11 August 2010
C.R. de Silva: Before you commence Dr. Nallainayagam, I must thank you for coming and helping us at this Commission because I am sure that your representations will help us in our deliberations. Before you start I must bring to your notice the general procedures that we have adopted in so far as the working of the Commission is concerned. You are entitled to give evidence in public or in camera. That is a choice left to you, and at the end of your representations (at the conclusion of your representations), we, the Commission, could ask you questions for certain clarifications, or on matters that are relevant to our mandate. But, apart from the Commission Members nobody else can ask you any questions. Dr. Nallainayagam you may now commence your representations.
Nallainayagam: First of all let me thank you for the opportunity given to me to come before you to make some presentation.
I am an expatriate Tamil. Earlier Mr. Gunathillaka talked about engaging expatriate Tamils and I am here to be engaged so I thought I will come and talk to you and make some representation. Before I do that – I have no prepared notes, last night I was wondering how to do that – I will speak from my heart because it is a very emotional issue for me as a Sri Lankan – I always consider me as a Sri Lankan not a Tamil – because I think everyone should think of themselves as a Sri Lankan first.
I want to give a brief history of myself. Some of you may not know me so I thought I will give a brief history. I was brought up in Jaffna. In the 1950s I was born and brought up in Jaffna. I had my education in Jaffna and then I had my education at Peradeniya University in 1960s. I have been abroad twice for further education – for Masters in England, my Ph.D in Canada. And surprisingly every time I was abroad my friends, including Sinhalese friends whom I would say ‘why do you want to go back to Sri Lanka? Stay back – you are better off in Canada or in Sri Lanka’. I said ‘no I will always go back to my country because that is my country’. I have been back from my studies every time. But in 1983 my family – you know my experience was very, very horrendous, and that made us leave the country because until then I said I will not leave Sri Lanka. Even though I have been abroad – I have been there for the last 25 years – I have passionately followed the Sri Lankan issues because as we say you can take a Sri Lankan out of Sri Lanka, but you cannot take Sri Lanka out of a Sri Lankan – right. Because I have always watched with interest what is going on in this country because I am very much interested. I am a Sri Lankan first and foremost.
So I am not sure whether I should talk to you about the CFA because I won’t be able to help you very much there, but I could talk about some of the reasons why the divide, the gulf between the two communities developed and why the war started. I can give you some – my own perspective on that having, you know, growing up in Sri Lanka in Jaffna and also been moving with people in Colombo. I must say that I have had the opportunity at Peradeniya University of moving with people of different culture. I have got very good friends – Christians, Buddhists, Muslims – so I believed in multi-cultural Sri Lanka as such, a Sri Lanka where everyone is equal and we are all – its an inclusive society.
Now, I must talk about 1950s growing up in Sri Lanka and early 60s. Although the Sinhala as an official language was introduced in 1956, I think the implementation took place in 1960s for I still recall that Mr. Neville Jayaweera who was sent to Jaffna as a GA and his first statement at the first meeting was “I am here to implement Sinhala only” and he started conducting the meeting in Sinhalese. As Mr. Bernard Gunathillaka said earlier imagine send a Tamil GA to Hambantota and tell the Sinhalese people I am here to conduct the meeting in Tamil. I am going to implement Tamil only. I mean that was the beginning of the sense of alienation since the feeling that Tamils are a second class citizen in this country it developed at that time. And again I have had experience of taking some innocent people without English background to the Police Station to make a complaint or to give evidence or some problems, and they have to write in Sinhalese because the Police Constables sent to Jaffna did not have the knowledge of English; they could not write in Tamil, and all the statements were recorded in Sinhalese and they were asked to sign in Sinhalese. This was again an issue which I felt was very unfair and unjust because here is a person who does not know the two languages, whereas he is asked to sign the letter or evidence statement in Sinhalese.
