All 9 provinces need federalism – Vigneswaran

Following are excerpts of an interview with north chief minister C.V. Vigneswaran:

 What do you think about reconciliation?

Both communities should get to know each other better. Sinhalese do not know the problems of the Tamils. That is the biggest problem. Also, what happened in the past is irrelevant. What needs to be done now is to go forward.

How the communities can be reconciled after the war?

Our problems remain unanswered for more than 70 years. Reconciliation is not possible without knowing those problems. We should be allowed to do what is needed for our provinces. The central government is not allowing that.

There is an allegation that the money given to the provincial council was not spent and returned to the central government. What is your response?

We haven’t returned one cent. We received money last year very late. Of the allocations in 2016, Rs. 1,800 was received only in August 2017. These are political talks. Not the truth.

You always speak about devolution of powers. I would like to highlight that. Can you describe devolution of powers?

Power should be devolved. Or, else, the central government should retain all the powers. People are from different communities and different religions. Therefore, they should be administered differently. Earlier I said only the north and the east needed federalism, but I say now that federalism is needed for all the nine provinces.

With that issue of identity, you bring forward an argument about history?

There is a difference between Sinhala and Tamil identities. For more than 2,500 years, Tamils have been living in the north and the east. There is evidence. Sinhalese believe Tamils came in the 10th century. That is wrong. According to our history, Sinahala language started in the 6, 7 centuries. If that is so, Kings Dutugemunu and Devanampiyatissa cannot be Sinhalese. ‘Aryan’ is a description of an outsider, it is not a community. We can resolve problems when we know the truth. We believe that with history, we have a right for the north and the east. The government does not accept that. That is why all these problems are there. It will be a big problem later if someone says our parents are not our own. That is why I criticize the story of the past. The truth is difficult to digest.

Ashanthi Warunasuriya in Jaffna

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