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Only Colombo can resolve Tamil problems: Malaysian MPs

[MISC, Tuesday, 29 November 2011 08:33 No Comment]

(IANS) Two Malaysian MPs who are very vocal about the situation in Sri Lanka now say that only Colombo can resolve Tamil problems, not any other country or government.

M. Manogaran and S. Ramakrishnan also called upon the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, which they have bitterly criticized in the past, to show a large heart and meet the aspirations of the island’s minority communities.

‘Only the Sri Lankan government can address their (minorities) problems,’ Manogaran told IANS at the end of a short India visit, speaking for both of them. ‘Others including we can only play a secondary role.’

He said that now that ‘the war was over, and a winner and loser have been declared’, the Tamils in particular – who suffered the maximum from the ethnic conflict – expected a better life.

‘The government must not only go for reconstruction (in the former war zone) and restore (minority) rights but also provide the necessary space for restoration of normalcy,’ he said.

Both Ramakrishnan, who is from the upper house, and Manogaran are second generation Malaysian Tamils of Indian origin. Both belong to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is part of Malaysia’s opposition alliance.

In June, both visited Sri Lanka where they met a large number of people both in Colombo in the north. Many ordinary Tamils there told them that they expected India, which has previously played a major role in Sri Lankan affairs, to push Colombo to help them lead a life of dignity and equality.

After meeting a large number of people in politics and academics in India, the MPs admitted before emplaning for Kuala Lumpur that it was time to move on in Sri Lanka.

‘In any war there will be collateral damage,’ Manogaran said. He quickly underlined that the victims of Sri Lanka’s long-drawn war were not just the Tamils but also Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists.

Sri Lanka’s protracted Tamil separatist campaign ended in May 2009 when the military crushed the Tamil Tigers. The campaign left thousands dead, both combatants and non-combatants, provoking allegations of ‘war crimes’.

The two MPs also emphasized the importance of greater interaction between different communities in Sri Lanka so that there is a better understanding of one another’s feelings.

‘The period for celebration is over,’ Manogaran said. ‘We implore the (Sri Lankan) government to see the plight of the victims of war and be magnanimous.

‘It seems the war in Sri Lanka is over but the conflict is not,’ he added. ‘But we want to make it clear that we are no apologists for LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).’

Manogaran and Ramakrishnan pledged to do what they can to help improve fractured ethnic relations in Sri Lanka.

[Full Coverage]

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