A triumph for democracy
Yesterday’s swearing in of one time LTTE Eastern
Commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan better known as Karuna
Amman as a member of Parliament can be termed as a
groundbreaking event in Sri Lanka’s political history.
We say this because this is the first time that a former
leader of the LTTE whose avowed goal is separatism has taken a
constitutional oath to renounce Eelam. For, the swearing also
included upholding the Sixth Amendment which repudiates the
creation of a separate state.
Of course there is the famous case of Kuttumani- a hardcore
LTTEer- who was made an MP while in prison by the TULF. But
there was no formal oath taking and he was subsequently killed
in the July 1983 prison riots.
The Government should be commended for helping this Ex-LTTEer
who led many a battle against the Security Forces to make the
transition to the democratic mainstream.
Although Karuna Amman had given up his militant garb he was
in a sense of drift with no civilian role to play.
Now with his formal entry to Parliament he would be able to
provide a democratic voice of the Tamils, along with his deputy
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, the Eastern Chief Minister. The
Government in fact has pulled off a major coup against the LTTE
who had been portraying itself as the sole representatives of
Now this mantle can certainly be taken over by Muralitharan
who will be provided the forum of the country’s Supreme
Legislature to articulate the aspirations of the Tamil people in
a more forceful and effective manner that would carry the patina
This could eventually pave the way for a consensus that could
help evolve a political package meeting the reasonable demands
of the Tamil community.
This articulation of Tamil grievances from the Parliamentary
forum would gain currency even with the international community.
This could carry more weight and legitimacy than some other
‘voice in the wilderness’.
In getting him into Parliament the Government has acted
prudently in allowing for democratic space to a group of
militants who were once marginalised from the national polity.
This has now paved the way for the one time leader of the LTTE’s
military machine in the East to work within democratic
It would now help redress grievances through the time
honoured democratic practise of consultation, compromise and
give and take instead of guns and bullets as in the past.
Muralitharan follows in the footsteps of his erstwhile
comrade Chandrakanthan who was elected directly by the vote of
the people as the Eastern Province Chief Minister. This follows
a pattern that is witnessed elsewhere in the democratic world.
Today one time militant leader Prachanda is the Prime
Minister of Nepal. Other examples too abound such as that of
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who was a guerilla leader during the
bush war days in former Rhodesia.
Similarly it is hoped that the TMVP leader would in the
course of time acquit himself well within the national polity
and eventually give democratic leadership to his community as an
effective alternative to the LTTE.
This inclusivity and integration is what is required if this
fractured country is to heal its wounds. It is hoped that all
political parties would provide the required support to guide
this one time die hard militant to assimilate with the
A shining example
In a country where the practise of most Government
functionaries is to cling to office even when they have long
overstayed their welcome the example of Attorney General C.R. De
Silva stands out as a shining beacon worthy of emulation.
Even though persuaded by the highest of the land to continue
in the post he decided relinquish office as Attorney General not
willing to be an impediment to an impending court ruling on a
Government gazette notification.
This at a time when the tendency of the public officers is to
stay put in their posts through political influence and refuse
to budge even when shown the door. The outgoing Attorney
General’s conduct is all the praiseworthy since he was
potentially in line for the post of Chief Justice with all its
power and prestige.
That he chose to stand down on a point of principle is what
is most salutary in an era when principles don’t count in the
Only one other officer in recent times has volunteered to
step down from his post upon reaching the retirement age and
that is Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake.
Certainly the outgoing Attorney General belongs to a rare
breed and has done honour to his post and the Attorney General’s
Department which he adorned with aplomb as a brilliant
prosecutor over the years.
Perhaps as a good sportsman in his hay day he would been the
best judge on the right time to quit, and that is when at the