by Neville Ladduwahetty
The material presented below relates to the policies explored by successive governments to meet the rising demands for water and electric power. Consequently, the policies adopted are with the intention of either increasing demands for water and power generation capacities, directly or indirectly, as a byproduct of another policy. They are presented as contradictions herein as the objective achieved by implementing one policy contradicts directly or impacts negatively on the objectives of another policy. For instance, new projects are pursued at considerable cost without expanding existing facilities to meet near identical power generation capabilities. Another instance is that water demands in one region are met at the cost of impacting negatively on existing power generation capacities.
Addressed below are three projects that expand on the above general claims:
1. Calling for bids to build, operate and transfer a new 350MW Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) plant in Kerawalapitiya at a cost to the government’s Renewable Energy Programme.
2. Building new plants without expanding capacities at Victoria and Kotmale.
3. To transfer water to the Northern Province by transferring water from Randenigala to Moragahakanda at a loss of power generation at Randenigala and impacting negatively on the supply of water to the left and right banks of the Mahaweli at Minipe.
350 MW LNG PLANT at KERAWALAPITIYA
The most recent contradiction in the Power Sector is the Framework Agreement signed by the Government of Sri Lanka with New Fortress Energy (NFE), an American energy-based Company on September 17, 2021, to introduce LNG as the source to generate electric power. Since this is a fossil fuel it would be a set-back to the government’s own programme for Renewable Energy.
According to a press release issued by New Fortress Energy on September 21, 2021, and reported by NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE) “The Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (GOSL) jointly announced today that they have executed a definitive agreement for New Fortress’ investment in West Coast Power Limited (WCP), the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant, based in Colombo, along with the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo, the capital city. As part of the transaction, New Fortress will have gas supply rights to the Kerawalapitiya Power Complex, where 310 MW of power is operational today and an additional 700 MW scheduled to be built, of which 350 MW is scheduled to be operational by 2023”.
This means that as a result of the deal with NFE the total power generating complex at Kerawalapitiya would consist of the existing 310 MW plant, the 350 MW plant expected to be completed in 2023, and another new 350 MW plant to be built latter, thus making a total of 1010 MW of power generation. Furthermore, all these plants would be operating on LNG. In order to make all three plants operational, NFE has retained the right to develop a new LNG Terminal and as reported, with exclusive rights to supply LNG for a period of five years with the provision to renew supplies for a further 10 years.
Leaving aside the merits and demerits of the deal with NFE, there is a need to understand the overall status relating to the power sector. With implementation of the deal with NFE, what Sri Lanka would end up would be a 1010 MW LNG plant at Kerawalapitiya, 900 MW of a coal-fired plant at Norochcholai and a commitment to increase Renewable Energy (RE). Therefore, instead of expanding the capacities at Kerawalapitiya to 1010 MW, the deal with NFE from the perspective of Sri Lanka’s national interests, particularly from an environmental point of view, should be to convert the existing coal-fired plant at Norochcholai to LNG along with the LNG Terminal from Kerawalapitiya to Norochcholai. Such a shift of focus from Kerawalapitiya to Norochcholai would not affect progress on the RE Programme. Furthermore, converting from coal to LNG would significantly improve the quality of the environment in and around Norochcholai.
EXPANDING CAPACITIES AT VICTORIA AND KOTMALE
Another contradiction is the policy of the government to call for bids to set up a new 350 MW LNG plant at Kerawalapitiya without expanding the capacities of existing plants. A glaring example of this is that the recommendations proposed in a “Feasibility Study for Expansion of Victoria Hydropower Station”, dated June 2009, undertaken for the Ministry of Power and Energy on behalf of Japan International corporation Agency (JICA), have not been explored.
Section 6.1 of this report states: “The expansion of the Victoria Hydropower Station is composed of a headrace tunnel, a surge tank, penstock(s) and a powerhouse. The water intake was already constructed for the purpose of future expansion of the hydropower facility during the construction of the existing Victoria dam…One possible option of expansion plan is simply to place these components nearby the existing hydropower facility…referred to as ‘Basic Option’” (p. 29). Although the Report presents two other options, what is recommended is “to place an expansion powerhouse nearby the existing powerhouse facility.”
