Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance


The constitutional reform debate in Sri Lanka is in a particularly enervated state as we approach the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, with a government in power that displays that bizarre concoction of procrustean infantilism that so characterised the Jayewardene and Premadasa attitudes to constitutional government and democracy: its thinking juvenile, its methods menacing. This has, in turn, lent a degree of respectability to secessionism it would not otherwise enjoy in world opinion. In fact, the supremacist ethno-nationalism which is at the ideological core of this government, and the simple-minded and unreflective obstinacy with which its dictates are pursued, raises a question that is at the heart of the liberal theory on self-determination and secession, but which Sri Lankan liberals, like the good federalists many of them are, have been reluctant to engage.

Elsewhere, much scholarly debate has been generated on the underlying tension between the normative bases of liberalism and nationalism on the question of self-determination and secession, and some have even attempted to reconcile these at least at the level of theoretical principles. But in the Sri Lankan context, liberals have in general (with some courageous exceptions) closed their minds to the option of secession as a viable alternative to the majoritarian unitary State. There are several discernible reasons for this, which can broadly be categorised into two as normative and practical objections to secession. On the normative level, while liberals would readily reject the majoritarian unitary State as fundamentally unfair, anomalous with social and political pluralism, authoritarian, and inefficient, they would also have principled reasons for not associating themselves with challenges to that State that are themselves born of ethno-nationalism. This is not least for the reason that ethno-nationalist dynamics of group identity are profoundly antithetical to liberal notions individual liberty, integrity and autonomy. On the practical level are the arguments broadly from political stability and economic viability, which hold that reform of the State is better than dismemberment because fragmentation, particularly in violent circumstances and under acrimonious terms, is no guarantee of the peace, stability and thereby prosperity of either the seceding entity or the rump left behind. Without wishing to label his ideological dispositions or analytical perspectives, many of these principled objections to secessionist claims have been articulately defended by Professor Michael Roberts elsewhere in these pages recently.  

Yet, the intransigence of the majority community in Sri Lanka and the behaviour of the State it dominates during the sixty years since independence makes the theoretical exploration of secession a difficult question for liberals to avoid. But that must not be for the want of trying to reform the State and constitutional order to see if unity in diversity is still possible. The impatient retort of Tamil nationalists (with regurgitations of the evolution of the Federal Party and recitations of the litany of discrimination) to what might seem the relentlessly naïve optimism of liberals is to be anticipated, and sincerely acknowledged. But the liberal response to this must be that constitution-making exercises in this country have failed precisely because of the rejection of liberal constitutional options, and more particularly, the failure to adequately formulate a constitutional theory embodying the condition of diversity and pluralism, which can animate governmental institutions and procedures in a manner that delivers inter-community justice through the sharing of power. In short, the Sri Lankan experience is one of constitutions without constitutionalism, constitutional law without constitutional theory. In the chaos of the fratricidal violence that we are now embroiled in, it is far too easy to lose sight of these matters, so much as to rob us of the very ideas that can be our salvation.

Making this point in criticism, however, necessitates the articulation in outline of the conceptual framework of what is meant by ‘power-sharing’. What then are the liberal analytical perspectives in (a) conceiving the socio-political, linguistic-cultural, and historical (and historiographical) nature of the polity; and (b) the theoretical frameworks liberals engage in rationalising those conditions, and in devising or articulating both political values and institutional structures that must inform and underpin the constitutional form of the Sri Lankan State?

The socio-political and historical nature of the Sri Lankan polity is one characterised by rich diversity and cross-cutting cleavages. The multiple facets of pluralism in Sri Lanka include those based on ethnicity, language, religion, caste, culture, geographical region, socio-economic class and historiography (or, some would say, hagiography). While these categories are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive (in isolation or in selective combination), their acknowledgement in the analytical understanding of the nature of a society is politically salient, because that acknowledgement informs conceptions of political self-interest as well as normative perspectives and ideological choices. It must moreover be added that liberals regard diversity and pluralism as a source of social vitality and strength, indeed something to be celebrated, and not as a condition that necessarily generates division and conflict.

