As the Sri Lankan Parliament prepares to meet as Constitutional Assembly to draft a new Constitution, Member of Parliament from Vanni district S. Sivamohan of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said that he was cautiously optimistic that the Tamil question would be resolved through the new Constitution.
“We are apprehensive that certain Sinhalese majoritarian groups are planning to flare up anti-Tamil sentiments to stop devolution of powers to Tamils in the new Constitution,” he said.
Speaking to the media after delivering a talk at Madurai Media and Film Studies Academy (MMFSA) in Madurai on Saturday, Mr. Sivamohan said that the constitutional changes should be ratified by the public as well with a two-third majority after it was accepted by Parliament.
“When it goes to the public for vote, the anti-Tamil sentiments being flared up may defeat the constitutional amendments,” he said.
On the problems faced by Tamil Nadu fishermen, Mr. Sivamohan said that the Northern Provincial government headed by the TNA had limited powers. “It is an issue to be sorted out by Central governments of both the countries. State governments on both sides have limited powers,” he said. Mr. Sivamohan, however, added that fishermen from both sides were using prohibited fishing methods which had to be avoided. On rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils in northern and eastern provinces, Mr. Sivamohan said that a lot needed to be done. “Military presence and occupation of vast tracts of land are still a major issue,” he said. He acknowledged the Indian government’s contribution in building houses for displaced Tamils.
He said that Sri Lankan Tamils wanted to improve cultural exchanges with Tamil Nadu. “Our art forms have been destroyed. We are trying to rebuild folk art forms to preserve Tamil culture and identity for which we need the support of people in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
T. Chinnaraj Joseph, Founder and Managing Trustee of MMFSA, K. Anbunathan, co-founder and trustee, and M. Shanmugaraja of Nigazh Theatre Centre also spoke at the function.