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Multicultural Services Centre of Western Australia’ Tribute to Dr. Leela De Mel



I wish to acknowledge the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation who are the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on. I pay my respects to their leaders, past, present and emerging. Dr Leela de Mel worked in the indigenous sector before she worked in the multicultural sector and always made this acknowledgment at every function she officiated or hosted.

It is an absolute honour and privilege to have been asked to pay tribute to Leela and I thank the family for the same. However, I was hoping that wouldn’ eventuate for succinctly summing up the significant influence that she has had on our sector is no easy task.

We often refer to the late emeritus professor Laksiri Jayasuriya as being the father of multiculturalism, and though I don’ believe in royalty, it would be fitting to describe Dr Leela de Mel as the Queen of multiculturalism. What brings us together today is not our nationality, religion, ethnicity etc. but our love and admiration of a woman whose personality, belief in human rights, and perseverance in achieving it for vulnerable sections of our community, touched our hearts and our lives in so many ways.

Our sector has been blessed with many giants and warriors but none as endearing as Leela for she was able to utilize her immense intellectual and unique interpersonal skills to articulate what needed to be achieved, with great passion, dignity and without disrespecting anyone. Social activists including me, have much to learn from her.

Leela’ splendid legacy has not been adequately acknowledged let alone celebrated by our sector. Many including me have had the good fortune to have immensely benefitted from her valuable experience, wisdom, mentoring support and advice. Anne Aly Member for Cowan in paying tribute to Leela in the House of Representatives said, and I quote “mong the public sector in WA and within multicultural communities her bravery, her vision and her tenacity will be fondly remembered” End of quote. Anne’ tribute can be seen in full from the following link

Cathy Hollander a former senior staff member of OMI and the Equal Opportunity Commission and I were at Leela’ bedside two days before her passing, reminiscing about our time with

Leela. One of the things Cathy shared was her response when she is praised on her written communication skills. She would say without hesitation those skills are what it is because of the guidance and support she received from Leela. She is not the only one who highly regards and appreciated the mentoring support and advice that Leela so generously gave to so many people.

Suresh Rajan, the President of the Ethnic Communities Council of WA (ECCWA) in his FaceBook post conveyed and I quote “eela taught me much about cultural diversity and related matters. She was undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable people (about issues of multiculturalism) that I have ever met or dealt with. No one since or before her has brought the kind of change that she did to this state to give us, the CaLD communities, a voice at the table. She was a gem of a person and one who will be sorely missed by all of us.”End of quote. Suresh’ post can be accessed from the following link

We all justifiably praise the visionary Hon. former Premier and Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, Dr Geoff Gallop for his admirable multiculturalism scaffolding (comprising the Multiculturalism Charter, the Anti-Racism Strategy, the Substantive Equality and the Language Service policies) and yes, many notable people contributed to it. However, it was left to Leela to implement it within a public sector that put bluntly had little time for it and sought to vehemently resist it being put into practice. The fact that these mechanisms still remain in place is testament to the success that Leela has had.

This was well summed up by Dr Gallop and I quote “All too often those analysing and commenting on public policy focus only on the decisions themselves, who makes them and in what interest. Not surprisingly then the spotlight goes to the ministers, their offices and outside influences be they good or bad. There is of course another domain of great importance and it relates to the implementation of the decision itself; the time when it is taken into the real world both within government itself and also within the wider community. It is here that the role of the public service becomes crucial; as advocate, negotiator, influencer and perhaps even enforcer. When the policy itself breaks new ground or is controversial any slip up in implementation can be catastrophic.

When it came to the range of policies related to multiculturalism and anti-racism I was fortunate to have Leela de Mel as Executive Director of the Office of Multicultural Interests. She fully understood what it was the government intended, was resolute in her support for the policies when the inevitable challenges emerged and through all of this acted in a dignified and respectful way.

Sometimes the stresses were great but Leela worked her way through them – and with a lovely sense of humour when appropriate! If I was to think of words to describe her approach I would say “truly professional”. The fact that so much of what we intended has “stuck” is because of her work within the sector.”End of quote

Leela recognized the need for strong advocacy to tackle structural inequality and discrimination and truly respected and admired ECCWA for the role it played in this regard. I understand from Said Padshah Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests who was working at OMI at that time, that Leela on more than one occasion at OMI staff meetings made it explicitly clear that she wouldn’ respond kindly to any criticism of ECCWA by OMI staff. A senior commonwealth public servant who worked for OMI when Leela was its Executive Director also endorsed the aforementioned stance of Leela in relation to ECCWA’ role. In hindsight, Suresh and I, when we were Presidents of ECCWA, could and should have utilized her support much better than we did.

