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Presidents Premadasa and Wijetunga – some personal anecdotes



by G.A.D.Sirimal, Retd. SLAS

Chandra Wickremasinghe’s interesting piece on Presidents Premadasa and Wijetunga last Sunday (Oct. 10) nudged my memory about my own encounters with these two personalities when I worked with/for them. So here goes:

True, President Premadasa was certainly not easy to please or satisfy and his officers managed to complete work he wanted done in whatever manner possible to avoid unpleasant repercussions. It was said that Mr. Premadasa, as Prime Minister, had requested the then Secretary to the Treasury (name withheld), a former Civil Servant who was brought back to service by President JRJ to provide funds for his Janasaviya project. The Secretary had said he cannot accommodate such a large sum in the Budget; Premadasa had responded saying he would find another person who could.

The upshot was that another Secretary to the Treasury, who also chaired the Development Secretaries meeting which approves or rejects proposals for/by ministries, was the result. This senior (I’d rather not name him too) sometimes said, “Find the funds, this is a big man’s requirement.”

President Premadasa as Prime Minister started taking the government to the people, his Mobile Secretariat, covering outlying areas/villages. I was appointed from the Ministry for Power and Energy to handle these mobile offices, meet villagers and settle requirements on the spot. This necessitated our going to the place where the mobile office was to be held (often a school), and stay at an area resident’s home (invariably an influential UNP supporter). The day before the program began, we had to arrange desks and chairs to make the venue look like a government office.

The first day I set up the office, some of the PM’s staff turned up to check whether everything was in order. One of them asked me why no portrait of the PM was not on display. I said I didn’t have one and it wasn’t a requirement. He said the PM is very particular about this and brought me a framed portrait to be displayed behind my desk. The next day I found that a clerk who was present when the PM’s people visited had garlanded the portrait. PM Premadasa used to visit every office set up for this mobile project when an oath of service (prathigna) was taken to start off proceedings. When the PM stepped into my office and I greeted him, I noticed him looking smilingly at his own portrait. These mobile events closed with an announcement where the next one would be held giving us time to prepare; and I would start contacting the Divisional Manager of the area to discuss what should or could be done and make necessary arrangements.

There was an interesting episode when a Mobile Office was to be held in Matugama. I discussed plans with the Divisional Manager South of the CEB and he came up with a bright idea. He said he will be completing four rural electrification schemes and we could on that day get PM Premadasa to declare them open by switching on the lights in a newly electrified home. He said he would request some householders, whose homes were close to the distribution line (and not involve planting a new electric post), to wire their houses and on payment of the estimated cost at a bank, a connection will be given the same day.

I contacted my friend Jehan Cassim, then Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon, and asked him how best he could help. He said arrangement could be made to receive payments at the Mobile Bank which will be on site. This was to be kept a secret to give a surprise to the neighbourhood. The day arrived, the morning oath was taken and we went back to the office to start work meeting people. I sent a message to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat to announce what we had planned, and requested that the PM be informed. As this announcement was made over the public address system, all of us were surprised when PM came to my mobile office, congratulated me and said ‘That’s the way government servants should work’.

There was a large gathering and loud applause when the lights were switched on by the PM who entered one of the houses to do the honours. The owner’s wife offered a sheaf of betel and worshipped him. I could see the satisfaction and happiness in his smiling face.

About three days later, an official from the PM’s secretariat handling the Mobile Office project met me and asked whether I would join the Secretariat. I declined the offer on the advice of my friend Jehan Cassim (Chairman BOC) who told me, ‘Siri, if you accept it, then forget your domestic obligations as he will call you at any time of the day or night and assign tasks. He will provide you with a car and a driver and a flat at Elvitigala Mawata if needed.” He then related an incident when Mr. Premadasa had summoned him by phone at 2 a.m requesting his immediate presence and he had to rush to his car doing up his buttons to make it on time. My excuse for declining the offer was that I had two sons who I take to school every morning and also that I was happy working at the Ministry for Power and Energy.

As President, Premadasa commenced his Gam Udava Programme, all Ministries, Departments and State agencies were required to display what they did at each festival. When this began, we received a request for a generator to provide electricity at the Gam Udava grounds. The CEB being a commercial operation, we said that at least the cost be met. This was not to the liking of the President and his staff. However, by some means, they had contacted the Workshop Engineer of the CEB and got generators without approval.

When I visited the Gam Udava site at Buttala, I saw them being operated by CEB employees. Without making a fuss, on my return I inquired about it from the General Manager who smilingly said ‘We know when to keep a blind eye’. The story does not end there, when Mr. Premadasa was elected President he did a cabinet reshuffle and Mr. P.Dayaratne, who was our Minister for Power and Energy was assigned Ministry for Mahaweli Development. Lo and behold! The Workshop Engineer was appointed Chairman CEB!


