Opinion Article
2ND LEAD (Adds Tamil version of the report)

TGTE: 45 degrees polity for Tamils or ramp for powers?

[TamilNet, Friday, 15 January 2010, 09:24 GMT]
“21st century political reality is Transnational,” aptly says the Advisory Committee report for the formation of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), released Friday for public comments. Differentiating the novel concept from a conventional government in exile and justifying its rationale, the report argues that people in Tamil Eelam are also an active part of the transnational social space for the national struggle. The high ideals in the report were noticeably slipping when it ultimately envisages not a TGTE to politically fight for the cause but a remote controlled transnational corporation for collaboration and ‘step by step’ negotiation. The 45 degrees outlook, not surprising but only anticipated should now prompt the diaspora to respond with appropriate checks and balances.

The fundamental inconsistency with the report is that the committee which should have stopped at bringing out the rationale, proposing a model for electing the first constituent assembly and leave the rest to the democratically elected members to decide, has gone beyond its locus standi by saying what guiding principles have to be adopted by the elected members in the proposed constitution.

The same report refrains from committing whether it supports or opposes other democratic moves of Eezham Tamils, as it would be ‘undemocratic.’

In its guiding principle number one, the report says: “ There shall be a sincere commitment to the achievement of an independent, sovereign state of Tamil Eelam. The strategy to achieve this aim would be a step-by-step approach. Gaining recognition for the fundamental principles of Tamil nationhood, homeland and right to self-determination shall be the first step. This shall be followed by exercising the rights gained by such recognition.”

The advisory committee also says there should be a monitoring committee to protect the guiding principles and to ensure that the transnational government does not act in a manner contrary to the guiding principles it has listed out.

If the TGTE election takes place on the basis of such a report, it could be always argued that people by their participation in such an election have mandated the 45 degrees approach and that could never be breeched by the elected members. Obviously, the first step cleverly referred to in the ‘guiding principle’ is nothing but ‘internal self-determination,’ the good-old lure and cheat of powers from Thimphu to Oslo.

The report repeatedly upholds ‘right to self-determination,’ as the prime political remedy. It even goes to the extent of twisting the political agenda of the LTTE by saying that the 30-years-old struggle of Eelam Tamils led by the LTTE was to “realize their right to self-determination.”

Not that the members of the committee do not know the ambiguity of the term right to self-determination in the vocabulary of existing international system and international law, which they are hopeful of tapping to realize the said right.

The report itself, in one of its ‘guiding principles’ says, “ The strengthening of the principle of self-determination and the democratic struggle to achieve it through peaceful means for both the Tamils and for other persecuted groups must be promoted by the transnational government.

One has to salute the enthusiasm to reinstate the phrase ‘right to self-determination’ with the power it might have had once, but could Eezham Tamils afford to risk the fundamentals of their struggle in the romanticism for terminologies?

An inherent danger of the proposed outlook of the TGTE is the way it conceives itself as a “transnational corporation or a non-governmental organization (NGO).” The report also says “the TGTE should not make any statements or take any steps that may make its engagement with the international community difficult.”

This outlook, coupled with its ‘development’ agenda elucidated in the report, simply means TGTE is not conceived as a body to democratically fight for the liberation.

The situation what is going to arise by such an outlook is that like people fighting with conventional governments elsewhere, Eezham Tamils also may have to fight with TGTE to prompt it to take up issues and to do away with ‘corporate model’ development disasters.

The danger is enhanced by the monolithic structure proposed in the report for a diaspora of global dimensions, while federal is more appropriate and more democratic to such a context.

The report of course contains profound thought especially in its sections on transnationalism and transnational governance. It identifies “Tamil nationalism is one that encourages multiple and transnational identities, and is diversified, inclusive, socially beneficial and based on democratic principles.”

It says structures of transnational governance “demand models that go beyond the traditional nation-states and ‘international’ models that deal only with recognized nation-states.”

The proposed TGTE is “the first of its kind, promoted by an ethno-national group that has been struggling to achieve its independence,” says the report pointing out that the TGTE is “the most powerful yet creative democratic political means to articulate our visions,” while international community abets Sri Lanka’s military onslaught (the report avoids the term genocide in this instance).

However, the revolutionary spirit of these sections mellows down subsequently in the report.

To what extent the term Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, confining the transnational insight to the geographical pocket of Tamil Eelam is appropriate may be a question. Transnational Government of Eezham Tamils may be more appropriate to the concept. Perhaps the highlight of Tamil Eelam here was to camouflage the preparedness to compromise independence and sovereignty.

Internal references in the report on the engagements of the committee members with outfits of international community provide a clue that the design of the proposals envisage acceptance from the IC, may be not publicly but through its actions.

The report mentions another committee called Formation Committee behind the transnational government move but is not transparent about the identity and functions of this committee. The criteria for the appointment of Country Working Groups are another grey area. In some instances the diaspora experience is that some members of CWG pose themselves as officials of transnational government itself, citing that they have been appointed by a ‘High Power Committee.’

The question that arises is whether the TGTE and its tangential agenda are strategic tools for blunting the spirit of the struggle of Eezham Tamils and to manage the body in the diaspora just like powers have been using the Tibetan government in exile for more than half a century for their geopolitics, without any commitment and without any positive outcome.

If so, the Eezham Tamils have to guard themselves at the outset itself.

In personal conversations people behind the move for transnational government warn us that if we do not listen to the powers solutions to our problems would linger for ages. They may be right. But we also find a case like Tibet dragging on despite forfeiting independence, claiming only for autonomy, and enjoying substantial international recognition.

When nothing is seen in the hands or up in the sleeve, what is the point in voluntarily opting for truncated polity.

While firmly upholding the concept of transnational governance even before its present initiative, TamilNet has been repeatedly cautioning the public to be vigilant on deviations.

Indications are that the thought circles, relying on power-recognition, are not going to mend their ways listening to the pulse of the people. They would rather use their elitist articulating skills only to hoodwink the masses.

Just like an election of not their choice is now forced upon the people of Tamil Eelam, under a ‘united Sri Lanka,’ the international agenda will sure try a hand in testing the effectiveness of 45 degrees polity by fielding it in the diaspora under the attractive tag of transnational government.

If that is the present reality outside and within our own society, let there be no qualms. Let us not miss the novel political experiment. But free-people in the diaspora can always correct the course.

Vigilance is the fundamental requisite to any successful democracy. When the elections come for TGTE, the diaspora public need to be extra careful in identifying and sending the right people to represent their cause.

The most effective precaution is democratic checks and balances.

In this respect the diaspora public might have already realized the importance and effect of re-mandating the main principle of the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution.

Forming elected People’s Councils in the diaspora countries is another fundamental political exercise – wider and enhanced democracy and at the same time, an effective precautionary check against deviations of monolithic structures.


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