ECCWA honoured her by presenting her the Multiculturalism Award, an honour that has been extended to just four other people since 1980. She was the first public servant on whom this honour was bestowed. A peak body honouring persons for what they did as public servants is rarer than the proverbial hen’ teeth. ECCWA waited a lot longer than was necessary to bestow this honour but, in doing so, it sent a clear signal to all concerned, that former and current leaders of ECCWA and the multicultural sector at that time valued and respected Leela highly.

At this dangerous time for social inclusion and fairness we need public spirited citizens like Leela to defend and extend the social and political gains that we have made over more than three decades. It has been a great pleasure and privilege for me to have been associated with Leela in promoting the development of Australia as a multicultural society.”End of quote

The board of the Multicultural Services Centre of Western Australia (MSC) has decided to name its recently acquired Cannington office Dr Leela De Mel Centre in her honour. Regrettably they were not able to do it before her passing. Feedback from board members include, “eela was obviously a very kind lady and had empathy for the community at large. “hey say that amongst all the human qualities there is none greater than kindness”and “eela was indeed a remarkable woman who had contributed immensely to the multicultural community. I had the pleasure of knowing her when I was working at EDAC. It’ sad we didn’ get the chance to acknowledge her good work and tell her personally how much she was appreciated” End of quotes

In 2011, MSC won the tender to provide the Accommodation and related component of the Humanitarian Support Service and it became its single largest program. Regrettably, a very senior official in the Department of Immigration, on the basis of unsubstantiated reasons, pressured the board to change me as the Contract Manager. Many a board in our sector would have succumbed to such pressure but MSC’ highly professional and experienced board of which Leela was a member, firmly resisted the pressure that was placed on it. Leela’ views played an important role in this along with two other board members who were former senior commonwealth public servants. I cannot thank her enough for what she did in this regard and in the effective implementation of that program.

The board, staff and volunteers of MSC were the beneficiaries of Leela’ famous culinary skills on many occasions. It was not just the taste but the presentation of Leela’ exquisite dishes that will remain in our memories forever.

It was Leela’ advocacy that led to the OMI Executive Director position being upgraded from level 9 to Executive Class 1, for she was acutely aware that otherwise the views of that position wouldn’ be taken seriously by the higher echelons of the public sector. Having achieved the desired outcome, not surprisingly, Leela chose not to accept the higher level. The four people who subsequently served as Executive Directors of OMI were all appointed at Executive Class 1. Due to the unwarranted and unconscionable action of the previous Director of the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries, the Executive Director position was downgraded to Level 9.

Hopefully, Minister Buti and the new Director General of that department, Lanie Chopping, will accept the wisdom and reasoning of Leela and revert the position to Executive Class 1, as a matter of urgency.

In an email that I received from Dr. Gallop, he captured so much of Leela’ qualities and attributes, in so few words. He wrote, and I quote, “eela will be much missed. Her wisdom born of experience and plenty of reading – and expressed firmly but gently and often with a lovely sense of humour – made her a wonderful adviser on all matters multicultural and a great friend to many” End of quote

From what I have shared it is obvious that Leela was very much an unsung hero. She was by far the quietest achiever I have ever known. Leela richly deserves to be awarded the Order of Australia for her outstanding public sector service and I have written to the Minister for Multicultural Interests to nominate her for the same, albeit posthumously.

If the impact of her passing on people at OMI, ECC, MSC, and past and present Ministers and senior bureaucrats are anything to go by, I can only imagine what Michael, Janek and other family members must be experiencing. We thank Michael and Janek immensely for sharing Leela with us for our lives are so much richer because of it. So, let us pray for them; as well as members of their extended families, for theirs is an irretrievable loss.

the song, “ight a Candle” Daniel O’onnell, states “e could unite the world from one tiny spark; and it is better to light a candle than curse in the dark” Leela not just believed but practiced that message by lighting candles for many causes. Some of them still shine brightly.

This song epitomises Leela in so many ways, her substantial contribution to the multicultural sector, her love of family, her loyal and deep friendships, and her unconditional faith. She has left us a very rich legacy, which will live on in all of us. This song will inspire us to keep lighting candles just as she did, and I will end my tribute with some words from it.


