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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

SLMC Amphibians Inside UNP’s Elephant Kraal

Amphibians are at home in two or more places but are native to none of them. This has been the unfortunate saga of the SLMC since its emergence as an independent political party in the 1990s. When it originated the party leaders proclaimed that they would be the sole representatives of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and that they would live and die for that community. But the reality was totally different. In trying win parliamentary seats, ministerial positions and wealth seeking opportunities the SLMC stalwarts were willing to sacrifice the interests of the community for personal gain. Even when they bargained for a coalition partnership the chips they bargained with were not benefits to the community but the number of ministries that the leaders would get and the power of such ministries. This was so blatantly demonstrated at the last general elections.

Which political party in the world, can someone point out to me, did sacrifice its own identity, merge completely with another, won parliamentary seats and ministerial positions, and then did go on to claim that the original party was still a force to reckon with and a fortress for its native vote bank? This is exactly what the SLMC and its parvenus are claiming in the Eastern Province. This braggadocio is risible at best and mendacious at worst.

Ranil Hakeem Kandy 

When the Uva Provincial Council elections were held during the waning months of the Rajapaksa regime SLMC contested to test the waters. The rout it received from the Muslims of Uva signalled to the leaders that the same fate would be repeated if SLMC were to contest a general election under its own banner. All SLMC political aspirants except one from Eravur cowardly deserted their own party, obtained tickets under the UNP and entered the parliament through the UNP door. Logically, morally and in terms of institutional structure therefore, that sole winner from Eravur, Ali Zahir Mowlana, should automatically become the leader of the SLMC rump. It is to avoid that eventuality SLMC leadership has now started beating the drums. I have called earlier for the dissolution of the SLMC. The party’s financial and real estate assets should be handed over to another charitable Muslim organization or to the Waqf. This may not happen that easily because of vested interests within SLMC.

UNP’s own strength in the national government is so vulnerable that its leader has to tolerate these amphibians and their braggadocio. If the government were to collapse because of internal fighting between the UNP and the SLFP faction under MS – which possibility cannot be dismissed so easily – and if the President were to call for another General Election the SLMC amphibians will be looking for a an alternative abode to settle; and who knows it may be even BBS if the winds of electoral fortune were to blow in its favour.

If there is one lesson that the SLMC should learn from the last election, it is this: You can fool some people all the time, all the people some time but not all the people all the time.

The national parties including the JVP should become totally national in their structure, composition and policies in order to leave the ethnic parties like the SLMC out in the wilderness. As a first step towards that the Tamil problem should be addressed with sincerity and settled.

For all intents and purposes the SLMC is dead. It is time to say amen (amin) to the requiem (talqin).

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Management and Governance, Murdoch University

More reading of Dr. Ameer Ali, click here>>>


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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Minorities – The Problem Of The Twenty First Century

The great black American ideologue W.E.B. Du Bois wrote “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”. I hold that the problem of the twenty first century is the problem of minorities. Let me first clarify what Du Bois had in mind in making his famous statement. He was universalist in his outlook, not tribalist or narrowly nationalist. By the colored he had in mind not only black Americans or black Africans but also the colored peoples of Afro-Asia and of the rest of the world. His prescience was shown by the end of the century. The US was a short way away from having its first black President, the decolonization of the coloured peoples of the world was virtually completed by the mid ‘seventies, China has emerged as a great power, and India is in the process of doing so. The colored peoples of the earth have arisen.

That was part of the process of the wretched of the earth arising. Actually the not-so-wretched of the earth also keep arising, so that we are witnessing a revolutionary process that is going on right across the globe. At this point I must make a clarification of my use of the word “revolution” which the Marxists in particular would regard as illegitimate. Their conception of revolution – or rather the Marxist-Leninist conception – is that after the masses overthrow the bourgeois regime the Marxist-Leninist vanguard Party takes over to complete the revolution. That has led to dystopia practically everywhere it has been tried out. But a revolutionary process has been going on without mass revolution, of which there have been very few in history. For instance, we cannot deny the term “revolutionary” to the enormous changes effected by the feminist movement, but there was no mass revolution behind that. Sri Lanka experienced revolutionary changes during the last century without a mass revolution, and at present we are talking about the January 8 Revolution, quite rightly I think because the entrenching of democracy has to be seen as part of an ongoing revolutionary process.

Tamil Refugees In Tamilnadu 

There are, in my view, two major causative factors behind the continuing global revolutionary process. One is education. Every government of the third world gave importance to the spread of mass education after gaining independence. The consequence is that the aspirations towards a better life by ascending the socio-economic ladder has been widening. Those aspirations start with literacy and primary education and keep widening as the people ascend to the higher levels of education. The second causative factor is the human ability to create wealth. In the traditional society wealth was limited and the best that could be done was to create a low-level equilibrium by meeting the basic needs of the people and not much more than that while the ruling classes and groups enjoyed the surplus. The human ability to create wealth came with the modern industrial society, and with that came widening opportunities for ascent up the socio-economic ladder. Those are the two major factors behind the revolutionary process that are relevant to the problem of minorities in the contemporary world.

So the colored peoples of the earth arose in the course of the last century and ended the overt domination of the colored by the whites which began in the sixteenth century. That was the result of the revolutionary processes that I have outlined above. But the world is far, far indeed from Utopia. The major reason is that the domination and oppression of the colored by the white has been replaced by the domination and oppression of the colored by the colored. That is why today so many of the colored want to emigrate to the white West. In Sri Lanka it is not only the minorities but a substantial proportion of the Sinhalese who want to get the hell out of the Island Paradise and Go West. The truth is that the proclivity to domination and oppression does not recognize the color line. Both colored and whites can behave like utter bastards, but for the time being the Western whites are less prone to do so.

