The Full Implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment: What Can Be Done?

Photo courtesy CNN. AP/Getty Images.

There has been in recent weeks a revival of interest in the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment, as part of a broader on-going debate triggered by the publication of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) about future constitutional reforms addressing the need for devolution and democratisation. As implicitly acknowledged by the LLRC, the salutary need for a new post-war constitution, or substantial reforms to the existing one, is a matter of pivotal importance in moving Sri Lanka from its ‘post-war present’ to a truly ‘post-conflict future.’ These fundamental reforms, however, will involve sustained negotiations among all stakeholders about details of process and substance, and are distinct from the set of issues with regard to how the implementation of the existing framework of devolution in terms of the Thirteenth Amendment might be undertaken.

Without in any way foreclosing the need for more substantial reforms, the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which all Tamil political parties from the EPDP to the TNA have demanded, can be seen as an important confidence-building measure. If undertaken with a sense of purpose and goodwill, it can demonstrate that the government is serious about addressing minority grievances, help consolidate an inclusive process towards agreeing further reforms, foster a culture of compromise and accommodation, encourage Sri Lanka’s friends abroad that there is hope for reconciliation and peace on a more durable constitutional footing, and provide at least some answers to its critics.

The critical point about all this is that the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment, as a starting point, is one of the few things on which both the TNA and the government can agree on without compromising either party’s core interests, and without pre-determining the possibilities of a future constitutional reform process. That is, it allows the government to maintain its position on the unitary state, while it also allows the TNA the space to negotiate for greater autonomy than what is provided under the Thirteenth Amendment. The exercise of full implementation, undertaken in tandem with government-TNA talks, or in deliberations in the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee, or in some other form, can strengthen one another and improve the chances of a successful agreement. Full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment can also possible be the springboard on which a potentially more broadly-based, inclusive and participatory process for future constitutional negotiations (and governance in the interim) can be constructed, with the involvement of other parties represented in all eight functional Provincial Councils, together with local government authorities, central institutions such as Parliament, and civil society.

Thus it would seem that full implementation makes imminent good sense, but it is the government’s ambivalence and prevarication that has given cause for scepticism, and strengthened the voice of its critics, especially in the Tamil diaspora. For this the government has no one to blame but itself, but it is still wholly possible if it so wishes, for the government to approach this with more sense than it has so far showed.

There were several implications of the government’s statement in 2008 that it was committed to the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Firstly, it was acknowledging the well-known fact that successive governments have not done so, and the announcement was welcome to the extent that, at least two decades after their introduction, these constitutional provisions were to be implemented and given effect in their entirety. In this of course the government was not expressing a policy choice but acknowledging the most basic of its legal duties to uphold and implement the supreme law of the land.

Secondly, when this commitment was originally articulated, it was in the nature of an interim measure – so as to implement the extent of devolution already provided in the Constitution in the North and East in particular – in anticipation of constitutional reform proposals by the APRC, and in the wider context of a new, post-war constitutional settlement for power-sharing. Since then, however, less and less has been heard from the government about the commitment to full implementation. Beyond the election and constitution of the Eastern Province (a process also expected in the Northern Province in the future), and where the experience of devolved governance has been less than ideal, no tangible changes signifying the necessary political commitment to realising devolution have been forthcoming.

Instead, not only has the central government taken a dominant role in the economic and development activities within the Eastern Province, supplanting the elected Provincial Council, but senior officials including the President have in comments made to the media subsequently averred that the government is in fact not intending to concede all of the devolved powers, in particular those over police and law and order, and state land. On the other hand, there has been no official or unequivocal withdrawal of the full implementation policy either. The governing paradigm of post-war reconstruction and development appears to be premised on the notion that only the central government can effectively deliver, and there is insufficient regard to the fact that devolution and development are not mutually exclusive concepts. In the light of these issues, there is a question mark as to what the government’s policy with regard to devolution actually is.