“Life is for giving for those who are living in love’s ray of light

And life is for caring, so never stop sharing your beacon so bright

Light a candle, to start a new dawn, let it be like a prayer

And together we’ll shine, in a moment of time, we can share

Light a candle, to start a new dawn

We can unite the world from one tiny spark

It’ better to light a candle than curse in the dark”

Till we meet again, Vale Dr. Leela De Mel.

Ramdas Sankaran OAM on behalf of the board and staff of MSCWA

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Navigating challenges of dental education in Sri Lanka



Faculty of Dental Sciences, University of Peradeniya

By Udari Abeyasinghe

One of the principles of free education is to provide opportunities in higher education. In 2020, then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued directives to the University Grants Commission (UGC) to increase university admissions by an additional 12,000 students, in line with his election manifesto. Subsequently, student enrollments were increased with inadequate resources allocated for the enhancement of university facilities to accommodate the surge in student enrollments.

Currently, state universities are grappling with managing the increasing number of students in the face of budgetary constraints. Unfortunately, neither physical nor human resources have been expanded in proportion to the increased student enrollment, leading to severe strain on the higher education system. Being an academic in the one and only dental faculty producing dental graduates at present for the entire country, I take this opportunity to shed light on the hardships experienced in dental education owing to financial constraints amplified by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

A glimpse into history

The history of dentistry in Sri Lanka is a fascinating journey. On 15 May, 1915, dentistry was recognized as an independent profession in the country. The first qualified dentists were officially registered by the Ceylon Medical Council under the Dentists Registration Ordinance, all of whom were British-trained professionals. These early dentists primarily served the British troops, professionals, and those among the Ceylonese population who could afford their professional services, predominantly in the private sector. It was only in 1925 that the Colonial government recognized the dental health needs of the general public. By the 1930s, several medical graduates from the Ceylon Medical College had embarked on a new educational journey by enrolling in a Licentiate in Dental Surgery programme, a two-year post-graduate course.

By 1943, another pivotal moment in the history of dental education occurred with the launch of the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course at the Ceylon Medical College, University of Ceylon, located in Colombo. The inaugural batch consisted of only four students, followed by six students in the subsequent batch. This marked the official commencement of comprehensive dental education within Ceylon. Recognising the necessity of practical knowledge and skills to complement theoretical dental education, a small Dental Unit (now the site of the nine-storey Dental Hospital in Colombo) was established at the Colombo General Hospital, now known as the National Hospital of Sri Lanka.

In 1953, the Dental School was relocated from Colombo to Peradeniya. Subsequently, with the establishment of the second Medical College at Peradeniya, in 1961, the Dental School became affiliated with it, functioning as a department. Over the years, the dental school gradually expanded, becoming a Faculty of Dental Sciences in 1986. In 1998, under the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) project, the Peradeniya Faculty of Dental Sciences and Hospital complex was established. Notably, in 2017, the BDS programme transitioned from a four-year to a five-year curriculum on par with international standards. Eighty years after the commencement of dental education in the country, at present about 80 dentists graduate annually, all trained under the Free Education policy. In December 2021, a second Faculty of Dental Sciences was established at the University of Jayewardenepura set to produce its first graduates in three years.

Dental education in crisis

Sri Lanka’s financial crisis has taken a toll on the education sector, resulting in significant cuts in financial allocations. UNICEF reports that Sri Lanka allocates less than 2% of its GDP to education, falling well below the international benchmark of 4%-6% of GDP and ranking among the lowest in South Asia. In 2020, recurrent costs per student per year for the dental degree stood at Rs 1.72 million. The total recurrent cost for the five-year degree was 8.62 million while the total recurrent cost for the medical degree was 4.18 million. The cost of the dental degree programme would have surely increased since then due to the increased prices of imported dental materials. Given that dental education is the most expensive degree programme in Sri Lanka, the impact of these budget cuts has been particularly harsh. Moreover, the government’s decision to increase student intake in recent years, from 80 to 123 students at Peradeniya, has exacerbated the situation, representing nearly a 50% increase.

Dental education requires close one-on-one supervision during clinical sessions, and maintaining high standards necessitates adequate human resources. According to Sri Lankan standards, the student-to-academic staff ratio should be maintained at 7:1. Due to the increased number of students in the absence of a proportionate increase in the number of academics, this ratio no longer exists. This has placed a heavy burden on academic staff, who struggle to balance their responsibilities, including teaching, supervising postgraduate students, conducting research, and contributing to faculty and university administration. The shortage of human resources is taking a toll on the well-being of these academics and affecting the quality of education they can provide.