In the Section under Conclusions and Recommendations, the Report states: “Based on the results in (5) above, the Project is to connect the existing intake for the expansion and a new powerhouse to be located next to the existing powerhouse with a waterway parallel to the existing waterway. Water for generation of 140 m3/s is to be taken at the existing intake for the expansion and led through the headrace tunnel and penstock to the surface type powerhouse. The installed capacity is 228 MW with 2 units, and 716 GWh of annual energy are obtained with the existing and expansion power facilities (210 MW and 228 MW). Power generated is evacuated to the CEB grid through the existing transmission lines” (Ibid, p.4).
The material presented above clearly demonstrates that a real opportunity exists to double the capacity at Victoria using a resource that is not only the cleanest and cheapest resource to generate power but also one that allows these freely available resources to be wasted without making full use of their potential. It is indeed a serious omission to pursue new power generation units such as at Kerawalapitiya without expanding capacities at existing power generation units such as at Victoria.
TRANSFER of WATER to the NORTH
Yet another contradiction is the construction of the Upper Elahera Canal to transfer water from Moragahakanda to the Iranamadu Tank in the Northern Province. To achieve such an objective, it is necessary to transfer a considerable volume of water from Randenigala which is below the Victoria Hydropower Scheme back to Moragahakanda and in the process, to not only lose the power generating capacity at Randenigala but also to drastically affect the current supply of water to the right and left banks of the Mahaweli at Minipe.
There are several Reports addressing this issue of supplying much needed water to the North Central Province (NCP) and the Northern Province (NP). The concept of diverting water from the South to the North are central to a majority of the Reports because their studies have revealed that current arrangements do not have the capacity to deliver water to the NCP and the NP.
For instance, Paragraph 21 (p. 343) of the Report dated December 2014 prepared for the Ministry Irrigation and Water Resources Management by Technical Assistance Consultant on behalf of the ADB states: “The study has shown an increase in the diversion capacity at Moragahakanda to 974 MCM annually, required for the Upper Elahera Canal (UEC) and NCP canals addition to 617 MCM to the Elehera Minneriya Yoda Ela. The supplemental diversions from Kalu Ganga (772 MCM) Bowatenna (496 MCM) reservoirs and its own watershed (344 MCM) are adequate to cater the water demands under UEC.”
The conclusion that “adequate” water exists to deliver 974 MCM to the UEC and through it to the North Central and Northern Provinces depends on the availability of 772 MCM through the Kalu Ganga. Since arrangements to deliver the 772 MCM currently DO NOT exist, what is available is the water diverted from Bowatenna, namely 496 MCM and the 344 MCM in the existing catchments, making a total of 840 MCM minus the 617 MCM needed for the ancient five tanks from the Elahera Yoda Ela.
Therefore, what possibly could be transferred by the Upper Elahera Canal is 223 MCM. This is less than the 281 MCM intended to be transferred to Mannakkattiya-Eruwewa-Mahakandarawa (155 MCM) and 126 MCM to Huruluwewa according to paragraph 151 in the Report titled “Environment Impact Assessment Report” prepared for the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources Management” by the Mahaweli Consultancy Bureau (Pvt) Ltd. in December 2014.
In an independent study carried out by SMEC International (Pvt) Ltd for the World Bank titled “Updated Mahaweli Water Resources Development Plan”, dated November 2013 states in Appendix 5 Table 5.1, p.9 that the Downstream Release from Bowatenne as 651 MCM, the catchment inflow into Moragahakanda as 313 MCM and the release to the five ancient tanks from the Elahera-Minneriya Yoda Ela as 573 MCM. Therefore, water available for transfer to Upper Elahera Canal is 651+313= 964 MCM less 573 MCM, which is 391 MCM. Thus, the quantity of water in excess of what is needed for Mannakkattiya-Eruwewa-Mahakandarawa (155 MCM) and 126 MCM to Huruluwewa) is 110 MCM. Thus, this report confirms the findings of the previous report that there is insufficient water to meet water demands to the areas beyond Anuradhapura to the NCP and the NP.
