Saturday, July 29, 2006

TAQ Constitution



The existing constitution our Association is nearly 25 years old.  Our members are from more than one or two countries, including Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and South Africa. 
We need to attract the young people to become active members of the Association.  They are asking “what is in for them to join the Association?  In addition, many people have suggested that the Association needs to amend its constitution in order to accommodate change in time and needs and interests of the current and future members. 
During the past two years, we reviewed the activities of the Association in terms of the constitution, activities and future direction needed to take the Association into the next 10 to 20 years. 
As a result, we, the immediate past and current Management Committee unanimously considered amending the constitution, so as to be more accommodating and less open to misinterpretation. We are proposing the following amendments to the constitution:
  1. Include a mission statement into the constitution as included below.
  2. Delete any reference to specific country from the constitution, except in the case of human right violations and stateless Tamils.  This situation exits only for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.  Thus, we need to have a clause for this specific purpose.  Otherwise, this will strongly support our activities in support of the plights of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. 
  3. Include refined objective into the constitution
  4. Delete specific operational activities in line with the refined objectives of the Association 
We welcome your thoughts, comments, suggestions, and opinions on the proposed amendments.  You as a financial or non-financial member can send your comments to the Secretary, Tamil Association Queensland on or before 30th September 2006.  Please send your written feedback, opinion and suggestion to:  All written feedback will be considered.
We are only proposing the changes.  This is a process.  I hope we all, as the Queensland Tamils, achieve a cooperative and compromised and improved version of the constitution soon.  We have just started the consultative process, your input and support are vital to create an agreeable outcome from this consultative process.
We are proposing to include the following mission and purpose in line with the composition of our current and potential membership.  In our constitution, we will not be making any specific reference to any country of origin of Tamils settled in Queensland.  By doing this, we can become a more inclusive Tamil community than ever before.


Tamil Association Queensland Inc. is a community based non-profit organization, representing Tamils from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries.  The Association aims to help the Tamil members and the general community with social, cultural, employment, education and training opportunities and encourage them to achieve their full societal and individual outcomes, inter-community relationships and satisfaction.




The specific objectives of the Association include the following:


                   -     Provide social, cultural, sporting, educational, welfare and services to the Tamil and the general community members in Queensland.

                   -     Help the Tamil community members become aware of employment opportunities and issues and encourage them to develop their occupational skills in Australia.

                   -     Undertake intercommunity based projects for local, state and commonwealth governments and other funding agencies.

                   -     Encourage the members to become involved in collective participation, decision making and executing actions that would lead to continuous development and improvement in inter-community development and welfare activities.

                   -     Protect and preserve the social, economic and cultural identities of the Tamil community in Queensland.

                   -     Assist new Tamil migrants to settle down in Queensland and lead them to their quest for job or job related training.

                   -     Help Tamil students with school related curricula and extra curricular activities.

                   -     Guide the members in their endeavor to integrate with the Australian society and to become proud Australians.

                   -     Provide and assist in projects designed to improve the socio-economic conditions of members and the general community.

                   -     Print and publish news letters, periodicals, or leaflets and broadcast information that is deemed important for the members and the general community.

                   -     Maintain a library of Tamil books, audio and video materials and equipment for the members.

                   -     Organise educational and cultural classes, workshops and seminars and other relevant activities for the members and the general community.

                   -     Celebrate events of cultural and social significance in Australia.

                   -     Nurture multiculturalism and harmony among the members of all ethnic backgrounds.

                   -     Highlight the plight of Tamil people who are persecuted in any countries and lobby among the Australian governments and non-government agencies to take appropriate actions to help those affected people. 

                   -     Contribute to the multicultural activities supported by at local, state and commonwealth governments.

                   -     Undertake activities to meet the needs and interest of future and young members of the Queensland Tamil community.


In this way the Association will pursue all appropriate means to achieve goals common to the members and current interested young people, for so long as the Association is in existence and remains organised exclusively for social and cultural support services, charitable, political lobbying for the plight of Tamil people around the world, and other purposes within the meaning of constitution, as amended.