In this respect, however, an important qualification is that the present conflict-ridden condition of the Sri Lankan polity is what in the theoretical discourses of many disciplines is known as a ‘deeply divided society’. This is an analytical category by now well-known to both political and constitutional theory, in which the existence of diversity has been mismanaged to such an extent that identity-based claims form the (often exclusive) basis of routine public policy debates, political mobilisation, the articulation of self-interest central to the conduct of politics, and critically, in the processes and substance of constitution-making. Thus identity-based group claims rooted in such factors as ethnicity become synonymous with political identity, and in the absence of appropriate institutional channelling or accommodative normative framework, can easily degenerate into violent conflict. Quite clearly, Sri Lanka presently falls into this category, where the pouvoir constitué in the form of the constitutional order of the State is grossly incongruent with the pluralistic pouvoir constituant in a way that has generated ethnic antagonism and violent conflict. 

It is in these senses that the liberal conception of the nature of the Sri Lankan polity leads to the adoption of certain normative values and theoretical frameworks in thinking and talking about ideal-type constitutional forms for the peaceful and orderly organisation of that polity. We must be mindful of the scholarly debate – and in the Sri Lankan context the fundamental question of politics – between ‘accomodationists’ and ‘assimilationists’ in which the former believe the recognition of difference and the accommodation of diversity are essential for the public goods of peace, order and good government, whereas the latter argue that the institutionalisation of difference leads precisely to the opposite results of conflict and division. However, as comparative constitutional practice demonstrates, dichotomising ‘accommodation’ and ‘assimilation’ for purposes of theoretical purity is of limited practical value, and the exigencies of constitution-making in Sri Lanka are no different from other comparable experiences in which a just and peaceful constitutional order derives sustenance from the judicious amalgamation of both sets of values in ways ensuring that ‘accommodation’ does not yield polarisation and ‘assimilation’ hegemony.

It is for this reason that liberals believe that socio-political diversity in constitutional form means the fair sharing of power. This means both the division and distribution of political power so as to ensure autonomy where autonomy is desired, as well as sharing such power where collaborative decision-making is necessary. The overriding concern is to lay a coherent normative foundation upon which principled choices can be made between various policy and design options in constitutional reform.

Understood this way, power-sharing is a normative value as well as a principle of constitutional organisation (and for some, may also represent an ideological disposition or philosophical statement). The point, however, that the empirical fact of diversity is not represented in an appropriate constitutional form of power-sharing in Sri Lanka is both the rationale, and entry point into the debate, for the liberal discourse.

The conceptual framework of ‘power-sharing’ outlined here is thus a broad one that encompasses a multitude of options in the choice of institutional form(s). Perhaps the analogy of a ‘corridor’ within which are found more than one track or path illustrates the approach best. The choice of options available in this conceptual corridor of power-sharing, including forms of devolution, federalism and confederation as well as consociational mechanisms, are very broad; and must include, should power-sharing predicated upon unity fail, the option of peaceful secession subject to the ‘principled negotiations’ that the Canadian Supreme Court had in contemplation in its celebrated advisory opinion on the constitutionality and legality of a putative secession of Quebec.                

Within the conceptual parameters of power-sharing delineated above, it is possible to point to certain critical constitutional issues that would have to be addressed inevitably if a peace in Sri Lanka with democratic legitimacy is to be built underpinned by a new constitutional order along power-sharing lines and liberal values. Power-sharing in this context involves two fundamental elements: (a) power-sharing through the intra-statal territorial and functional diffusion of power; (b) modalities of sharing power over those functions and decisions that involve the citizenry of the State as a whole.

