Thursday, July 31, 2008
Commemorating the First death Anniversary of Wesley Muthiah
On the 4 August,2007, one year ago our dear friend Wesley, parted from us leaving an emptiness amidst those who loved him, and all those who had come to know him well. A memorial to Commemorate his life and work will be held in London by his family on the 9th August,2008.
More often, people are taken for granted when they are living and active. But once a person has departed, we begin to see him differently, for what he was in reality, we question, we begin to see what is missing since he had left us, and we measure him from his work, and memories he had left behind.
Wesley seemed to be a man in a hurry, a man who did not waste time with small talk, but came strait to the subject he had in mind, and walked away cheerfully as he came, leaving behind an indelible aura of his endearing personality, friendly disposition, and his inert goodness.
That is how I remember him, when I met him fifty years ago in Matale. He spoke to me about socialism, and having gauged my interest in what he had been talking, and being assured of my political sympathies, invited me to his home to meet a few of his friends with whom he proposed to form a LSSP Group in Matale. He was able to generate the enthusiasm of every one present and the Matale LSSP Group , thanks to him, took wings that day. It turned out to become an active group.
Wesley was a Labour Officer, in Matale, and his work took him to the tea plantations, where he met the poorest of the poor in Sri Lanka- the Tamil Estate Workers. The contact with these poor people, gave meaning to his political work. He was determined to help them to rise above their suffering. He organised the Matale Estate Workers Union, with a liaisons officer. as a contact man between the Estate workers and the LSSP Group in Matale.
Even after leaving Sri Lanka, Wesley did not forget his dear Estate workers. He collected Sewing machines, type writers, and computers, and with the help of his friends, set up workshops in the upcountry to help the children of the Estate workers.
Wesley was a socialists, who did not seek fame, popularity, political position, financial gain or self aggrandisement. He was a selfless man- a kind we rarely meet. He had taken away the “ I , and Me “ complex, giving himself selflessly to the cause of LSSP. At the time he organised the LSSP Group in London, he had been admitted to the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. He had to read for his Bar Examinations, but the organising and keeping alive the LSSP Group, left no time to prepare for Examinations.
He was dedicated to the cause of LSSP, and stood by it unwaveringly through out its different phases of existence. Even when every thing was bleak , Wesley was looking forward to a resurgence of the LSSP.
Marx’s dictum that the religion is the opium of the masses, was taken out of context by the forces against Marxism to make it unpopular. But Marxism stood for a political system that could alleviate the suffering of the poor masses. The world has changed and the Church has evolved. When the Roman rich sought entertainment, throwing gladiators into arenas to meet their death, Jesus spread the words of love and peace to the poor Romans. Significantly, Jesus performed miracles for the benefit of the poor.
Wesley knew to separate religion, from politics. He was a Christian not merely because his father was a Pastor, but because he felt the Presence of God. He did not take issues with any religion. Once when I said that Buddhism dos not believe in a self, he turned to me with a smile and said, “I breath therefore I am”.
He with his gentle ways, was able to bring his Church to the cause of socialism. His beloved wife, had even organised needlework, and language classes to the poor members of the congregation of their Church in Sri Lanka. He had introduced traditional decorations, and drummers to Church Ceremonies.
Socialism was in his blood, it came from within him. It made him frank, honest and likeable. He was comfortable in a socialist surrounding, wherever it was. He once came to France, along with his wife to attend a Festival Organised by the French Workers Union. He came with a load of books written in English. When I told him that the crowds at the Festival will be mainly French, and books written in English may not interest them, he laughed at me, and took the whole load of books to the Festival Ground. Before, the lunch hour was announced, Wesley had not only sold the whole load of books, but had also made a number of contacts, who had given their addresses to him, asking him to send the book by post !!
He was an endearing person, to my knowledge he made only friends, and no enemies. He would hardly say a harsh word, though he liked to tease others, and laugh when they take offence ! He did not impose his point of view. He accepted criticism of the LSSP, and gave possible reasons for the errors committed by the Party. However, if the criticism was not justified he would quote from books, relate incidents and go all out to prove that the criticism was not justified.