However, for the reasons outlined at the outset, it is to be hoped that a more enlightened policy direction will be taken, and if the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment is to be undertaken, the issues discussed in what follows would require to be addressed with a view to realising the fullest extent of devolution within its parameters.

In addition to the matters highlighted below, a more comprehensive review of the experience of devolution, akin to that undertaken by the Asoka Gunawardane Committee in 1996 is urgently needed. It should also be remembered that almost all of the issues identified by that Committee remain relevant, and much of its recommendations have not been implemented. A prospective review body therefore must be given a wide mandate to recommend necessary changes including the statutory framework of devolution, as well more generally central legislation impacting on devolution, the body of administrative rules and practices governing the operation of public administration at central, provincial and local levels, and the financial rules and procedures. In other words, a ‘comprehensive devolution audit’ must be undertaken with regard to all existing law, policy and practice, and recommendations made for amending, repealing and replacing anything that is inconsistent with the maximum level of devolution permissible under the Constitution. Needless to say, the sustained commitment of the government to introducing these wide-ranging changes is imperative. As it was observed at the outset, changes of this nature would be wholly consistent with the mandate of the President and the UPFA in terms of the Mahinda Chintana Idiri Dekma, as they do not impinge on the unitary structure of the state.

What are the structural changes that are required?

For maximising the extent of devolution within the parameters of the Thirteenth Amendment, changes need to be made to the statutory structure set out in the Provincial Councils Act, as amended (and consequential amendments to other central legislation).

Substantively, the main issue with regard to the Provincial Councils Act is the centrality that it accords to the Governor in the day-to-day administration of the Province. The main focus of change in this regard must be to establish a more even balance between the Governor, and the Chief Minister and the Board of Ministers. It is recognised that the constitutional framework requires that certain functions are performed by the Governor, and which therefore cannot be taken away by ordinary legislation. However, there is no reason why, in relation to many other functions, a more appropriate balance cannot be struck by either removing the functions of the Governor altogether, or by making the exercise of his powers expressly subject to the advice of the Chief Minister and the Board of Ministers. Amendments to the Provincial Councils Act require the following changes.

Many of the functions of the Governor and the President in Part of II of the Provincial Councils Act dealing with meetings and conduct of business of the Provincial Council including those of a symbolic nature are unnecessary, except those that are required for purposes of legal rights and liabilities of the provincial administration through the Provincial Council. The provision requiring the President’s approval for rules of procedure of the Provincial Council regarding financial matters and for prohibiting discussion on the conduct of the Governor in matters in which he acts in his own discretion is unnecessary and may be removed. There is no justification for prohibiting discussion of the Governor in the Provincial Council. There is also no reason why the Governor should make rules allocating business among the Ministers. This may be done by the Board of Ministers in consultation with the Chairman of the Provincial Council, and subject to the approval of the Provincial Council.

The powers and functions of the Governor in regard to provincial finance under Part III of the Provincial Councils Act are some of the main impediments to devolution and to the promotion of greater financial responsibility and accountability at the provincial level. These powers and functions must be transferred to the Chief Minister, who may be regarded ex officio as the Finance Minister of the Province. However, the present rule-making powers of the Governor with regard to the Provincial Fund and the Emergency Fund need not be conferred on the Chief Minister, but require to be embodied in provincial statutes (i.e., a ‘provincial financial procedure statute’). To the extent any oversight by the Governor is necessary, this is afforded by the requirement of assent by the Governor to the annual Appropriations Statute (and other ad hoc supply statutes such as supplementary grants and votes on account).

The functions and powers of the Governor in relation to the provincial public service and Provincial Public Service Commission under Part IV of the Provincial Councils Act are indefensible from a good governance as much as a devolution point of view. The concern about politicisation that seems to be part of the rationale for vesting control of the provincial public service in the Governor is misplaced in that the Governor’s impartiality cannot be guaranteed, and serves to undermine the authority and autonomy of provincial Ministers in circumstances where the Governor chooses to interfere in provincial Ministries by using his powers over public officers. Accordingly, the Governor’s powers and exclusive discretions under Part IV of the Provincial Councils Act should be removed, and those functions should be vested in the Provincial Public Service Commission, the Chief Secretary and Board of Ministers as the case may be.

