Responding to Sri Lankan cabinet minister, Dullas Alahapperuma, leader of the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) Gajen Ponnambalam spoke out against the government's insistence on a "unitary state", arguing it has led to the "appalling situation to which this country has fallen".
Ponnambalam stated the country's fall began ten years after independence when the government "chose to look upon another population that inhabits this country as an enemy" and "chose to deliberately pursue policies, first and foremost, to destroy that perceived enemy".
"[This was done] so that they can claim no part of this island so that they can not say that the North-East is their homeland. So that it can only be the Sinhalese who can call this entire island their homeland" he added.
He further highlighted the "vast amounts of its money " the Sri Lankan state spent in pursuing a military option to enshrine Sinhala Buddhism throughout the country.
"What have you achieved?"
Ponnambalam also questioned the government's achievements since the end of the armed conflict.
"What are your achievements? There is no LTTE now for you to blame! Have you achieved anything in the last 12 year?"
"Every year you went down. The following year was worse than the previous. And now you have COVID where you have taken a nosedive. You are scraping the barrel".
Ponnambalam further urged the country to take a different path, to "make every part of this island a plurinational country where everyone can contribute [...] So that the Tamil nation can ask its diaspora to contribute, to invest".
"You’d rather cling to this notion of a unitary state and that Sri Lanka only belongs to the Sinhala Buddhists, and go down the path of not only destroying the Tamils, now you have started against the Muslims".
Selling out the country
Ponnambalam criticised the government's economic record accusing the government of selling out the country and bolstering geopolitical contestation.
"Now you can't only sell-off to one particular global power, now you have to spread it out and sell it to quite a few others. Aren’t you ashamed? Honestly, aren’t you ashamed?"
Ponnambalam stressed the ongoing issue of brain drain in Sri Lanka.
"I can assure you honourable presiding member, every member of this country if given a choice, would rather have their children go abroad and get educated".
"You will sink to such a point that your own ideal Sinhala Buddhist nation will decamp. And they are decamping [...]so many citizens are lining up to get passports to go abroad. They are not all Tamil, vast majority of them are Sinhalese" Ponnambalam stated.
"You will ensure that the state is never stable"
Ponnambalam highlighted the hypocrisy of the government's denial of federalism, which the government claims would lead to separation, noting that the insistence on a unitary structure gave way to armed conflict.
"For 74 years you clung out unitary and you created a separatist war that came under your unitary state! There was a de facto state when you were claiming to be a unitary state" he stated.
Ultimately, Ponnambalam maintained that it is not the state structure which will be the determining factor but rather "the decision is going to be made only by making sure you prevent and in some way convince all the peoples of this country to say that this is in fact their country".
Ponnambalam insisted that the government's approach would leave the state in perpetual instability.
"You will make sure that your state will never be stable. That its legitimacy will constantly be called into question and one day with geopolitical realities create a situation where strong global powers feel that Sri Lanka need not be looked upon as one unit. That is when separation will take place" he stressed.
He concluded by stating:
"You decide whether you want to go down the path of 74 years of mayhem, of hell, of disaster - where even 12 years after the end of the war, you're scraping the barrel year after year, creating new heights or new depths, I should say. Or whether you want to start anew and genuinely put this country on a newer footing whereall its members can contribute to the upliftment of the country as a whole".