Be a Sri Lankan:
Don't be misled by Tamil diaspora - KP
Clad in a white cotton shirt he wears a pair of simple slippers. The
soft-spoken man explains the downfall of the 'outfit', that was once
thought as being impossible to destroy. After 30-years of a struggle to
divide a united country to win their rights, the 'man' says every youth,
including him, was misled by politicians of a by-gone era.Calling
himself a victim, he says, youth who had different dreams in life got
'trapped' in Eelam and destroyed their future.
"When I passed the Advanced Level examination, I dreamt of becoming a
Police Inspector. When I got into the university, my dream was to become
a Government Agent. I had all these dreams because I love my motherland
and I wanted to serve my people. But the then political environment
which poisoned youth like us shattered my dreams and it made us to dream
of another country for the Tamils. I joined another youth, Vellupillai
Prabhakaran to achieve our dream - Eelam.
We worked hard but we failed. Now it's time to agree with the truth
and act accordingly", the man who smuggled arms for over two decades to
make the 'outfit' which turned out to be one of the world's most
ruthless terrorist organisations, said.
Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam known as KP, tagged as one of the
wanted men in the world for his involvement in arms procurement has
drawn a new plan to achieve his childhood dream - serving people- while
living under protective hands in Colombo, where he was brought from
Malaysia in a dramatic 'arrest'.
The terror outfit is proscribed as a terrorist organisation in 32
countries, identified as the new leader of the LTTE after the demise of
Prahakaran at the Nanthikadal lagoon in May 2009, KP says he is in fear
when he see the people of the Wanni who were virtually dragged into the
'stone age' by the LTTE.
He has travelled to over 50 countries to coordinate the terror
outfit's arms procurement network, he sheds copious tears as to what
crime children committed to suffer the way they did.
"Most of them have never seen a chocolate in their lives", the
fair-skinned man with sharp eyes became so emotional and couldn't
control his tears.
"Do you now feel that you are partly responsible for this heinous
crime?, I asked.
With tears rolling down he says, 'yes' "Thousands of people died,
became disabled and sacrificed their future. Thousands of children
became orphans. I am very sad when I see them as I am also responsible
for what they suffering today. When I was in Malaysia, I saw how people
were running for their lives, I cried a lot", KP, who is into Buddhist
KP, who now calls himself a person who has 'purified' his 'poisoned'
mind says: "Be a Sri Lankan rather than calling yourself a Sinhalese,
Tamil or Muslim.
We belong to a united country and let's get together to bring a new
peaceful era". Time to time he goes through a small note book, in which
he had jotted down the important points which he wants to highlight.
Many know who KP is and his involvement in turning the LTTE into a
ruthless terrorist outfit. But only a few know what exactly KP aspires
now in his mid 50s and what the Tamils, whom he thought need a separate
country, want today.
A father of a teenage girl and married to a Thai woman, he was
introduced to Buddhism by his wife, who he says is now the happiest
person as he is on the correct path. KP says he will sacrifice his life
to fulfill his new dream - to see the children of the Wanni live happily
Here is an exclusive discussion with him to feel his pulse at a time
when the LTTE has been decimated.
Q: Though you seem to be a changed man, a section of the Tamil
diaspora is still propagating separatism. How do you feel about them?
A: The Tamil diaspora can be divided into three segments -
first, second and third generation diaspora. In the 1980s, the first
generation diaspora brought the proposal of Eelam but Appapillai
Amirthalingam (He was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers, later), the
former Leader of the Opposition, rejected it saying it was not the right
way to win the rights of the Tamils.
He said as the leader of the Tamil people he has to lead them in the
correct path. He said he could not dance to the tune of those living
abroad as they just demand a separate state.
Again the idea of Eelam was propped up by the Tamil diaspora when the
LTTE was there and they were misled.
Now there is no concept called Eelam. Everyone has dreams. ( He
laughs) but how many can realise their dreams. They remain as dreams. As
human beings we have to accept our failures and with experience we have
to adjust to the present. It is a good lesson and now in this united Sri
Lanka we have to think anew.
I have adjusted my dream and now I am living in a new dream to give a
better future to the younger generation of this country. I dreamt of
serving my people as an Inspector in the police.