What has gone wrong? Power passed from the hands of the whites to the colored, which was an entirely beneficent process. But it passed into the hands of the colored elites, which could turn out to be a maleficent process because elites can abuse power. More precisely the problem was that power passed into the hands of the colored elites in the form of the nation state, and the problem there was that the nation state inevitably tends to privilege the majority ethnic group. The nation state is a relatively new state formation, just about a couple of centuries old though in some countries it existed in incipient form for centuries. The reason why it tends to privilege the majority ethnic group is that it is based on the concept that on the principle of self-determination a nation is entitled to have its own state, and the nation in practice means the majority ethnic group which usually has the power to lord it over the minorities.

The exceptionally high degree of unity forged by the Western nation states was a major factor behind their exceptionally high achievement levels, which enabled them to dominate the rest of the globe. Understandably after 1945 decolonization took place through the establishment of nation states in Afro-Asia. Practically all of them were multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, so that all of them had to face the problem of creating unity in diversity and a sense of national identity. It was a process that sometimes took centuries for completion in the West. France for instance has forged a high sense of national unity but as late as the French Revolution of 1789 less than half the French people were French-speaking. On the whole the Afro-Asian countries have been failing in achieving the degree of unity characteristic of the Western countries.

The main reason for this failure is the refusal or inability to give fair and equal treatment to the ethnic minorities. What are the implications of that fact? First of all we must take count of the fact that there are very few countries in the world that are ethnically homogeneous, with ethnic minorities that are too minuscule to pose any serious problems. According to one count there are only four such countries, according to another just twelve. Furthermore in many countries the minorities are quite substantial in number, as in Sri Lanka, with the potential to threaten their unity. Taking count of the enormous Muslim minority in India, it appears that the minorities in the world have to be counted by the hundred million. Next we must take into account the revolutionary process that is going on right across the globe, which I have outlined earlier in this article. As education widens and economic opportunities increase, more and more of the ethnic minorities will be demanding the good things of life. It has to be expected that dissatisfied minorities can come to constitute a disruptive and even revolutionary force in the course of this century.

What should be done about the problem of the minorities? It is a huge subject on which I have to be very brief in the concluding part of this article. In principle oppressed minorities should be allowed their own nation states provided they have a legitimate claim to a homeland, meaning a territory to which they are indigenous. But on that principle there will be hundreds of nation states. That is evidently one of the reasons why the international community has refused to recognize the so-called principle of the right of self-determination. Perhaps in a few cases, where everything else has failed and majoritarian oppression is intolerable, the international community should explicitly support and actively promote the setting up of new nation states.

As I have pointed out there is an in-built propensity in the nation state to privilege the dominant ethnic majority. On grounds of equity therefore, bearing in mind the rights of minorities by the hundred million, the proper place for the nation state is in the dustbin of history. But that consummation is not in the offing, and besides in the present phase of history the nation state has its use as a bulwark for small nations against bullying and oppression by the big ones. Perhaps the best that can be done under the circumstances is for the international community to become much more active in promoting the legitimate interests of minorities within the framework of the nation state. That will entail a serious erosion of the sovereignty of nation states – a welcome development surely considering that the racist nation state has been, as in Sri Lanka, an abomination. The starting point in giving the minorities their due should be recognition by the international community that the problem of the twenty first century is the problem of minorities. (Izeth Hussain)

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Minority Politicians In The National Government

The country marks another historical milestone with the selection of Mr R. Sampanthan, a Tamil MP by ethnicity, as the opposition leader of the Parliament. It was Mr Amirthaligam MP who occupied the post of opposition leader of the Parliament in 1977. Scholars posit that this new turn of event symbolizes a healthy dimension of democracy and is a sign of peace and reconciliation restoring in the country, following the silent revolution that took place in January 8, 2015.

Debates on the opposition leader

This selection stirred a stiff resistance among the hardcore Sinhalese in and out of the Parliament saying that this could lead to a division of the country and the Tamils would take an upper hand in all the affairs. However, this superficial argument can be debunked under several dimensions:

1) Mr Sampanthan, by being the opposition leader, cannot do anything silly to compromise the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, given that the national government(some people dub it as a coalition government) has been formed,

2) it is naïve to argue that Sampanthan should not have been selected as the opposition leader, thanks to his ascribed ethnicity; it is indeed notable that this is not the first time that a Tamil MP has been selected as the opposition leader,

3) all those who excoriate and vent their anger and frustration on the selection of Sampanthan turned a blind eye when the powerful Eastern LTTE Leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, popularly known as Karuna, was made as the Vice President of SLFP, a MP and subsequently as the powerful minister in the Mahinda government, and

4) while Karuna engaged in a fierce battle, for the sole purpose of attaining the Tamil Ealam, with the government forces before being drawn in with Mahinda government, Sampanthan entered into the democratic realm of the Parliament and fought for the legitimate concerns of Tamil speaking people over the years.

tna slmcAll these reasons negate the thesis advanced by certain elements with vested interests that the selection of Sampanthan as the opposition leader is inimical to the country. However, there is a great deal of responsibility upon the shoulder of Mr Sampanthan, who undertakes the task of the opposition leader in the Parliament. He should do justice to the position he holds; he should reflect, not only the legitimate concerns of the Tamil speaking community in the Parliament, but all the citizens, regardless of the ethnic and religious differences, of the country. It is intriguing that the maiden speech delivered by Mr Sampanthan, as the opposition leader, highlighted the fact that he would represent all the communities in the Parliament, particularly the concerns of the Sinhala community, and thus, he registered his strong reservation over the jumbo-cabinet numbering to almost 100 to be formed under the national government.

