C.V. Wigneswaran, former judge and former Chief Minister, Northern Province, has made a humble request. Humble. Now that’s a nice word. Nicer still, coming from someone like Wigneswaran. [Ref: ‘My humble request to my Sinhala brethren, especially the Buddhists,’ in the website Colombotelegraph].
Now Wigneswaran, in a different lifetime almost, was a judge. Back then he would have heard of a term called presumption of innocence. He’s forgotten. Take for example his take on the travel ban on Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva or more precisely his glee at the same.
‘Shavendra Silve is a wanted man for war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. What is wrong in congratulating any country for such Country recognizing his past activities as criminal,’ he asks.
The first sentence is a lie. Maybe Wiggy wants Shavendra convicted as a war criminal, whether or not there’s evidence to that effect. Maybe that’s what inspired ‘wanted’ in his claim. To date, Shavendra Silva has not been convicted of such things. At best, it’s speculation and worst a wish born of revenge-intent for preferred outcomes not materializing or for the role played in annihilating Wiggy’s heroes, namely the LTTE. In the next part, it’s not speculation. It’s statement of fact! Quick, that. Then he puts the onus on Shavendra to prove he is innocent, insisting that HE should go before a kangaroo court and be judged. Yes, a Kangaroo court because that’s what any inquiring body made up of or set up by the prejudiced would be.
From speculation, he moves to fiction. Yes, the tired re-telling of Eelamist myth-mongering and treatment of myth as fact. No evidence whatsoever to support the theses offered. He talks of prehistory, he makes claims about who were there (in the Northern and Eastern provinces) and when. High on claim, dismal on evidence. ‘What a judge, WHAT a judge!’ did someone whisper?
What I found most interesting is the plea, the ‘humble request,’ which has phrased in quite a quaint manner.
Here goes: ‘My humble request of my Sinhala brethren especially the Buddhists is for them to ask the question why would a man of 80 years who had been in the forefront to establish a Congress of Religions while still a young lawyer, who had been speaking at Amity Meetings for a long time to bring about amity among communities and religions want to start a separatist movement in the North and East? I have no need to separate human beings on the basis of ethnicity nor religion. My interest is to bring amelioration to my people who have been suffering from around 1956 having lost their equality in that year. Sinhala chauvinism and Sinhala Buddhist hegemony have made our people lose hope and purpose in their life. Discrimination still goes on.’
Since he’s 80 years old, who has established something called a ‘Congress of Religions’ (for what purpose, we do not know), attended ‘Amity Meetings’ (whatever those meetings were about — we don’t know), he wants us to believe that he’s a goody goody two shoes. The judge who was Wiggy’s previous avatar would have been aware of the term non sequitur, it does not follow.
Other explanations are possible. He may be touting Tamil nationalism to remain politically relevant in a province which, under his watch, got nothing. Just as he was inspired to speak in glowing terms about Velupillai Prabhakaran and the LTTE. Maybe (who knows?) he’s suffering from a terrible angst that the community he belongs to doesn’t have a country recognized as such by, say, the United Nations. Maybe he’s living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Now, even if wasn’t always resident there.
Maybe the amity meetings were about amity and that ‘congress’ was about, say, deep discussion on things religious and philosophical, but does that mean that it gives him some kind of moral right to talk and advocate nonsense? Do such things create a situation that everyone is supposed to believe that he cannot be wrong? Even if the motives at the time were noble, does it mean that the motivated (at that time) could not have diminished in terms of intellectual honesty, clarity of thought and such. The preposterous claims he makes most certainly makes one suspect that this, indeed, is what has happened. IF, that is, he was not playing a game all along or else having placed a certain game suddenly realized that a fictitious caste could be built on it.
The problem is that the foundation of all this is not past co-existentialist behavior but the ideological and political positions he takes now. That’s a base which is at best shaky. The edifice doesn’t stand. The man tosses out anecdotes from his limited and therefore limiting life experiences and extrapolates wildly. Just like his ‘prehistoric’ claims regarding the history of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Tamil who flippantly embraced Buddhism and re-embraced the Shaivaism. ‘Tamil’ Buddhism that did not produce any scholarship on that doctrine whatsoever, let us not forget.
Wiggy, even now, wants us to believe he’s no separatist, he’s not communalist etc., etc., but is merely fighting for Tamil rights, but his rhetoric is full of fabricated narratives pertaining to the Northern and Eastern part of the country.
He appeals to the Sinhala Buddhists even as he vilifies them, not uttering one word about the massive tragedies that people like him brought upon his brethren, from Chelvanayakam to himself (well, maybe we should say ‘to M.A. Sumanthiran, give the devil his due and all that) through Appapillai Amirthalingam, not forgetting that blood-thirsty brute, Prabhakaran who abducted Tamil children, killed Tamil politicians, professionals and priests, held as hostage and starved hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians.
So yes, it’s not hard to get you, Wiggy. You’ve set it up nicely; your case, I mean. You speak of a decent enough history (although we really don’t know what you were up to in these organizations you refer to or what they were all about either), and demand that your innocence is agreed upon and that your claims taken as irrefutable truths.
Yes. Got you, Wiggy. Loud and clear.
This article was first published in the SUNDAY MORNING [March 1, 2020]