'Vision' of a Sinhala sociologist

[TamilNet, Friday, 30 January 2009, 13:22 GMT]
"This victory should not be lost in the peace. [….] The mono-ethnic nature of the North should be dismantled. [….] 'Defence Colonies' defence settlements should be established all over the North. Retired husband and wife ex-employees of the armed forces should be settled in such strategic settlements. Like in mainland China, and earlier in Korea, Armed Forces owned industries should be established in these areas for both defence and civilian production. Our forces should be further strengthened to deter any future attempts,” writes engineer turned Sinhala sociologist Dr. Susanta Goonatilake in Sunday Times, dated, January 18. His article is a specimen to understand the vision of a section of Sinhala elite on the political process to follow Colombo’s victory.

Full text of the article appeared in Sunday Times, dated Sunday January 18, 2009:

After the victory: Full-scale development in the north but no racist appeasement

By Dr. Susantha Goonatilake

Kilinochchi was the crown, followed by Elephant Pass with LTTE debacles continuing. It was a string of famous victories. A war begun in 1972 when detonators for 20,000 explosions were sent by India to Sri Lanka is ending.

It was a victory reminiscent of Dutu Gemunu who over 2,100 years ago as a child in the deep South described the helplessness of being pushed into the country's extreme corner by a Tamil invader. Gemunu broke loose. But keeping with Buddhist ethos he paid homage to his dead adversary Elara. Prabahakaran is no just adversary. He must be eliminated.

It was also as important as that of warrior Rajasinghe's struggle against the Portuguese. Rajasinghe was fighting with then Sri Lanka divided into four kinglets; he at Sitawaka, the traitor Dharmapala controlled by Portuguese at Kotte, to-be Christian-convert, Karaliadde at Kandy and minuscule Jaffna kingdom under its pirate king. Rajasinghe surrounded Portuguese Colombo but had to finally give in. Today's Rajasinghe parallel would be Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the commanders chosen by him.

As with the times of Dutu Gemunu and Rajasinghe, it was a victory in spite of so many obstructing forces. The self-styled "international community" (read Western powers) and meddling India as well as several foreign-funded fronts with the label NGO but actually functioning as foreign spy agencies carried on psychological warfare. In addition, key segments of the local political leadership were giving direct and indirect support to the LTTE.

In the latter category was Chandrika Kumaratunga. She had once offered Prabahakaran a 10 year rule of the north-east which fortunately for us he refused. Through her state media and her speeches, she labelled the LTTE war as justified. As she sent troops to fight the LTTE militarily, she and her cohorts extolled the LTTE cause undermining the forces' morale. Under her regime, she allowed the CFA to be signed and stood silently by as the LTTE established its government structure. Only Ranil Wickremesinghe is now being blamed for this supremely traitorous act. She then proposed under PTOMS still greater powers to the LTTE. And to further highlight her collaboration with the enemy, she even gave a post-tsunami presidential award to TRO, the LTTE front which had imported war material as tsunami relief.

To prevent this victory, foreign funds masquerading as "civil society" plotted in vain. Piece, (falsely called Peace) merchants once paid money to villagers eager to see the capital to come to Colombo to sing slogans that were music to the LTTE.

Prabahakaran who marches with the Tiger emblem of the Cholas that laid us waste in the 11th century echoed that Kilinochchi takeover would be a daydream. The LTTE-Tamil Nadu nexus, very reminiscent of Chola designs on Sri Lanka, bopped in Chennai demonstrations.


After the recent military victories people celebrated, some activities undoubtedly sponsored by the ruling party. But there were numerous free expressions. After the military triumph, Colombo stock exchange rallied, a strong contrast to only a few years ago when segments of the private sector were colluding as a 5th column with antinational piece merchants.

D.S. Senanayake's grandson, UNP Chairman Rukman Senanayake praised the victory. Ranil Wickremesinghe's salute to the soldiers: prices should come down! And S.B. Dissanayake in an election meeting was begging the government not to make political use of the victory. In a news conference, the JVP echoed this same sentiment.

Clausewitz had famously declared "War is politics by other means", politics here covering separatism. This same phrase was used by Marx and Lenin for their class war theories.

The JVP claiming inspiration from the latter has sacrificed the most for the defence of our territorial integrity. But in a mixture of complete muddleheaded thinking and wrong decisions, it has now missed the bus. Yes, the present government will use the war in its election campaign as indeed it should because it is its political leadership that supported the military. We only hope that they would not use it in the sickening sycophant fashion of the government media.

The mood also changed in Jaffna. There were anti-LTTE demonstrations as Jaffna citizens marched with lion flags. The likes of Douglas Devananda could have organised this with state support. But nearly 200,000 ordinary Jaffna citizens at the exhibition organised by the armed forces was a spontaneous expression. Ordinary Jaffna people were voting with their feet towards normalcy.

Our expatriate community which had fought the ideology of both the LTTE and Chandrika was jubilant. In the very Tiger stronghold of Scarborough in Canada, they organised a celebration as they did in Southern California.

After the victory, there were some sour faces also. Donald Gnanakone from California on an Al Jazeera report said that in spite of the Kilinochchi takeover the LTTE would never be defeated by the "Sinhala" army. He and his brother Charles had earlier been linked in several published reports to Ranil Wickremesinghe. Donald had praised the CFA. Charles had been arrested after the assassination of former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Victory not to be lost in peace

This victory should not be lost in the peace. For its own interests, India introduced literally through gunboats the 13th Amendment which transferred the traditional homelands fiction to "fact". Western commentators at the time denounced India as a colonial power. Annulling this forced fiction, empty land in the North should now be developed.

Sri Lankans should have the freedom to settle anywhere in the country as indeed tens of thousands of Tamils have recently done in Colombo. The mono-ethnic nature of the North should be dismantled. All Sinhalese and Muslims expelled by the LTTE should be resettled with compensation. People from all communities should be settled in the empty lands of the North and commercial enterprises employing all communities started. Like Indian "Defence Colonies" defence settlements should be established all over the North. Retired husband and wife ex-employees of the armed forces should be settled in such strategic settlements. Like in mainland China, and earlier in Korea, Armed Forces owned industries should be established in these areas for both defence and civilian production. Our forces should be further strengthened to deter any future attempts.

Equally important: Identify those who have questioned our sovereignty, supported the LTTE and called for foreign intervention. Get the Central Bank and other authorities to stop the inflow of foreign funds to them. If they are in the state sector, expose them and deny them their funds.

For the areas won: rapid development, absolute and full equality and dignity. But no appeasement of racism.

* The writer is a fellow of World Academy of Art and Science.


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