Speaking Of Asia: Sri Lanka, the island that lost its way

Sri Lanka, once full of promise, heads into another parliamentary election haunted by the communal demons of its past

A week ago, Mr Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, leader of the Tamil United Freedom Front that's loosely allied with the party ruling Sri Lanka, was on the stump in the nation's Eastern Province which, with the rest of the nation, is heading for a parliamentary election on Aug 5.

A former leader of a breakaway faction of the notorious Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that terrorised the island for nearly a quarter-century, the man with the nom de guerre Karuna Amman was in mid-season form as he addressed a rally of mostly Tamil speakers. As an LTTE commander, he claimed, he had killed 2,000 to 3,000 Sri Lankan soldiers in one night at Elephant Pass, gateway to the Jaffna Peninsula.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2020, with the headline 'The island that lost its way'. Print Edition | Subscribe