The intra-statal diffusion of power is aimed at various ends according to the needs of particular societies, and may involve considerations of greater democratisation such as enhancing citizen participation through localising decision-making; improved transparency and accountability; greater efficiency and economy. In addition to these general democratic and administrative rationales, are the needs of those societies in which (usually) territorially concentrated groups exist which demand governmental autonomy for purposes of the preservation or the expression of ethno-cultural or religio-cultural aspirations. While both sets of considerations apply for sub-statal power-sharing in Sri Lanka, without doubt the overriding concern is that of the accommodation of Tamil claims to autonomy in the North and East in a way that addresses those aspirations without necessarily endangering the unity of the country from the outset. Indeed, liberals would strenuously argue that without addressing Tamil ethno-territorial aspirations to autonomy through meaningful power-sharing, the legitimacy gap that characterises the Sri Lankan State and makes us a deeply and violently divided society cannot be bridged. Adding a further element of complexity to this issue are the identity-based claims to territorial autonomy increasingly being made by Muslims of the East, and more recently by Tamils of Indian Origin.

However, the strategy of some Tamil nationalists of negotiating a confederal-type power-sharing settlement as the first step towards a pre-determined goal of secession, as revealed for example by Professor Sornarajah with extraordinary candour, is unhelpful for the meaningful sharing of power, and in any case would be a self-fulfilling prophesy through the inflammation of the worst kind of paranoid bigotry in the South.

At the level of constitutional design, the sub-statal dimension of power-sharing calls attention to such matters as the division and sharing of governmental functions and competences between multiple (shared/national, regional, local) orders of government; the allocation of revenue raising and public expenditure responsibilities; allocation of natural resources; mechanisms for centre-regional and inter-regional co-operation and dispute resolution; and for institutional arrangements for dealing with exceptional circumstances of natural or man-made emergencies in which central and regional interests and spheres of autonomy are balanced and respected. 

In the liberal vision of power-sharing, however, the constitutional accommodation of sub-statal claims to territorial autonomy must be countervailed by institutional arrangements that administer those governmental functions involving the shared concerns of persons and communities that constitute the citizenry of Sri Lanka. While this arises from a conception of citizenship that respects diversity as well as unity, it is central to the identificatory role of the Sri Lankan State that even those ethno-territorial groups desiring a high degree of autonomy be represented, involved and encouraged in decision-making about shared concerns. Typically, this kind of power-sharing is achieved through a second chamber of regional representation in the central legislative process; through consociational arrangements for regional or group representation in the central political executive, the civil service, police services and the armed forces; representative composition of the judicial body charged with the responsibility of interpreting the constitution; and arrangements for fiscal equalisation and the equitable distribution of national wealth and resources.

Increasingly in modern constitution-making practice, certain types of state service provision are entrusted to politically independent institutions, and these services are regarded as entitlements arising out of common citizenship. Falling into this category are independent bodies for the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights; oversight of the civil service, police and judicial services; the electoral administration; ombudspersons; public financial integrity and accountability institutions; and bodies responsible for allocating resources among multiple orders of government.

In addition, liberals would emphasise that the requirements of constitutional democracy such as the limitation of governmental authority as well as in terms of special protection for individuals within communities in a constitutional context that accommodates ethno-cultural and/or religio-cultural specificity, a comprehensive constitutional bill of rights susceptible to robust judicial enforcement is essential. This may or may not contain certain types of group rights (especially for those communities that are not entitled to or do not demand territorial autonomy), but its principal role is as a mechanism for the protection of individual rights so that government is limited and the liberty and security of the individual and private property are guaranteed. 

This vision of power-sharing is underpinned by two final elements: (a) the element of a co-operative and values-based culture of government; and (b) the covenant or social contract – in other words, the constitution – that enshrines and guarantees the precise power-sharing arrangements agreed between multiple orders of government. The culture of government that is premised on this notion of power-sharing is one of negotiation, consensus and co-operation, but which is disciplined by the rule of law and an independent judiciary, general democratic values of universal application and respect for human rights, as well as by the specific principles of power-sharing as are enshrined in the power-sharing and autonomy covenant that is the constitution. The constitutional instrument itself therefore assumes pivotal significance in the liberal conception of a power-sharing constitutional order. The letter and spirit of the constitution must be supreme, all institutions and persons subject to its dictates, and all law, decisions, acts, conduct and omissions inconsistent with it must be void, where necessary through judicial enforcement. 