Now this was, I think, the beginning of a sense of feeling that we are not, that Tamils were not part of the society, sort of not equal citizens. We were minorities without the rights in this country. Now I personally did not have any problem, I must be honest with you, because I had excellent relationship with people of different communities; I was privileged to work for the Sri Lankan administrative service; and I was sent abroad by the Government twice for scholarships. I was a privileged member of the society. So I cannot say that – but it was – I am talking about the common people what they experienced in the 1960s. So this was the reason why there was a sense of Tamils feeling that they were not part of this society.
It was not an inclusive society. An alienation took place at that time. The presence of distrust. And now this has deepened over years because of the failure I would say of the political process because every time that there was an agreement or there was a sort of political solution then things were not implemented, revoked and then again we were back to square one. And also this was the reason we marginalized the main political parties – I mean political parties were marginalized and the development of the movement, you know, the war started during this time period because of the fact that political process failed in this country. So to me this was a very sad development because the country could have avoided this – all the bloodshed. All the economic, you know, sort of disruption. The retardation of the country all these last 30 years could have been saved if politicians on both sides of the community I would say had been very serious and sincere in their negotiations and implemented the policies the country would have progressed to a much better level. Unfortunately that did not happen.
Now, whilst I look back I would say that the last 30 years had been a real – I mean the country, it should not have suffered it. Because the violence, the disruption which I feel sadly about it because this country could have done much better.
Now, I am going to now talk about what we can do to re-engage the Tamil community because you are talking about the reconciliation as an important part of this mission of your Commission’s mandate. How do you engage the expatriate community in Toronto in Canada? I now live in Canada so I can talk about it. I talked to young people, I talked to seniors, I talked to a lot of people about what can we do. I think by and large I would say that most Tamils they believe in a united country. I myself believed always in a country that was united not divided. We all believe in that. But what they want is to live in dignity, live in sort of fairness, to be treated as equal citizens, to be given the due rights. Now, this they think is possible only with some devolution of power because they are serious about that. They believe that Sri Lanka should be united at the same time it has to have devolution of power. Now I always think of Canada as a model here because in 1867 when the Canadians fathered the confederation about six or seven states they got together to frame a constitution for Canada. There was a choice between a unitary state or a federal state because Tupack was with a sort of French community. The majority were English speaking, you know, at that table. But they still felt in order to develop the language, in order to protect the French language, in order to give them the cultural, you know, to develop their culture, that they should come up with a federal structure and that is how Canada became a federal country because they believed that only under a federal structure the French could develop their culture, develop their language, develop the economy.
I think Sri Lanka had a wonderful opportunity at one time. Even I understand the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike himself advocated federalism at some point. So I am not saying – but some sort of devolution of power is something they are looking for; some positive steps on the part of the government in order to implement will become a political solution. Now the expatriates, even the younger generation, would love to come back to this country; come visit this country because I have been here several times since 1983 even though my wife was scared to come I have been here several times. So I think on a general level there is still goodwill between two communities. There is some desire to live together – wanting to live together. But the deep distrust and the deep suspicion is something that we have to work on. I think reconciliation is a long term process. I do not think that reconciliation can come about immediately because we have gone through this for the last 30-40 years.
So I would like to address some of the things that we can do to bring about reconciliation apart from what Mr. Bernard Gunathillaka said earlier about sending the IDPs to their own land, giving back their land taken, you know, all these things, but I would like to look at some more institutional changes taking place in Sri Lanka. I always thought about education system is an important one because we have to start working with the younger generation – people at the school level in order to bring about a reconciliation. Respect for each others culture. And in my article which I sent a copy to you I have said that we have been teaching our children the wrong history. The history of Sri Lanka is not the history of warfare between Tamils and Sinhalese. The history of Sri Lanka was one of amity; one of understanding between the two people; each Tamil kings ruling in Sinhalese areas; Sinhalese kings ruling in Tamil areas; developing their culture. The history was one of kings fighting with each not Tamils and Sinhalese. That was what – I think I was reading an article by Dr. Indrapala his book on ethnicity he is writing about that. Unfortunately that has been misconstrued, misinterpreted to mean it is a fight between two communities. That is something we have to work on. We must produce books in Sinhala, Tamil, in English and all these places that really portrays the history as not a conflict between the two communities but it was a conflict between two kings. And unfortunately in our teaching of Sri Lankan history we have not emphasized the modern history where the Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims all worked together to gain independence. Because how many of our children who are brought up in a school system know about the contribution made by various (people) for the independence of this country, right? So, all the Muslim leaders, Sinhalese leaders, Buddhist leaders, Christian leaders, Tamil leaders, lots of them made contributions to the independence of this country. But I am not sure whether we have given them that understanding. So, we have to re-work the books – the history books – which are taught in Sri Lankan schools, because even today I was talking to my niece and she said some of these books are still not very – they are perpetuating the myth about the war – the sort of two communities, so I would like to see the educational system completely overhauled and starting with a fresh start in terms of producing text books which emphasize understanding between the two communities and the work they have done together; how they have lived harmoniously for the last so many years, rather than emphasizing on the conflict or the Dutugemunu era which I won’t talk about.