The conclusions that could be objectively reached from the analysis of data in both reports is that as long as no arrangements exist to transfer water from Randenigala to Moragahakanda the quantities of water available are NOT sufficient to meet the demands of the NCP and the NP.
The proposal therefore is to transfer water from Randenigala augmented by water from Hasalaka Oya and Heen Ganga along the way together with water in 128 sq. km of the Kalu Ganga catchment (say76 MCM) to meet the demands for water in the NCP and NP. Since the water demands in these two small tanks are 75 and 56 MCM respectively, Randenigala would need to divert 772MCM less (76+75+56) which is 565 MCM annually. Diverting 565 MCM of water from Randenigala, which is equal to the active capacity of the reservoir would have a serious impact not only on power generation but also on the amount of water available for diversion to the right and left banks of the Mahaweli at Minipe. Therefore, diverting water to Moragahakanda from Randenigala is NOT an option. Diverting water to the NCP and NP at the expense of power generation and water availability to the East of Sri Lanka is a clear instance of contradictory policies that have been actively pursued by successive governments.
What is evident from a review of the projects cited above is that they are conceived and conceptualized in isolation without taking a holistic view at the planning stage and taking into account the impact of either ongoing projects or projects that are planned to be implemented. The three topics reviewed are, the New Fortress Energy(NFE) proposal to increase the power generation capacity at Kerawalapitiya, not capitalizing the capabilities to nearly double the generating capacity at Victoria and the delivery of water to the North.
For instance, the CEB had called for international bids to install a 350 MW LNG plant at Kerawalapitiya. Prior to the closing of bids, the government entered into a Framework Agreement with NFE to build two 350 MW LNG plants alongside the existing 300 MW plant at Kerawalapitiya together with a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) to handle the LNG. The generating capacity at Kerawalapitiya would then be 1010 MW. In the meantime, the existing 900 MW coal fired at Norocholai would continue to belch pollutants associated with coal-fire power units. Therefore, the intended project should be redefined to convert the plant at Norochcholai to LNG and for the FSRU that was to be built at Kaeawalapitiya to be moved to Norochcholai. In addition, the needed increase in power generation should be met by doubling the capacity at Victoria as suggested in a Report to the Ministry of Power and Energy prepared by Japan International Cooperation Agency with any shortcomings being provided by Renewable Energy.
With regard to delivery of water to the North, the data presented above clearly demonstrates that as long as current levels of diversion from Bowatenna continue and water from its own catchments prevail, the quantities of water at Moragahakanda are insufficient to meet the demands in the NCP and NP. The ONLY way water demands of the NCP and NP could be met through the Upper Elahera Canal is by transferring nearly 565 MCM, which is equal to the active capacity of Randenigala Reservoir to Moragahakanda. The impact of transferring such a significant amount of water would not only be to curtail power generation but also to impact seriously on availability of water to fulfill the needs on the right and left banks of the Mahaweli at Minipe. This is a clear example of the policy of Mahaweli water to the North contradicting the policy of power generation and supply of water for agriculture.
These hard realities are known only to a few. Consequently, the expectation that water would eventually reach the North is so real that the general belief is that water to the North from the South is what would unify Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is imperative that measures are adopted to correct these misplaced perceptions and for alternative strategies to be developed to meet the demands for water in the NCP and the NP with the participations of the people concerned.
It is hoped that the material presented above would alert governments and project planners to take a holistic perspective when projects are conceptualized and not take compartmentalized approaches as demonstrated by the few examples cited above.
Navigating challenges of dental education in Sri Lanka
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.
Full implementation of 13A: Final solution to ‘national problem’ or end of unitary state?
By Kalyananda Tiranagama
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.’’.’’ www.sangam.org/2012/06/Sampanthan_Speech.php
(To be continued)
Important assignments…Down Under
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.
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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