The first time I met D.B.Wijetunga, was during my stint in the Railway Department, then attached to the District Engineer’s office at Dematagoda, in the early 1950s. As I remember, he came into my office, introduced himself as Private Secretary to Mr. A.Ratnayaka, a cabinet minister and wanted a personal favour. He said he had paid for some old railway sleepers and whether it was possible to have them transported to a point close to Pilimatalawa. The way he made his request without throwing his weight made me want to help and I gave him a note to Mr. Costa, the Foreman Platelayer, requesting him to oblige as I knew there was re-sleepering to be done in that area.

About three weeks later, Mr. Wijetunga came all the way to Dematagoda to thank me. Since then, I occasionally saw him in the Fort in his usual gray tussore suit. Once I was going home to Nawalapitiya, and waiting for the train at the Fort Station when he saw me and asked where I was going. When I said to my home at Nawalapitiya, he smiled and said ‘You are also an upcountry person’. When the train arrived, I got into a second-class compartment while he traveled third-class. He waved to me when he passed my carriage when he detrained at Kadugannawa.

Years passed and he was elected UNP MP for Udunuwara in 1965, having lost Kadugannawa in 1956. I was working for the PWD handling improvements to minor roads and other road projects. One day he came to my office for some business and recognizing me, remembering the favour I had once done him long ago, whether I was once in the Railways. He had now come to see whether estimates sent by PWD Executive Engineer Kegalle have been approved. On that occasion he told me how he followed-up all matters pertaining to his electorate by visiting the relevant offices and meeting officers to expedite work. Surprisingly, he lost the next election by a small margin but never failed to follow-up work he had started in the electorate he represented.

When I was transferred to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development, the Ministry of Highways was scrapped and brought under the Mahaweli Ministry leaving the Department of Highways to function as it was. He used to visit me there in connection with electorate work and the talk went round that I was a UNPer. I will not relate the consequences of that but only say I was transferred back to Department of Highways and after about one year brought back.

Then when the Sirima Bandaranaike government was defeated at the next election, Wijetunga was once again elected as MP for Udunuwara; the Mahaweli Ministry was disbanded and Ministry for Power, Energy and Highways was formed. At a conference chaired by Wijetunga, where the separation of departments was discussed, he asked me what Ministry I propose to work at. When I said Ministry for Mahaweli, he said “You had been a Highways man, so why do you choose Mahaweli’. Before I could reply, he turned to the Secretary, James H Lanerolle and said ” James, take him to my Ministry”, much to my embarrassment. I thought the Secretary may think I would be a tale carrier to the Minister. However my fears were allayed in the manner Mr. Lanerolle treated me and promoted me take on added responsibilities.

Later Wijetunga was assigned the portfolio of Posts and Telecommunication, by President JRJ.

I recall another instance of his simplicity when he was Finance Minister with an office at the Old Secretariat. I was waiting with several others for the lift to go up to the second floor. The liftman didn’t allow us to get in as Minister Wijetunga was approaching, he saw me and the others and beckoned us to get in.

He was a simple man whatever position he held and trusted his officials some of whom took advantage of his nature. He had a faithful Co-ordinating Secretary, Wilson who was also a friend of mine. One day an engineer -friend Arulambalam who fled the country during LTTE uprising and was in England for over ten years came back after the war and found the telephone at his house on Station Road, Wellawatte, disconnected. He contacted me to help get it reconnected. I took him to Wijetunga who was then the Minister for Post and Telecommunication. When I introduced Arulambalam as an engineer who worked in the Railways, to our surprise he said ‘ Why I know him. What’s your problem?’. When he was told the reason for our visit, he instructed Wilson to get all the particulars and telephone the Chief Telecommunication Engineer to attend to the matter immediately. Walking out of the building my friend Arulambalam said that this was the first time he had met Wijetunga “and how could he say he knows me.” I laughed and said he is a very simple man, and that is a ‘politrick’ of politicians. On my way back home after office that evening, I dropped in at Arulambalam’s to see the re-connection had been done by 3 pm that day.

Once when I was travelling from Kandy to Colombo with my niece, I made an unannounced call at Prime Minister Wijetunga’s residence at Pilimatalawa. I was asked whether I had an appointment and when I replied ‘No,’ identified myself and asked at least to send a message to the PM saying I was there to meet him, this was done with much reluctance. To the amazement of the security officer, the PM asked him send me in while others waited. He was happy to see me, ordered tea and we had a pleasant chat. In the course of this conversation, referring to various sorts of government servants, he said that there are efficient and hard working officials, but there were others like the Mara trees in the jungle that grow huge but are of no use at all! My niece still chuckles over this remark.

Once I asked him why he did not contest the Presidential Election at the end of his period serving the balance term of President Premadasa. He said Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted him to step down but if he had contested, he had a better chance than Ranil.

I remember with gratitude that he once willingly helped get my son into DS Senanayake College. I told him that living in Boralesgamuwa, I found it difficult to get my son into a Colombo school. He promptly rang Principal R.I.T.Alles, and got the boy in. Such humble, simple and lovable, approachable people in high positions are hard to find.

The writer retired as an Asst. Secy. to

the Ministry of Power and Energy

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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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