Now I dream again to serve my motherland and to set an example to the
world as a country full of peace and development.
It is true, that we fought against each other at one time, but now it
is time to show that we are working together to develop the country.
Otherwise what are we going to offer to the future generation. I have
visited over 50 countries and our country is way behind.
When I go to the Wanni I cry, questioning myself as to what mistake
these people have done to be born in this land to suffer. What is the
future for them. Half of the responsibility of giving these children and
youth a good education, health and other facilities for them to boom,
lies in the hands of politicians. They can't be misled this time around.
The Tamil diaspora belongs to the other half which is responsible to
create a peaceful environment for them and they should not neglect them.
Q: You have travelled around the country and seen the
situation in the North. Though you said the Tamil diaspora has a greater
responsibility in the post-conflict era, their contribution is still not
significant maybe due to lapses in conveying the true picture. How do
you think you can get involved in this?
A: We have already arranged several trips to the North where
the third generation Tamil Diaspora children were taken to see life
These children are living in the West but they are unaware of ground
realities. They know they belong to Sri Lanka but have been brainwashed
by pro-LTTE segments. These children were born and bred in different
cultures and never visited Sri Lanka for a long time. The LTTE formed
the Tamil Youth Organization (TYO) and brain-washed most of these youth.
Now what we try to do is to bring them here to allow them to see the
A daughter of a friend of mine came here and she cried when she saw
the children in the North who have suffered immensely. She left the
country with the determination that she wanted to help these innocent
A few weeks ago we took some diaspora families and they were also in
tears when they saw the children yearning for love.
When these children referred to them as amma ( mother) and akka
(sister) they cried.
More than 30,000 to 40,000 diaspora members will visit the North.
They will then see the reality. Misinformation and the LTTE has poisoned
Q: Why didn't you have this same feeling before you were
'brought' to Sri Lanka?
A: People doubt me when I talk negatively about the LTTE now.
But I am telling the truth. Some years ago I felt that the LTTE was not
genuine. Three years ago when I was in Malaysia, I had spoken against
poisoning the youth with separatism ideas. I told them that I was
worried about how some Tamil groups were using their children abroad to
achieve their own benefits.
Q: If you divide the Tamil diaspora, how many still support
the LTTE cause?
A: Yes, the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora, are only 10 percent. They
hang on to Eelam and paint a different picture for their own benefit.
They are aware that the LTTE and Prabakaran are no more. They also know
that they can't promote the Tamil Eelam concept as it is dead now, but
revive Eelam issue. This is a survival game. They have money, media,
political power and help in the West.
This ten percent is active, another 50 percent listen to their
propaganda and the rest are groping in the dark as they don't have
information about ground realities in the North.
Q: What is your role in this process where we need to
enlighten them about reality?
A: As I have explained before we have organised several trips
for the Tamil diaspora to witness the reality.
We have websites and newspapers in the West like the UK and Canada to
publish success stories. Some are convinced and have conveyed their
willingness to support us. About four to five diaspora persons contact
me and visit monthly to join in our endeavour. They want to take part in
the process. Only with their support we can run the projects well. The
logistic support is provided by the Ministry of Defence.
Q: Don't you think the support from the Tamil diaspora is
A: Yes. But during this three-year period we have done a lot
to convince them. We have a dream and need a mega project for the
welfare of the war-affected people. Though support is insufficient we
have to commence work at some point. We have over 80,000 war affected
widows, unemployed youth, poor education facilities and areas that need
to be developed. The support coming to us is slow, but we are trying to
The organisation - North-East Rehabilitation and Development
Organisation (NERDO), set up to look after the welfare of the people in
the North and the East is just one-year-old. At the beginning many
criticised us, but now they have understood our mission.
We are involved in several projects to help children, widows,
displaced people, students, disabled, ex-LTTE cadres and all other
Our projects include building orphanages, vocational training
centres, model farms, and many other projects. We invite well-wishers to
help in these projects.
NERDO also provides counselling to people affected psychologically.
The goal is to rehabilitate them to have a productive and harmonious
I think education is a paramount factor in rebuilding the North and
East. We have given maximum concern to uplift education. My dream is to
send every child to school and I want to see them come out as educated
Q: What is your comment about the development taking place in
the North and East, which was given top priority by the government.