As Jayadeva Uyangoda aptly noted in one of his recent articles, the new government would undertake three gigantic, but achievable tasks: 1) expedite the appointments of members to the constitutional councils formulated under the 19th amendment to the constitution, 2) engage in the process of electoral reforms, and 3) endeavor to provide regional autonomy to the minorities (Uyangoda, 2015). It is significant to note that the role of politicians representing the minority communities- Tamils and Muslims, is paramount in the context of the new government engaging in the tasks outlined above.

Unity between Tamil and Muslim Politicians

As noted above, there is a greater role for the minority party politicians to play, especially in the process of electoral reforms and regional autonomy. It is heartening that both Muslims and Tamils have more than 20 members in the present Parliament, with a few of them occupying the post as cabinet, state and deputy ministers. However, such a scenario would be changed if the electoral reforms were to be implemented. Although the possibility of Tamil representation in the proposed 20th amendment on electoral reforms being diluted is very marginal, Muslims are at the receiving end. The Muslim politicians representing various political parties should bury their differences under the carpet in order to ensure their representation in the Parliament is safeguarded. They, if united, can exert a great deal of pressure, with an alliance of Tamil politicians, to the government headed by the UNP for a fair share in the electoral reforms and ensure that Single as well as Multi-Member Constituencies for minorities across the country is enacted in the proposed 20th amendment. It would be a historical blunder, if the Muslim politicians failed to forge alliance and exerted their pressure upon the major political parties at this juncture.

Autonomy within autonomy

The current trajectory of the national government underlines that it could endeavor to find a long lasting solution to the protracted ethnic issue; it would be in a process of providing regional autonomy to the Tamil speaking people. The question, here, arises whether the Tamil polity would recognize the Muslims as a nation or ethnic group to share the autonomy with them. In fact, it would be inevitable for the Tamil polity to recognize Muslim community, particularly those living in the North and East and share the autonomy within autonomy, to bridge the gap between the communities and for the durable relationship in the region. The history has shown that the moderates in both camps – Tamils and Muslims, have indicated rooms for rapprochement. They would, I am optimistic, find ways and means to iron out their differences and go for a solution acceptable to the both communities, if they were to be given autonomy by the government. (Aboobacker Rameez)

*Dr. Aboobacker Rameez is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka(SEUSL), and he could be reached at <aramees2001@gmail.com>.   

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

முஸ்லிம் அரசியல் களம் – சில அவதானங்கள்

புதியதொரு பாரளுமன்றத்தை நாம் தெரியப் போகிறோம். இந்நாட்டுப் பிரஜைகள் நாம். முஸ்லிம் சிறுபான்மையினர். நாட்டுக்கு ஆற்ற வேண்டிய கடமைகள் எமக்குள்ளன. அத்தோடு நாம் எம்மை பலப்படுத்திக் கொள்வது அக் கடமையை ஆற்ற எம்மைத் தகுதியுள்ளவர்களாக ஆக்கும். பலவீன சமூகம் அடுத்த சமூகங்களுக்காக உழைப்பது எப்படிப் போனாலும் தன்னைக் காத்துக் கொள்வதே அதற்குப் பெரும் சிரமமாகும். அரசியல் பலம் எம்மைப் பலப்படுத்துவதற்கான முக்கிய சாதனங்களில் ஒன்று .

இந்நிலையில் எமது அரசியல் தலைமைகளிடமிருந்தும், கட்சிகளிடமிருந்தும் நாம் எதிர்பார்ப்பது என்ன?

01.இன உணர்வு கூர்மையடையாமல் தமது நடத்தைகள், பேச்சுக்களை அமைத்துக் கொள்ளும் ஆற்றல் உள்ளவர்களாக அவர்கள் இருக்க வேண்டும்.
இன உணர்வு திட்டமிட்டு மிகக் கவனமாக வளர்க்கப்பட்டு வருகிறது என்பதில் சந்தேகமில்லை.

அது மிக மெதுவாக வளர்ந்தாலும் வளர்ந்து வருகிறது என்ற உண்மையை எப்போதும் நாம் கவனத்திற் கொள்ள வேண்டும்.

எனவே ஓரளவு நீண்ட எதிர்காலத்தில் எமது பௌதீக, மானசீக வாழ்வுக்கானவை அச்சுறுத்தல் தோன்ற இடமுள்ளது என்பதில் சந்தேகமில்லை.
இச்சூழலில் எமது தலைமைகளிடம் இந் நிலையிலிருந்து சமூகத்தைக் காக்கும் திட்டம் அல்லது திறனுள்ளதா?

இங்கு எதிர்காலத்தில் இரு விடயங்கள் மீள் பரிசீலனைக்குட்படுத்த வேண்டும்:

அ) தனிக்கட்சி அரசியல்
ஆ) முஸ்லிம்களை மட்டுமே எமது பிரதிநிதிகளாகத் தெரிவு செய்ய வேண்டும் என்ற சமூக மனநிலை.