Moreover, in addition to the overhaul of rules, practices, procedures and structures in relation to public administration and public finance (the details of which should to be recommended by a suitable body appointed for that purpose), a matter of specific importance that must be highlighted here is the sub-provincial level administrative structures that currently operate as direct agents of the central government. In line with the recommendations of the Asoka Gunawardane Committee, Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladharis must be brought under the provincial public service.

What are the possible modalities of change?

Reform of the substance of the statutory powers relating to especially finance and the provincial public service in the directions suggested here would enhance the autonomy of the elected provincial executive substantially.

There are three possible modalities of introducing these changes to the underlying statutory regime of the Thirteenth Amendment. The first is by way of piecemeal amendments to the Provincial Councils Act (and other central legislation). This would address the most serious issues requiring attention, but would not disturb the established framework too much. Secondly, the Provincial Councils Act could be repealed and replaced with a new Act, which sets out a fresh approach and also may consolidate consequential amendments to other central legislation required by a new beginning. Thirdly, the most radical option is to repeal the Provincial Councils Act, and replace it with nine different Acts, negotiated between the central government and each Provincial Council according to the needs and preferences of each Province, and setting out, within the outer limits determined by the parameters of the Thirteenth Amendment, a greater or lesser degree of devolution depending on the democratic desire of each Province.

A further innovation that is possible (indeed this applies to the first and second options as well) is that any centre-provincial autonomy agreement embodied in central legislation be made susceptible to periodic review (for e.g., every ten years). The great attraction of this approach is that it has both symbolic and substantive importance in placing the relationship between the central government and each Province at a constitutional, and as close to a notion of equal partnership, as is possible within the ultimate hierarchy necessarily dictated by the unitary state. It may be that eventually, all Provinces end up demanding exactly the same or maximum level of powers, but the symbolism of the approach remains.

Addressing the political and administrative culture of devolved governance

As has been repeatedly affirmed, one of the enduring barriers to the meaningful realisation of devolution are not so much formal structures and the text of legal or constitutional provisions, as the attitudes and dispositions of the people who implement them, especially elected political representatives and public servants. As long as there is no interest or incentive to change these attitudes, very little can be proposed by way of institutional or procedural changes that have any chance of success. Even the most acutely designed system can be denuded by apathy, hostility or incapacity, and at least part of the experience under the Thirteenth Amendment testifies to that. Dependent on leadership and commitment to change, however, the following measures are worthy of consideration.

One of the most striking features of the experience of devolution in Sri Lanka in comparison to any other system of multi-level government elsewhere, is the near total absence of co-ordination mechanisms (also known as inter-governmental relations). No devolved system can work without such supporting mechanisms, which range from political bodies for the making and co-ordination of policy, to bodies that co-ordinate public administration, to highly specialised, technical bodies that support specific aspects of governance. A future review body needs to address the specific requirements in this area. The Asoka Gunawardane Committee made several recommendations on this which continue to have relevance.

Flowing from the absence of co-ordination and consultation mechanisms between multiple levels of government, is the absence of political and administrative arrangements and agreements, which may be informal or quasi-legal in nature, that form the basis of co-operation between these levels. It is neither possible nor desirable that every detail of the functional modalities of a multi-level system should be rigidly enshrined in legal instruments, and these arrangements provide the required structure and discipline to inter-governmental relations, at the same time as remaining sufficiently flexible and amendable in response to changing exigencies of government. While this is not the place to suggest in any specific way what these future agreements should be, it is nevertheless possible to identify broad themes on which such agreements are desirable.

A general ‘concordat on executive power’ between the central government and the provincial administrations seems advantageous for a number of reasons. First among these is that such a concordat can articulate broad principles in the exercise of governmental power as between multiple levels of government. These principles reflect political, not legal undertakings. Broadly such a concordat should seek to regularise and ensure mutual respect for constitutionally assigned spheres of activity by ensuring adherence to such principles as devolution (autonomy of the provincial sphere), co-operation, legality, transparency and democracy.

Within the broad framework of an executive concordat, it is possible to envisage further protocols or agreements between the central government and the provincial level on such matters as the exercise of concurrent legislative powers (for e.g., by the central government choosing not to exercise those powers except where there is a pressing necessity), the exercise of the discretionary powers of the Governor (excluding the transfer of other statutory functions to the Board of Ministers as proposed above), inter-ministerial working arrangements, budgetary procedures and allocations, and substantive policy areas including development, sectoral/industrial matters (for e.g., tourism, fisheries, agriculture, natural resources, etc.).

Concluding remarks

The experience of Provincial Councils in the past two decades demonstrates that the full constitutional extent of devolution that is possible by an innovative and flexible approach to the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment has not been realised. This is due to straightforward non-implementation of constitutional provisions, or because of attempts at clawing back the constitutional scheme through central legislation or administrative and political practices.

The full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment therefore requires a thoroughgoing review of these laws, policies, and practices. The possibilities and policy options that are available in this exercise have been suggested, albeit in outline, in the preceding discussion. In the final analysis, however, no amount of institutional reform is likely to succeed without the critical element of political will and commitment to making devolution work. That has been the experience in the past, and it remains to be seen whether this will change in the future. If undertaken properly, it provides both a convenient and a principled way out of the looming deadlock that seems to threaten constitutional negotiations in post-war Sri Lanka.

Note: This discussion draws on a more extensive assessment of the Thirteenth Amendment through the experience of the Eastern Provincial Council entitled Devolution in the Eastern Province: Implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment and Public Perceptions, 2008-2010, published by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in 2010. This publication, available in English, Sinhala and Tamil, can be downloaded here.

  • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

    What government are you talking about Asanga? I don’t see a government, only a mafia regime that is still abducting and torturing people. The utter destruction of the regime and its supporters and representatives abroad, is the highest moral duty of mankind.

  • joker

    This is why it (13th amendment)can’t be enacted.

    TNA thinks that it is not sufficient and others think that it will lead to the creation of two separate states because the TNA thinking is as follows

    “…The 13th is not a proper scheme. We have rejected it…The 13th Amendment was passed in 1987. If it was sufficient, we would not have had all this bloodletting…We have engaged with Global Tamil Forum… You have to ask the Tamil people whether they want to stay in the country or be separate. Everywhere it’s like that…A distinct people in international law have certain rights called self-determination. The right to self determination international law now says must be exercised internally in the first instance. But if that is consistently denied, then according to the Canadian Supreme Court judgment on Quebec, they might even become entitled to a unilateral secession. So, if Sri Lanka should remain as one country, and we think it should remain as one country, then to preserve it as one country you must grant that right to self-determination and have it exercised in an arrangement within one country.”

    In the 1960s Blacks in America’s south like Georgia, Texas, South Carolina could not vote. There was segregation, had to sit on the back of buses, use separate toilets, separate areas in restaurants and diners, even use different drinking fountains. Dozens of blacks were lynched in broad daylight, without any justice against perpetrators for decades.

    people like Malcolm x called for a separate state. Liberia is in fact made of former US blacks who wanted independence. of course African slaves have inhabited America for as long as white americans.

    but the civil rights movement in america, despite so much violence against the blacks, the blacks never turned violent (except a few instances when black panthors lead by Malcolm x). peaceful civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and latter part of Malcolm x were the result.

    50 years later, there is a black president in America. Now only if the Tamil leadership persisted a few more years in a peaceful strugle than giving up after 18 years to wage a war for 30 years.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Agnos, you sound real upset, man. “The utter destruction of the regime and its supporters and representatives abroad, is the highest moral duty of mankind”. “The highest moral duty” huh? Of mankind? Far out, man. Never seen you write such passionate stuff against the Tigers during the war years. Whazzup, Doc? Hope it ain’t because of those guys busted a few days back by the French and Euro cops in la Chapelle, you know, for the human smuggling racket, ooops sorry, helping them escape the genocide in Sri Lanka, you know…

    • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

      Do you want to tell the Sinhalese wife and child of the tortured and re-abducted Tamil businessman in Wellawatta, that you only represent the “state,” not this “regime,” not the abductors and torturers?

      Like a priest who has just raped and murdered a woman, dripping with blood and body fluids, pointing to the clouds and saying “I just raped and murdered a woman, but I represent God, not the clergy!”?

      It would be so amusing but for the sordid evil that you represent, something that needs to be wiped out. Kill yourself and go with a modicum of respect, man.

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Agnos, answer a direct question. You wrote that “The utter destruction of the regime and its supporters and representatives abroad, is the highest moral duty of mankind.”

        Why didn’t anyone see you ever write the equivalent about the LTTE?

        As for your moral outrage, go say that to Neelan’s and Rajani’s kids, and ask Rajani’s widowed husband whether he agrees with you.

        Before you get all Old Testament sounding and call fire and brimstone down on us, Agnos, have the guts to use your name…or else you just sound like you’ve got out of the wrong side of the bed.

      • Keynes!

        “Better to die than be a coward.”

        Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali!

  • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

    Hey Mr. Evil,

    How many times do I have to answer these questions?
    You are the one evading the question of why this regime should not be destroyed.

    The fact is your side has been just as evil, often much worse than the LTTE. The continuing abductions and torture– under the cover of being an ‘elected government’ shows your side was actually much worse. The LTTE never pretended to be elected representatives, and its actions earned the terrorist label globally. They lived with it. But your side wants the pretense of being democratic. Why would I insert myself into such a cauldron of competing evils if it would only give more ammunition to the worst evil?

    In your feeble attempt to justify your depredations, you make the pathetic assumption that I condoned the assassination of Neelan or Rajani. Far from it. Rajani’s sister herself, writing occasionally in Ground Views, has called you more or less racist. If Neelan and Rajani were alive today, they would hardly have agreed with you, and stayed far away from your noxious self–as people like Tisaranee Gunasekara and Qadri Ismail are doing. As I said, kill yourself, man.

    I know you and Asanga Welikala are part of a mutual admiration society of two, who flatter each other with accolades ( “orginality”, “cogency”, “literatly argued.”), but make no mistake, having danced on the mass graves and grotesque gaols of Sri lanka, you definitely belong to one yourself.

    • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

      Typos: It should read “originality” and “literately”

    • wijayapala

      Dear Agnos,

      The LTTE never pretended to be elected representatives, and its actions earned the terrorist label globally. They lived with it.

      If that is true then why did the LTTE spend so much resources trying to get that terrorist tag removed, employing flunkies like Bruce Fein who have now magically seen the light of human rights?

      Sorry but I totally disagree with your belief that MR’s regime is worse than the LTTE. The abductions and torture conducted by GR are peanuts compared to what the LTTE did for the past 30 years. In another thread you mentioned that the Sinhalese should express moral outrage against MR. I agree but how is that possible when there is hardly any moral outrage against the LTTE? That the flag-wavers can still prance around and celebrate Prabakaran without moral outrage from their community?

      Far from it. Rajani’s sister herself, writing occasionally in Ground Views, has called you more or less racist.

      I would not be surprised at all if none of the Rajasinghams/Thiranagamas had any respect for Dayan. But if you were to ask them who did the most harm to the Tamils- Mahinda or Prabakaran- what do you think their response would be?

      • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

        Wijayapala,

        “If that is true then why did the LTTE spend so much resources trying to get that terrorist tag removed.”

