhist nationalism at Nandikadal, and not the ordinary Tamils who think of some kind of development whatever the model may be. The government should cater to the ordinary Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and not to the Ceylonese rump. (11/07/20)

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva