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Need of the hour is consensus and collective leadership

[TamilNet, Thursday, 6 May 2010 18:23 No Comment]

Colombo has embarked upon a vicious campaign as though a new power centre of Eezham Tamils had already set in after the elections for the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) last Sunday. Some elements among the diaspora who have been conceiving the TGTE as a ‘high power centre’ also seem to think that it is now ready for their occupation with some manipulations here and there. Both commit serious damages to the cause of Eezham Tamils, the former overtly and the latter covertly.

TamilNet Editorial Board

During the past one year, the diaspora Tamils have been engaged in the noble exercise of laying the foundation of power and directions to the democratic organisation of their national struggle, by re-mandating the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution. This effort empowering the nation and not individuals received overwhelming support from the masses.

Only a little more than half of the people who came forward to voice firmly for the national cause in the referenda now participated in the exercise for electing representatives to the Transnational Government.

In some countries like in the US there was hardly any democratic exercise at all. In some other countries the elections are marred by mismanagement. Who ever have done the mischief the organisers who got into sectarian and ideological controversies from the outset and neglected the primary task of the electoral process cannot escape responsibility for the fallouts.

As the organisers themselves have become candidates and as the election commissions are bodies appointed by them, who can answer with credibility the questions asked by the public whether malpractices were intended for postponement as happened in some instances.

In another country, the candidates list was not announced even on the day of the election. But, later it was declared that someone was elected uncontested.

Nevertheless, elections were conducted satisfactorily in many other places. Norway was a good example. We are told that in the UK a non-Tamil presiding officer took utmost care in scrutinising the voters and even took the ballot box with him when he went to the wash-room.

Despite shortcomings and lessoned participation, it seems people of conviction have taken the project very seriously. When we see the list of candidates elected it is clear that people have largely favoured a particular shade of opinion on the perspectives of structuring the TGTE and this shade of opinion goes against all those who were detracting the re-mandate of the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution.

But, as elections are yet to be conducted in some countries and with re-polls, nearly a sixth of the elected strength scheduled may not be available to cast its weight on the formation process if the inauguration takes place on May 18th.

Meanwhile, who is now going to convene the elected to decide the executive is a question eagerly asked in the diaspora. By becoming an elected candidate the co-ordinator forfeits the claim to be the convenor. A member of the Advisory Committee also has become an elected candidate eroding the neutrality of this committee.

The Advisory Committee in its report was citing the existence of a body called The Formation Committee. Sometimes back when the Co-ordinator was asked to tell the public the nature of this committee, he replied that he alone was the Formation Committee.

Later in the TGTE website it appeared that Formation Committee means members selected from the Advisory Committee and from another body called The International Secretariat and the Country Working Groups for the formation of the TGTE.

The final report of the Advisory Committee says that the International Secretariat, which will be coordinating the CWGs will be a part of the formation process.

Who are the members of this high-profiled ‘International Secretariat’ and what ‘exact’ role they have been playing hitherto, are not known to the public.

Informed circles say that non-transparent operations only caused miseries to the unity of the Tamil national voice, to the democratisation of the struggle and to the process of popular will taking its course.

Whether non-transparency is going to dominate the convening process too and what hooks and strings are going to be attached to the venue of convention are legitimate questions asked in the Tamil circles.

First of all the elected members have to guard against the idea that TGTE is a power exercise. There is no power already existing. TGTE is a novel experiment to gain power for a nation facing genocide in its home. Building credibility for the TGTE is the primary task.

The first assembly is not a government. It is a constitutional assembly. The way it functions in bringing out an effective constitution only will ensure future participation – overwhelming participation of the people in the diaspora.

It doesn’t mean that the elected members have to sit down writing the constitution. They are there to set the parameters, to see that the constitution is strictly adhering to the cause, to see that the process is transparently discussed and debated in the assembly as well as among the people and finally to approve the constitution. Professionals need to be employed for the drafting part.

If it is realised that the first assembly is primarily a constitutional assembly then there is no place for power manoeuvrings, image building for individuals, erection of cut outs, non-transparent operators and media abuses, unless there are forces working behind to hijack the constitution itself.

Unfortunately the TGTE is understood in another perspective by some in the diaspora and this perception is encouraged by international power circles that don’t want to see a national question denied by them manifesting into an international phenomenon.

Nimmi Gowrinathan, a Political Science Ph.D candidate of the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, wrote the following lines after interviewing Mr. Rudrakumaran:

“At best, the TGTE could be an effective advocacy tool pushing concerned nations to exert pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil population on the island. At worst, it creates a platform for hardliners within the diaspora – feeding into government claims and international concern of a resurgence of Tamil militancy on the island. The success of the project over time can (and should) only be measured in its ability to ensure a permanent political solution for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.”

The International Community viewing a righteous national question as an illegitimate one is the main grievance of Eezham Tamils.

If the TGTE is a pressure group for ‘minority rights’ then it doesn’t need to be the TGTE. The task of the TGTE by its model and function is to convince the world that the question is an inevitable national liberation.

People succumbing to outfits of corporate colonialism, to ideas of ‘development’ of the NGO culture, to ideas of New World ‘multiculturalism’ exported for the corporate colonial conquest of the old nations and fund-depending academia fail to see why the TGTE has to be evolved in a novel and creative way as a hitherto unseen model of international polity to face genocide enacted in a hitherto unseen way by international abetment.

Here is where the danger of elitism hijacking the cause sets in.

Another crucial aspect the members of the TGTE need to consider is the leadership and the executive. It is not a ‘one-time’ exercise but an evolving process.

One-person leadership is dangerous for an experiment such as the TGTE. The need of the hour is consensus and collective leadership of nationalist Eezham Tamils.

In the meantime, the process of forming country councils in the diaspora countries should continue without disruption as this grass root exercise is both the foundation as well as the fallback.

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