இம் முறை கண்டி போன்ற பிரதேசங்களில் சகோதர சமூகத்தில் உள்ள ஒருவரைத் தெரிவு செய்யும் சந்தர்ப்பம் கிடைத்துள்ளது. அந்த சந்தர்ப்பத்தைப் நன்கு பயன்படுத்துவதன் மூலம் இதனை ஆரம்பித்து வைக்க முடியும்.
தேசிய பங்களிப்பு, அரசியல் மைய நீரோட்டத்தில் கலத்தல் என்ற அதிமுக்கிய அம்சம் குறித்த எமது திட்டம், பொறி முறை என்ன? என்பது தலைமைகளிடமிருந்து எதிர்பார்க்கப்படும் இன்னொரு அம்சம்.

02. முஸ்லிம் சமூகத்தின் மானசீக இருப்பு – மார்க்கம், கலாச்சாரம், தனித்துவம் என்பவற்றைக் காப்பது என்றால் என்ன? அதற்கான திட்டமும், வழி முறையும் எமது அரசியல் தலைமைகளிடம் காணப்படல் முதன்மையான அம்சங்களில் ஒன்று.

03. எமது பௌதீக இருப்பைப் பலப்படுத்தல்: இது இரு கருத்துக்களைக் கொடுக்கும்

அ) கல்வி, பொருளாதார ரீதியாகப் பலம் பெறல்.
ஆ) முஸ்லிம் கிராமங்களின் கீழ்க் கட்டமைப்பைப் பலப்படுத்தல்.

இறுதியாகச் சொன்ன முஸ்லிம் சமூகத்தோடு நேரடியாகச் சம்பந்தப்படும் விவகாரங்களை கையாள்வது முதற்சொன்ன பகுதியோடு முரண்பட்டுச் செல்லாது அவதானமாக இருப்பதுவும் அவசியமாகும்.

இத்தகைய போக்கு கொண்ட ஒப்பீட்டு ரீதியாக சிறந்த தலைவர்களை நாம் தெரிவு செய்வோமாக.

முஸ்லிம் அரசியற் களத்தில் இரு புதிய அம்சங்களை இம்முறை காண்கிறோம்.
ஒரு புதிய அரசியல் பிரவேசம் : NFGG என்ற புதிய கட்சி பாராளுமன்றத் தேர்தலில் இறங்கும் முடிவுக்கு வந்தமை. அந்தவகையில் முஸ்லிம் காங்கிரஸோடு இணைந்துள்ளமை.
இக்கட்சியில் இஸ்லாமிய சிந்தனைப் பின்னணி கொண்டோரும் இணைந்துள்ளனர்.
இந்தப் பிரவேசம் முஸ்லிம்களுக்கு ஒரு புதிய அரசியல் தலைமையை உருவாக்குமா என்பது காலம் சொல்ல வேண்டிய பதில். எனினும் அதனைச் சாத்தியப்படுத்த அவர்கள் கையாள வேண்டிய முறைகள் பற்றிய சில ஆலோசனைகளை முன்வைப்பது அவசியம் எனக் கருதுகிறோம்.

01) பாராளுமன்ற அங்கத்துவம் கிடைத்த போதும் அமைச்சுப் பதவிகள் எதனையும் ஏற்காதிருத்தல்.

உடனேயே வேகமாக அரசியலில் முன்னேறுவது அபாயகரமானது. நான் எங்கே காலடி வைக்கிறேன் என்பதை அவதானித்து மிகவும் நிதானமாகவும், அவதானமாகவும், மெதுவாகவும் செல்வது மிக அவசியம்.

இந்நிலையில் வேலைப் பழு குறைவாக இருப்பதால் மக்களோடு அதிகமதிகம் தொடர்பு வைக்கவும், தொடர்ந்தும் களத்திலிருக்கவும் பெரியளவு உதவும்.

02) இஸ்லாமிய அரசியல் என்ற கருத்தில் இஸ்லாமிய வார்த்தைப் பிரயோகங்கள், கதையாடல்களைத் தவிர்த்தல். இன்னொரு வகையில் சொன்னால் இஸ்லாத்தை அரசியல் களத்திற்கு இழுக்காதிருத்தல்.

இது பல விடயங்களுக்காக மிக அவசியமானது.

அ) சிறுபான்மை சமூகமொன்றில் இது பிழையான மனப் பாதிப்புகளை அடுத்த சமூகங்களில் ஏற்படுத்தும். சிங்கள, தமிழ் தீவிரவாதத்திற்கு அது துணை புரியும்.
ஆ) அடுத்த கட்சிகளின் முஸ்லிம் அரசியல் வாதிகளும் இஸ்லாம் பேசத் தூண்டப் படுவார்கள், அது பெரும் பாலும் தப்பும், தவறுமாக அமையும்.
இ) அரசியல் பற்றிய வரைவிலக்கணம் சொன்ன இஸ்லாமிய சட்ட அறிஞர்களும் கூட“மக்களை தீமைகள், சீர்கேடுகளை விட்டு அப்புறப்படுத்தி நலன்களை சாதித்துக் கொடுத்தல்” என்றே சொன்னார்கள்.

சிறுபான்மை முஸ்லிம் அரசியலில் முழுமையாகப் காணப்படுவது நன்மைகளைச் சாதித்தலேயாகும். அதுவே சிறுபான்மை அரசியல் தத்துவத்தின் ஒரு முக்கிய அம்சமாகும்.
இப்பின்னணியில் அதற்கான வேலைத்திட்டங்களையும் தயாரிப்பதுவும், அவற்றை சாதிப்பதுவுமே முழுமையாகக் கவனம் செலுத்தப்பட வேண்டிய விடயமாகும்.
இந்தக் கருத்தோட்டத்தின் இன்னொரு அம்சமே இஸ்லாமிய இயக்கங்களோடு தொடர்பு வைக்காதிருத்தலும், அவ்வியக்கங்கள் களமிறங்காமல் இருத்தலுமாகும். இது இரு சாராரையும் பாதுகாப்பதற்கு மிக முக்கியமாக உதவும்.