The greatest contribution of Wesley, not only to the LSSP and the Left Moment of Sri Lanka but also to future generations of politicians, historians, and students, is his writings. When the Public Records Office of London released the secret files documenting Britain’ s persecution of Ceylonese anti-war freedom fighters, Wesley conceived the idea of writing the history of the LSSP and the Left Movement in Sri Lanka.
He contacted late Sydney Wanasinghe, a fellow member of the Party and got him interested in his projected. This partnership, resulted in the issue of the first book, “Britain, World War 2 & the Sama Samjists”, in January,1996, followed by, “ Bracegirdle Affair” (1998), “ We Were Making History”, (2002), “The Case for Socialism”(2004), “Two Languages One Nation-One Language Two Nations” (2005) and “ Socialist Women of Sri Lanka” (2006).
These works will stand a monument to Wesley’s dedication to the cause of LSSP, and the Left Movement of Sri Lanka.
His beloved wife Tencey- patient and devoted stood by him through out his long service to the cause of the LSSP and the Socialist Left Movement of Sri Lanka. Later on he had the support of his two affectionate sons Ninesh and Romesh, and then his two daughters-in-law Nina and Geeta. He was a happy grandfather, and adored his grandson Rawishan.
May he Rest In Peace.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
(Three persons with three different backgrounds. Three persons with three different visions)
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, was a soldier-Commander of the Gajaba Regiment. He retired from his military service as the Commandant of the Kotalawala Defence Academy. He was the Administrator of the Loyola law School in Los Angeles , when he was called to enter into politics as the Secretary of Defence of the Government of Sri Lanka. He is a dedicated patriot for the cause of his mother land. His vision, now, is to redeem parts of his motherland held by the terrorists- who he fought against and helped to drive them from Jaffna to the jungles of Killinocchi, and give back to the people of Sri Lanka the whole of their motherland without abandoning any part of it, for an Eelam State of the loathsome terrorists led by murderous psychopath Prabhakaran.
In this new role as the Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya does not mix politics with military activity. He, as an experienced Serviceman, coordinates the three defence forces, the Army, the Air, and the Navy, and participates in the planning of military strategies with the Commanders of the Security Forces, leaving them the responsibility for the execution of the plans.
He has allowed the Security Forces to conduct its military offensive, modernising the army by providing them with necessary equipments. He also serves as the spokesman of the Army, to the President and the Government. The Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse keeps the politicians away from interfering with the activities of the armed forces. That was an important contribution which has resulted in the unprecedented success of the Security Forces.
Whatever is said by the media and his political enemies, as a politician he is not corrupt, and as an experienced former soldier, he is dedicated for the cause of the Armed Forces. His larger vision is to make a success of his service as the Secretary of Defence, to allow the government and the people of Sri Lanka regain the lost pride and prestige of the beloved motherland. He has given up a lucrative post, to take over a risky task as the Defence Secretary, in which capacity he narrowly escaped death from a terrorist attack in which an auto-rikshaw laden with explosives was driven on to his vehicle.
As a Buddhist his aim is to preserve this Land of ours, sanctified by several visits of the Buddha, where his original teachings are preserved, and therefore revered by the Buddhists of the entire world, in its entirety without any part of it severed by an unholy demon of a terrorist.
Janaka Perera, was a soldier-a Major General, Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army. It was when he was the Commander of the Army in the North Western Province, that he captured the leader of JVP Rohana Wijeweera, and suppressed the JVP insurgence. He was responsible for Liberating the Jaffna Peninsular from the terrorists, chasing them away to the wilds of Killinocchi with the able Regimental Commanders Gotabhaya Rajapakse and Sarath Fernando, under his Command.
It was when he was the Commander of Jaffna, that 40,000 soldiers were stranded in Jaffna at the mercy of a possible terrorist attack due to lack of transport. The Indian Government, with whom the then President of Sri Lanka negotiated for ships to transport the stranded army, refused to provide the requested means of transport. The army however, with the support provided by the Government of Pakistan halted the terrorist march towards Jaffna. Janaka Perera who retired after 34 years service in the army, was sent to Australia as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka.
After his retirement from Diplomatic service, he has taken up politics to espouse the cause of a right wing political party, who sympathies with the terrorists Janaka Perera himself was fighting against and drove away from Jaffna to the jungles of Killinocchi.
