Messing in the maze: A response to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Photo courtesy Reuters

As my friend Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is probably aware, I rarely miss his articles. Sometimes I have been mildly shaken by his radical writing, but never quaked as I did having read – “Moving out of the maze” It made me to believe that I had probably misunderstood him as an academic supportive of power sharing. More dangerously, I wondered whether Sri Lanka instead of moving out of the maze would mess in it by agreeing with him.

At the outset, I deplore Diaspora behavior in London standing on a Sri Lankan national flag. In Sinhala expression it was ‘spitting up to fall on the face!’  Dissent is fine; indecent dissent descends the quality of dissenters. If the dissenters were Sri Lankan citizens they have sinned unpardonably. If they are of Sri Lankan origins and hail the Union Jack now, they have shamed the British by their uncivilized and unbecoming actions.

Wrongs committed on devolution

Before commenting on Dayan’s presentation I must admit that there had been many doings on power sharing –good and bad- during the last twenty five years. Dayan has dealt in detail ‘sins’ committed by many parties. All of them should share the blame for resultant failures, and should not load them only on President Rajapaksa. But, others’ sins do not offer a license to the government to delay power sharing, because the incumbent government renewed the demand for power sharing as a political solution by the creation of the suitable political and security environment by wiping out the LTTE and promising devolution.

However, the latest headache is the speech by TNA Leader R. Sampanthan which is interpreted as problematic for reconciliation. Probably due to this, Dayan would have found the behavior of UNP and TNA as mysterious. But he is not mystified when the incumbent government does not make participation of UNP and TNA happen by arriving at a consensus on the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question. I must say that pinning the ‘sin tag’ only on the UNP and TNA is thus unreasonable, as much as on President Rajapaksa alone. The deadlock Dayan mentions is created by several inclusive of these three and others like the Tamil Diaspora, JHU, Minister Weerawansa’s NFP, some civil society leaders, some in the media and clergy etc.

I doubted whether Dayan’s complaint of the UNP not playing the “bridging role” is substantiable, when MP MA Sumanathran’s statements were heard, (made in the presence of MP Rajiva Wijesinha at the International Center for Ethnic Studies on 18th instant, which went unchallenged by Rajiva). According to MP Sumanthiran the Leader of the UNP had been shuttling between the government and TNA to create an amicable route for reconciling and failed due to government’s duplicity and double tongued approaches. Rajiva could have defended the government by shedding some light on the reality, if there was another truth, but it did not happen satisfactorily. I found that also Rajiva was in the dark on some important issues. He in fact casually disowned a Senior Advisor position to the President and admitted that he obtained some important information on certain issues from a lady journalist and not from the establishment!

Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections

It is true as Dayan has said that “influential foreign friends” urge the early holding of NPC elections, and some strident local voices call for the repeal of the 13th Amendment, instead of holding elections. If one touches his/ her conscience, frankly and truthfully he will swear that NPC elections are not held because it cannot be won by the government. And the probable winner (most likely led by the TNA) will demand land and police powers devolution, which is anathema to the government. These are the biggest road blocks for elections in the North.

I confirm that devolved land powers are already with the Provinces (See Groundviews 18-1-2012 “Is Power Sharing in Land Administration Practical in Sri Lanka?”) and government may temporarily hold on to Police Powers on technical grounds. But, who in the government is prepared to accept these?

Dilemma in implementing the 13th Amendment

Dilemma in implementing devolution is due to observed dissent in the political environment. I believe that we should not be guided by these dissenting voices, for a few main reasons.

One is that devolution is in the Constitution and the constitutional provisions should be honored. Otherwise, all authorities fail to be faithful, uphold and defend the Constitution in line with the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution.  It is a shame!

Secondly, even adamant and vociferous critics accept the need to implement the Constitution, e.g.  Attorney SL Gunasekara who has said (while opposing land and police power devolution) that “if these powers are in the Constitution it should be implemented irrespective of anyone’s opposition.”  (Irida Divaiana January 29th 2012)

Thirdly, we have other constitutional provisions against which ‘strident local voices’ call for repeal, but very piously and convincingly adhered by the government, e.g. 18th Amendment. Therefore, strident local voices should not be the criteria for or not implementing the Constitution. Until repealed, 13th Amendment should also be implemented like the 18th Amendment, (the latter I personally deplore).

Fourthly, the government’s LLRC also recommended the devolution process inclusive of land power devolution. It should be honored.