இஸ்லாமிய உலகிலேயே தஃவாவையும், அரசியலையும் கலக்கக் கூடாது என்ற கருத்து வலுப்பெற்று நடைமுறையாகி வரும் சூழல் இது சிறுபான்மை சமூகத்தைப் பொறுத்தவரையில் இது மிக முக்கியமானது.

03) முஸ்லிம் சமூகம் வரலாறு நெடுகிலும் இணக்க அரசியல் போக்கையே கடைப்பிடித்து வந்தது. காங்கிரஸின் முன்னால் தலைவர் மர்ஹும் பிணக்க அரசியலாக அதனை மாற்ற முயன்றார். ஆனால் அது முழுமையடையவில்லை.

தமிழ் சமூகத்தினர் இணக்க அரசியலில் துவங்கினார்கள். தமிழ்த் தலைவர் செல்வ நாயகம் அதனை பிணக்க அரசியலாக மாற்றி ஆனால் சாத்வீகப் போராட்டமாகக் கொண்டு சென்றார். பிறகு அது ஆயுத போரட்ட அரசியலாக மாறியது.

சகோதர சமூகமொன்றின் இந்த அனுபவமும் எம் முன்னே உள்ளது. இப்போது நாம் எவ்வாறு செல்லப் போகிறோம் என்ற தத்துவார்த்தப் பின்னணியொன்று எம்மிடம் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

 அதனை NFGG உருவாக்கி கொள்ளல் அவர்களுக்கு முன்னே உள்ள பெரும் பொறுப்பாகும்.

04) அரசியல் மைய நீரோட்டத்தில் கலத்தல் என்ற கருத்தோட்டத்தை சாதிப்பது எவ்வாறு என்பது மிகவும் ஆழ்ந்து சிந்திக்கப்பட வேண்டிய ஓர் அம்சமாகும். அதற்கு ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சியோடு இணைந்திருத்தலை ஒரு சந்தர்ப்பமாகப் பயன் படுத்திக் கொள்ளலாமா? அதற்கான பொறிமுறை என்ன? என்பது இப்பின்னணியில் ஆலோசிக்கப் படவேண்டிய விடயமாகும்.

05) இறுதியாக அரசியல் கட்சி என்பதை விட அரசியல் நிறுவனமாக இயங்கல் என்ற நிலை பற்றி NFGG அதிகமதிகம் சிந்திக்க வேண்டும். இரண்டிற்குமிடையிலான வேறுபாடு தெளிவு என்பதால் விவரமாக விளக்கத் தேவையில்லை என நம்புகிறேன்.

முஸ்லிம் அரசியல் களத்தில் இரண்டாவது முக்கிய அம்சம் இம்முறை முஸ்லிம்களில் குறிப்பிடத்தக்களவு தொகையினர் JVP க்கு ஆதரவாக இயங்கத் துவங்கியுள்ளனர். இதற்கான காரணமென்ன என்பதை ஆராய்வதை விட இதனை எவ்வாறு சாதகமாகப் பயன்படுத்திக் கொள்ளலாம் என்பது முக்கியம் எனக் கருதுகிறேன்.

1. முஸ்லிம்கள் அரசியல் மைய நீரோட்டத்தில் கலப்பதற்கான ஒரு முக்கிய வாயில் இதுவாகும். JVP இல் இணைந்தமை வெறும் உணர்ச்சி பூர்வ நிலையாலும், நம்பிக்கையீனத்தாலும் உருவான முடிவாக இல்லாமல் JVP இல் நுழைந்தவர்கள் இவ்விடயத்தைக் கவனத்தில் கொள்வது அதனை வளர்க்க முயல்வது மிக முக்கியமாகும்.

2. முஸ்லிம்கள் தேசிய நலனில் அக்கறை கொண்டவர்கள் வெறுமனே சந்தர்ப்பவாத அரசியலை மட்டுமே கொண்டு செல்பவர்களல்ல என்ற கருத்தைப் பரவலாகவும் முஸ்லிம்கள் பற்றிய பிழையான மனப்பதிவை நீக்கவும் இது உதவ முடியும்.

இன உணர்வு கூர்மையடைவதிலிருந்து பாதுகாக்கவும் இத்தகையதொரு அரசியல் பிரவேசம் பெரியளவு உதவும்.,

ஆனால் இங்கு முக்கியமானது என்னவென்றால் அக்கட்சியின் வினைத்திறன்மிக்க உழைப்பாளர்களாக அங்கு நுழையும் முஸ்லிம் தலைமைகள் இருக்க வேண்டும். இந்த நாட்டின் தேசியக் கட்சிகளை உருவாக்குதல், வளர்த்தலில் முஸ்லிம் தலைமகைளுக்கு ஒரு குறிப்பிடத்தக்க பங்குண்டு என்பது வரலாறு. இக்கட்சியைப் பொறுத்தவரையிலும் அப்பங்கை வகிக்கும் திறன் அங்கு நுழையும் முஸ்லிம் தலைமைகளுக்கு இருக்க வேண்டும்.
இவ்வாறு எழுதுவது கண்டு முஸ்லிம் வாக்கைச் சிதறச் செய்வதற்கு இது காரணமாக அமையும் என சிலர் கூறலாம். ஒரு மாற்றத்தை உருவாக்க ஆரம்பத்தில் சில நஷ்டங்களைச் சகித்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும் என்ற உண்மையை நாம் இங்கு கவனத்திற்கு கொள்ள வேண்டும். எந்த நஷ்டமுமின்றி ஒரு மாற்றத்தை நாம் உருவாக்க முடியாது.