As outlined in my last Kuppi article (09/05/2023), attracting and retaining young staff in the field of dentistry has emerged as a significant challenge. For any institution’s effective operation, the collective contributions of academics across all levels, from temporary lecturers to junior lecturers, senior lecturers, and professors, are crucial. Presently, the dental faculty faces a unique situation, functioning without a single dental graduate as a temporary lecturer. This situation has arisen primarily because dental graduates are reluctant to take up temporary academic positions due to the relatively low salaries offered in comparison to the potential earnings from private dental practice, not to mention a series of challenges faced in the university setting.

The government’s recent decision to suspend stipends for probationary lecturers in clinical departments to complete MD foreign training is one such challenge. As paid foreign training positions for dental graduates are hard to come by, completing foreign training without a stipend is unfeasible. Even though lecturers can be confirmed in their position before completion of foreign training and board certification, they are not eligible to become senior lecturers. The inability for junior lecturers to advance their careers has directly affected not only retaining but also attracting young dental graduates into the clinical departments. The situation has been further worsened by the government’s discriminatory decision to provide a stipend for postgraduate MD trainees in the Ministry of Health to pursue foreign training, which has compelled dental graduates to opt for employment with the Ministry of Health instead of universities.

The faculty has not been able to increase physical resources in parallel with the surge in student intake. Inflation has tripled the cost of dental materials needed for patient treatment, making it nearly impossible to procure the necessary supplies for both patient care and educational purposes. At present, the faculty relies upon donations from patients and alumni to bridge the gap. Other resources for clinical training, such as manikins in the skills laboratory, dental chairs, clinic equipment, and other basic facilities, including computers in IT labs, Wi-Fi, space in the cafeteria and student accommodation are inadequate to cater to the increased student intake. The responsibility to secure additional resources has fallen on the shoulders of academics with little support from the UGC.

The bigger picture

Dentistry is undoubtedly a costly degree, and access to free education in Sri Lanka has been a crucial lifeline, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. As committed academics, our dedication lies in safeguarding free education and ensuring that students, regardless of their social backgrounds, have access to dental education while maintaining the high standards of teaching and learning. It is essential to keep in mind the BDS programme has gradually expanded from 4 to 80 students over a period of 80 years. The programme’s sustainability has been maintained by gradual and timely planned expansion with adequate public funding.

Indiscriminate increases in student intake during times of financial crisis will surely compromise the quality of dental education. Discriminatory decision to provide a stipend for postgraduate MD trainees in the Ministry of Health but not the postgraduate MD trainees in dental faculties will further compromise dental education. It is essential for decision-makers and policymakers to consider the long-term sustainability and quality of dental education, while strengthening Free Education in the country, even as they explore options for expansion.

(Udari Abeyasinghe is attached to the Department of Oral Pathology, Faculty of Dental Sciences, University of Peradeniya)

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall that parodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies.

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Full implementation of 13A: Final solution to ‘national problem’ or end of unitary state?



President J. R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signing of Indo-Lanka Accord

By Kalyananda Tiranagama
Executive Director
Lawyers for Human Rights and Development

It appears that President Ranil Wickremasinghe, all along his political career, has acted in the belief that he can bring about national unity, true national reconciliation among different communities and find a lasting solution to the ethnic problem only by granting more and more concessions to the racist political parties with separatist agendas in the North and the East and complying with their demands.

In 2002, as the Prime Minister, Wickremesinghe signed, without the approval of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, an Oslo-brokered ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, allowing the LTTE to have internal self-administration in the areas under their control in the North-East. In 2005, he supported the move of the Kumaratunga government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the LTTE for the establishment of a Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS Agreement) under LTTE leadership for carrying out reconstruction work in the six Tsunami affected Districts in the North-East. In 2006, he assured the TNA of support for the re-merger of Northern and Eastern Provinces if a motion was brought for that purpose in Parliament. During the war for the liberation of the North-East from terrorism, instead of supporting the war effort, his party tried to derail the war effort by abstaining from voting for the extension of the Emergency and making derogatory remarks about the victories of the armed forces.