The second issue is for me is how the issue about civil society comes together. I think in Sri Lanka the civil society has a major role to play in bringing about reconciliation because we cannot leave entirely to the Government to attend. And here I have talked – there are so many organizations; I read the newspapers in Sri Lanka now. I read the Daily Mirror. Lots of people making very valuable contributions about how intellectuals, you know, various organizations civil society can bring – In fact, I was reading in the Daily Mirror today – he says he is going on some trip to a Tamil area to bring young people together – young people (you know) Sinhala, Tamil background to teach them to work together to understand them. So I think the civil society has to play an important role in terms of bringing together younger people. This is what I have been doing in Canada in terms of multi-culturalism to bring young Canadians of different backgrounds – whether it is a white, Asian background, Chinese background – we work together to inculcate in them a sense of belonging – that we are together. We work together to create a society that is peaceful, that is where we all belong to.
The third issue for me is that how schools can mix students. Apart from educating and restructuring the books I always believed that we have to bring the Sinhalese and Tamil students together, to teach them together. Unfortunately because of the introduction of the Tamil (you know) the National languages – instruct in the National languages – all of them were totally taken to different streams. There was no opportunity for them to interact with each other even in Colombo and in some of the schools – major urban centres. I think we should try to bring them back by introducing common subjects – in English or teaching them English – mixing them together. I understand that it is being done in certain schools in Colombo. That they are bringing the students together, so they learn together and they appreciate each others culture and this is something that I think as a reconciliation process starting from the young people.
Now, I personally feel that expatriate community has a lot to offer. I once was here 5 years ago with a proposal which I call the SENSLA (Scientific and Educational Network Sri Lankans Abroad) – how to channel the skills and expertise of Sri Lankans living abroad for the development of this country. I mean, this is being practiced in South Africa; this is being done in Colombia; this is being done in India also; where the expatriates do not need to come personally physically here but they can use their skills. They can send their skills here through various international networks. So I think Sri Lanka can do that by getting so many expatriates to work for this country through the various organizations. Organize them into groups engineers, doctors, all the skills can be transferred to Sri Lanka either through (you know) various technologies available today for this to be made. They don’t have to be here personally. They can do it through various ways.
So I think – I am not going to take too much time – as I said, my presentation is that we need a genuine attempt in order to heal; in order to reconcile; the first step is a political solution. We need to have positive steps towards a political solution because I always believed that – we talked about this ethnic conflict earlier we talked about – I always believed that Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese belong to the same ethnic community. We are divided by language; ethnically we are the same. In fact Dr. Indrapala in his book written “Evolution of Ethnicity” he is trying to prove that we all belong to the same ethnicity because we speak a different language but ethnicity I think is the same. What has happened in Sri Lanka was not an ethnic conflict. It is a political conflict looking for power sharing. People of different language wanting to preserve their culture; wanting to preserve their language and so they wanted a certain political set up under which the people can – so this was a major to me problem in Sri Lanka. It is a political conflict. It is a power sharing issue – issue of devolution of power to protect the language; to protect their heritage to protect their – that was, and I think – I always believed that the concern about the Sri Lankan majority population because a Sinhalese friend of mine, a very good friend of mine, was telling me once, if Jaffna was in the south we would have given Eelam long ago because they said that the minority issue that South India was an issue people would have always thought about if something in north, South India will be …
I can assure you that – personally as a Sri Lankan Tamil – that fear is an irrational fear I think in the modern world it will never happen. I think this was one of the reasons that there was a sense of fear that once you give autonomy in the north it can go with South India and we can create a problem. I don’t think that is something that is practical at all and no Tamil will say that. I mean all that – actually what the Tamils would like to see is devolution of power to develop their culture; develop their language; develop their economy; that is what they are asking for. So this is where issue is – how much we can devolve power without dividing the country which is under a certain political united Sri Lanka and thereby bring back the people, engage the expatriate community bring back the people together and work together so that is to me is an important process in reconciliation, apart from the educational program, apart from the civil societies action but also the political process has to work – political devolution of power.