The centrists like Dayan or centralists like Ministers Weerawansa and Ranawaka or separatists in the Diaspora or devolution worshippers in the TNA and the South Block in Delhi should not be the deciding factor on the need to implement the existing constitutional provisions.  The power lies in the Constitution itself.

Dayan’s proposed interim solution

Dayan in his article has an invention to resolve the devolution crisis. He speaks of an interim administration. Interim arrangements are very sensitive issues of ISGA and P-TOMS fame.  I argue that when there is a clear cut “legal and constitutional pathway” through the 13th Amendment, and when (subject to correction) interim arrangement provisions for implementation of the 13th Amendment in the existing background are not provided in the Constitution, why is this proposition? Is it to delay whatever possible action for power sharing by creating another very elastic dialogue in the political domain?

In the 13th Amendment I find two Articles where something that could be weakly interpreted as distantly related to ‘interim arrangement’. They are in Article 154L and 154T.

But the former is applicable “when the administration of the Province cannot be carried out”. When there is no PC elected even once and had no opportunity to carry out the entitled functions, it cannot be applied to suit Dayan’s proposition for the NPC. Of course, if after being elected the PC fails, the President can make use of 154L (b). When the local people, northern political forces, civil society and the internationals demand democratic governance for the north, is this a solution emanating from democrats? 154T is applicable when the President gives directions “for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of the 13th Amendment”, and hence it too will not be a valid path, as it is to ‘castrate’ the implementation of the 13th Amendment.

If he wishes to have a greater dialogue for power sharing through his proposition, I have grave doubts of success. We have experienced this sort of elongated dialogue at the APRC and some rightly or wrongly suspect that the Parliamentary Select Committee is another move in to a maze. If Dayan gave the legal and constitutional pathway with references quoting Articles or Sections of law to prove that it is constitutionally possible and is a more effective quick medium route one could have at least considered it, but unfortunately he did not.

Another query will be, if this is a fair mean why not apply the same yardstick to mange the other PCs too, because it will reduce the expenditures and the so-called much criticized mess in PC administration? I take a safe bet; it will not be done, because the southern PCs are all managed by government supporters and hence the government will not try such pranks to lose grassroots political support in the south. In the north it is not a problem because anyway it is not the government supportive groups who will rule the NPC.

Additionally, bringing the devolution process in line with the parliamentary support is against the principles of devolution. The basics of devolution require the power and authority for provincial statute making, manpower management and financial / revenue control. How can these be legally achieved through appointees as suggested? If it is to be through the MPs it means running away from power sharing and reverting to central management and further this has to be done by erasing the PCs from the Constitution. If it is the need, this could be a way out.

What is the position of such appointees, if the Parliament elects a different proportion of MPs in a province after the initial appointment? Then another interim solution has to be found. I wish Dayan will explain how it works and the legal and constitutional references on which the interim arrangement is established, administered, sustained, the extent of applicability of power sharing through the interim administration proposed by him. It could be the topic for his next article, if he agrees, which I await anxiously.

One may suspect that Dayan is promoting a proposition to probably establish a “provisional solution; a stop-gap measure” prior to erasing the 13th Amendment or a means for the government to ‘con around’ on power sharing, as had been done for years by all successive governments since 1987. Future history will prove whether my contention of Dayan’s projections is true or not.

Threats of secession created by roguish PCs

Dayan is suspicious of a future PC administration “committed in going beyond the 13th Amendment” inviting foreign forces to rebel, probably to secede. The “13th Amendment plus” was allegedly created and offered by the incumbent government and also denied later by the government. Since the “plus” is not yet in the Constitution and unless it is incorporated in to the Constitution how can a future Council act as suspected by Dayan? I do not think that Dayan has any suspicion on the 13th Amendment to create this disaster, just based on the freak previous event. Why fear of a non-existent provision and devalue the existing constitutional provisions?

If such PC tried to act beyond the Constitution, there must be international restraints through existing institutional arrangements, especially in the UN, to respond to such to prevent rebellions. Both Dayan and I have not yet forgotten what Chief Minister Vardarajah Perumal did after the UDI! He still survives on Indian generosity. Why should such eccentricity and fake threat be supported by a balanced mind (I believe I am correct in thinking so.) like that of Dayan?

