Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Radical Reforms in Sri Lanka: Realities we are afraid of?

Enough conceptual theories are produced and articulated on the need and urgency of the political power sharing in Sri Lanka. Avoiding the torturous repetition and gauging the current diminishing appreciation for any theoretical discourse or appetite for challenging conceptual explanations, we suggest the following five points abstract as a summary of recommendation for a new constitutional re-arrangement for a stable/unitary, yet democratic and modern Sri Lanka

Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka 2015
Structure of Administration

  1. Confirm the State of Sri Lanka as a unitary state
  2. Constitutionalize the devolution of political and administration powers to
  3. 5 recognised Provinces
    1. Northern Province
    2. Eastern Province
    3. Central Province
    4. Southern Western (From Puttalam to Kalutara)
    5. Southern Province and
  4. 3 Special Zones ( under direct Prime Minister rule)
    1. Colombo District
    2. Kandy District (Total rule under Buddhist laws and Sangha leadership)
    3. Kalmunai/Sammanturai (with special emphasis on Muslim rights)

Nature of the governance

  1. Return to an executive Prime Minister system reporting to the parliament for a 5 year term
    1. Create two deputy PMs. Contesting for the PM post will not be as individual but as a team of 3 representing all three ethnic identities
  2. Dissolve the current (national) parliament. Instead there will be 5 provincial parliaments
    1. The Central government/cabinet will be of
      1. 25 + 3 members selected and send by the provincial parliaments and zones
      2. Additional members will be sent on a population basis: one member for every million in the province/zone.
      3. Each Provincial council will have both first past the post and proportionate system of representation. Beside the constituency each party that is able to secure 5% (or any unit of 5%) will get a seat
      4. 20% of the seats should be reserved for the minorities of the province. (Thus 20 % of Northern Province will be for Sinhalas and Muslims and similar arrangement in the southern province)

Subjects Allocation

  1. National Security/ Armed Forces/Foreign Policy/Citizenship/International Treaties/Central Bank/Currency/Supreme Court /International waters/National taxes/will be under the PM and his cabinet . In all provinces and all zones all three languages will be practiced as demanded by the citizens of the area.
  2. Sea ports /Airports/Customs/inter-province constitutions/Elections/Foreign investment/Major infrastructure developments, Natural Resources/will be shared responsibilities between the Central and Provinces
  3. While all other including Educational/Health/Cultural/Land/post-telecom/police force will the responsibility of the provinces
  4. Set 2014 May- Five years after the war victory as the time for the new constitutional arrangement leaving parties /people to ask questions and make recommendations and amendments.
  5. Intact in the constitution, a period of 25 years as the experimental stage of this system, at the end of which each province will have a referendum to continue or to revert to any other model. By which at least in 2045, a stable and democratic Sri Lanka could be our proud motherland?

Suren Raghavan is researching and teaching at School of Politics and International Relations, Rutherford College, University of Kent- UK. [email protected]

[Editors note: The formatting of the original document, with nested bullet points, does not display well on Groundviews. To read Suren’s submission with all formatting intact, click here.]

  • Justin

    Can the Buddhists, even the clergy be trusted with anything?

    Mahanayake of Malwatha Chapter and other Mahanayakes also committed war crimes by their actions such as “blessing” or rather cursing the soldiers to kill Tamils and tieing a “manthram case” around the necks of soldiers.

    Their speeches promoted violence and war. They never asked the government to stop killing Tamils in May last year. They never called for peace or ceasefire. Thereby, they failed in their religious responsibility and covertly supported the genocide of Tamils.

    These robed criminals should be brought to justice.

    Why do religious leaders need a row of commanders and liutenants to protect themselves from the public , if they are truly observing the teaching of Buddha?

    Don’t they belong to criminal cult and not a religion?

  • yapa


    What justice are you expecting? To kill all the Sinhalese (criminals in your opinion) in this country and to hand over it to the Tamils?

    LTTE once tried it. If you want you can try it again and keep on blaming the future generation of Sinhalese too as criminals.

    Mr. Justin, stop this nonsense at least now.


  • wijayapala

    Hi Suren,

    Why do you want the national Parliament to be dissolved? Don’t all “modern” nations have some kind of national legislature?

    True the parliamentarians tend to be clowns, but not so much as the provincial councilors!

    Also how is your proposed system “unitary?” I don’t see the unity!

  • wicky

    What a funny proposal. What this guy wants is Ellam. What we want is to be one country. We want geniune politicians and not a corrupt lot like what we have now. This is not the solution for that.

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    What about Trincomalee? Quite a bit of te strtaegic area will have to be directly under Colombo ( or the PM, in Suren’s scheme). The absence of a mention of it is a lacuna in an otherwise interesting piece.

  • niranjan

    Suren Raghavan,

    None of what you suggest is going to happen. However, your suggestions/ideas make interesting reading.
    If you do visit Sri Lanka sometime you will find that the country has moved in a different political direction since CBK left office. Devolution of power is not on the cards. Even the 13 amendment to the Constitution is not been properly implimented so what hope is there for the new Constitutional rearrangements that you speak of. The old Constitution is still in place.
    It is likely the old constitution will remain in place during the duration of this Government.

  • sinhala_voice

    The existing Districts and Provinces have historical value in it’s boundaries. I do not see any need to change the boundaries of the provinces.

    The electoral system of the House of representatives (lower house ) needs to be a Preferential system with single tranferable vote for a particular geographic area. Whilst the Senate needs to represent equal number of candidates from each of the provinces based on a Proportional system of voting taking the whole province as the electoral.

    There needs to be a president with MUCH limited powers compared to today’s presidential powers. The Parliament needs to be elected for a term of 4 years and MUST be made to run the 4 years. That is it must not be able to be dissolved by anyone.

    Presidential term must be 7 years and there should not be any limits to the number of times the president can contest.

    The public service has to be made completely APOLITICAL and looking after the interest of the public.

    These are the urgent things that needs to be addressed. Even devolution is NOT necessary if the above steps can be clearly implemented.

  • Ravi

    Interesting radical reform, I thing every province will have its own ethnic and religious minority and thier rights will be protected by law sothat, there is on need for special emphasis on Muslim rights in Kalmunai/Sammanturai. But I have never been to these areas and I wan’t make a big issue out of this some thing can be sorted out. Trincomalee can be brought under direct PM rule with special panel from north, east and central provinces.

  • longus


    I think you haven’t seen the motercade and the security provided to the Pop,I suppose!

  • longus

    I mean Pope,sorry…

  • yapa

    At least a good innovative idea, compared to stupid and short sighted attempts in the past and what is in the agenda at present.

    Thanks for the initiative!

  • Palmyrah

    Abolish Parliament?

    Who will make and pass laws?

    Political Science FAIL. Go back to Grade 9 and re-commence your education.

  • wije

    It has been 2 weeks, and Suren has yet to respond to any of the comments here.

    Can we conclude that he lacks even the basic faith in his own proposal that he cannot engage with any responses to his ideas? Is this how he hopes to promote change?

  • Suren

    Thank you for all the comments,
    @ Professor Wije,
    How do you conclude that two weeks of silence = no faith in my own proposal?
    I am a researcher with many other urgent /life supporting projects at hand. I write only because I have a committment to see a democractic modern Sri Lanka

    1. I hate to discuss real things with those who even fear to give their actual names
    2. I am not paid for my politics but do it during my spare time thinking it will contribute to a civil debate
    3.respected inttelectuals ( including Dr Jayathilake amidst of our many disagreements ,) are encouraging me
    4. My attempt is to propose a thought it is up to the active civil society like you to continue the debate and take the best out of it.