Common Dream of Wickremasinghe and Sampanthan

In his Address to Parliament on February 8, 2023 delivering the Policy Statement of the Government, President Wickremasinghe disclosed a common dream Mr. Sampanthan and he had been trying to realise over the years thus:

‘‘Both Hon. R. Sampanthan and I were elected to Parliament in 1977. We both have a common dream, which is to provide a sustainable solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka while we are both in Parliament. Ever since, we have been discussing that dream and have been making efforts towards its achievement. All previous attempts have failed, but we wish to succeed this time. We expect your support to this end.’’

Before proceeding to examine the dream of the President, let us examine the dream of Sampanthan and the political organisations led by him: the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). This dream remained continuously unchanged since the founding of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (Federal Party) in 1949. The name of the Party – Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) or (Tamil State Party of Ceylon) itself reflects this dream. This dream was reiterated in various resolutions passed at their conferences and public declarations at different times.

Dream of Sampanthan and other Tamil leaders

Trincomalee Resolution of ITAK – April 1957

The Resolution passed at the first National Convention of the ITAK held in Trincomalee in April 1957 elaborates on this dream citing the components this dream consists of:

“Inasmuch as it is the inalienable right of every nation to enjoy full political freedom without which its spiritual, cultural and moral stature must degenerate and inasmuch as the Tamil Speaking People in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct from that of the Sinhalese by every fundamental test of nationhood, firstly that of a separate historical part in this island at least as ancient and as glorious as that of the Sinhalese, secondly by the fact of their being a linguistic entity different from that of the Sinhalese, with an unsurpassed classical heritage and a modern development of language which makes Tamil fully adequate for all present day needs and finally by reason of their traditional habitation of definite areas which constitute one-third of this island, the first National Convention of the I.T.A.K. demands for the Tamil Speaking Nation their inalienable right to political autonomy and calls for a plebiscite to determine the boundaries of the linguistic states in consonance with the fundamental and unchallengeable principle of self-determination.”

The components of this dream are as follows:


. Tamil Speaking People in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct from that of the Sinhalese by every fundamental test of nationhood: i. playing a separate historical part in this island at least as ancient and as glorious as that of the Sinhalese; ii. with an unsurpassed classical heritage and a modern development of language making Tamil fully adequate for all present-day needs; iii. their traditional habitation of definite areas constituting one-third of this island; b. Inalienable right of the Tamil Speaking Nation to political autonomy.

Vaddukoddai Resolution of TULF

The Vaddukoddai Resolution unanimously adopted on 16 May 1976 by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) consisting of all the Tamil political parties and groups in the North – East narrated in its preamble all the rights denied to or deprived of Tamil people by the successive Sinhala governments and their demands for restoration thereof:

a. The Tamils of Ceylon by virtue of their language, their religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory for several centuries and, above all by their will to exist as a separate entity ruling themselves in their own territory, are a nation distinct and apart from Sinhalese;

b. Throughout centuries from the dawn of history, the Sinhalese and Tamil nations have divided between themselves the possession of Ceylon, the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts and the Tamils possessing the Northern and Eastern districts;

c. Successive Sinhalese governments since independence have encouraged and fostered the aggressive nationalism of the Sinhalese people and have used their political power to the detriment of the Tamils by making serious inroads into the territories of the former Tamil Kingdom by a system of planned and state-aided Sinhalese colonization and large scale regularization of recently encouraged Sinhalese encroachments, calculated to make the Tamils a minority in their own homeland.

d. The proposals submitted to the Constituent Assembly by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi for maintaining the unity of the country while preserving the integrity of the Tamil people by the establishment of an autonomous Tamil State within the framework of a Federal Republic of Ceylon.

‘‘This convention resolves that restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM, based on the right of self-determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country.


This Convention directs the Action Committee of the Tamil United Liberation Front to formulate a plan of action and launch without undue delay the struggle for winning the sovereignty and freedom of the Tamil Nation; and



This Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached.’’

· From this it clearly appears that not only the LTTE and the other armed militant groups, but the entire leadership of the TULF was also responsible for aiding and abetting and leading the Tamil youth for the 30-year war against Sri Lanka.

Although the LTTE was defeated and the 30-year war came to an end on May 18, 2009, the ITAK, the TULF or the TNA and the other political parties in the North-East have not abandoned their goal or dream of creating a separate Tamil State in the amalgamated Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. They have only changed their strategy and tactics in the march for reaching their goal.

Speech made by R. Sampanthan, the leader of the TULF, at the 14th ITAK Convention held in Batticaloa in May 2012

In this speech, Sampanthan clearly explains to their members their new strategy to achieve their goal of a separate state thus:

“We gather here following our victory in the passage of the recent Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, a condemnation against the SL government by the international community.

“Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi was created by S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, the father of Tamil Nation, for the purpose of establishing self-determination of the Tamil people on this island. This objective is evident in both the name of the party and in the manner in which it operates.

“Tamil United Liberation Front, of which our party was a member, took the historical decision to establish the separate government of Tamil Eelam in 1976. Based on this decision of our party, and the need to place ourselves in a position of strength, Tamil youth decided to oppose violence with violence and began to rise up as armed rebel groups.

“Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, became a great force within the Tamil community.

“We remember the Tamil youth who sacrificed their lives in armed struggle. …. SL government has committed the crime of extermination against our people,

“The intervention of India has clearly taught us the lesson that whatever our aspirations may be, India will never welcome a political solution in Sri Lanka that does not accord with the interests of India.

“Achieving Tamil Eelam was becoming an increasingly unrealistic goal. Thus, instead of sacrificing more lives to this cause, our party with the help of India, began supporting a solution that allowed Tamil people to live within a united Sri Lanka.

“A most important lesson we have learnt from the past 60 years… is that we should act strategically, with the awareness that global powers will act based on their domestic interests.

“Further, a struggle that runs counter to the international community, built only on military might, will not prevail. It is for this reason, that in the new environment created by various global influences, we have, together with the support and assistance of the international community, found new ways of continuing with our struggle.

“Our expectation of a solution to the ethnic problem of the sovereignty of the Tamil people is based on a political structure outside that of a unitary government, in a united Sri Lanka in which Tamil people have all the powers of government needed to live with self-respect and self-sufficiency.

“The position that the North and East of Sri Lanka are the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people cannot be compromised in this structure of government…. We must have unrestricted authority to govern our land, protect our own people, and develop our own economy, culture and tradition… Meaningful devolution should go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1987.

“The above solution is one that is likely to be acceptable to members of the international community including India and the United States.

“Any solution to the ethnic problem concerning the sovereignty of the Tamil people must be acceptable to the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

“The international practice prevalent during the mid-eighties, when the intervention of India occurred, has now changed. Although the issue at hand is the same, the prevailing conditions are different. The struggle is the same, but the approaches we employ are different. Our aim is the same, but our strategies are different. The players are the same, but the alliances are different. That is the nature of the Tamil people. Although we still have the same aim, the methods we use now are different.

“The current practices of the international community may give us an opportunity to achieve, without the loss of life, the soaring aspirations we were unable to achieve by armed force.’’.’’

(To be continued)

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Important assignments…Down Under­



Black Jackets with Melantha (left – front row)

Ex-Mirage Melantha Perera, who now performs with the band Black Jackets, left last Tuesday (19), on an important assignment, to Australia.

He will be away for about a month, he said, spending about two weeks each, in Sydney and Melbourne.

His first stop is Sydney for the Australian South Asian Forum (ASAF) that commenced on 23rd September.

This South Asian Film Arts and Literature festival is showcasing the rich art, culture and literary heritage of eight nations – India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

The Performing Arts programme, held on 23rd September, brought into the limelight solo singing, solo dance and musical instrument performance, and Melantha was one of the judges, I’m told.

The big event, to wind up this festival, is the Gala Awards Night, scheduled to be held on 30th September, and will include guest performances, and cultural song and dance performances, presented by eight subcontinent countries.

Once his commitments in Sydney are over, Melantha will head for Melbourne where he plans to promote his Mela Nota project further.

It’s gaining recognition in many countries and Melantha is fully satisfied with the response.

Melantha Perera:Australia, here I come

In Melbourne, he will also be seen in action, as a solo singer, at the popular Sundown Regency, on 6th October, along with Noeline Honter, and the band ‘Friends’, and supported by Thirani, Enrico and Lozaine.

In fact, Melantha, made his solo debut, in Melbourne, at the Walawwa, when he was in Australia, early this year, and it turned out to be a memorable occasion for this versatile artiste.

He was, in fact, the centre of attraction at another event, back home, in Moratuwa, before he left for Australia.

Melantha was the President of the Moratuwa Arts Forum, for the previous year, and at the recently held general meeting, to select a new president and committee, Melantha and the previous committee were re-elected, uncontested.

Those present insisted that Melantha and the previous committee continue with the excellent work they have been doing to harness the talent of those in Moratuwa and bring them into the spotlight.

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