Deputy Minister for Resettlement and vice president of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan says the government needs more support to rebuild the nation, and invites the Tamil Diaspora ‘that has not built even a single house for their community’ to wake up and do something.
The north and the east needs about five to 10 years to regain its old splendour and there is lot more to do to achieve that, pointed out Minister V. Muralitharan.
Talking to LAKBIMAnEWS, the minister went on to say that the Tamil Diaspora can contribute immensely. “The sad part is that the Tamil Diaspora has not come forward to even build so much as a single house for their community who are living under much hardship. Why shouldn’t they do something for their people? Wherever they are, they are my people and they are Sri Lankans. I would like to invite them to Sri Lanka. Even if they don’t wish to settle here they can invest in businesses and rebuild their places of birth in the north and the east. They should remember that wherever they live, they are a migrant people and they have their own identity and a country to call a motherland, and that’s Sri Lanka. How can they get possible solace for their worries living in the other end of the world?” said Muralitharan.
“If I can make a change, from what I was to what I am now, (referring to his vice president post of the ruling party), all of us can bring about a change,” he opined.
“We have resettled 98% of the persons displaced during the war. At the moment there are 6000 persons in Manik Farm. That is due to landmines and we need time to clear the land to settle them. Demining is going on, but depends on UN funds to complete the project soon,” the minister added.
He also stated that there are 80,000 temporary shelters and those people will be resettled once the Indian government completes the 50,000 housing project. At the moment 1000 houses are nearing completion.
He went on to say that provision of electricity and making roads are nearing completion in the east — and in the north, one third of the roads have been completed. About 75% of the roads will be completed by end of this year and about 85% of the people will have electricity by end of this year in Batticaloa, he said.
“Electricity will be supplied 100% for residences in the East soon, and so far nearly 93 villages have electricity at present in the east,” he explained.
However, he said, there are water and sanitation problems in the east and about 30,000 people have a problem to obtain drinking water. But more needs to be done with regard to potable water, he revealed.
Cannot rebuild in a few years
He went on to say that the government had spent nearly Rs. 60 mn on the development of the east to date, and much more has been sepnt on the north.
He also said that a Rs. 600 mn cancer unit is underway in the Batticaloa Government Hospital while they are thinking of setting up a similar one in Jaffna as well.
“A war-torn region cannot be rebuilt in a few years. But within the last three years we have managed to do quite a lot. The infrastructure is going on but to concentrate on people’s welfare, we need to spend much more of our time and money. However, we will do it gradually,” he averred.
“But simultaneously we need to work on a political solution too. The Tamils do not want to talk about development and infrastructure, but a solid national solution,” he said.
Explaining further about the Tamil Diaspora, he said that within the Diaspora there are three categories; the first are the strong LTTE supporters, second are the 40% odd anti LTTE crowd, and the third category are the neutral persons who want a comfortable life and care less about Tamil issues and sentiments.
“All of them are Tamils no matter what their ideologies are. They can return and rebuild the north and east. They can run businesses and factories, bring in projects as the government has given a 12 years tax amnesty for business in the north and east.”
When asked about the Canadian businessman who visited Jaffna on business was killed, he said, “That was an isolated incident; most of the news regarding that incident was misleading. But the situation is under control and law and order is maintained.”
“This government is doing its best and is keen to develop the whole nation. Gaining the Tamils’ confidence is much easier if all the Tamil political parties come in to terms in doing national politics. We should not advocate racism and play media politics. I always encourage everyone to think alike so that the national problem can be solved.”
“I want the LLRC to be implemented as much as others want it — and the government is taking all efforts towards implementing it and I can assure you it will be done,” he said.
“Look at the Muslim politicians, they are very united in many ways. They set goals towards how to contribute to their community. They hold about six to seven ministerial posts, isn’t that great?” he asked.
He continued, “Be it Muslim, Tamil, opposition or ruling party, let us encourage each other and work towards one goal by working in harmony. If we split or have various separate ideologies and goals, we won’t be able to do anything constructive but will be left with ruination.”
