The influential Sinhala Buddist priest, Rev Walpola Rahula Thero in a statement
reminiscent of the then Sinhala Opposition leader J.R.Jayawardene's call 35 years ago in
1957, appealed in January 1992 to the entire Sinhala race to rise against the
implementation of the Thondaman proposals.. In the meantime a statement issued
by the Monitoring and Action Committee on Buddha Sasana and Buddhist Affairs said:
The country should realise the dangers that are fraught in Mr. Thondaman's
proposals to merge the North and the East into a single provincial council and handover
the control of ports and harbours to that council, empower such provincial council to
negotiate foreign aid, recruit Tiger member to the security forces and the Police and make
decisions pertaining to land administration. In particular the proposal to recruit Tiger
members to the security forces and the Police is a dangerous attempt to legitimize the
status of the Tigers. ... we consider Mr. Thondamans proposals as treacherous and
leading to further aggravation of the crisis.
As stated in the manifesto of the United National Party the Government has pledged
before the people that it will not merge the Northern and the Eastern provinces. Whether
Mr. Thondaman should continue as a member of the cabinet while flouting the stated polices
of the Government is the question that is before the people.
... The Monitoring and Action Council on Buddha Sasana and Buddhist Affairs whilst
strongly condemning the Thondaman proposals wish to emphasize that the Maha Sangha and the
people need to be alert and vigilant as regards the catastrophe that would befall the
country from these proposals."
Signed On behalf of the Supreme Council - ; On behalf of the Action Council Weligama
Nanaratna Nayake Thera, Bellanvila Wimalaratana Thera, Maduluvave Sobitha Thera,
Mapalagama Somis-sara Thera, Diviyagaha Yasassi Thera, Omalpe Sobitha Thera and Akuratiye
Nanda Thera. Gamini Jayasuriya, (President, Maha Bodhi Society), Eric Amarasinghe, P.C.,
(President, Young Mens Bud-dhist Association), Olcott Gunasekera, (President
Dharmavijaya Foundation), Chandra de Soysa, (President, All Ceylon Buddhist Womens
Con-gress), J.H Karunaratne, (Vice President, Sri Lanka Temperance Association), G.
Ranatunga, (President, Asian Buddhist Conference), Prof. M.B. Ariyapala, (President, All
Ceylon Buddhist Con-gress), W.D.V. Mahatantila, (President, Buddhist Theosophical
Society), Rani Karunaratna, (President, World Buddhist Womens Congress) and M.A.
Silva, (Vice President, Sasana Sevaka Society).
Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha Mahanayaka Thera in a statement in the Sri Lanka Sunday Times
on 29 December 1991 gives proof, if indeed proof was needed, that
chauvinism is very much alive and kicking. Its intransigence finds expression with the
same belligerence as in 1957, when the then Sinhala Opposition Leader, Mr.J.R.Jayawardene
declared in response to the
Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact, which had sought to establish
a Regional Council in the Northeast:
Minister Thondamans proposals, although claimed to have emanated
from his own bat, seem to coincide with the very demands of the LTTE. They are formulated
on the basis of a "Traditional Tamil homeland" and self-determination for
Traditional Tamil homeland would best be introduced to the world as an
amusing bit of fiction ... Let interested parties keep that concept to themselves. They
are nothing short of an embodiment of Eelam, though the word Eelam has been tactically
avoided. They also go far beyond what had been allowed even in India for Tamil Nadu.
Anyone who has any love for this country and puts the interest of this country beyond
his own and his own narrow racial group, has accepted that any devolution of power should
guarantee the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. These, in other
words, are not negotiable. Mr Thondamans proposals go against these. A few
illustrations would prove this.
In one breath, he says the defence and the security of the country should be the
preserve of the central Government. In the same breath, he says all ports, harbours and
air ports within the provinces should be under the jurisdiction of the respective
provinces. If Trincomalee, Kankesanthurai, Talaimannar and Palaly are handed over to the
North and Eastern provinces, how can the Central Government ensure the defence, security
and sovereignty of the country?
Even with these harbours and air ports in the control, of the Central Government, so
much smuggling of arms has been going on. Their hand-ing over to the North and Eastern
provinces would only legalize them and help the LTTE to build up powerful armed forces
which no Central Govern-ment forces could contain. Will not the LTTE declare Eelam
immediately after they have built their own invincible armed forces. Can the LTTE be
trusted at any cost in view of their past records?
After declaring Eelam, will they keep quiet? Will they not push their boundaries
south until they envelop the hill country? The Government armed forces would not be able
to resist them, once the two thirds of the coast of this country with all harbours and
ports there, are given on a platter to them.
Mr Thondamans proposals will sow the seeds of a permanent war between the
Sinhalese in the South and the Tamils in the North and East until the Sinhalese are
completely subjugated and reduced to the position of a minority in the whole of Sri Lanka.
Should the Sri Lankan President allow this, even at the sacrifice of his own
Allowing the subject of foreign aid to the Provincial Councils of the North and East
will also inter-fere with the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. No
Provincial Council should be allowed to negotiate with foreign countries direct. If this
is allowed, as Minister Thondaman suggests, what is there to prevent the LTTE negotiating
even arms deals with the foreign arms suppliers?
If two thirds of Sri Lankas coast comes under the North and East, how can the
central government enforce its immigration laws? Men, materials and arms can come freely
into the North and East without any control of the Central Government.
Of the 18 per cent of the Tamils of this country, half (9%) live outside the North
and Eastern Provinces. How can one speak about a Tamil homeland then? What is the
justification for handing over North and Eastern Provinces constituting 30 per cent of the
land and two thirds of the sea coast to the Tamils?
There is also no justification whatsoever for merging Eastern Province with the North.
The ethnic composition of the Eastern province is very different from that of the Northern
Province. In the Eastern Province, Moors comprise 1/3 and Sinhal-ese 1/4 of the total
population. The Tamils comprise only 2/5. The Tamils in this Province are a minority. Then
why merge it with the North? Is it not to make the Sinhalese and Moors come under the
dominance of Tamils of the North and to carve out a "homeland" for Tamils?
It is true that with the coming into power of the "peoples" government
of the SLFP in 1956, many of the privileges enjoyed by our Tamil brethren eroded. This has
been interpreted as "discrimination" against them. Anybody, who had spoken and
who now speaks for the rights of the majority community and against allowing any more
privileges to the minority not available to the majority, are dumped as communalists and
Sinhala chauvinists. No one should be carried away and frightened by these slogans....
What is the justification to allow the North and East provincial councils any
concessions, privileges, powers and functions which the government cannot give to other
provincial councils? If that is done, are we not accepting that the North and East are
homelands of a separate ethnic group? ..
Mr Thondamans proposals are.. a complete surrender to the LTTE of the unity,
territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and an attempt to reduce the majority
community of this country to a minority and should be outright rejected with the contempt