Balasingham writes last speech for Prabakharan
November 26th, 2006
By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
This year’s “Maaveerar Naal” or Great Heroes Day” oration by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Velupillai Pirabakaran on November 27th will be of poignant significance due to a very, special reason.
The annual address has now come to be regarded as an unofficial policy statement of the tigers. LTTE political commissar Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan has stated that his leader’s speech this time will outline the position of the LTTE on the current situation.
Given the prevailing tensions and hostilities the LTTE chief’s speech will be eagerly anticipated by all those immersed, involved or interested in the on going Sri Lankan conflict.
What is significant about this year’s “urai” or oration is that it would probably be the last speech to be written for him by tiger ideologue and political adviser Anton Stanislaus Balasingham.
Balasingham or ” Bala annai” (elder brother) as he is known has been writing the Great Heroes Day (GHD) speech for Pirapakaran since 1990.
The first GHD was held on Nov 27th 1987 in the Wanni during the Indian Army period. A truce declared on Sep 21st was in force then.
It was then that Prabakaran addressed his cadres directly and spoke without notes in Tamil. Balasingham was in London then.I think some points were sent to the LTTE leader who dwelt on them in his own way
Thereafter all GHD addresses have been written by Balasingham.
Some years ago a particular GHD speech was full of poetic language and imagery. I wrote then that the speech may have been polished by LTTE cultural commissar “Puthuvai” Rathinathurai the well – known Tamil poet.
Balasingham was to remember this and in a subsequent conversation years later set the record straight. He told me that the speech had been written by him alone and that no one else had touched it let alone polish it.
“I told Puthuvai DBS is giving you credit” he said and went on to add ” Naangal ninaithaal Kavithuvathodeyum eluthuvom” (If we want we can write poetically also).
I realised then how proud Balasingham was about the GHD speech and his role in it.
He prepares elaborately in writing it and cuts off communication with others for a few days. Balasingham communicates with “Thamby” Praba and formulates the address according to guidelines set by the tiger supremo.
But this year will be Bala Annai’s swan song.
The “Tamilnet” announced on Nov 22nd that Balasingham was terminally ill. This is what the news report said -
“Mr. Anton Balasingham, theoretician and political advisor of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), a rare and aggressive malignancy of the biliary system. The cancer is in an advanced stage and has spread to his liver, lungs, abdomen and bones, doctors have informed Mr. Balasingham, who is now resting at home, cared for by his wife, Adele.
Mr. Balasingham has had various medical investigations and is consulting oncologists about the possibility of treatment and the prognosis.
Commenting on his illness to TamilNet, Mr Balasingham said that, “it is an unfortunate personal tragedy. However, when compared to the vast ocean of the collective tragedy faced by my people, my illness is merely a pebble. I am deeply sad that I am crippled by this illness, unable to contribute anything substantial towards the alleviation of the immense suffering and oppression of my people.”
Mr Balasingham is 68 years old and has been suffering from diabetes for 35 years and in the late nineties developed renal disease, for which he underwent kidney transplantation. He has been associated with the Tamil liberation struggle for more than 30 years and participated as chief negotiator on behalf of the Liberation Tigers in almost all political negotiations, beginning with the Thimpu talks in 1985″.
I had heard some weeks ago that Balasingham was seriously ill and would not live long. I did not expect that news to be made public but LTTE media organs came out with it a few days ago.
With Doctors giving Balasingham a time span of 4 – 6 weeks I thought he would not be writing the speech this time.
But I hear that Balasingham has written the text despite his pain and suffering. One reason is because of the importance as it comes at a critical juncture in the history of Sri Lankan Tamil people. Another reason is Balasingham’s dedication and pride in what has come to be an annual event of great importance.
This year’s GHD speech therefore is written by Balasingham and delivered by Pirapakaran.
Another event in recent times has been a GHD ceremony in London addressed by Balasingham.He has been doing it since 1999.
Balasingham speaking in Tamil addresses the crowd for about an hour or so. He expands on the speech written by him and points out the important aspects of the GHD address. The speech is also laced with humorous cracks.
Given his illness will Balasingham make an appearance this time?
It all depends on his current health. But knowing the man I think if there is the slightest possibility Balasingham would make an appearance.
He may talk while being seated for about 10 minutes at least.
That could be his final appearance before a mass audience.
transCurrents feedback : firstname.lastname@example.org
transCurrents feedback :Contact DBS Jeyaraj : email@example.com
Entry Filed under: transCurrents