A new constitutional order that can deliver the promises of democracy for all the people of Sri Lanka such as freedom, justice, peace and prosperity, can only be realised through the conceptual framework of power-sharing outlined here. In our experiences of majoritarian constitution-making and resulting minoritarian resistance, we have embraced the passions of nationalism and rejected the deeply moral rationality of liberal constitutionalism, and as we continue to see, with the most distressing of consequences. It is time for a new constitutional conversation, the agenda of which must neither foreclose the possibility of secession, nor the rigorous and sustained exploration of liberal power-sharing, which may enable us to salvage what we can from this country’s thoroughly misspent youth.

  • “a) the element of a co-operative and values-based culture of government; and (b) the covenant or social contract ”

    Unless and otherwise all the peoples of the land start treating each other as equal citizens of the nation irrespective of their origins, color, community and religion we will never be able to share power equally in a manner that is needed for good governance and peace and stab8ility.

    The covenant of social contract or the Constitution needs to be re-written in order to remove all elements of religion, race, and social inequalities from within its text.

    As long as thge majority community keep treating the nation as a Sinhala-Buddhist country we will always be in turmoil.

    The examples are plentiful across the globe.

    Time to wake up and live in peace!

  • Pravasi

    Majority with minority rights in the economy, professions, busines, education, employment and the least goes on. Let us share the priviledges enjoyed by the Tamils and other Indians in Celon, Fiji, Malasia, Tobago, Kwazulu, Bradford, the list goes on. First defeat terrorism and remove the privilledges enjoyed by these so called minority.

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  • cyberviews

    Publius, thank you for yet another scholarly analysis on the merits of a new constituional order and a new constitutional conversation that would promote a power sharing approach that would end the mayhem that is being wrought in this country.

    But the frustrating aspect is how does one dislodge the warring parties from the self destructive path they are on at the moment . The LTTE’s raison d’etre for war and brutality is that there is no other way to defeat Sinhala hegemony and restore the rights of the Tamil people. For the equally obstinate majoritarian government, the LTTE is nothing but a terrorist movement seeking to divide the country and therefore has to be defeated by an equally ferocious military response. Backed by hardline groups like the JHU, who do not acknowledge the rights of the minorities or even if they do, only on their terms, the problem gets more complex and intractable.

    For example, this mindset is reflected in Pravasi’s response to your article: “Majority with minority rights in the economy, professions, busines, education, employment and the least goes on. Let us share the privileges enjoyed by the Tamils and other Indians in Celon, Fiji, Malasia, Tobago, Kwazulu, Bradford, the list goes on. First defeat terrorism and remove the privilledges enjoyed by these so called minority.”

    People like Pravasi see the socio-political landscape in simple black and white terms; like dogs who run along side speeding vehicles, barking fiercely, because they trigger of a wolf instinct that that takes them back to their ancestral environment of the jungle. In this schema, the speeding vehicle is seen as the black shape of a buffalo and by attackingly running along side it, it hopes to tire it and bring it down, for the pack to feast on.

    Very often the lead dogs get killed in the process and it is the pack that gets to have the feast. In the human socio-political landscape, the pack is the elite who get the Pravasis to do the dirty work, using their simple mindedness in responding instinctively to anything that is seen as either threatening or disadvantageous to the tribe, or as prospective prey.

    In the current political debate, write anything that has to do with federalism, minority rights, power sharing etc, and the Pravasis, are programmed to come at you barking, fangs showing. Usually not more than one paragraph often with many misspellings (this reveals their non-elite, vernacular educated backgrounds and the limited intellectual capacity to understand the reasoned, morally valid argument put forward ) they see in such words just black shapes- buffalos that must be brought down for the pack to feast on.