According to your assessment what more is there to be done?
A: I appreciate the Government for developing the North and
the East within these three-years. We have to encourage the Government
to do more. Post conflict development is not easy and it takes time to
regain. It also needs hard work and need the support of all segments.
Earlier it took three hours to reach Mullaitivu from Mankulam, but I
am happy to say that today it takes only one and a half hours. There was
no electricity, water and other infrastructure facilities last year, but
today people are happy as they are in the door step to development. It
is vital to have people-oriented programs to uplift their living
I suggest to open special economic zones similar to China, where they
give priority to industries unique to each area. I personally feel this
is one of the best options to reduce unemployment in the North and the
The Government needs to have plans to stop Indian fishermen poaching
in Sri Lankan waters. In Mullaitivu and Jaffna, fishermen have become
unemployed as Indian fishermen intrude the waters. The sophisticated
Indian trawlers over-harvest and it is a big problem now.
Unity among all communities is paramount for development.
Q: You said you are a changed man now. How do you define this
A: When I say I am a changed man, it comes from my heart. For
the first time in my life I got a chance to meet Sinhala friends. I
never had a chance to live with them.
When I was a student I came to the South, but at that time I had a
negative picture about the Sinhalese.
When I heard that I was to be handed over to Defence Secretary,
Gotabaya Rajapaksa I thought he would end my life. But as soon as I met
him I felt the warmth, friendliness and felt free and safe now that I am
at home. When I was handed overs to a team to 'protect' me I had
sleepless nights thinking that they would kill me at any given time.
But within a few days I began to call them 'Thambi' and they called
me 'Anna'. It was sincere and came from the bottom of the hearts of both
parties. They treated me like their older brother or like father. When I
was sick they looked after me well.
This new encounter changed me for life. When I met wounded soldiers,
ex-cadres and the Vanni people I felt so sorry and I blamed everyone who
made us fight and made these innocent people suffer.
At the beginning I thought I was under house arrest and there was
nothing that I could do to heal these souls. But I was determined that I
should do some thing as I still love my country, its people and its
I gave this idea to the Defence Secretary that I wanted to start some
humanitarian projects. He simply said 'go ahead'. Then I thought to
myself that if the Government was suspicious of me and hated me they
would say 'No', and all this caused a huge change in me.
I was ready to die for my motherland and now there is no change in
this stance. No one influenced me to change and the process in which I
am undergoing now helps me to 'purify' my thinking.
Q: The Indian Government has cautioned that LTTEers were
trying to re-group. Can they make a comeback?
A: (Laughing) Eelam and the LTTE is over. It is a difficult
task for them to re-group. Nature will not permit anyone to divide this
country. Different kings ruled this country, but it remained as one for
If somebody tries to divide Sri Lanka, nature will punish them and
they will be destroyed. Hardcore LTTEers and their sympathisers in the
Tamil diaspora still boast of a comeback, they are surviving because of
these slogans, issues and incidents. Tamils in this country can't be
fooled any more as they know the LTTE is a defunct outfit now. What the
Tamils want now is peace, happiness and the money to live in a united
Q: According to intelligence findings the recent drama in the
Vavuniya prison found links with the West to destabilise peace.
A: These are small incidents created by some interested
parties for their own survival. This doesn't mean that the LTTE can ever
make a comeback. I am sad as they are still taking the lives of these
innocent boys to task. They are not well educated and can be easily
When someone goes through a legal process, they need to have
patience. The Government is working on their release and even I tried to
get them released but there are some obstacles. It takes time.
When I was under high security, I felt I needed freedom and wanted to
go out soon. But again I questioned myself as to why I needed to rush.
Later I realised I needed patience to overcome this.
Q: People think that you are one of the richest men as you had
access to all the LTTE funds. Are you really?
A: (Laughs) Do you think I am a wealthy man? No. I am a simple
man. These are all rumours. From 2002 I didn't have links with the LTTE
until 2009 January. Everything was with the others and also with the
inner circle who handled LTTE funds and assets. They knew where LTTE
funds were. I never did mistakes and the LTTE hierarchy knew it well. I
lived according to my principles and I did the tasks entrusted to me
honestly. That was why the LTTE called me back, but it was too late!