Additionally, then, why hold elections in the East when the threat of declaring independence with foreign troop support is also open to the Eastern PC Chief Minister Pillaiyan? Are we to believe CM Pillaiyan has no foreign power contacts at all or he would not like to be the Almighty in the East?  He could be having both these, like any other politician. By saying so Dayan indirectly forces us to believe that Tamils in the north are anti-state demons, while eastern Tamils and Muslims are great Saints. How true is this stance?  Still if there are worse suspicions the government can take up the issue with Security Advisor Menon form India at the end of the month, because Sri Lanka’s best friend against secession will be India!

Honest Broker

Dayan has been concerned of the absence of an unofficial honest broker. My understanding is that there had not been an honest broker throughout. Look at the past. Were the former LTTE supportive nine businessmen from the London Diaspora presented to highest political authorities here after war victory, (presumably introduced by Kumaran Pathmanthan, the LTTE arms procurement chief), Norwegians, Liam Fox, Kushner, Miliband and other ministers from the West, Yasushi Akashi from Japan, so many Indian Ministers, Advisors/ Foreign Secretaries, many of the Bob Blake types from the US, many UN Rapporteurs and even the Secretary General Ban-ki- Moon from the UN etc trying to be brokers- honest or dishonest?

But none of them was unanimously considered honest brokers by the local political, religious or media establishments. It appeared that some others were saviors of Sri Lanka than honest brokers. China, Russia, Iran could be quoted as examples. On the other hand, why should we have honest or dishonest international brokers when we want to have a “home grown solution” for the crisis, as repeatedly said by government spokespersons?  Are we to consider stances supportive of the government’s point view as the only honest brokering that could happen?

Dayan tries to value pragmatic abstention in Geneva (March) as a practical means to send signals on the required stances of the honest broker. I as a Sri Lankan genuinely regret what happened in Geneva (March). But, why does one ignore pre-March 2012 which shows reasons for creating the “psyche” of the “neighboring honest broker”?  Incidentally, I believe I am correct in identifying India as the ‘neighboring honest broker’ in Dayan’s article!

Did not Sri Lanka send several negative signals to the neighboring honest broker (if she was) before March?  Good examples are negotiations and promises made to Minster Krishna or Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao or Adviser Menon on a political solution, resettlement, democratic actions like provincial elections and Sri Lanka’s reported withdrawals from the alleged promises. Did these signals mix with thin air or carved new vistas for action by the honest broker?

Did nonstop US, India and West bashing by ministers and spokespersons etc give friendly signals to make that pragmatic abstention possible? Is not Sri Lanka still continuing, without lessons being learnt (e.g. Minister Champak Reawake’s latest statement that has been queried by former CM Karunanidhi)? Are we knowledgeable of the ongoing defense trade dialogues between India and the USA? Are we ready to mend fences with India at least now, which can be founded with Security Advisor Menon’s visit soon?

Immediately following the honest broker issue Dayan’s article speaks of “the cordial and positive dialogue between President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and His Holiness Pope Benedict” as holding out some promise, “given that the Church is the only institution on the island that has a constituency which cuts across the ethno-regional fault lines”.  The constituency makeup submitted by Dayan is correct and alluring. When Dayan says this immediately after the President’s visit to Vatican, it enhances credibility and possibility. One may even suspect that he could be the “explorer” or “feeler investigator” of an already considered approach. Or, it may be that Dayan having picked a potential brokering organization at random tries to suggest that such organization could be an honest broker? Any other bets?

If so, will it hold as a correct interpretation and a possible acceptable suggestion? I have respect and maximized hope towards the capacity of the Catholic Church to be an honest broker. I have known several Catholic Bishops and even the incumbent Cardinal from the time of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1995 and have great personal respect to them and know their capacities too. Simply stated, I am with the Good Samaritans in the Catholic Church, if they can resolve the crisis of power sharing.

But, I remember some groups being critical of the Catholic Church alleging very close links with LTTE before May 2009. This complaint has not ceased even in 2012 as proved by very recent verbal attacks on Bishop Rayappu Joseph- rightly or wrongly, made by Minister Rishard Bathuideen in the Parliament, which was considered by the Catholic Church as offensive and deserved to be mentioned to Vatican.  The complaints may not be against the Church, and as per individual preferences and relationships, but individuals matter in politics.

Incidentally, whether done by the LTTE or any other group, the number of other religious dignitaries who disappeared, abducted or jailed by courts for purported  terrorist allegiances was negligible in comparison to the Catholic Church’s, which will certainly bear in brokering. In that background the Catholic Church may opt to be the honest broker, at least to erase the bad names coined by several spokespersons!