We would like to achieve unity among the Tamil community in Queensland.  Unity for common purpose, unity for raising the plight of the Tamils around the world, unity for cultural and social functions and unity to embark on our identity in Queensland as peace loving and dedicated community minded Queenslanders.  We know now how urgent is that we have to unite the Tamil community around our respective causes.
Our ability to unify will be judged by our ability to come together under a common vision that will erase the divisions and disengagement that hold us back as a united community. We come to you today with this unity focus and call on you come together, join together, and work together to achieve the common outcomes as a Queensland Tamil community. 
Now, is our time to march forward as one Tamil community.  We seek your wisdom and we trust in your commitment to the common good, to the swift actions you will take.  We would appreciate your feedback on the proposed amendment.  Our focus is unity and use this unity create a united voice and identity not only for the Tamil community in Queensland, but also globally.  We have a PDF version of the old constitution and you can request for a copy from the management committee members. 
Management Committee,
Tamil Association of Queensland.
22 July, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006



Greetings and welcome.  Now is the for a united voice and combined actions by all the Tamils who are migrated to Australia from India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Fiji and many other countries to address the plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.  This appeal is presented to you in the hope that through you, conscience of all Tamils living in Australia will be awakened to the present predicaments of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, who are being systematically subjected to a denial of very basic political and human rights, open and close racial discriminations, and the victims of intentionally engineered process of genocides.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka constitute a separate nation divided from the Sinhalese nation by territory, language, religion and culture. At the beginning of European conquest, there were THREE SEPARATE KINGDOMS in then Ceylon: A Tamil kingdom in the North and two Sinhalese kingdoms in the South. The Tamil kingdom fell to the Portuguese in 1619. The Dutch replaced the Portuguese in 1659, who in turn capitulated to the British in 1796. The British also took over the Kandyan Sinhalese kingdom in 1815, thus gaining mastery over the three kingdoms covering the entire island. These territories which were isolated from each other and administered as separate areas were brought together into one administrative unit by the British in 1833. This was done for reasons of administrative convenience without consent of the peoples of the island. In fact the Kandyan Sinhalese protested against this unification.

The British thus imposed a common administrative system on the whole island with English as the Language of the government. In this way they brought together two peoples who had lived separately through the ages. When it became clear that the British were ready to share some of their authority with the local leaders, the conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese came to the surface. In 1945 when the time came for the transfer of power to the peoples of this country, the Board of ministers submitted their own proposals for a new constitution. The Tamils almost in one voice rejected their proposals in-as-much as they were calculated to place the minorities of Ceylon in a position of subordination to and dependence on the racial majority.

A Royal Commission under the Chairmanship of Lord Soulbury was sent to Ceylon in order to examine and discuss any proposal for constitutional reform in the island. Recognizing the general state of apprehension and suspicion in the minds of minority communities when power was to be transferred from neutral British hands to the people of a country, the commission became alert to the need for minority safeguards.

The Commissioners therefore accepted the assurance of the Board of Ministers in the belief that the latter were fully aware that the contentment of the minorities is essential, not only to their well-being but to the well being of the Island as a whole.

Moreover the British Government issued a White Paper on the basis of the Commissions report and made it clear to the Board of Ministers of Ceylon, that any legislative action by the British would be conditional on the acceptance of their proposal by the minorities. This acceptance was secured by many promises and assurances by the Sinhalese leaders, the hollowness of which have been manifest by the actions of successive Governments. It is significant that Lord Soulbury himself was later disillusioned by the disregard of these assurances by the Sinhalese leaders. Lord Soulbury has in his forward to the book, Ceylon a Divided Nation by Professor B. H. Farmer said:

The Tamils however hoped that the administrative unity established by the British Government could be preserved and towards that end made three significant suggestions.

(a) Balanced Representation:
Our earliest request was for balanced representation in the legislature as advocated by the Duke of Devonshire, who was Secretary of State for Colonies. It was based on a balanced scheme of representation that would avoid the danger of concentration of power in one community but would ensure its equitable distribution among all communities and the people as a whole. But the Soulbury Commissioners did not grant this.

(b) The demand for a Federal Constitution:
Secondly, within a year of independence, when the position of the Tamils was fast deteriorating, the demand for a federal form of government was put forward. It was felt that this was the only way of keeping together two distinct nations in one state. It may be remembered here that Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranayke strongly advocated federalism as far back as May 1926 or even earlier, but would not concede when he came to power. The following excerpts are taken from his speech of his in the Ceylon Morning Leader July 17th.

"If they considered past history then they would see that the three communities, the Tamils, the Low-country Sinhalese and the Kandyan Sinhalese had lived for over a thousand years in Ceylon and had not shown any tendency to merge... A central form of Government assumed a homogenous whole..."