    In a metaphorical sense the Pravisis have succeeded in bringing down the buffalo to its knees, if the power sharing debate is to be seen as such, allowing the majoritarian pack to gorge on the benefits provided by maintaining the status quo. Be it the politicians who enjoy power, prestige and rewards in the form of luxury vehicle, bungalows, children in international schools, trips all over the world, sometimes as part of large entourages; the generals of the forces too enjoy similar privileges as seen recently in the purchase of an L series Mercedes Benz for the top brass of the army valued at Rs44m! There are also those in the supply chain for procurement of military equipment and arms for whom the continuation of the war is a lucrative prospect. Take the current negotiations for the purchase of 4 MIG 29s, at a cost Rs7.5bn each.
    The Pravasis too benefit from their work because, as part of the majoritarian community, (or as house slaves of the majoritarian community) there are enough crumbs falling off their richly laden tables for them to gorge themselves on, or if nothing else feel secure in the sense of tribal loyalty.
    Finally I was quite amused when Pravisi says: “Let us share the privileges enjoyed by the Tamils and other Indians in Celon” (sic), because with Tamils being bombed on a daily basis, thousands in refugee camps, thousands suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic needs – I wonder what privileges he is trying to share!!

  • Suren Raghavan

    dear Publius,

    Reading your commentary it appears your politics on power and sharing is evolutionary towards more accommodative direction. This is good.

    However, the entire essay is missing the primordial question how these so great thoughts could be introduced and then implemented in the SL context? The need of the hour is not new and further analysis on how liberal constitutions hold promises to solve our nations issues, but how such constitution can be legalized in SL in the near future.
    Even here the readily imported ideologies of liberal democracy and Kymlickan version of citizenship has pathological limitation to take root in SL as ours is still a transitional society (from pre-modern to modernity?) Without finding, a creative socio-political location for the traditional/indigenous powers represented by the JHU and (now a new Deshapremi Peramuna?) all, their proxies in major parties in the south negotiating ethnonationalism will be always violent.

    One may challenge the moral/normative responsibilities of the Thamil nationalist and the LTTE. Where can they have their hope except in the self-destructive tigerish terror as a means of engagement? Because the story of the political history in SL since 1948 is too little too late. Do we need more example than the recently concluded APRC. The only thing that served was to rob 20 odd months of from his late years of life from a respected academic/politician like Prof. Tissa Vitharana.

    Your writing reminds me texts from historical speeches of late Dr N. M. However, did the southern Sinhala polity give any respect to those political prophesy? On the contrary, it turned further inward further nationalist further narrowly. So is it not important to analysis how did we arrive here and what is the way out?

    A cosmopolitan liberal constitutional power sharing is like Nirvana. We all know that is the best. Yet few knows how to get there?

    Prof. Uyangoda put it dramatically once saying ‘the best way to be creative is that both parties offer a solution the other cannot refuse….’ A majoritarin right comes also with responsibilities. Then when will the liberals like you be able to convince the southern polity to offer the Thamil nationalist some thing they will be glad to agree on? Do you not agree what we need is little philosophy but an immediate political program to reach that end. I am reluctant to say: for the minorities it is a struggle to find legitimacy for political life while for the majoritarians it is the morality of letting others live.

  • At the present moment in time it is pretty obvious that the privileged class are the Sinhalese. There can be no doubt about that, whatsoever.

    True enough, during Colonial times, the Empires that rules us chose the minorities above the majority for their own means and ends. But that has changed drsatically on the ground now.

    Both are wrong.

  • Bipin Adhikari

    Well analysed. The real problem is on the side of devising institutions that work. This is what is more important. The author might be requested to focus on this aspect of his work.

  • Ekcol

    Your analysis and the proposed framework is out of the ordinary and it is a refreshing new approach – out of the box thinking. Such an approach is needed if peace is our goal. The issue of bringing the concepts to the drawing table, drafting a consititution and getting the people to vote on, and for their leaders to implement will be a Herculean task, as Raghavan pointed it out.

    Is it possible for a group, including yourself, take your conceptual framework and actually go through the process of drafting the nuts and bolts of that framework, in Tamil, Sinhala and English, for the voters to think and talk about it. Naturally, the draft should also have a short version that those who have not gone beyond secondary education to understand.