I thought I will open out for some questions now. I can, if you want to, submit further later on but I thought I will come. I already sent you my article and also some submission but if further I can do that but this is to me a sort of straight from the heart.
Q & A:
Paranagama: We find that you are speaking from the bottom of your heart. Can you just say something about the incidents that occurred in the past – lessons learnt? Can you mention something?
Nallainayagam: You mean …. Okay I will start off from the abrogation of the pacts. You know Bandaranaike/Chelvanayagam Pact that was abrogated not implemented. Then there was the Dudley Senanayake/Chelvanayagam Pact that was not implemented. So these were some of them which could have been, if they had been implemented the Regional Councils or devolution of power at that time I think that could have avoided major consequences.
Paranagama: They established District Councils and Provincial Councils. The people in the north were not satisfied with the way it was implemented. If that was implemented, say District Councils or Provincial Councils, would it satisfy the people there?
Nallainayagam: If there was sufficient devolution of power and with the means and resources given to develop their culture and economy I think I am sure that would have been they would have been happy with some of the developments.
C.R. de Silva: Now Dr. Nallainayagam, you also emphasized the fact that there is a lack of understanding between the two communities. Could you say that language has been a barrier as far as the lack of understanding is concerned because the Sinhala boy does not understand the Tamil boy because he does not understand the Tamil language and the Tamil boy does not understand the Sinhala language? So, would you say it is necessary to include Sinhala and Tamil as a subject in the curriculum?
Nallainayagam: I certainly agree with you. I think that all Sri Lankans should speak all 3 languages – Sinhalese, Tamil and English. I am fluent in all 3 languages. I can speak in Sinhalese or Tamil or English. I think it is an asset this country needs. As you said, to bring about better understanding to teach both languages; and also in English – English as a link language. So certainly the curriculum should be developed to include – I mean I was taught Sinhalese when I was a young boy. I learnt it and later on I had to learn it. So equally I think Sinhalese students should learn Tamil to understand the culture of each other – to respect each other’s culture; and also English – I am sure you will understand that Sri Lanka being a small country in the international scene today English is very important for business, for diplomacy, for anything. So all 3 languages must be taught. I will agree with you.
C.R. de Silva: Now there is another question that I wish to ask you. One of the complaints made by some of the Tamil politicians is the question of standardization that is being followed in respect of University admissions. What are your views about this?
Nallainayagam: I thought in principle it was a good idea. You are trying to give opportunity for students from backward areas to gain admission to University. I would say in principle. But I would have thought that it would be better to provide resources in schools which were backward schools to raise them up to give them the opportunity like other schools in urban centres, to provide better teachers to provide better resources for them in order for them to do very well but what happened was I think they sort of reduced the marks for some schools and as a result some urban centre students with higher marks could not enter University. In hindsight I am not sure whether we lost intellectual property in this country because a lot of these students who could have been doctors who could have contributed a lot to this country whether that was a wise decision. I mean, and some people say that part of the movement started because of the fact that some of these students could not enter University and therefore they were frustrated and they joined some of these movements because they did not have any other alternative. So we could have raised the level of students from backward areas, rural areas by giving them the resources. It would have been a longer process, I agree, it could not have achieved in a short time but that would have been a better option but I think that that was a complaint, yes, that some of the students in urban centres, I am sure Colombo and Jaffna and other areas were left out even though they had excellent marks and educationally highly qualified because of the standardization scheme.