Conclusion

I agree with Dayan that each side may think that time is on its side and that the risk of delay is affordable, but they may both be wrong. A downslide to a dead-end would be distressing but it could get worse, fast, he said. With all due respect to my friend Dayan I must say if great academics like him also goes on the downside we will be at the dead-end much faster than he would have gauged when writing this article on June 10th 2012.

The week end media did not give much importance to devolution in connection with Advisor Menon’s visit to Colombo this week. Nevertheless, I think it will be worthy for us to watch out to gauge what items are high in the Indian agenda. If devolution is to be discussed it will be interesting to watch where devolution should establish its grounds- i.e. on an interim arrangement as suggested by Dayan or on a much stronger and powerful upgraded pedestal.

  • rita

    1.Thank you, Mr Fernando, for writing this – DJ tries to muddle up the common man.

    2.”the latest headache is the speech by TNA Leader R. Sampanthan” ?

    Misconceptions and misinterpretations of Sampanthan’s presidential address at ITAK convention:
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7412
    Part I
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7453
    Part II

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    By happy coincidence, my latest submission to Groundviews appeared at the same time as Austin Fernando’s critique, and therefore answers the substantive points raised by him. I shall therefore limit myself to answering his direct references to me when and where I consider them misplaced.

    1. “It made me to believe that I had probably misunderstood him as an academic supportive of power sharing.”

    A: Austin has not misunderstood me. I remain “an academic supportive of power sharing”. I have however, always been mindful of how much power is shared and who with. This is why I was a consistently sharp critic of the CFA of which Austin was a supporter and implementer with disastrous consequences to the armed forces and the country, as most recently confirmed by Shamindra Ferdinando’s series of revelations in the pages of The Island.

    2. “…But he [Dayan] is not mystified when the incumbent government does not make participation of UNP and TNA happen by arriving at a consensus on the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question.”

    A: No, I am “not mystified that the incumbent government does not make the participation of UNP and TNA happen by arriving at a consensus on the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question”. If a consensus is arrived at the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question, then there is little need for the UNP to participate in the search for one. Secondly, such parameters must surely be arrived at primarily through a bi-partisan consensus; a consensus between the incumbent government and the only formation that can undo a settlement, namely the alternative government of the day, the main Opposition party. Thirdly, any tardiness or sabotage on the part of the government can be exposed precisely by the UNP and TNA participating in the PSC. Fourthly, I can hardly blame this government for not creating the conditions for the TNA and UNP to participate, when the TNA refused to support and the UNP actually set fire to the liberal, progressive draft Constitution of August 2000 presented in the parliament by a government quite other than, and years before, this current one—thus the UNP and TNA’s conduct on this question has consistent. The leadership of both the UNP and TNA remain the same from August 2000 while the only leadership that has changed is that of the Government!

    3. “I doubted whether Dayan’s complaint of the UNP not playing the “bridging role” is substantiable, when MP MA Sumanathiran’s statements were heard, (made in the presence of MP Rajiva Wijesinha at the International Center for Ethnic Studies on 18th instant, which went unchallenged by Rajiva). According to MP Sumanthiran the Leader of the UNP had been shuttling between the government and TNA to create an amicable route for reconciling and failed due to government’s duplicity and double tongued approaches.”

    A: I’m afraid Mr. Sumanthiran is hardly an unbiased authority on the subject. His own statements to the newspapers reiterating the specious doctrine of ‘internal self-determination’, threatening adherence to ‘external self determination’ if the former was not acceded to and going so far as to advocate a referendum among the Tamil people on whether or not they wish to remain part of a united Sri Lanka, were and are hardly conducive to confidence building and constructive negotiations.

    4. “Dayan in his article has an invention to resolve the devolution crisis. He speaks of an interim administration…In the 13th Amendment I find two Articles where something that could be weakly interpreted as distantly related to ‘interim arrangement’. They are in Article 154L and 154T. But the former is applicable “when the administration of the Province cannot be carried out”. ..154T is applicable when the President gives directions “for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of the 13th Amendment”, and hence it too will not be a valid path, as it is to ‘castrate’ the implementation of the 13th Amendment.”

