Opinion

Let Mr.Wigneswaran have his say

Summary

We need to listen to C.V.Wigneswaran’s concerns, his advocacy for Tamils and disregard the incendiary hyperbole.

C.V.Wigneswaran is a man on the move, with a mouth busy challenging and offending all who consider him an ogre. Good on you Mr.Wigneswaran because you are being true to yourself and true to your detractors.

C.V.Wigneswaran is all about northern Tamil aspirations. More precisely Jaffna peninsula Tamil aspirations. I don’t think the man is against other Tamils living on the island, but he is a provincial politician who was elected on the back of Jaffna Tamils. As such, Wigneswaran is championing the cause of his constituents.

Good on you C.V.Wigneswaran.

I say that not because I agree with all of Wigneswaran’s statements but because he is diligent in his commitment to serving his constituents. Wigneswaran has consistently maintained that his primary, if not the sole goal is to serve the Tamil people.

We know that if Gnanansara Thera enters parliament from the national list of his party, he will be representing the interests of Buddhists. We don’t expect him to champion equality of all religions, do we?

We also know that MP’s like Rishad Bathiudeen and other regional Muslim politicians are solely interested in serving the interests of Muslims in their electorate.

We also have many Sinhala politicians who are rabidly Sinhalacentric. Some are openly hostile to other religious and ethnic Sri Lankans. They demand that even non-Buddhists must accept the supremacy of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Why is that we find Muslim and Sinhala parochialism acceptable and less offensive than Tamil parochialism?

In order to understand Wigneswaran’s confrontational style, we need to look to the nature of other Tamil political leadership. R. Sampanthan, Douglas Devanada, M.A.Sumanthiran, and Mavai Senathirajah are not exactly forceful advocates of Tamil aspirations. Some of them may have been forceful at some juncture of their political careers but that calling has petered into an accommodative, non combative and tepid activism.

It is obvious that C,V,Wigneswaran is frustrated by the timidity he sees in his Tamil compatriots. One can’t blame Wigneswaran for concluding that he needs to push the envelope with the Rajapaksas in order for the needs of the Tamil people to be addressed. Obviously, appeasement of the Rajapaksas’ is not a strategy Wigneswaran is willing to contemplate.

Sri Lankan political leaders are not known for nuanced approaches for handling political opposition. Usually, political opposition is ridiculed, shouted down and harassed into silence. When those methods fail, proscription and persecution will most likely follow. Then will come unwanted international meddling. 

We need to listen to C.V.Wigneswaran’s concerns, his advocacy for Tamils and disregard the incendiary hyperbole. Over the top reaction and making the man villainous is unlikely to stop Mr.Wigneswaran’s political vignette.

How the Rajapaksas’ handle Wigneswaran’s rhetoric will indicate where they stand on democracy, especially the right of individuals to express themselves freely. The President and Prime Minister must understand that freedom of expression allows citizens to challenge and offend political authority as well as the concept of majoritarianism.   

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