அடுத்த முக்கிய அம்சம் நாம் பாராளுமன்றத்திற்கு அனுப்புவர்களின் தொகையையல்ல, தரத்தையே எப்போதும் கவனத்திற்கு கொள்ள வேண்டும்.

முஸ்லிம் வாக்காளர்கள் எப்போதும் வாக்களித்தல் என்பது ஒரு அமானிதம், ஒரு சாட்சி பகர்தல் என்பதைக் கவனத்திற் கொள்வார்களாக.

அமானிதத்தைப் பாதுகாத்தல் ஒரு முஸ்லிமின் அடிப்படைப் பண்பு. பொய்ச் சாட்சியம் ஒரு பயங்கரப் பாவம். (mansoor)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ugly Muslim Politics in Sri Lanka

I am one of the keen observers of the Muslim politics from the time the Muslims felt sidelined and realised the need for a separate Muslim political party to raise their concerns in the parliament since mid-1980s. I am also closely listening and watching the election campaigns by the Muslim political parties’ candidates since the nominations were called for the 2015 general election. In the campaign meetings I hear the pathetic stories of the Muslim candidates who contest in various political parties – Muslim parties and major national parties. These Muslim candidates are mainly trying to attract sympathy votes by stereotyping their personal grievances and using other tactics such as creating regional and communal feelings, character assassinations of opponents and promising national list MPs. I can give a few examples to demonstrate how ugly the Muslim politics is. One of the Muslim candidates is repeating in almost all the meetings why he left one Muslim party and joined the other. He was also telling the audience, as the major component of his speech, how he was ill-treated by the party he had just left. Another leader of a Muslim political party who was overwhelmingly received by the people of the village and so excited by the reception suddenly declared and promised a national list MP to the candidate who organised the meeting. I am sure this candidate will cross over to another party if the leader does not deliver the promise. This party leader was also promising to the audience that he would obtain the so-called Kalmunai costal district if his party secured two seats from Digamadulla district and asking the voters to vote for his party. To give such a false promise, he may be certain that his party will not secure two seats from the district and therefore, he will not need to demand for a costal district from the government after the election. It also implies that the services he is going to provide to the people of this region depends on the number of seats his party secures in the election. Isn’t he going to demand for the Kalmunai costal district if his party does not secure two seats in Digamadulla district? The leader of this very small regional party has made the similar promises in many other districts wherever his party contests!.

Hakeem 

In-fighting within each political party is also getting worse day by day. A meeting of a Muslim political party was abruptly interrupted because one of the participants criticised the party leader for not nominating the former MP of his electorate in the national list ! Further, the candidates of the same party are critical of each other in the contest of getting the highest votes in each district they contest. In another meeting, one of the Muslim candidates was making a thunderous speech to get a local council for the village he was born as the main task if he was elected as an MP and asking the audience to vote for him. He was also blaming another party leader for his inability to get it done in the past. But he failed to explain how it would solve the burning issues facing the people of the area. He was also pleading the audience to caste one vote for the main candidate in the district list and another vote for him. In most of the election campaign meetings, I could also hear their calculations of securing two or three seats in parliament in respect of each district they contested. In every meeting there were character assassinations of the opposite party candidates. Further, regionalism plays a major role in attracting the local voters. The campaigns target even chasing the Muslim politicians/leaders out of the region/district who come from other regions/districts and campaigning for their candidates. The Muslims are now divided very much by their party affiliations, regional biases and on personal grounds. Offensive, filthy and vulgar languages are limitless in these election campaign meetings. The ugly inter-party and intra party rivalry among the Muslim candidates is becoming worse day by day since the poll date is nearing closer.

In the mean time, the main stream parties including JVP have released their manifestos explaining their policies and programmes if they are elected to the parliament and form the government. Even the small parties mainly targeting voters in the South and the Tamil parties targeting voters in the North and the East have released their manifestos and it is very clear what they intend to deliver to the voters if they are elected to the parliament. The manifestos contain some clear policies and programmes and the strategies how they are going to implement them. Therefore, in the lack of any credible policies and programmes with the Muslim political parties and their candidates, how are the Muslim voters going to choose a party and their candidates? Are the Muslims going to vote for these parties and their candidates on the basis of the above mentioned their rivalry, nasty in-fights and false promises? I believe that the Muslim voters are more mature now than ever before and therefore they will study and evaluate the sole motive of these candidates for contesting in the election and cast their very valuable votes wisely. It is also very important for them to vote for only one party in large number to restore their identity and bargaining power which they have already lost. Therefore, when choosing a party and a candidate the Muslim voters may consider the following:

First of all the individual voters should know the problems facing the Muslim community today regionally and nationally. In other words, what they are looking for from a candidate. There are some problems that are specific to a particular province, district or electorate. There are also problems affecting the Muslims nationally. They should also evaluate the past performance of individual candidates and trust worthiness and elect the candidate who can deliver the ‘goods”. From their experience as voters, they must know the position the candidate will take if he is elected on each issue they are concerned with. It is also very important to elect the experienced and honest politicians who can really deliver their promises. In addition they should also consider the leadership qualities of the candidates. They should not vote for a candidate if he does not possess the qualities and experience they expect from him. When considering the national issues, one of the main issues facing the Muslim community today is the freedom to practice their religion. The Muslims should have similar freedom and opportunities like other communities living in the regions and in the country. This is their right guaranteed by the constitution. Today the Muslims fear to practice their religion freely. There are obstacles and criticisms from some racist elements. Therefore, they feel insecure when they practice their religion.