    A: How, pray, can one be confident that ‘the administration of the province be carried out’, by a party that refuses to forswear secessionism, commit unconditionally and unambiguously to a solution within a united Sri Lanka, criticize Prabhakaran and the LTTE even for murdering that party’s own leaders, and claims that its goal is to convince the international community that a solution is NOT possible within a united Sri Lanka’? Surely such a party would be more tempted to prove its thesis that a solution –such as provincial devolution– within a united Sri Lanka will not work? Given such concerns, wouldn’t an interim council as envisaged in the articles mentioned by Austin, be a suitable measure?

    5. “If he wishes to have a greater dialogue for power sharing through his proposition, I have grave doubts of success. We have experienced this sort of elongated dialogue at the APRC and some rightly or wrongly suspect that the Parliamentary Select Committee is another move in to a maze.”

    A: The answer to that is not to evade the PSC but to insist on a time bound PSC exercise; one that is committed to conclude within a compressed time frame?

    6. “Another query will be, if this is a fair mean why not apply the same yardstick to manage the other PCs too, because it will reduce the expenditures and the so-called much criticized mess in PC administration?”

    A: The question is not whether the government rules the PC, but whether a party which is uncommitted to a united Sri Lanka runs it. If the government were to use the same argument against a UNP run PC, I would certainly not defend it. How would you know who the TNA candidate for Chief Minister will be? What is the guarantee that it will be Mr. Sampanthan? This is hardly an irrelevant consideration when one recalls that just a few weeks ago (in a report reproduced on dbsjeyaraj.com) a TNA MP stated that the goal remains Tamil Eelam. What if that MP or someone with his views is the TNA’s Chief Ministerial candidate?

    7. “One may suspect that Dayan is promoting a proposition to probably establish a “provisional solution; a stop-gap measure” prior to erasing the 13th Amendment…”

    A: I have reiterated in all my articles on the subject for over quarter century, the need for the retention of the 13th amendment and against its abolition or ‘erasure’ as you put it.

    8. “Dayan is suspicious of a future PC administration “committed in going beyond the 13th Amendment” inviting foreign forces to rebel, probably to secede. The “13th Amendment plus” was allegedly created and offered by the incumbent government and also denied later by the government. Since the “plus” is not yet in the Constitution and unless it is incorporated in to the Constitution how can a future Council act as suspected by Dayan? I do not think that Dayan has any suspicion on the 13th Amendment to create this disaster, just based on the freak previous event. If such PC tried to act beyond the Constitution, there must be international restraints through existing institutional arrangements, especially in the UN, to respond to such to prevent rebellions. Both Dayan and I have not yet forgotten what Chief Minister Vardarajah Perumal did after the UDI! He still survives on Indian generosity. Why should such eccentricity and fake threat be supported by a balanced mind (I believe I am correct in thinking so) like that of Dayan?”

    A: The Vardarajaperumal attempt at UDI took place within the 13th Amendment, not 13 Plus. Before Austin dismisses it as a freak incident, eccentricity and a fake threat he should ask Mr. Bradman Weerakoon just how deadly a crisis of brinkmanship it was for the Premadasa administration and just how seriously it was regarded and had to be grappled with by President Premadasa and Ranjan Wijeratne. I know, because I was on the Premadasa team at the time.

    9. “Additionally, then, why hold elections in the East when the threat of declaring independence with foreign troop support is also open to the Eastern PC Chief Minister Pillaiyan?”

    A: That’s plain silly. Pillaiyan has never said anything remotely akin to the latently secessionist discourse of the TNA.

    10. “Dayan has been concerned of the absence of an unofficial honest broker.”

    A: Of the list Austin mentions, I have always considered Mr. Akashi to have been the closest to an honest broker. During the CFA years I had suggested John Hume as another. No country with a Tamil Diaspora or endogenous Tamil community large enough to have electoral leverage could, by definition, be neutral enough to function as an honest broker.

    11. “Dayan tries to value pragmatic abstention in Geneva (March) as a practical means to send signals on the required stances of the honest broker. I as a Sri Lankan genuinely regret what happened in Geneva (March). But, why does one ignore pre-March 2012 which shows reasons for creating the “psyche” of the “neighboring honest broker”? Incidentally, I believe I am correct in identifying India as the ‘neighboring honest broker’ in Dayan’s article!”

    A: Even if one were to conceded all these points –and readers may recall that I had, even before May 2009 cautioned against certain policy phenomena and argued for certain others—the fundamental fact is that once a country takes a stand in relation to another, it affects public perceptions and the role that the said country can play in relation to certain sensitive issues. Nothing is free of cost or consequence. This is why abstention in crucial votes is an intermediate step, a better signal and a safer bet all round.