        They tried, but that doesn’t take away my argument that the GoSL’s abductions, disappearances and murders are carried out within the pretense of democracy, and the GoSL benefited from it.
        You are saying yourself (to DJ) that the LTTE grew out of the actions of successive governments. It is precisely that point that makes it harder to make them out to be the greater evil, although if you look at them in isolation, in terms of the quantum of their violence and their impact on the Tamil people, your point about them being greater evil may be valid.

        I don’t play the numbers game… whether one kills 1000 people or 100 people, when it is a State supposed to protect all of its citizens that is doing it, I would say it is a qualitatively worse evil with more lasting impact. It is precisely why even though the LTTE is finished, you are going to continue to see people saying only a separate state will solve their problems.

        In that respect, it doesn’t matter what the Thiranagamas and Rajasinghams think. Two of my friends at Peradeniya who had nothing to do with the LTTE or the JVP, were abducted by the SLA and disappeared under the Premadasa regime. Their murders were not high profile, but the manner in which the SLA did it was just as evil as, or worse than, the murders by the LTTE of Neelan and Rajani.

        A grave-dancer by the name Jayatilleka was with Premadasa at that time, writing hagiographical pieces for his master in newspapers under the pseudonym “Aniruddha Tilakasri” Do I need to say more?

  • wijayapala

    Dayan

    Agnos’s mischaracterisation of the LTTE detracts nothing from his main point that the Rajapakshas are pure [edited out]. It will soon be three years since the death of Prabakaran. So why are the kidnappings and disappearances of (mostly Tamil) critics of the govt still continuing???? Are you allowed to answer that simple question Doktor Ambassador??

    What if Nirmala or Sharika or Narmada asked you that question? Or any of the Tamils who DID risk their lives speaking out against LTTE atrocities?? Would they be entitled to an answer?

    Your notion that the Tamils will be happy and delighted with 13A is total bunk as long as the Tamils do not feel safe. What a recipe for disaster- terrorising the Tamils on the one hand, yet giving them a modicum of autonomy on the other so that they will be absolutely sure that they are on the right side of history in demanding more. You really have no clue how the war started?? You do know the secret how the LTTE became the dominant Tamil group in the 1980s from a monograph written in your more lucid days:

    If there is a single factor or event that can be pointed to with the benefit of hindsight, as having guaranteed the defeat of the Eelam Left at the hands of the LTTE, it was July 1983…July 1983 brought in the Sinhala people as enemies…

    As long as this sort of loathsome violence continues to be inflicted against Tamils, they will see us as the enemy, and no “political solution” of yours will do anything to change that reality.

    • Nithyananthan

      Dear Mr. wijayapala, Greeting to you!

      “…Are you allowed to answer that simple question Doktor Ambassador?”

      It’s a correct on-the-spot question, reminding this author, at a correct time since he is well known for confusing the readers when he is jammed and unable to confront or convince them and innocently missing, forgetting or even evading the questions – depending on their seriousness ands criticality.

      “…You really have no clue how the war started?? You do know the secret how the LTTE became the dominant Tamil group in the 1980s from a monograph written in your more lucid days …”

      Here too you have correctly assessed this Doter‘s intent, motivation and the depth of his cunningness to create an atmosphere of falsehood by twisting the post independent history of our island nation and propagating with half, whole and false truths.

      What else can we expect? He is a political appointee and is assigned to a salaried job and doing what is expected of him. He is his masters’ voice.

      Yet, from my point of view, it would have been much better if the question had been posed as “…You really have no clue as to what were the causes that transformed into armed conflict, how the LTTE came into being, and the war started??…”

      However, it would be wrong on my part to expect too much. I should know to be pleased with this – at least. After a long lapse of time, you have blown cold – not hot. I feel the soothing sensation of that gentle breeze – that is classic of you. Thanks Mr. wijayapala, Nithy!

      • wijayapala

        Dear Mr Nithyananthan,

        Please refer to me as “wije” and I’ll call you “Nithy.” No need for formalities given that we are no longer strangers!