Also there are numerous other problems nationally. For examples, youth unemployment, slow economic growth, poor education policies, sky rocketing cost of living, deteriorating standard of living, poverty, inflation, fiscal and monetary policies related other issues, international relations etc. Regionally or locally, there may be numerous specific problems such as lack of resources in the schools, land and colonisation problems, loss of political representation, irrigation problem, local economic and industrial development etc. Further, there is no equitable allocation of government resources and therefore underdeveloped Muslim areas continue to be underdeveloped. But the voters can clearly note in the election campaign meetings that the Muslim candidates are evading these burning issues and talking about unimportant factors to the voters.

With regard to the leadership qualities, they consider the honesty, reliability, trust worthiness, intelligence, personal character, free of criminal convictions, communication skills specially who can raise the issue in parliament effectively and efficiently.

The most important factor here in selecting a candidate is seeing through distortion techniques. All the candidates are trying to sell themselves to the voters. In many cases, they use the languages that they are so skilfully crafted that they distort the truth in a way that is difficult even for the most careful observer to detect. They attack opponents based on characteristics that may not be true. They also make references to region, for example. The region of a leader where he comes from will not affect his performance. At the last minute, the opposite candidates may also spread rumours about withdrawals or supporting the opponent. This is not a factor at all they should consider in electing a candidate as their representative in the parliament.

The popular magic words such as ‘good governance’, ‘rule of law’ and ‘justice’ should not influence you to choose a candidate because you have not seen such things in practical Sri Lankan situation so far although the politicians use those terms even without fully understanding their meanings.
In many cases the voters can see these politicians are passing the blame to the opponents for not doing certain things. In that case the voters should pose a question to these candidates that what they themselves have done for your community in the past? This blame game they can see in a stereo type in all the campaign meetings of all the candidates.

The voters can also see some candidates or political party leaders are promising the ‘Sky’. They should not believe in this. For example, one of the Muslim political party leaders said ‘he will obtain Kalmunai costal district before Ranil Wickremesingha sits in the Prime Ministerial seat if his party secures two seats in Digamadulla district’. But he failed to tell the voters how he would be getting this! The voters were well aware that this demand was opposed by both the major political parties of this country vehemently in the past before the presidential election. Another Muslim party leader lauded that his party would secure 10 seats in parliament in the general election. These are unrealistic promises and assertions that the voters will realise if they study the ground situation well.

Therefore, in brief, the voters should consider the leadership quality, character, past experience, communication skills, reliability, trust worthiness and ability to address the real issues, clear objectives, policies and strategies for the wellbeing of community, realistic promises and ability to deliver them when voting for a candidate/party. The Muslims should reject the politicians who gave broken promises in the past elections and deceived them to secure parliament seats and enjoy perks. This is their very important and esteem responsibility for their community and for their nation. They should use their intelligence, knowledge and experience for this. In fact those who can preserve the good image of the Muslims should be elected to the parliament. (Dr. MYM Siddeek)

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Muslims seek Solutions to their Problems; Not Ministerial Portfolios


Will the burning issues of the island’s Muslim community be addressed under a United National Front for Good Governance, UNFGG, government led by United National Party?

This has become the main common concern especially of the civil society of the Muslim community island wide. This is especially so in the context of the presence of Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, SLMC, and its splinter groups in the UNFGG.

They express the fear that the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, and its splinter groups which have entered into agreements with the UNP, will accept ministerial portfolios in the event of a UNFGG victory in the forthcoming August 17 parliamentary elections and abandon the community as they had repeatedly done in the past.

This has been SLMC’s and their splinter groups’ track record .Therefore Muslims are keen to prevent the SLMC and its splinter groups hijacking the community in the forthcoming August 17 parliamentary election for positions and personal benefits. 

As rightly pointed out by the leader of Tamil National Alliance, TNA, leader Mr. Sampanthan in his Sunday 19 July 2015 interview with Virakesari”, The SLMC failed to forge Tamil – Muslim unity and let down the Muslim community on several occasions although the Muslims, living scattered all over the island, need to live in harmony with Tamils in the north and east and the Sinhalese in the rest of the country. 

However the SLMC and its splinter groups are not bothered about that. Instead they wanted power and positions by hook or crook.

For example, to cite few incidents of their callous irresponsibility towards the community, the SLMC contested the last Eastern Provincial Council elections criticizing the United People Freedom Alliance, UPFA, and won many seats. However to the shock of Muslims who voted for the SLMC within 48 hours after the elections the SLMC joined the very same UPFA government which they criticized. This brought shame to the disappointed and disgusted community which trusted the SLMC.

Added to this the SLMC  voted for the 18th amendment to the constitution which provided unlimited terms for president to remain in office and led to subsequent political chaos in the country which demanded the need for 19th Amendment to the constitution to undo the damage.
Though the SLMC leadership later admitted the mistake of voting for 18th Amendment to the constitution they voted, for reasons better known to them, knowing very well the serious consequences on the community and the country as a whole.

