COLOMBO: R.Sampanthan, chief of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Leader of Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament, complained in parliament on Friday, that qualified Tamils are not getting government jobs.
Sampanthan said that while Muslim leaders recruit Muslims; Sinhalese leaders get jobs for Sinhalese; and the few Tamils who are in power, recruit some Tamils; qualified Tamils are unable to get into government service.
Discrimination against the Tamils has been a long standing complaint in Lanka and there has been no change in the situation, the TNA leader pointed out.
He demanded that government should present the ethnic distribution in recruitment for government jobs since the present regime came into existence in 2015.
Although the government has handed over to their original civilian owners, some lands taken over by the military during the war, most of the seized lands are still with the military, Sampanthan pointed out. During a recent visit to Weligamam in Jaffna district, and to Paravippaanchaan in Kilinochchi district, he could see requisitioned houses not being used by the army. Why can’t the army give these back to their original civilian owners? he asked.
Sampanthan complained that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government has not been consulting the 18 Tamil MPs from the North and East on development projects being executed or to be executed in the Tamil areas with foreign funds. The TNA especially ought to be consulted as 16 of the 18 MPs from the North and East belong to it.
Regarding opposition from the Sinhalese nationalist side to the TNA’s demand for the release of 150 LTTE cadres still in jail, Sampanthan said that only the grant of justice and ethnic equality to the Tamils can ensure national security, not the continued imprisonment of 150 LTTE cadres. He pointed out that the Rajapaksa government had rehabilitated and released (12,000) cadres.
Sampanthan acknowledged that while the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime has taken steps to promote ethnic reconciliation, it could have done more since it came to power following the Presidential election in January 2015 and the parliamentary elections in August last.
Sampanthan’s hard-hitting speech on the grievances of the Tamils comes in the wake of a series of hard hitting statements by his rival in the Northern Province, Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran. Wigneswaran has been going hammer and tongs at the government for its failure to address the Tamils’ grievances and aspirations and indulging in tokenism.
Wigneswaran is probably pitching for a second term as CM two years hence, or is preparing for a bigger role in Tamil politics. Recently, he declared an intention to tone up the administration and implement development schemes fast, while continuing to fight against the intrusive Sinhalese-dominated Lankan state.
The Tamils media supports Wigneswaran’s aggressive posturing and is critical of Sampanthan’s allegedly “cozy” and accommodative relations with the Lankan government. It was to negate this impression that Sampanthan told parliament that the TNA will not join the government until the Tamils get a lasting political solution based on justice and equality.
Giving a foretaste of the toughening stance, the TNA abstained from voting in the No Confidence Motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Thursday. It said that the abstention was a protest against the government’s failure to consult it on the development projects in the North and East.