        He is a political appointee and is assigned to a salaried job and doing what is expected of him.

        No, the truth is more convoluted. Dayan is eager to tell us that he gave up a far more lucrative employment in Singapore to represent MR once more. That means Dayan is a true believer of Mahinda Chintanaya, abductions, disappearances etc that are all MR trademarks (or at least carried over from Premadasa).

        My only explanation for now is that he and his BFF (best friend forever) Mr Dharmaratnam Sivaram shared the same brain, and that currently Dayan is holding it. I wish you Nithy and I can have those same close bonds.

        “…You really have no clue as to what were the causes that transformed into armed conflict, how the LTTE came into being, and the war started??…”

        I see the causes of armed conflict and how the LTTE came into being as two separate issues. I’ve heard the story how young Prabakaran was shocked by the immolation of the Hindu priests by Sinhala thugs, but given his proclivities as a child I think he would have created some kind of LTTE even had that not occurred.

        After a long lapse of time, you have blown cold – not hot.

        Dayan might disagree with that assessment!! But if you want me to blow cold some more, then why not participate more in the discussions? You can’t blame me for blowing hot when the only person available for discussion is Presidunce Bean or MV.

  • Gord Larry

    Still continuing as a news item. Sad.

    Gord.

    • dayanjohn

      Dear Dr.Dayan and Mr. Wijayapala,

      As always I read with interest your exchange of fire. Please tell me (either or both of You) Aren’t we going back to square one after all the bloodshed ?…
      To clarify my question, what did we achieve by the war against prabhakaran, apart from the selfish notion of temprory peace and prosperity ( ie: no bombs going off in CMB….. We can move around fearlessly….etc.)

      Aren’t we at the same place where Dudley and Chelvanayagam were ?

      What if the eelam struggle takes on a non-violent Gandhi, like nature ? What would be our answer then ?

      Over to you,
      Dayanjohn

      • wijayapala

        Dear dayanjohn

        To clarify my question, what did we achieve by the war against prabhakaran, apart from the selfish notion of temprory peace and prosperity

        Sorry but I’m not sure I understand your question. Now that Prabakaran is dead there are no more Tamil children being used as cannon fodder. No more suicide bombings. How is it “selfish” to be happy that these things are over?

        Aren’t we at the same place where Dudley and Chelvanayagam were ?

        Not at all. The Tamil community is shattered with parasites like the EPDP undermining law and order. There is a gigantic security apparatus that may be impossible to entirely dismantle. None of these things existed during Dudley and Chelva’s time.

        On the other hand there are some positive aspects. Rural Sri Lanka is not so impoverished as it was back then and it is inconceivable that there will be another JVP uprising. Perhaps the JVP itself is sensing that the South is no longer ripe for revolution, hence its feelers into the northeast.

        What if the eelam struggle takes on a non-violent Gandhi, like nature ? What would be our answer then ?

        Hopefully it should also be non-violent and Gandhi-like in nature as well?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear All,

    Owning 84% of Land (including inland waters), the Lankan government is the overwhelming landlord in the country. This means that 84% of Lanka’s Land is owned by all her citizens. Most of these Lands are uninhabited by humans.

    The control of this COMMON property has been a contentious issue, be it 13A or 13+.

    How could this common property be equitably used?
    Should it be divided on Ethnic lines?
    Can any claim for control on inequitable lines be justified?
    Under the circumstances where does the “Traditional Homeland” claim stand?

    Can the 13th amendment be fully implemented without encroaching on the rights of all stake holders?

    Does the 13th amendment FULLY recognise per capita land use or are there any hidden caveats that subverts the apparent recognition of per capita ownership, inbuilt within? I believe that there are such caveats.

    Personally, I believe that the only equitable solution is a per capita solution, without any hidden caveats.

    • yapa

      The ultimate aim and sole issue of so called ethnic problem is based on some people’s aspiration to grab a disproportionate ratio of land(and disproportionate ratio of resources)to them.

