- The majority race is made to believe that all other communities are working against their interest
- Unity is the last thing that lawmakers have in mind. Take for an example the Tamil NAtional Alliance (TNA)
- But sadly there are many divisions among the Tamils too with the cast being a deciding factor
The governments of Sri Lanka has thrived on the divide and rule policy. And the irony of it is that the people of this island have fallen for this trap for far too long.
This is the practice that the British adopted after they set foot in the island and secured controlling power through the Kandyan Convention in 1815. But the difference between the British and the Sri Lankan Governments which were in power later on is that the former, despite making subtle divisions in society, carried out much development work like building roads and railways.
The successive Sri Lankan regimes which took office after the British vacated the island have hid behind ‘manmade issues’ and procrastinated development work.
From the Indian Peace Keeping Force landing here in 1987 to issues like Muslims vandalising Buddhist statues in Mawanella, the civil war between tiger separatists rebels and government troops, the carnage that Zaharan and his men caused, the several international conspiracy stories and theories that were floated, the speculation that Chinese colonies being built here, Ranjan Ramanayake’s recored telephone recordings and the present threat from the Coronavirus are ideal topics for the government to take the minds of people away from the thought that the successive governments have been found wanting of delivering on behalf of the people.
"The members of this alliance are more interested in picking quarrels with the Sinhalese lawmakers and spend much time at press briefings and use the media to showcase their debating skills and massage their egos"
When politicians come to us and suggest topics for discussion to strengthen their resolves we just have to say the following. “To hell with the topics you want us to be dragged into, just tell us how our tax monies have been spent and what has happened to the development work you’ve promised”.
For 71 long years Sri Lankans have been taken for a ride. The majority Sri Lankans have been brainwashed to nurture conflicts with the Tamils and even Muslims. The majority race is made to believe that all other communities are working against their interest. When the war was raging and the LTTE had its way in the north the then President of Sri Lanka, R.Premadasa, was accused of providing arms to the tiger rebels.
When the Zaharan issue surfaced we later came to know that there were politicians who had meetings with this Muslim individual, who was labelled as an extremist.
Just a few days ago we read in the Daily Mirror where villages in Balagolla, Undugoda and Devatagolla, which come under the Meegahakiula and Ridimahaliyadda Secretariates, are greatly inconvenienced due to the operating of a ferry which is not fit for transportation purposes. The villages claim that the tubes fitted on to the ferry are often damaged and many have died due to the ferry capsizing on many occasions.
When inquiries were made by this newspapers from the local government authorities it was revealed that requests made from successive governments to build a bridge had been futile. All this suggests that the number of votes that can be garnered from these villages would not fetch the expected dividends in terms of votes; hence the stepmotherly treatment to these villagers.
Such villages are cut away from the contact of lawmakers. These villagers are also spared of hearing the divide and rule stories cooked up by lawmakers, so naturally there is peace and intercommunal harmony among the communities in such villagers. But the situation is of concern in villages where politicians are at work because they create issues and nurture their vote bases.
If one politician who was never guilty of this divide and rule policy it was former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. His critics found him spending too much in areas situated in the north and the east thus taxing the New Democratic Front’s (NDF) budget at the last presidential elections. These critics accused Wickremesinghe of spending too much in areas which didn’t promise much votes for the NDF backed candidate, the then UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa.
When Wickremesinghe ushered in peace in 2001 after forming a government, tiger leader Prabakaran saw peace as a threat to his existence. He then ensured that the Tamils boycotted the Presidential Elections in 2005; which marked another occasion where ‘individuals in power’ prefer division to unity.
Unity is the last thing that lawmakers have in mind. Take for an example the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Its members in parliament are accused of doing nothing to provide better benefits to the Tamil people. The members of this alliance are more interested in picking quarrels with the Sinhalese lawmakers and spend much time at press briefings and use the media to showcase their debating skills and massage their egos.
"When politicians come to us and suggest topics for discussion to strengthen their resolves we just have to say the following. “To hell with the topics you want us to be dragged into, just tell us how our tax monies have been spent"
We also can’t forget the caste system that exists among these minority Tamils. The most talked about problem with a long history is the ‘national question’ and this issue involves the Tamil community. But sadly there are many divisions among the Tamils too with the caste being a deciding factor regarding a problem being solved. If one reviews the wage issue concerning tea pluckers its the unions reps who are staging the battle rather than TNA members, who are mostly from the north. The northern Tamils don’t have much regard for the estate Tamils who are of Indian origin.
As long as the community falls for the stories related and theories floated to ensure a divide and rule policy this nation would not stand up and be independent. There are thoughts to ponder as we get ready to celebrate the 72nd anniversary after receiving independence from the British.
Independence Day celebrations in Colombo last year