    I have two other thoughts that persons of your calibre could comment on their merit or otherwise.
    1. Humans, like our ancestors, are a territory anchored people. Naturally territory was and is still necessary for survival, expression of our abilities and multiplication. Our political structure is territory based. Our representative governance is territory based electorates. Is it possible to devise a representative democracy that is based on Sector based electorates. That is, agriculture, education, health etc. This will form the many Sector Councils that has equal number from each of the communities and gender. Then have a Coordinating Council of Representatives from each of the sectors that will have equal representation from ethnic and gender communities.

    2. If the above is too far out, can both parties assume that two Virtual States exists in the Island. Both parties will formulate a “Virtual Constitution” for their “Virtual State.” Then, convene a real or a virtual constitutional council to formulate a constitution that would be in consonence with the two “Virtual Constitutions.” This may need adjustment of the first “Virtual States Constitutions.”

    Even if the two thoughts above are not viable, getting people from all communities to discuss in public forum, virtual or otherwise, may lead us to think about other approaches to a just solution acceptable by all parties concerned. It is better than war. Repeating worn out and failed approaches such as the All Party Conferences have only widen the gap. New approaches like the one suggested by Publius deserve to be taken to the general public of all communities for discussion.

  • ordinary lankan

    We should realize that people who tread the path of violence only do so because this appears to be a valid course of action to them. It is one way in which they resolve an existential dilemma they are faced with.

    In some ways this is respectable. Those who engage in violence are sacrificing something. It is not easy to kill a fellow human being.It takes a great deal of suffering and suffering that is unresolved to embark on the path of violence.

    The answer to violence is NON VIOLENCE. We cannot take this lightly. It requires a personal commitment of a very high order. You need to bring EVERY aspect of your life into line with the truth – from what you eat, how you spend your money and how you relate to yourself and others.

    In the absence of such a commitment this practice of sitting on a chair and reeling off theories about various ‘frameworks’ has ecome a respectable scholarly occupation. Such people sacrifice nothing and I have the least respect for them.

    I am sorry to sound so negative in this fair forum. It is high time that we at least recognize that in the midst of all this violence we do not have ONE sincere advocate of non violence. This is a defeat we must come to terms with – all of us in all communities. Before you can recognize a Gandhi you must feel the absence of one.

    This will not be felt so long as we get carried away by constitutional theories – liberal or otherwise.

  • sham

    NATO – no action , talk only…. yawn
    this article remainds me of the marketing example of the US and USSR space race with the -pen and pencil to use while in space for writing.

    hell of a lot of big words and concepts from a PHD in consitutional reform yet no a word a lay person or a simple minded person can understand. (like me)

    anyway, what i was hoping was that some out there giving facts as points rather than concepts on what will be asked and given as a power devolution. all this reminds me of NATO – no action , talk only.

    lets thrash out the operational level details of a power devolution?

  • Exiled

    OL there are many sincere advocates of non-violence who have sacrificed a lot. Obviously you are blinded by the belief that violence is the only way out of this mess. We have felt the absence of a Gandhi for a very long time. Now enough is enough. We must stop justifying foolhardiness and do something about this mess we have all combined to create. But to do so people like YOU need to get your act together. Change cannot come because of one person. It is time for the citizens to unite and do something about these wretched, egocentric ‘leaders’ we have been blindly following.

  • Chaminda

    Guys great work but for god’s sake can’t you keep it short so working folk like us can sneak a read during the lunch break? I believe you could have made this point in a much shorter article.

  • Political agreements are workable only amongst honest and credible peoples. People who unilateraly abrogate agreements can never be trusted. Any thinking on co-existence as one country in Sri Lanka (SL) is therefore wasteful and rhetoric.

    History cannot be unlived but the unwise decide to live its wrenching pain again.

    A few months ago, Kosovo became an independent sovereign state because of the “oppressive unilateralism” by the Serbians against the legitimate rights and freedoms of the people in Kosovo. Although the lessons of others are there, the Sinhala nation (SN) refuses to learn that their unilateral repression against the Tamil nation (TN) will gradually but surely lead to a “Kosovo” in the island.

    The historical combat between two kings; Ellalan from the TN and Dutugemunu from the SN is taught to every child in SL. But when Sinhalese become adults, they refuse to accept the nationhood of Tamils. It is funny but true. Britain colonsed these two nations at different times with a gap of a few years, later joined the two countries as one country and named it Ceylon. But to this day SN refuses to recognise constituionally, the nationhood of Tamils. Sound reasoning appears to disappear into a cloud of unilateralist repression in adulthood !!

    The SN declared UDR- Unilateral Declaration of Republic- in 1972 and annexed North East (NE) illegally into its terrirtory, when Ceylon was still a dominion under the queen of England. Britain should have called a constituent assembly in the NE and granted independence separately. But Britain failed to do justice though it faced UDI in Rhodhesia in 1966 and reacted with non recognition of the UDI regime and economic sanctions.

    An unjust Britain and a defiant rebel state forced the TN to seek independence. The Tamil leader SJV Chelvanayakam, seeing the rugged journey ahead said ” God only can save Tamils”. He commenced a gradualist approach and his vision was “if we do not see the promised land our children should definitely see it”.

    Realising that the constitution of the rebel state of SL provided muscle for subjugation, oppression and occupation of NE, the elected representatives of NE assembled and resolved at Vaddukoddai in 1976, to establish an independent state called Tamil Eelam (TE). Following this event, TULF as a political front, used the election process in 1977 as a self referendum, to receive peoples’ mandate. Never were a people so patient and democratic, but Britain was stone silent and SL became defiant and oppressive.

    Still adhereing to the best democratic principles, TULF representatives assembled with armed freedom movements at Thimpu, India, in 1980’s, to work out a strategy to realise the 1977 mandate to liberate NE. The assembly at Thimpu was similar to the gathering of representatives of any territory aspiring for independence. After much deliberation and thought, “Thimpu declaration” calling for the self determination of the people of NE was made.

    Logically, legally and democratically, the next step would have been to ask the UN to decolonise TE and finish the job unfinished by Britain, obligated by the UN. Self determination for NE would have been speedily achieved.

    But, with the intent to solve the problem regionally without international intervention, India intervened and finalised the Indo Lanka Accord (ILA) with some dgree of self rule for NE. Tamil leaders predicted the abrogation of ILA but could not prevent compliance.

    Tamil leaders were right. After a shelf life of 20 years, ILA now remains abrogated with the demerger of NE.

    Based on Thimpu Declaration, now, the people of NE could stand tall and justifiably and sucsessfully plea for self determination of the people of NE before the UN, request countries to recognise TE and seek justification from the International Court of Justice. “Kosovo” in the island would be then soon be born.

    Wise thinking should therefore be, as to how the two countries TE and SL could be at peace and develop together in the island peacefully.

  • when the government try to share the power should concider the ethnic and race based demand regarding the them expectation
    unless it be come anether confliction in sri lanka
    therefore the government have resposiblity to concider the all ethnic dymencens in the peace bulding or conflict resolution through power sharering system

  • The only way ahead, successfuily, with the development and progress of all of the peoples of Sri Lanka as a priority is to re-define the constitution to treat all the people equally.

  • dias

    A highly theoretical thesis with little thought given to the practical re-engineering of the present broken systems to the perceived target systems.

    Central to a practical approach must be the recognition that it has taken nearly 100 years for things to get to the present sorry levels, and similarly, it will take at minimum another 30 to 40 years for maturity in attitudes of cosmopolitan liberalism. I have lived in the US for nearly four decades and have experienced firsthand the snail-paced process of social attitudinal changes – and that is with an already established egalitarian framework.

    We can argue until hell freezes over as to what kind of political system best suit the Sri Lankan nation. Whatever one may be, make sure it is not one that imposes en masse implementations, rather, one that encourages incremental confidence building propositions. Anything less will be wholly unrealistic.