    12. “Immediately following the honest broker issue Dayan’s article speaks of “the cordial and positive dialogue between President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and His Holiness Pope Benedict” as holding out some promise, “given that the Church is the only institution on the island that has a constituency which cuts across the ethno-regional fault lines”. The constituency makeup submitted by Dayan is correct and alluring. When Dayan says this immediately after the President’s visit to Vatican, it enhances credibility and possibility. One may even suspect that he could be the “explorer” or “feeler investigator” of an already considered approach. Or, it may be that Dayan having picked a potential brokering organization at random tries to suggest that such organization could be an honest broker? Any other bets?”

    A: If anyone in authority has considered this option, I am unaware of it. My pick was hardly “at random”, as Austin should see from my argument in favor –which he has himself quoted here!

    • Austin Fernando

      I thank Dayan for the quick and decent responses. I shall try to respond to his comments one by one to clarify my stances and to pose or remind some unresolved issues.
      Below, Q will be for his quotes, C will be for my comments on Qs.

      Q1 Austin has not misunderstood me. I remain “an academic supportive of power sharing”. I have however, always been mindful of how much power is shared and who with. This is why I was a consistently sharp critic of the CFA of which Austin was a supporter and implementer with disastrous consequences to the armed forces and the country, as most recently confirmed by Shamindra Ferdinando’s series of revelations in the pages of The Island.
      C: I am happy that Dayan is for power sharing.
      Though not directly relevant to the subject in my article, since he has spoken of the CFA, I respond. Power sharing in the context of my article is not the same as in the CFA. The latter had many other concerns and the 13th Amendment focused on political and administrative issues. I might as well say that CFA had its good and bad, as I accepted while giving evidence at the LLRC. Even the LLRC Report contained some positive comments of the CFA. Cumulative judgments based on Dayan’s or / and Shamindra’s thinking and criticisms must be weighed by other independent experts, and not by them.

      I think what many have failed to understand is that the CFA, like many other projects are, political exercises under mandate received from the people at an election. They are “political tests” done, where some failed and some did not. It is easy for journalists, historians, politicians and chronologists to comment on the spot or years after, but the decision making and implementation of a ‘project’ in troubled times is extremely difficult. Ask Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, he will agree. It is the same after Eelam IV, as we observe now.

      Q2 No, I am “not mystified that the incumbent government does not make the participation of UNP and TNA happen by arriving at a consensus on the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question”. If a consensus is arrived at the parameters of a political solution to the ethnic question, then there is little need for the UNP to participate in the search for one. Secondly, such parameters must surely be arrived at primarily through a bi-partisan consensus; a consensus between the incumbent government and the only formation that can undo a settlement, namely the alternative government of the day, the main Opposition party. Thirdly, any tardiness or sabotage on the part of the government can be exposed precisely by the UNP and TNA participating in the PSC. Fourthly, I can hardly blame this government for not creating the conditions for the TNA and UNP to participate, when the TNA refused to support and the UNP actually set fire to the liberal, progressive draft Constitution of August 2000 presented in the parliament by a government quite other than, and years before, this current one—thus the UNP and TNA’s conduct on this question has consistent. The leadership of both the UNP and TNA remain the same from August 2000 while the only leadership that has changed is that of the Government
      C: The mystification issue is subjective. I am mystified by the way how all political leaders- Government and Opposition- try now, how not to lead to consensual thinking. I disagree with Dayan that parameters must be arrived through a bi-partisan consensus between the incumbent government and the alternate government, i.e. UNP. His thinking erases the minority factor. Probably, after the war ended there are no minorities! The most affected ethnic groups are not really represented by the UNP or the SLFP now. Therefore, the dialogue should be triangular, at the least.
      The point made by Dayan on the CBK Draft Constitution and its progressive nature is acceptable to me.
      Dayan shows much faith on the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). How far can anyone be convinced that a ‘pro-government – 2/3 majority PSC’ could find independent inputs and resultant minority and war-affected friendly outputs for a solution?
      However, what I tried to say was that the political and security environments are different now and the approaches too should change. As Dayan has accepted that there is change in leadership only in the government, it too would be a plus point for change of attitudes and approaches by the newcomer.