On top of all the SLMC continued to be constituent member of UPFA government despite its patronage to Sinhala extremist elements who unleashed wave of violence against the island’s Muslims targeting their mosques, religious schools, economy, business establishments and cultural life threatening, in fact, the very existence of the community.

They remain with   the UPFA government even after the Sinhala racists’ well planned and executed pogrom  on Aluthgama,Beruwala and Dhargha Town Muslims costing Muslim   lives and billions of rupees of loss to Muslim owned property .As a result  the community as a whole lost its  respect and confidence on SLMC .

It was under such atmosphere that the island’s Muslim community voted en bloc for President Maitrhripala Sirisena in the 8 January 2015 presidential elections and rejected former President Mahinda Rajapaka. They did so on their own and not on the advice of SLMC or anyone.

In fact realizing the mood of the community and the country the SLMC and its splinter groups abandoned the UPFA and crossed over to President Maithripala Sirisena camp in the eleventh hour only to have been rewarded with ministerial portfolios.

The community was deeply disappointed that the SLMC was rewarded ministerial portfolios while the community’s issues were ignored. Even after joining President Maithripala Sirisena’s government they failed to raise any issue of the community.

However it is worthy to note that the Tamils supported President Maithripala Sirisena but the TNA did not accept any ministerial portfolio. Yet they raised several   issues of Tamils and got them at least partially addressed. 

 The situation is such that parliamentarian Prof Rajiv Wijesinghe often claimed that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe had told him that SLMC leadership asked for money to join the Maithripala Sirisena camp. Up to date this was not denied.

 Thus the SLMC has become shameful liability on the community which cannot afford to continue this sad state of affairs.

This is the reason why Muslims in general fear that now that the SLMC and its splinter groups have entered into an agreement with the UNP and, in the event of a UNP led UNFGG victory, they would accept ministerial positions and abandon the community as they had done in the past.

The SLMC has lost its credibility even in its birth place Kalmunai where people   accuse SLMC of tricking them and pitting them against the other communities. One resident of Kalmunai told me that “people are fed up here. They do not want confrontational politics. They want to live in harmony with Tamils and Sinhalese. This can happen only if they abandoned communal and racist politics.

Some even went to the extent of stating that there was no development in Kalmunai ever since former Minister A.R.M.Mansoor was defeated by SLMC almost quarter century ago by means of lies and deception.

He said Mansoor gave jobs to thousands  in the government sector, solved  fishermen’s   and farmers’  problems, built hospitals,   schools, roads,  promoted agriculture  and developed irrigation with the support government of the day.Kalmunai is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Yet after 25 years of SLMC’s politics there is no drainage system posing great health hazard in the event of heavy   flood. 

The SLMC has caused tremendous damage to the image of the community due to its corrupt and irresponsible behavior far away from Islamic principles on the basis of which, it claimed, that it was founded. Highlighting this sad state of affairs in an article in the Daily Mirror of Wednesday 22 July 2015 under the title “Talk of an enigma! “ HERE’s another election” result columnist Gomin Dayasiri   had this state;

“The SLMC has been functional in varying cabinets without a trace of loyalty to any that installed them. It has lingered on enjoying benefits only to swivel around and bind with the benefactor’s opponents on the eve of the election seeking more benefits. It reminds one of a local ditty to describe the characteristics of a Moor’s hat.

Indeed the SLMC, identified as the carrier of the Muslim cause, stands disgraced as being selfishly opportunistic. How can trust and confidence be placed in a community, where its leaders are unprincipled rolling stones shifting sides to gain benefits? Are they helping the cause of the Muslims or their own cause by periodic change of stance? -  “

Over the years today the SLMC ‘s selfish and short sighted politics has isolated the Muslims, especially those living in the predominantly Sinhalese areas, and had caused tremendous  damage to Muslims who now feel ignored  and orphaned.

Muslims feel that this state of affairs cannot continue anymore and thus demand an end to racist politics to reestablish their harmonious ties with the majority community. This is the reason why Muslims, especially the educated lot and the civil society is keen that Muslims abandon the SLMC in the forthcoming elections and join national political parties.

The seriousness of the situation is such that an aggressive social media campaign has been undertaken by many urging Muslims not to vote for the SLMC in the forthcoming August 17 general elections.

One such social media statement by Dr Dr Ruvaiz Haniffa had this so state under the headline” DO NOT VOTE FOR SLMC CANDIDATES COMING ON UNP NOMINATION LISTS”

Dear Madam /Sir

The UNP as indicated in the news item below is once again about to commit the same political mistake of outsourcing the UNP Muslim Vote to the SLMC.

It will only be a matter of time before these UNP/SLMC MPs elected on the UNP VOTE, cross over to whichever party which wins the majority at the August elections.  By this, the UNP will lose in terms of numbers in Parliament. 

More importantly, by giving nominations to SLMC persons, the UNP is not grooming the next generation of Muslim leaders for itself. This concept has been lost on the UNP leadership for the last 2 decades. 

Hence, if the UNP nominates SLMC candidates on the UNP List this August, what choices do we have as UNP Muslims voters?

If the UNP does not believe in its own Muslim candidates should we as voters believe in the UNP as a National Party to deal with our political aspirations? 

We should be voting only for the party and casting our preferences only to UNP CANDIDATES MUSLIMS OR NON MUSLIM. 

WE MUST NOT CAST PREFERENCE VOTES TO SLMC CANDIDATES CONTESTING ON UNP LISTS.




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