Janaka Perera has accepted the leadership of a failed political leader- Ranil Wickramsinghe, who was responsible for signing a CFA, prepared by the terrorists Leader Prabhakaran and a Pro- terrorist Norwegian negotiator, giving parts of North and East to be kept under the control of the terrorist, without consulting the then President or the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
By joining with the right wing, pro-terrorist political party the UNP, Janaka Perera has tarnished his respected image as the Army Commander who launched the Operation Riviresa, which lead to the liberation of the Jaffna Peninsular from the terrorists.
Why did Janaka Perera, take this step to make his maiden entry into Politics, through a party which is pro terrorist. UNP is a party of the rich, and well to do elitist class, which believes that the rich should give the leadership to the poor and under privileged. Janaka Perera probably prefers to be with them for his future prestige, rather than join a Part which is of the people, and dedicated to serve the Country, and save it from destructive Terrorists.
Janaka Perera’s vision is rather selfish, and shrouded in clouds of uncertainty. He seeks his own personal prestige by stepping into politics by seeking to be the Provincial Chief Minister of North Central Province, and thereafter enter the Parliament. The reason for him to accept a Political leader, who has nothing for his credit, other than several failures in his search for political recognition, may be his Christian religious affinity with the leader Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, was a child from Batticaloa recruited by the terrorists. His name was changed by the terrorists to Pillaiyan. Pillaiyan was serving under Karuna Amman- a terrorist, also a native of Batticaloa. When Karuna Amman was the terrorist leader of the Batticaloa District, he broke away from the main terrorists group of Prabhakaran, on the grounds that the terrorists recruited from Batticaloa, were made to take risks, but were not duly recognised by the terrorists of the Jaffna Tamil stock, and formed the Karuna Faction. Pillaiyan followed Karuna, and became the deputy leader of the Karuna Faction.
The Sri Lanka army began a campaign against the terrorists in the Eastern Province in 2002 when the CFA was ineffective. The Karuna faction which also wanted the terrorists away from the east, indirectly helped the army by making intermittent attacks on terrorist groups. This acceptance of the Karuna faction by the Army, interested Karuna Amman to give up terrorism to follow a democratic process. He formed the TMVP as a political party, with Pillaiyan as his deputy. Due to an internal rift in the TMVP, Pillaiyan took over its leadership and Karuna left Sri Lanka to London.
In the meantime the East and the North, the two Provinces that were recognised as one under an Agreement with India, was separated. The army launched an offensive against the terrorists in the East and with the help of the Karuna Faction (TMVP)drove the terrorists out of the East.
In the subsequent election for the Eastern Provincial Council, TMVP contested the election as an ally of the UPFA and won a large number of seats. Pillaiyan having shed his former terrorist affiliations , became a convinced full fledged Democrat, and as the leader of the TMVP became the Provincial Chief Minister, a significant appointment, that was contested by the Muslim leadership, due to their inability to understand the implication of Pillaiyan’s appointment in view of the continuing military action against the terrorists in the North.
However, Pillaiyan being more intelligent, accepted the socialist camp, in his political venture, rather than the reactionary terrorist sympathetic UNP, selected by Janaka Perera for his maiden entry into politics.
Pillayan has shown a brilliant political acumen since his acceding to the position of the Chief Minister of the East. He seems to have so far shown an excellent capacity to understand the democratic political system, and demonstrated an honest desire to work together with people from different communities.
His vision is the progressive development of the East, which had been neglected due to terrorism for a long period of time. He also wants the unity of the different communities in the East, and works with the government to make a reality of his Eastern development programme. He cooperates with the government to make the motherland a happy place for all the people of the East without any communal distinction, to live together in and atmosphere of détente and harmony.
* * *
In conclusion we observe that of the three persons, it is only Janaka Perera a war hero coming from the past, that decided to take a different path, abandoning a President and his Government, who have recognised the role of the Army allowing it to carry out its responsibilities without political interference, to join hands with a failed politician whose object is to discredit the President in power and his government and to become the President of Sri Lanka. Janaka Perera though he was a Commendable Military Commander, has shown his naiveté in the choice of his political camp.
Janaka Perera is selfish, seeking his own personal benefits, while Gotabhaya and Pillaiyan are dedicated to protect and serve the mother land for the common good of all Communities.