C.R. de Silva: So now would you agree that if the merit quota was increased that would have been a better proposition than limiting the merit quota to, I believe, 65% and because now if you increase to about 85% then the complaint that students from urban areas were deprived of a place in institutions of higher learning would certainly not be there?
Nallainayagam: I am not sure. I mean I don’t know the practicality of it. But I would still argue that apart from increasing the merit quota they also needed to uplift schools from rural areas giving them more resources, better teachers. That should have been done – that is one of the things that – instead of trying to only impose restrictions we should have also looked at the other means of trying to raise the education you know opportunities for students from rural areas.
C.R. de Silva: You see this standardization was introduced about 20 years ago. Much water has flown under the bridges of this country where the educational standards in rural schools have improved. So at present would you think that it would be wise to increase the merit quota especially because the conditions in the rural schools have improved since the introduction of the standardization policy?
Nallainayagam: I am not aware of the situation locally so I just couldn’t comment on that but certainly merit quota yes should be increased but I do not know the situation so I cannot comment. But I see that a lot of students are now going to private universities here in Sri Lanka now because the need for English language education qualification. So I think Sri Lankan Government should think in terms of increasing English education providing opportunities for students to learn in English.
C.R. de Silva: What is your strategy to provide facilities for the learning of English in rural areas, because there is a reluctance on the part of teachers to go to these areas, especially the people who are qualified to teach in English, to go to these rural areas. So what is the strategy you would recommend?
Nallainayagam: I could think of some doctors in Canada. Now they refused to go to some remote areas, some very sort of areas which are not suitable. But what we can do is to give them some incentives to go to these places, may be higher allowance during the time they served there, or promise of promotion or quicker promotion if they serve in the rural areas for a certain number of years (10 years), that will give them the chance to get quicker promotion in the service. So those are some of the means that can be applied in order to promote them to go (you know) encourage them to go to the rural areas. And that I would think as some …..
C.R. de Silva: What do you think of making use of the electronic media and the best of teachers in those subjects by providing the rural schools with televisions and other learning facilities?
Nallainayagam: I think it is one of the important means of doing that because if you can’t reach them through … Today we have the technology to reach all these rural areas, give them the … But still I am a professor and I still want to see my students. I mean I always tell them that I like to see you personally and teach you. I said I could easily send you by web all your things but they tell me that what they enjoy most is my presence, the way I teach them, and they bring values into them, right. Television is not a substitute. It can only – the electronic media can only complement what a teacher has to do I think. I still want to see the person.
C.R. de Silva: No, given the difficulties that we are encountering now would you think that it would be a temporary … at least as a temporary measure making use of the television …
Nallainayagam: But certainly I would see it as an initial step in order to reach out to these students and give them the opportunity to learn English but it has to be supported by a good teaching (you know) people who can inspire them. I mean television can only…To me teacher inspires because they give the students motivation to learn, inspiration to learn which I think the TV cannot do. TV can only give them the mechanical skills but to inspire them. So I think as an initial step yes I will agree. In fact I was taught Sinhalese by a teacher who inspired me to learn the language, although I was learning because it was required but I learnt it with a lot of love because the teacher inspired me practically. So I agree with you as an initial step to reach out to them televisions can be used but it has to be supported by a network of good teachers.
Hangawatte: Dr. Nallainayagam I have two questions. The first one of course is somewhat abstract but I am asking you since you represent the expatriate community.
Nallainayagam: I don’t. I am here at my …
Hangawatte: At least in our opinion.