      So the the justifiable answer to the question is the acceptance of equitable share of resources resources to each individual of the country.

      Who can suggest a more justifiable solution? On what basis anybody can reject this proposal? Can anybody who does not agree with proposal to justify that stance?

      If all the groups of this country have a respect to others’ rights as to theirs, no one can oppose to this proposal and their won’t be any so called “ethnic issue” any more.

      Problem is why some people do not like to accept equity and equality?

      Aren’t they the ones responsible for this problem? Aren’t they the oppressors of this country?

      Is their any principle to say7 majority is the oppressor always? Cannot a minority be an oppressor in any case? Does the majority in this country automatically become the oppressor and the minority automatically become oppressed disregarding all the facts?

      Is the simple equation, majority = oppressor and
      minority = oppressed ?

      I don’t understand this simple formation of formula.

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Here is a part of the 13th Amendment
        Does it FULLY recognise per capita land use or are there any hidden caveats that subverts the apparent recognition of per capita ownership, inbuilt within? I believe that there are such caveats.

        2 : 4 The selection of allotees for such lands will be determined by the Government of Sri Lanka having regard to settler selection criteria including degree of landlessness, income level, size of family and agricultural background of the applicants. The actual application of these principles, selection of allottees and other incidental matters connected thereto will be within the powers of the Provincial Councils.

        2 : 5 The distribution of all allotments of such land in such projects will be on the basis of national ethnic ratio. In the distribution of allotments according to such ratios, priority will be given to persons who are displaced by the project, landless of the District in which the project is situated and thereafter the landless of the Province.

        Are the Landless in the other provinces excluded?


        2 : 7 The distribution of allotments in such projects on the basis of the aforesaid principles would be done as far as possible so as not to disturb very significantly the demographic pattern of the Province and in accordance with the principle of ensuring community cohesiveness in human settlements.

        Is this a caveat meant to subvert the National Ethnic Ratio included in 2:5 above?

        Personally, I believe that the only equitable solution is a per capita solution, without any hidden caveats.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Agnos

    You are saying yourself (to DJ) that the LTTE grew out of the actions of successive governments.

    No, I never said that. “Successive governments” did not have an institutionalised policy of violence against Tamils. That distinction goes to only two leaders: SWRD Bandaranaike and JR Jayawardene who were the heads of government about 20 years apart. It was only JR (and his minions) who was responsible for the rise of the LTTE.

    I don’t play the numbers game…

    Neither do I. The LTTE caused infinitely more harm to the Tamils by tearing their society apart in a way that no Sinhala could ever hope to. It was only after the LTTE came into being that Tamils killing other Tamils became a normal occurrence. Most of those who are now termed “paramilitaries” started off as fellow Tamil militants who were attacked by the LTTE. It was because of the LTTE that they turned to the governments for protection.

    Sinhala violence against the Tamils on the other hand, for all its brutality had the effect of bringing the divided Tamils together. That is primarily because the Sinhalese could not distinguish between Tamils by caste or region at all. All were “para demala.” That explains why this paramilitary phenomenon did not exist in the 1980s when the war started. The Sinhalese were totally clueless about the diversity within the Tamil community until the northern LTTE literally came gunning for Karuna. It should come to no surprise that the LTTE began unraveling with the CFA, as much as Dayan (and I admittedly) loathed it.

    If you identify yourself as a Tamil nationalist then you must face the uncomfortable truth that the foundation of Tamil nationalism is Sinhala racism and ignorance. It is for that reason why I take Sinhala racism far more seriously than Tamil nationalism, especially now with the LTTE gone.

    Two of my friends at Peradeniya who had nothing to do with the LTTE or the JVP, were abducted by the SLA and disappeared under the Premadasa regime.

    I am sorry for what happened to your friends. Unfortunately we cannot make Premadasa accountable for what he did because like Prabakaran, he is dead. But Dayan is still around!!