Janaka Perera should have rested on his laurels, receiving the respect of people, and their gratitude for the role he played in the Operation Riviresa, driving the terrorists out of Jaffna Peninsular.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Communities of Sri Lanka should bury their whatever hatchets of discord, to build a united Sri Lankan Nation.
The said to be the Invincible Terrorist Army of the Sun God, is at last brought to its knees, and his mighty terrorist armed forces are running in disarray. We the people of Sri Lanka should be ever grateful for the Commanders of the Combined Military Forces of Sri Lanka, for bringing back to our country the pride it had lost. The International Community who was out to make us come to a peace settlement with the terrorist and eventually divide our country like India, has failed in its endeavour.
Incidentally, as the Commander of the Army made a statement to the press that the Army is seeing the tail end of the “war” against terrorism, Swaminathan Natarajan of the BBC Tamil Service writes in the BBC News website, the most twisted and negative article, “ Sri Lanka’s east in shadow of war” .
This had been by and large the foreign media comments that had been, an on going journalist retching against all efforts of the Sri Lanka Government and its Army, through out the last two years in its successful military action against the terrorists.
This success story of the Sri Lanka Security forces will not be received well by the International Community and the British Colonialists. It is a well known fact that the British Colonialists practiced its- now famous divide and rule policy in the administration of its colonies. They tried it with great success in India.
To India they brought in Jinnah who was already engaged in the British politics, having left India after his famous 14 points were rejected by the Congress . The British probably had a hand in using him as a wedge, between the crack that was appearing between the two Communities in the course of India’s struggle for independence , and probably kept on striking on Jinnah the divisive desire, which finally resulted in the split between the Muslims and Hindus, and the formation of Pakistan by the break away Community of Muslims.
The British Colonialists failed to do the same in Sri Lanka before Sri Lanka was granted independence, and belatedly tried their best to put right their failure, by splitting Sri Lanka using the LTTE terrorists as the “wedge”, between the Sinhala and the Tamils.
The Tamil Diaspora most of who left Sri Lanka in 1983, espoused the terrorists’ demand for a separate Tamil Eelam, making the terrorists their heroes- freedom fighters. But the terrorists were nothing but a group organised by Prabhakaran to make a reality of his Eelam dream. It was the bitter memories with which the Tamil Diaspora, were made to wrench away from their bellowed motherland, that made them embrace the terrorist cause for a separate Tamil Eelam.
The interested parties who were looking forward for personal benefits that may “fall on them”, from a political separation of Sri Lanka, fanned the Tamil hatred against the Sinhala and Sinhala Buddhists. The communal uprising of the 1983, was not a Sinhala sponsored movement, there were other actors who played their part to make it take the aspect of a Sinhala-Tamil racial riot.
The Sinhala never had any grudge against the Tamils for the colonial manipulation of minority as a wedge, to keep the communities apart for the convenience of their colonial rule. The idea itself, of Sinhala Supremacists with a Mahawansa mindset, discriminating against the Tamil minority, is a completely false concept, created apparently by the Tamil intelligentsia, for reasons better known to them.
Of course, after the independence the Governments of Sri Lanka had taken measures to put right the colonial discrimination against the Sinhala, which had been instituted to keep the Sinhala Majority from rising against the British rule, along with the minority Tamils.
Those actions of the Sri Lanka governments, now condoned by the Tamil diaspora, were exagerated to distance the minority Tamils from the Sinhala, which resulted in the first uprising of the communal riots in 1957 after a Sinhala man was supposed to have been assassinated in the North. The subsequent communal rights were the distant results of the first. It is high time that these unfortunate deplorable events are forgotten, and the Sinhala and Tamil rise from the past errors, who ever was responsible to them, and begin to build a united nation of Sri Lanka.
The great victory of the Security Forces, over the disastrous terrorism, is no doubt also due to our President Mahinda Rajapakse, who allowed the Commanders of the Combined Security Forces to carryout their responsibilities in complete independence, without any interference.
The nearly three decades of terrorism have given a chance for each Community to reflect, and bury the wretched hatchets of discord, and unite together as brothers and sisters in this land where we were born, and live together as the children of one great family.