DIASPORA STRIKES BACK: “LINING CORRUPT POLITICIANS”
Spokesperson for the Global Tamil Form (GTF) Suren Surendiran, based in UK, in an email to LAKBIMAnEWS stated that the Tamil Diaspora has done more than some overseas governments have achieved in terms of giving their people support in livelihood programmes and certainly like to fund projects, but does not want to be lining some known corrupt politicians’ pockets. He stated this in reply to allegations by the deputy minister of Resettlement, V. Muralitharan alias Karuna.
Tamils living overseas always claim that the Sri Lanka government has not done much for the war affected people in the north and east. Where do you think the government has failed?
People want to be free, feel free to express themselves, feel safe to raise their children; people don’t want to live in fear of being abducted, and live in their own land, and not fear that their private land could be taken over by military or government sponsored paramilitary. They want to feel free to worship as per their choice of faith — not wake up to find an imposed worship place. Above all, people want to live as equals with dignity and self respect.
Please notice, I have used a general term ‘people’ rather than identifying a particular people of ethnicity. That is because the bulk of the above grievances apply to all people of Sri Lanka, be it Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or any other.
However, all of those grievances and more are felt and suffered by the people of the north and east.
The Tamil land is occupied by a predominantly Sinhalese military, and governed by a Sinhalese military commander. The current government is progressing with destroying the very fabric of the culture, religion and language of these people. It is systematically discrediting these people’s claim for being a nation and a people.
This is what the government has delivered to our people since the end of the war. What do you expect from a government that is run by a bunch of alleged war criminals who are corrupt to their kilt? These are politicians and converted politicians who were at best pretending to be human rights lawyers, and failed military personnel who were running a corner shop overseas — and a man without even a simple degree. How did these people turn out to be multi millionaires?
I am sure the entire nation wonders but never questions, fearing repercussions.
Shameless beings like Douglas Devananda and Karuna (Muralitharan) for their own selfish needs might pretend otherwise. They know that they do not have any self respect or respect from any Tamil, or generally from most Sinhalese or Muslims including their colluding government politicians.
Wisely, Karuna doesn’t stand for elections but gets nominated, and Douglas knows that without his armed paramilitary force no sincere Tamil will elect him either.
I bet even Karuna and Douglas see a traitor in them when they stand in front of a mirror.
If you are blaming the government of failures, would you explain what the Tamils Diaspora (British Tamil Forum (BTF), Global Tamil From (GTF, Transitional Government of Tamil Elam (TGTE) etc., have done for their people living in the north and east?
We have done more than some overseas governments have achieved in terms of giving our people support in livelihood programmes. However, the socio economic needs of our people who have faced the brunt of the war are far beyond what a relatively small Diaspora group can satisfy. We estimate there are over 80,000 war widows and over 40,000 orphaned/destitute children in the war affected areas.
We have also created enough awareness overseas of the living conditions of our people and their growing grievances, so much so that the president fears travelling overseas where the Tamil Diaspora is present. The Government of Sri Lanka and its record on human rights is questioned in every international forum that you can imagine. Investors fear the economic mismanagement of the country; the growing corruption and failing governance overall.
Our people are grateful that we seek international justice for all the wrongs and international laws that were breached in subjugating our people.
I sincerely hope that all people will come together one day to seek justice and solutions for the grievances suffered by all in that island.
Do you want to support them (the Tamils in the north and east) and collect funds to do what you intend to do?
Certainly! However we also do not want to be lining some known corrupt politicians’ pockets.
What is restricting you from supporting?
Nothing is restricting us from collecting money to help our people and very many in the Diaspora are keen and willing to fund and help in many ways, concerning different aspects of our people’s needs.
However one shouldn’t forget that even mighty India is struggling to build the promised 50,000 houses. It’s now over 38 months since the armed conflict came to an end. When even India has failed to achieve even a thousand (less than 2%) houses being completed as yet, what chances of success do you think an organization or a group of people who are actively and successfully lobbying internationally for support to investigate some of these corrupt and alleged war criminals, have?
If given a chance what is the space you want — and what can you do in terms of helping in development and resettlement programmes?
Like I said before, we as Tamils are keen to help and rebuild our nation to be a successful people.
- By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan