Implement the 13 Amendment

Now that the war is over the question that comes to mind is in what way we can rebuild this country which has been affected by an ethnic cum terrorist conflict for over three decades. From a political perspective, the Government should fully implement the 13 Amendment to the Constitution. For this to take place problematic areas with regard to the implementation of the 13 Amendment need to be looked into. In an exclusive interview about the 13th Amendment with Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (alias Pillayan) conducted by Vikalpa in March 2009, Chief Minister Chandrakanthan had expressed his disappointment at the Governments failure to fully implement the 13 amendment. The Chief Minister said “At present we are unable to even obtain the powers that are due to us. There is also confusion regarding certain issues. It is not possible to discuss certain issues openly. We are unable to legislate for the benefit of the people even after 8 months. The needs and concerns of the people have to be met without delay.”

Under the 13 amendment the center and provinces in some instances do not have a clear cut separation of powers and as a result the center can encroach upon the powers of the provinces. This invariably leads to disputes between the center and the provinces. The main points of contention with regard to the 13th amendment are land and police powers. For instance, Chief Minister Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan claims that he does not have powers over the police in the East even though the 13th Amendment is supposed to devolve police powers to the provinces and also provide for the establishment of Provincial Police Commissions. A point of contention with respect to land is that the center has control over the Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladaris in the PC’s. Therefore, some of the powers of the provinces are exercised by these Divisional Secretaries who in effect are controlled by the center. What the Executive should do is to transfer these public officials to the provincial public service. EP Chief Minister Pillaiyan in the Vikalpa interview has also expressed his disappointment over the Governments failure to establish a Ministry of Law and Order as envisaged under the Eastern PC.

The NFF, the JHU and the JVP need not fear the 13 Amendment on the grounds that it might lead to secession as the Central Government possesses adequate powers to dissolve the Provincial Councils if the need arises. In the 1990 case of Varatharajah Perumal and the Northeast PC declaring unilateral independence, the Premadasa Government was able to dissolve the PC without difficulty as the powers reserved by the Central Government was more than adequate to deal with such situations. Even though the North and the East provinces was de-merged by a Supreme Court order in 2006, the 13 Amendment has been a part of our constitution for the past 22 years and if implemented in full will to a good degree satisfy the aspirations of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Diaspora living abroad and all non-LTTE Tamil militant groups such as EPDP, PLOTE, TELO, EROS, EPRLF, ENDLF and others which gave up its weapons under the Indo-Lanka accord and joined the democratic process.

In the sphere of foreign relations it will no doubt satisfy the following: the Government of India who this time around was supportive of the Sri Lankan Governments bid to finish off the LTTE, most if not all Tamil Nadu politicians who have been agitating for devolution to Sri Lankan Tamils and Western Governments especially the USA and the EU which are the two biggest markets for our garments and who have also been consistent in its advocacy of devolution of power to the Tamil minority. As the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Geneva, Dayan Jayathilleke has stated in an article titled “National security, the national interest and the 13th Amendment”- “The implementation of the 13th Amendment is not a give away or dilution of our military gains. It is the necessary political accompaniment of them and the guarantee of the consolidation of our military victory.” (Daily News 3 July 2009, www.dailynews.lk)

President Rajapakse, the SLFP and the old left it seems is prepared to address contentious issues with regard to the full implementation of the 13 Amendment. In an interview with CNN-IBN on Tuesday (April 28) at Temple Trees, President Mahinda Rajapakse was asked the question “What is your political vision in the post-conflict phase? How will you assure the Tamils that their political rights are protected in this country?” President Rajapakse had replied by saying “What we are trying to do is implement the Indo-Sri Lanka treaty and the 13th Amendment. The 13th Amendment was introduced and even Prabhakaran signed it agreeing to it and then suddenly he changed his mind. The 13th Amendment is a part of our Constitution but unfortunately it was not implemented because of Prabhakaran and his crowd, because of the LTTE. So now we will have to implement that. And we have I have categorically said that it will be 13 plus 1.” (www.priu.gov.lk)

The end of the war has brought in a new chapter of hope and opportunity for Sri Lanka in relation to its economy. Even though the country is expected to register a low GDP growth of between 3.5%-4.5% in 2009, HSBC Singapore based primary economist for Vietnam and Sri Lanka Prakrit Sofat opinioned at a recent business community meeting in Colombo that Sri Lanka would record a healthy GDP growth of 6% in 2010. The predicted rise in GDP growth could be attributed to the end of military hostilities together with other domestic and international factors that could drive investment and growth. The good news is that Sri Lanka’s trade deficit has been gradually declining and foreign remittances in the first quarter of 2009 are estimated to have reached one billion US dollars. However, in terms of foreign direct investment Sri Lanka received US $ 889 million in 2008. This is a comparatively small figure when compared with other countries in the Asian region. But it is hoped that with the end of hostilities and the rebuilding of roads and infrastructure facilities in the North and East the country could once again see the inflow of FDI in the coming years to areas that have been neglected for many years. The Jaffna peninsula to my knowledge has never had a garment factory producing apparels for export to western countries. Perhaps the reason for this is that since the 1970’s the peninsula has not received any substantial foreign or local investment due to terrorist activity. Therefore, with the return of normalcy and the opening of the A-9 road industries such as garment manufacturing could be established in the peninsula on the lines of the setting up of Brandix Lanka’s apparel factory in Punani in 2008 which is said to employ 220 people from all ethnic communities.

In the area of tourism, Sri Lanka receives an estimated 450,000 tourists per year on average. Once again this figure is tiny in comparison to other countries in the Asian region. The industry in the past employed about 100,000 people directly and indirectly in parts of the country outside the North and East. It is hoped that the industry which was badly affected due to the instable situation in the North and East provinces in the past would show an improvement with tourists once again been able to visit the beaches of the East Coast such as Arugam Bay, Kalladi, Passikudah, Vakarai, Alles Garden, Nilaveli, Kanniyai and Kumburupitty. Towards this end the Eastern PC is considering the establishment of a Tourism Promotion Board through a provincial statute. Tourism and garments are two industries in which Sri Lanka can compete internationally.

Long term economic development can take place only in an environment of peace. In my opinion, to create a peaceful environment in the North and the East as well as the rest of the country Tamil political grievances need to be addressed sincerely and the only way in which this can be done is by resolving contentious issues regarding the implementation of the 13 amendment. This country may not be able to post high rates of GDP growth, attract substantial FDI or hope to get large volumes of tourists as long as there is a politically discontented Tamil community living in the North and the East and also in other parts of the country. The fears of the NFF and the JHU which are a party to the government and the JVP which now sits in opposition that devolution of power would lead to secession are unfounded. Any shortcomings in the PC system relating to the costs involved in maintaining PC’s and wastage of funds can and need to be put right. However, the PC system is not fundamentally flawed and it has and continues to provide a service to the public.

  • Sinhala_Voice

    WHAT SRI LANK NEED IS:

    1. Rule of Law
    2. Independent, apolitical Public Service selected on merit and experience only.
    3. A proper geographical based Members of Parliament who represent the people of an electorate.

    4. A president that is answerable to the parliament and to the judiciary.

    THAT IS ALL.

    IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THIS NO AMOUNT OF DEVOLUTION IS GOING TO FIX ANY PROBLEMS PERCEIVED OR OTHERWISE.

    ALL YOU WIIL BE DOING IT IS SEGMENTING THE PROBLEM INTO 9 UNITS.

    WHERE THE SUM OF ALL OF THEM WILL STILL = PROBLEM UNSOLVED.

  • niranjan

    Sinhala_Voice

    I understand your point of view. The rule of law is paramount.

  • President Bean

    Implement the 13 Amendment NOW!
    …not after the Presidential Election!
    …not after the Mahinda’s son becomes President!
    …not after Sri Lanka win the Football World Cup!
    …not after the 2,80,000 Tamils are finally re-settled in 2050!
    …not after Sanath Jayasuriya finally retires from cricket in 2055!
    …not after the ‘Matthata Thitta’ campaign succeeds!
    …not after the 17th Amendment comes into effect!
    …not after pigs begin to fly!
    …and not after hell freezes over!
    ….but NOW! NOW! NOW!

  • niranjan

    President bean,

    You are quite right.

  • http://-- MCM Iqbal

    It may be right for the President and any other government that comes to power in Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment in full or otherwise because in the final analysis it could be seen the President’s powers over the provincial administration is in no way deminished by the provisions of the 13th Amendment. This would be clear from what I have said in this regard in my article entitled “Devolution of Powers under the 13th Amendment, Fact or Fiction” which appeared in Groundviews of 19th July, 2009.

    What is relevant in the present context is whether the 13th Amendment is adequate to meet the aspirations of the Tamil minority. If the current Chief Minister had said that if he is given powers over the Provincial Police Force and over land distriibution he would be satisfied, it only exposes his limited knowledge of the provisions of the 13th Amendment. The Provincial Police Force, if established, is to be headed by a DIG appointed by the IGP. He will be answerable to the Central Government and not the the Chief Minister. If powers over land distribution is given to the Chief Minister, he has to perform these functions in terms of the National Policy on land distribution. Even recruitment to the Provincial Police Force will be in line with the National Policy on Recruitments. These limitations will frustrate any provincial administration. If the EP Chief Minister thinks that these powers would give effective devolution and that he could then to enjoy devolved power, he is sadly mistaken.

  • President Bean

    MCM Iqbal…Implementation the 13th Amendment (IN FULL) is a first step…the rest can follow later…Rome wasn’t built in a day no?

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    //If powers over land distribution is given to the Chief Minister, he has to perform these functions in terms of the National Policy on land distribution.

    The current policy of land distribution is
    1. To distribute lands to the proportions of the province if it is a local project
    2. to distribute it to the proportions of national level if it’s a central government scale one.

    Now Tamil chauvinists have been opposing #2, as they are requesting for a permanent Tamil majority in N&E. They have been accusing GOSL of changing the demography of the Tamil areas. Now what is the use of land powers in that context if Tamil leaders are not willing to except that change? Do you think Sinhalese will allow only Tamils to have use of development projects while they pay 75% of the taxes?

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    I am not an intellectual neither an expert on 13A. But my request to those intellectuals is to bring any solution (if necessary)that doesnt support Eelamist to form a Eelam. just like Chief Minister, Vardharaja Perumal did.

    - Do not give land powers, Eelamist wont allow Sinhalese to live in North, East
    - Do not give police powers, Sinhalese will disappear in North, East
    - Do not give securty/military powers, it will threaten territorial integrity of SL
    - Do not give finance power, they will buy Sri Lanka

    Why should we implement any amendment, any way? Sri Lanka is terror free.
    Integration, development, reconciliation. Do not fall into colonial traps. Tamils live with Sinhalese in south peacefully, Sinhalese must also live North, East in mass.

    So, President Bean. No hurry for 13A. Perhaps never, Sri Lanka need more detailed discussions of any amendment before implementations. Every loop, every joint of any mechanism has to be black and white clear!

    Every province of the Island should have equal powers, equal rights. Transparency, freedom and democracy of all Sri Lankans must be assured, not just only for Tamils, Muslims or Sinhalese, but all! all! all!

  • Justice

    13 th amendment was put forward in a hurry under pressure from India.Even a cursory reading would reveal that it has lots of overlapping areas of control.A concurrent list which is full of power overlaps.What was given to the provinces is taken away with the concurrent list.This was diabolic and delebrate attempt to show devolution without true devolution.M Q M Iqbal has illustrated some of the short comings very eloquently on his essay in July on this forum.
    There are other problems which required to be addressed including non implementation of 17 th amendment,decentralization of administrative unit and control and true democracy at grass roots level with village councils/panchayath level administrative unit to give powers to people to conduct their own affairs.These models have been very successful in other countries.
    Having said that 13 th is a good starting point which can be implemented immediately as it’s part of the constitution while working on the shortcomings.
    Migara,
    The disenfranchisement of close to a million plantation workers of their citizenship,some of them have been living in SL for several decades,D S Senanayake’s blatant colonization of the Amparai district, inspite of the opposition from his own cabinet minister Mr.Suntharalingam, under the aegis of irrigation projects and to some extent Mahavali scheme in the east are attempts by State to change the demographics of the east.There are examples in the Vavuniya and Trincomalee districts of the STATE SPONSORED social engineering that were carried out.
    Tamil migration to the south,west or to the central province is not an orchestrated state sponsored social engineering .The plantation workers were brought by British .Which is economic migration.So is migration to other part of the country and world.
    If the biggest concern is funding let the provinces find innovative ways to fund there own projects.Let the provinces compete for multinational direct funding.

    The Tamils fear the Sinhalese ,The Sihalese fear the Tamils.Instead of trying to reassure each other and build consensus the politicians always sided with the chauvinist and cave into pressure .Hence the non implemetion of Senanayake-Chelva accord,Banda-Chelva accord,The 13 th the 17 th etc…..
    The list will go on unless some fundamental change is made in the Sinhala and Tami psyche.The policy makers should stop making empty rhetoric and spread paranoia among masses, act in a mature,responsible and statesman like manner.My 2 cents.

  • Sri

    Sinhala Voice says,
    WHAT SRI LANKA NEED IS:
    1. Rule of Law
    2. Independent, apolitical Public Service selected on merit and experience only.
    3. A proper geographical based Members of Parliament who represent the people of an electorate.
    4. A president that is answerable to the parliament and to the judiciary.
    Sinhala Voice! You are absolutely correct.!
    But that is not all!
    But Rule of Law means that the constitution is the supreme law and that it should be implemented in full.
    This means that 13A,16A and 17A should be implemented in full.
    This is the perquisite to ensure Sri Lanka survives as a country before talking about any resolution of any other problem including the National Problem!

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    Sri,

    too many amendments, better to write a new one. or live in the stone age, without any amendment!

  • nihal pathirana

    Once you impliment the thirteen amendment to the constitution in full it becomes a mono ethinic and a monolithic state with one third of the land and two thirds of the ocenan exclusively for one ethinic grroup. It has to be a solution so that the sinhal tamil muslim or any other community could live in any space of land with in the boundaries of Srilanka. Already the north is at the moment is a monoethinic land of 8.687.6 sq. km with 1034 people per sq. km compared to the western province which is 3,631.9 sq .km and has 4096 people per sq.km Now take for instance the eastern province wthich is the largest province of land area of 9,635.3 sq.km has 386 people per sq. km. These statistics based on the nineteen ninetees .When there is a population explosion in other provinces the only place available is the sea. which twothirds is already lost. So now the land has been liberated settle the people first and think of a solution so that all can live as srilankans

  • niranjan

    Nihal Pathirana,

    what is in the constitution has to be implemented in full otherwise there is no point in having it in the constitution. The country has only one constitution and that is the law of the land. Certain sections of the 13 amendment is already been implemented. But other sections relating to land, police powers etc are not. That is the problem.

  • Hari Narendran

    Just to clear up some of the misinformation that seems to persist about the “mono-ethnic” nature of the north/east provinces should power be devolved as per the 13th Amendment.
    There has never been any wish in the minds of the Tamils to have mono-ethnic enclaves. The objection has always only been to government initiated recolonization projects such as in Manal Aru, when Tamil citizens were cleared out to settle Sinhalese, with the intention of deliberately changing demographics in the area.
    As with Tamils moving to the South in search of jobs and economic prosperity, should Sinhalese civilians wish to move of their own accord to the North/East this should and i believe would be welcomed.

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    @ Justice
    //The disenfranchisement of close to a million plantation workers of their citizenship,
    I think this problem is dealt thoroughly and remaining people got the citizenzip.

    //D S Senanayake’s blatant colonization of the Amparai district, inspite of the opposition from his own cabinet minister Mr.Suntharalingam, under the aegis of irrigation projects and to some extent Mahavali scheme in the east are attempts by State to change the demographics of the east.

    That is the very point I am making note of. SL use 1.5b rupees for Mahaweli which are debts, and make only Tamils as beneficiaries while 75% of the debt is payed by Sinhalese tax payers money. What is the justice there? If the fruits of a development projects either should be for the all Lankans or there should be no development project as such. People who have lost homes for Mahaweli are also Sinhalese, and they need to be relocated whether it is a Tamil area or not matter. If they have not done the sacrifice, there won’t been any water for East

    //There are examples in the Vavuniya and Trincomalee districts of the STATE SPONSORED social engineering that were carried out.

    State is perfectly entitled to that. Because what ever development project they do, is funded by tax payers. and 75% of them are SInhalese. They should get 75% of the benefits as well.

    //Tamil migration to the south,west or to the central province is not an orchestrated state sponsored social engineering.
    This bears no connection with 13th amendment or land policy.

    //The plantation workers were brought by British .Which is economic migration.

    You are covering the bitter truth that it was forced migration, and these people were not willing to come to SL. But once they found out SL has more resources and Sinhalese did not look down on them like Tamil Brahmins, they wanted to continue here without going back to TN.

    //If the biggest concern is funding let the provinces find innovative ways to fund there own projects.Let the provinces compete for multinational direct funding.
    Sorry that’s not on, and it’s like a separate state. More than a separate state it will be a parasitic state. Central government should take decisions when a development project involves resources from more than one province.

  • Justice

    Migra,
    To think out of the box one need to understand each others fears and justifications.Some are based on reasoning some are half truth.
    Nation building has to take place with taking into account the truth and ground realities.Accommodating of each others sensitivities is required.
    Part of Mahavalli project was funded by British.I am not aware any loan involved in this project where the tax payer has to pay for.Correct me if am I wrong on this.
    Multinational direct aid and funding takes places in many countries.
    Agencies directly deal with devolved units with the blessings of the central GOVT.
    There is no evidence to prove plantation workers were moved to any part of the world under duress by British.
    VP was dogmatic about Eelam.The fans of centralised form of Govt are equally dogmatic about central control.
    Even the JVP is talking about decentralising administration .

    In summary Migara is for continuation of majority hegemony.Which was the root cause of the problems in SL. I hope he is in the minority on his views,otherwise one can see history repeating itself.

  • Hari Narendran

    So Migara, by your logic when the central government is doing development projects in Hambantota/Galle and other areas in the Southern heartland, it should move in 25% minority population into the area to reap their share of the benefits of the project too? Have you ever seen the gov’t do that? There would be less objections to the gov’t sponsored moving of sinhalese into tamil/muslim areas if the gov’t was equally eager to fund tamils/muslims to move into sinhalese areas – which it clearly isn’t and shouldn’t.

    Development projects are aimed at under-developed areas. As those projects create jobs and other opportunities, citizens of whatever ethnicity should be free to move and settle there of their own accord. Be it movement from North-South or South-North.

    On the funding discussion, plenty of countries around the world with provincial governing structures permit provinces/states to raise funds independently on the financial markets and it hasn’t led any one of them to a separate state. Cross-provincial projects by all means the central government can be the primary on, but for projects within there is no reasonable argument to be made against it.

  • Sinhala_Voice

    From my understanding the Tamil Political Parties want political power that is equal to the central government in the areas where they are in majority (Tamils).

    Isn’t this going to create 2 separate states ?

    One with a Sinhala Majority and One with a Tamil Majority.

    For example for Northern Province , Eastern Province and the Puttalam District the Tamil Politicans want to satisfy the following equation:

    Total Tamils and Tamil Speakers >= [2 X (Non Tamils and Non-Tamil speakers) +1]

    This is the only way a democratically elected Tamil Parties can exist.

    This raises questions:

    If LAND and POLICE powers are given to above mentioned areas, to an ethnic group basically COULD THEY NOT ABUSE POWER SUCH THAT ALL NON-TAMILS AND TAMIL SPEAKERS ARE REMOVED OR CLEANSED FROM THAT AREA. OR promote illicit migration from neighbouring Tamil Nadu to increase numbers.

    (WHY ? ) Because it makes POLITICAL SENSE.

    NO matter how much you criticise governments of Sri Lanka they have NOT imposed restrictions on where you can live based on you ethnicity yet.

    Sri Lankan Governments have to become:
    1. Tranparent
    2.Accountable
    3.Responsible
    4.Act according to Law.

    This will definitely protect rights of ALL citizens equally throughout the country NO MATTER WHICH ETHNO-WORLDVIEW GROUP YOU BELONG TO.

    THis is what I think ALL the groups must strive to achieve.

    If the Sinhalese are not well off then it will affect ALL people in the country.
    If the Tamils and Muslims are not well off it will affect the Sinhalese.

    If we together act to make the governance of the country better within the UNITARY FRAMEWORK EVERYBODY IN THE COUNTRY WILL BENEFIT. NOT ETHNIC GROUPS.

    I have yet to see a COMPLETE END TO END SOLUTION PRESENTED BY THE TAMIL AND MUSLIMS HOW THE COUNTRY SHOULD BE GOVERNED DURING THIS 30 years of conflcit. I have seen Thimpu Requirement analysis and other demands.

    Why not come up with a solution for the whole country !!!

    If you plan to live in Sri Lanka you can not live without interacting with the Sinhala people. YOu can not assume they don not exist and form laws.

  • Justice

    Sinhala voice,
    This is a link to a previous article and comments.Hope this ansewer your concerns.
    http://www.groundviews.org/2009/08/15/a-critique-of-sri-lanka-unites-freedom-has-not-made-itself-known/#comment-8196

  • nihal pathirana

    Niranjan
    Iam aware that, what is in the constituion has to be implimented , already the Supreme court has given its verdict as regards the merger, the rest is the land settlements , mineral resources, water mangement of rivers and its tributories, forestry, wild life sancuturies, airports harbours etc all these have to be discussed before implimentation. The thirteen amendment to the constitution was signed by a spinelees traitor in our history with temendous military pressure from india with entire cabinet ruling memebers of parliament to a ransome with signed undated resignation letters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    Chief Justice on 13th Amendment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNZjqRLgCBE

  • niranjan

    Nihal Pathirana,

    President Mahinda Rajapakse had assured former Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Muckherjee that his intention was to implement the 13 Amendment to the Constitution quickly as possible and explore the possibility of moving beyond the 13 Amendment, Parliament was told on 20 August.
    According to a document tabled by Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila this assurance had been given on 27 January to the then Foreign Minister when he visited Sri Lanka on an invitation by the Sri Lankan Government.
    (Daily Mirror by Kelum Bandara and Gihan De Chickera, “MR assures India on 13 Amendment”, page 1)

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    13th amndment doesnt solve problems of Tamils in the south. 13A not a remedy for all ilnesses. integration, reconciliation more effective!

  • Das

    Dear Niranjan,Thank you for reminding all of us what the government told the indian foreign minister. The indians are not fools. They are only making appropriate noises occasionally, and know that this is an insincere ‘reassurance’ by the president. Such reassurances have been made occasionally by lankan leaders ever since the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed. Indians have a much bigger problem in kashmir – where it was recently reported that a mass grave of 1500 bodies had been discovered.
    Nothing will happen in sri lanka,on the political/constitutional front, soon. Implementation of the 13th and 17th amendments will be delayed on one pretext or another,until either a quick presidential election, or the next parliamentary election.
    Meanwhile, the Rajapakse Juggernaut will grind on bolstered by the slavish 110 megacabinet, who are all having the time of their lives. Now they all have US$2.5 Billion too, to play with.
    We have to wait and see.

  • Atheist

    Niranjan Dias Bandaranayake,

    Am I not impressed to learn a person who upholds Deva Kumarasiri – an epitome of discrimination- is discussing the 13th amendment?

    Well done Colombian

    We are amused!!!!

  • niranjan

    Athiest,

    The issue of Deva Kumarasiri and his advocacy of English is one issue and the implementation of the 13 amendment to the constitution is another issue. The two issues are not related even though the 13 amendment made English a link language.

    Deva Kumarasiri has made an effort to integrate into the culture that he lives in and that is why he is such a strong advocate of English language. There is nothing discriminatory in that.

    The 13 amendment to the constitution is a part of the law of this country and as such it should be implemented in full even though the North and East are to be administered as two separate provinces now.

    Is there anything wrong in discussing the 13 amendment to the constitution ?

  • Atheist

    NIranjan,

    I hope you are not a member of the Beelzebub Klan (Susan Goon, Smoulderingjin, Undergroundview, Chaminda Weerawardhana etc…)

    It’s well known that Deva Kumarasiri discriminated against people who couldn’t speak English. How would Deva have felt if he was refused any services when he first arrived in England? True, he learnt English after coming to England, but most of the people he discriminated against were people he should have been able to identify with: new immigrants with no English skills. Imagine, Niranjan, if someone were to be denied services in Sri Lanka because he/she can’t speak Sinhala!!!

    I am for the 13th Amendment.

    Ciao!

  • Sinhala_Voice

    The 13th Amendment whether RIGHT or WRONG……Was NEVER properly debated within SRI LANKA at ALL…..

    Whether it is India or Great Britain or USA it does not matter..

    Policies that affect Sri Lankans must be debated and accepted by Sri Lankans first. Are you in this forum deny that 13 amendment was rammed through Sri Lanka under duress by India. Is this the right method to solve the problems faced by Sri Lankans ? Where is the so called sovereignty and independence ? Right or wrong the devolution or any other solution has to be properly debated and understood before implementation..

  • niranjan

    Athiest,

    There are many eastern europeans and others who arrive in the UK on work without knowing English. Some of them work as bouncers in nightclubs. They do not speak good English but they are known to throw out people who misbehave. The point I am trying to make is that if they had better English language and educational skills they may find more lucrative jobs in the UK. I know the economy has gone into recession now, but most of my friends who are doctors in the UK were able to pass their exams because they had good English language skills. Even in medicine you do need English.

    I presume that Deva Kumarasiri has learnt English after having lived in the UK for the past 20 years or so. I am going on presumption. Deva might have known English before he went to the UK ? Who knows. But to me he is an example of a foreign person who has integrated into the country that he lives in fairly well. Do not forget that he is of Sri Lankan origin( I am sure he knows Sinhala), but he has made a decision to live in the UK and in order to do so he has learnt English for practical reasons.

    I know it is difficult for an immigrant to pick up a language as soon as they arrive in a new country, but I am sure if they try they can after sometime that is.
    Deva most probably could not have a conversation in English with the immigrants that he was serving so that might partly explain his actions. As most immigrants to UK know it is advisable to know the English language before you arrrive in the UK. As for students from Sri Lanka who have done SL O/L’s and A/L’s the British Universities look for TOEFL results before they offer places.
    I sat my TOEFL before going for higher studies to UK.

    Deva’s actions might look discriminatory but from his point of view and UK policy on assimilation it may not be so.

    In Sri Lanka you can get by with Sinhala, Tamil or English. All 3 are part of the Constitution even though English standards are low compared to the other two. That is why I have taken the position that English language standards need to be raised.

    I am glad that you agree with me on the full implementation of the 13 amendment. I think it is high time that it was implemented in full and this applies equally to all the PC’s in the country. So lets wait and see.