      Q3 I’m afraid Mr. Sumanthiran is hardly an unbiased authority on the subject. His own statements to the newspapers reiterating the specious doctrine of ‘internal self-determination’, threatening adherence to ‘external self determination’ if the former was not acceded to and going so far as to advocate a referendum among the Tamil people on whether or not they wish to remain part of a united Sri Lanka, were and are hardly conducive to confidence building and constructive negotiations.
      C: I do not consider MP Sumnathiran as totally unbiased; or, totally biased. How can any politician be? However, Rajiva (also a politician) could have discussed the real status. His attitude was in a way an ‘endorsement’ of what MP Sumanthiran mentioned, at least for want of challenge. Any way if MP Sumanthiran is to be believed, irrespective of other utterances of his, it proves some hesitancy on the part of the government to reach consensus. As a passing remark I may say that there are many others in the Government, greater than an Opposition TNA MP, who utter words “hardly conducive to confidence building and constructive negotiations”. I think Dayan will agree with me.

      Q4 How, pray, can one be confident that ‘the administration of the province be carried out’, by a party that refuses to forswear secessionism, commit unconditionally and unambiguously to a solution within a united Sri Lanka, criticize Prabhakaran and the LTTE even for murdering that party’s own leaders, and claims that its goal is to convince the international community that a solution is NOT possible within a united Sri Lanka’? Surely such a party would be more tempted to prove its thesis that a solution –such as provincial devolution– within a united Sri Lanka will not work? Given such concerns, wouldn’t an interim council as envisaged in the articles mentioned by Austin, be a suitable measure?
      C I may start like Dayan. How, pray, can one be confident that ‘the administration of the province be carried out’ by appointees selected by political parties based on their strength in the Parliament, i.e. without any democratic mandate to be in an Interim Council? Is it a fair deal? Take Northern Province. The number of MPs from TNA is larger than all others. But the government power and authority will be controlled by the EPDP and other pro-government parties. Do not say that such discrimination will not happen, because we are aware how things happen with District Budget provisions, provincial funds, Samurdhi funds, rehabilitation resources etc. TNA may think why it should be subservient to a minority political power. How can Dayan justify such status? There is no Sinhalese MP in the whole of north. Will there be Sinhalese representation in the Interim Council? If yes, will not someone argue that Sinhalese have encroached in to the Tamil or Muslim slot or robbed of a nomination? Will it help reconciliation?

      I thought TNA Leader lately wished for a political structure in a united Sri Lanka to live with self respect and self sufficiency. I think all political parties should try to find via media to see self respect, self sufficiency, dignity, equality, rights etc are enjoyed by every citizen. TNA cannot expect self respect, dignity etc to be the monopoly of the Tamils or minorities or theirs for that matter.

      To counter secession the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution is available. Therefore, if the TNA does not act legally they could be taken to task. This is what happened also with Vartharajah Perumal, who ran away to India before anything could happen to him.

      My query from Dayan was what is the legal tool (Article or Section in the Constitution or any other law) to establish, manage, sustain the proposed interim council or arrangement? I was questioning so because the Articles 154L and 154T may not be valid to do so, as I have pointed out. He has not responded to this query. In fact I expected a long article on the establishment and operation of the Interim Council he proposes. Dayan should tell us what the legal provisions that would be used for the establishment of the Interim Council or arrangement he proposes; how at least the core principles of power sharing I mentioned are achieved in a respectful manner. It cannot fall from thin air.

      Q5 The answer to that is not to evade the PSC but to insist on a time bound PSC exercise; one that is committed to conclude within a compressed time frame?
      C Once again consensual approach is absent and that is why the major Opposition parties are not at the PSC. There is no trust between the Government and the Opposition parties. I agree it is not one hand clapping, but I think the initiation should be from the Government, and the Opposition should adjust. But, to expect the Opposition to dance to the tune of the government will not be the answer. By no means I say that the government should dance to the tune of the Opposition groups.
      What is the guarantee that a time lined solution will be evolved after PSC sittings? The APRC was an excellent example of how elongated discussion could end up with no final solution. Cannot the PSC’s term be increased as done for the LLRC or any other? We should not forget that the 2/3 majority is available to whatever required by the government. Cannot timely conclusion be ensured by making the APRC recommendations the basis for discussion at the PSC? Can any other compromises be found?