But when the objections were dissipated he was convinced that some form of FEDERAL GOVERNMENT would be the ONLY SOLUTION."

The New Constitution of 1972 and the six-point formula.
Thirdly, these suggestions were finally rejected and a new constitution was unilaterally imposed in 1972. This Constitution took away even the meagre safeguards provided in the Soulbury Constitution and in addition imposed further disabilities on the non-Sinhalese, non-Buddhist population. This brought the Tamils together under the banner of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). Comprising all Tamil political parties, major trade unions and prominent non-party Tamils. The Tamil National Alliance, the then TULF, is today recognized as the voice of the Tamil people.

The TULF rejected the Constitution and put forward a six-point formula as the minimum prerequisite for keeping the two nations together, while preserving the territorial, linguistic, religious and cultural integrity of the Tamils. The Tamil United Liberation Front demands that the Constitution should be amended so as to secure the aspirations of the Tamil people in respect of the following:

  • The Tamil Language should be given the same status in the Constitution as the Sinhala Language.
  • There should be constitutional guarantee of full citizenship rights to all Tamil-speaking people who have made this country their home. There should be no different categories of citizens and no discrimination between them, and also no power to the state to deprive citizen of his citizenship.
  • The state shall be secular, while equal protection is afforded to all religions.
  • The Constitution should provide for valid fundamental rights guaranteeing the equality of all persons on ethnocultural grounds.
  • The Constitution shall provide for the abolition of caste and untouchability.

In a democratic and socialist society, a decentralized structure of government alone will make it possible for a participatory democracy where power will be people�s power rather than state power.

The reasonableness of the demand put forward by the TULF is amply demonstrated by the fact that every single political party with the Sinhalese leadership had accepted the demands in some form or other both before and after independence, but the Sinhalese Governments in power had not even cared to consider the plight of the Tamils  This political cheating is still continuing even by the present Sinhalese Government under the pretext of All Party Conference (APC).

The international community is realising the �political duplicity� by the Sri Lankan government.  In July 2006, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed serious concern at the lack of progress on the peace front in Sri Lanka and called for the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people to be addressed urgently, the Sunday Leader (Sri Lanka) reported.


The Indian Prime Minister who met with the leader of Sri Lanka�s main opposition United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe, in New Delhi last Thursday had also said war was not an option to solve the ethnic conflict.

Further, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Dominic John Chilcott, said in an interview with the Sunday Virakesari (Sri Lanka) in July 2006, Britain�s trust in the safeguards built into the constitution of Ceylon at independence was misplaced and their weakness is to blame for the island�s present problems.  Mr. Silcott said that LTTE and the Sri Lanka government must now negotiate an end to the conflict. The UK and the United States were in agreement on their policies on Sri Lanka, he also said, adding that India also wants a negotiated solution to the conflict.

The UK High Commissioner further said. ��When the British came to Ceylon in 1796 there were three distinct kingdoms. The British made it one country for purposes of administrative convenience.� Mr. Chilcott further explained, �If one were to truly examine Britain�s role one important aspect deserves special mention. That is the constitutional arrangement that Britain left behind. It left behind the Soulbury Constitution. Britain considered the Soulbury Constitution as having the necessary arrangements to provide for safeguards for minorities.�  He continued, �Britain thought that the rights of the Tamils in particular would be safeguarded by these arrangements. However history has proved otherwise that these safeguards were inadequate and not robust enough. I regret that Britain�s policies have to such an extent been the cause for the problems.�

On 2 June 2006, Mr. Richard Boucher,  US Assistant  Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs,  for the first time, used the term 'Tamil homeland' addressing the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The top US official said "there are legitimate issues that are raised by the Tamil community and they have a very legitimate desire, as anybody would, to be able to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies and to govern themselves in their homeland; in the areas they've traditionally inhabited �"

Accordingly, the Tamils have legitimate rights to their self-determination and homeland.  They have traversed a long road and are now at the end of their tether. When two nations cannot get on together they come to the parting of ways. Has the parting come? That is the problem of the Tamils of Ceylon.

Certainly, the recognition of homeland and self-determination by the Sri Lankan government is the only way out to find a lasting peace between Sinhalese and Tamils.  Tamils want peace with dignity, equity and justice.  This will be the real peace and lasting solution.


Management Committee, 2006/2007
Tamil Association Queensland Inc