Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) leader Patali Champika Ranawaka called upon Sri Lankan Tamils to integrate themselves with the majority Sinhalese community.
In an interview with The Hindu, Ranawaka said the 30-year-old Ealam War has deteriorated the socio-economic development of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
Contrasting the case of the Tamils with those of plantation workers of Indian origin and Muslims, Mr. Ranawaka, who is the Minister for Energy and Power, said the other two communities had progressed well because “they simply integrate [themselves] with the Sinhalese.” He added that if the Tamils followed suit, “they can [also] achieve a lot.”
On the issue of devolution, Mr. Ranawaka, who quit the previous Rajapaksa regime weeks ahead of the presidential election in January after serving seven years as a Minister, said the Tamil National Alliance and others should be “very pragmatic”. They have to accept that “separatism or federalism cannot be achieved”. He emphasised that “separatism won’t work.”
Describing the Sri Lankan society “as a compassionate society”, he said that “our country is based on Buddhist philosophy, which teaches us that all people, all human beings are equal. No caste or no creed.”
Calling the present political climate “very peaceful”, the Minister asserted that the government machinery, including the state media, were now “totally free”.
Asked how he, as a critic of international intervention in Sri Lankan affairs, reconciled his differences with his present ally, the United National Party (UNP), which had the image of being pro-West, Mr. Ranawaka said the present coalition — United National Front for Good Governance — was a “new front”.
It included diverse elements such as a group from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, a section of both Leftists and liberal market supporters. He added that the new government’s foreign policy would be formulated keeping in tune with developments such as the growing economic power of India, China and other Asian countries.