Hangawatte: You can at least speak for them – I hope so. You mentioned the need for power sharing – power devolution. Now there are different models – some models that have been at least been proposed in this country. It seems there are some models that only talk about power sharing or devolution of power to certain ethnic groups not the others may be justified based on some historical incidents – I am not arguing on that – and then another model may be the devolution of power to the people, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or whatever, from political institutions or to the people instead of from political institutions to other political institutions whether they are district based or village based or whatever and the second model would probably lead to more of a pluralist society where people will feel ownership of their Government, ownership of the decisions made by the Government rather than decisions coming from above whether it is from a central structure or from a district or provincial structure because based on what you mentioned before it seems if we go from central to provincial district whatever that would still exacerbate the problems rather than solving the problems. And also based on the experiences of other countries, whether it is United States or even some countries in Europe we see that legal solutions which try to bring about some kind of equality, like for example, equal opportunities for minorities that has led to many problems now because the others feel that they are being discriminated. So in other words if we come up with some kind of certain solutions it may not address the problem. In other words your solution what you suggest is there should be ethnic harmony. So instead of ethnic harmony there could be ethnic disharmony. So I just like to hear your ideas about that – one.
Two, which is a more simple (easier) question probably. You mentioned about the civil society and also you mentioned about the language instruction – you already had a discussion on. The question I have is instead of asking the Government to provide language instruction, the Government to do that what role could civic leaders play – when I say civic leaders it can be leaders within certain communities at even lower levels or middle levels or higher levels, religious leaders and so on and so forth, (you know) in churches, in temples, in mosques (you know) you can do that (you know) we used to have the Sunday schools when we were growing up so instead of asking the Government and just complaining if the civic leaders and the people take the initiative people can also show – I am just asking – can people also show that they are prepared to exercise power – we know how to do it, we can do it. I just want your ideas that is all.
Nallainayagam: I can address your second question first I think. Now education in Sri Lanka is a Government, I mean it is the responsibility of the Government – Government responsibility – because we don’t – at the rural level at least – we don’t have private schools and all that. You see it is the Government’s … it is a birthright – education is a birthright of every citizen of the country. So if they should have the resources to learn English I think major part must be played by the Government of the country because that is the only authority they have (you know) the resources they can allocate to that.
Civic leaders certainly but I do not know to what extent in the public curriculum they can…I mean if you are going to teach in English you need English teachers. So civic leaders can but a major I would still believe civic leaders can play a major part in reconciliation, in teaching values, in teaching the respect for each others culture. That they can do – churches and temples and mosques and Buddhist viharas can teach about values about our society – what we believe in, what are the principles (you know) what are the important values in our society. Acceptance of different cultures, respect. But teaching of English I don’t know whether they could play that major role personally, because it is a major initiative. It will need lot of resources and I think it is the Government that has the responsibility.
But about your first question in terms of the devolution unit, to me, what is the purpose of devolution is an important issue. Devolution here in Sri Lanka is a peculiar situation because there is a linguistic group – again I can look at Muslims in terms of a religious group. They have their desire and aspiration to develop their culture, to preserve their language, preserve their culture to develop their economy. So in that sense we need to look at devolution package that will satisfy the aspirations of these people. Will it help them to develop their culture; will it help them to preserve their language and economy. This is what Canada thought about when they looked at their devolutional package, the unit of devolution or the constitutional package, how could…what are the basic requirements for a particular group of people to preserve their culture, to develop their language and so on. So to me any devolutional package that will promote that (you know) that will help to achieve that objective will be acceptable. So you can call it Provincial Council, you can call it District Council but will they give them the power (you know) the opportunity to preserve their culture, to develop their culture, to develop their language and all that. That is what is important.
Paranagama: Within a united country to what extent can you devolve power?
Nallainayagam: There are different models. Now India is an example. It is a united country, there is some devolution of power in India. The States have certain authority, they have a certain responsibility (you know) they have the power to have their own program, industrial program. So, different models can be looked at I think without infringing the sovereignty of the country, without dividing the country, under the united Sri Lankan umbrella.
Ramanathan: Dr. Nallainayagam you mentioned that young Sri Lankans would love to come to this country. In my opinion I feel the young Sri Lankans love to visit the country but not to live here. How would you motivate these young people to come and live here?
Nallainayagam: I think whether it is the Tamils or Sinhalese, all of them, once they settle in that country they think they belong to that country. I mean, my son thinks that Canada is his country although I am from Sri Lanka, because he has been brought up there. So I don’t know whether we can motivate them to come and live here permanently, no. What we should do is to get them to get involved in this country’s development, that is feasible, to contribute to the development of the country in terms of their skills, in terms of their knowledge, in terms of their (you know) that we can achieve. To get them to come and live here permanently, I do not think it is feasible. I am very honest about it. What is feasible is to get them to contribute to the development of the country by getting them over here, motivating them.
Palihakkara: Dr. Nallainayagam thank you very much. Your thoughts have been very useful and you touched on education, language, power sharing, all are quite relevant issues and certainly very significant parts in any reconciliation process as a member of the expatriate community, and we once again thank you for volunteering to come. I just want your thoughts on something.
You correctly said that the conflict in Sri Lanka was not one between two communities; history was not one of warfare between two communities and so forth. And when there is a local reconciliation effort after such trauma and prolonged war when there is a local reconciliation effort under way, there is a countervailing pressure or a countervailing force acting on it in the expatriate community which is to say in the form of a, what I would call a rump LTTE, to (you know) go back in history again and try to say that (you know) power sharing is territory sharing and nothing short of what LTTE stood for would help. And a little while ago Ambassador Bernard Gunathillaka very clearly said that LTTE never intended to achieve a compromise and the ceasefire was used as a via media for that strategy. So my question to you is what should be done, you as expatriate member, the Government and also the rest of the community to facilitate a reconciliation attitude and spirit in the expatriate community so that no undue pressures, no countervailing pressures, destructive pressures are brought upon. Because it is very difficult for local reconciliation efforts to succeed in a hostile (you know) anti-reconciliation environment manifest in very influential countries abroad. And some of the expatriate communities, some members, are really working overtime to, as Mr. Gunathillaka said, to keep the pot boiling. So how do you address and what are the specific things that one can do to alleviate that situation?
Nallainayagam: I personally … From my point of view I think just to convince the expatriate community that the Sri Lankan Government is very sincere and serious about political devolution of power. I think that is what is most important because they all want peace. I could see that, I have spoken to many people. They want to live in dignity and in peace in the country. So if the Government makes a very serious attempt to come up with a political solution whether implementing the proposal, that is half the battle won I think because people want to see the progress, want to see positive steps taken by the Government and what they ask is after one year still we have not seen any positive steps. That is I would say one way of trying to countervail the efforts by the groups in order to show them there is a sincere attempt on the part of the Government to solve this problem and to come up with a political package that is acceptable to the people.
Rohan Perera: Dr. Nallainayagam I believe you made a fairly important observation that when it comes to devolution it is not so much the unit or the constitutional labels that matter but the substance of devolution or the extent of devolution whatever model whatever units that one might think of. I think that was a very pertinent observation. My question is, apart from devolution how do you view also the aspect of power sharing at the centre? In the decision making process at the centre there are different ways of addressing that, the second chamber and so on. Would that also complement or strengthen …?
Nallainayagam: Sure. I mean as you said it is not only power. The different communities – I do not want to talk minority/majority communities. I think all communities should participate in decision making at the centre. I mean we should have political parties that are based on national vision, national politics, and that where people of different background (you know) different communities join together. We can … I think it is unfortunate in Sri Lanka we develop political parties based on various ethnic (you know) lines because of the reasons at that time. But once we need to have political parties that include members of all communities that work together (you know) on fundamental issues that affect Sri Lanka, the economic challenges and all that. So I would say at the centre I would like to see participation from every community like a second chamber. I know it is difficult to decentralize because I worked in the Treasury and I know the mentality of the public servants. It is always nice to keep the power to ourselves but a genuine attempt must be made to decentralize. Then at the central level again we need to have participation of all communities. It is not a question of just devolution of power and then that is the end of it. It is also a question of integration – people working together at the central level and so on.
C.R. de Silva: I must take this opportunity to thank you for having come here and helped us in our deliberations. Your presentation was most useful and certainly we appreciate the thoughts that you expressed very candidly and I have no doubt that what you said is going to help us immensely in our deliberations and recommendations.
Nallainayagam: Thank you very much for the opportunity given to me. Thanks.