      Q6 The question is not whether the government rules the PC, but whether a party which is uncommitted to a united Sri Lanka runs it. If the government were to use the same argument against a UNP run PC, I would certainly not defend it. How would you know who the TNA candidate for Chief Minister will be? What is the guarantee that it will be Mr. Sampanthan? This is hardly an irrelevant consideration when one recalls that just a few weeks ago (in a report reproduced on dbsjeyaraj.com) a TNA MP stated that the goal remains Tamil Eelam. What if that MP or someone with his views is the TNA’s Chief Ministerial candidate?
      C Again I say that TNA Leader’s controversial speech was not supporting a unitary state , but was for a united state. Now responding to my query on implementing the interim arrangement in other provinces Dayan steps in to another controversial area which he knows of better. It is the asymmetrical devolutionary approach for the North, and probably the existing devolutionary or power sharing approach elsewhere, because the guys elsewhere are Saints. If it is to be, my query is where in law this has been provided for. First please make provision in the Constitution and come along.
      Regarding MP’s statements as quoted by Dayan- I pity the MP who spoke out of turn to DBS, as much as the Minister who projected “hundreds of Mullivaikkals” responding to the TNA Leader. Who knows some one akin to this Minister would not be the CM candidate for the NPC from the Government? Please do not go by individual statements, though individuals matter in politics. How many of the present ministers whose origins were in the UNP have been publicly revealing corruption by Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa, calling all sorts of names to him in 2005 elections and now bend backwards and curl around for other reasons? I do not think the President suspects them as much as Dayan suspects that odd TNA MP. I believe our assessments should be of higher grade and not only on such exclusions.

      Q7 I have reiterated in all my articles on the subject for over quarter century, the need for the retention of the 13th amendment and against its abolition or ‘erasure’ as you put it.
      C Yes, I knew that Dayan felt the need for the retention of the 13th amendment . It was the reason for me to quake after seeing his article.

      Q8 The Vardarajaperumal attempt at UDI took place within the 13th Amendment, not 13 Plus. Before Austin dismisses it as a freak incident, eccentricity and a fake threat he should ask Mr. Bradman Weerakoon just how deadly a crisis of brinkmanship it was for the Premadasa administration and just how seriously it was regarded and had to be grappled with by President Premadasa and Ranjan Wijeratne. I know, because I was on the Premadasa team at the time.
      C. Definitely UDI is a serious situation. It was in a different political and security scenario with a different set of terrorists and the IPKF around. To equate these with the current status should be done carefully, and not in generalized terms. The world has changed quite differently to respond to such situations within the last 20 years plus, and hence we should give credence to the President’s, Defense Secretary’s and international friends of Sri Lanka, and mostly the Tamil and Muslim people who are relied by state media as unequivocally standing behind the Government to react against separatist manipulations. I think state media must be speaking the truth when they speak of the Tamil appreciation of the government, though unfortunately when they are in a polling booth they go crazy and vote for the TNA!

      Q9: That’s plain silly. Pillaiyan has never said anything remotely akin to the latently secessionist discourse of the TNA.
      C. Alright, CM Pillaiyan may be a Saint who will not revolt for a UDI. How come if a minister of the caliber mentioned in 6 above becomes a CM in the East? How can we predict CM Pillaiyan’s successor one day would be another CM Pillaiyan, and not become a Varatharjah Perumal? I know Vartharajah Perumal and Dayan knew him more closely as colleagues in the first North East PC. One could not have predicted him to be a UDI initiator from his appearance. It applies to CM Pillaiyan or another! We must not go on projected individualistic predictions in such cases, and should take on the environment and emerging understandings. Is not it silly to tag innocence to politicians so lavishly?

      Q10 Of the list Austin mentions, I have always considered Mr. Akashi to have been the closest to an honest broker. During the CFA years I had suggested John Hume as another. No country with a Tamil Diaspora or endogenous Tamil community large enough to have electoral leverage could, by definition, be neutral enough to function as an honest broker.
      C. Having known Akashi San I must say that he was a total honest broker. But did our politicians, administrators, media always treat him alike in the light Dayan and I look at him. Was not he snobbed at least one instance where a helicopter to fly to Kilinochchi was denied by the Government to do his honest brokering, perhaps due to some suspicion somewhere. Was not he hammered and ridiculed by Sinhalese media? Did not our media try to make his large number of visits waste of time and energy? May be his timing was wrong for brokering, but such behavior goes as suspicion when things happen that way.

      Going by the qualifications of an honest broker stated by Dayan based on Tamil Diaspora or endogenous Tamil population, the best suitable honest broker may be from China or Russia or Iran or Pakistan. These countries could qualify hands down to be an honest broker based on the Tamil factor mentioned by Dayan! Any more contenders?

      Q11 Even if one were to conceded all these points –and readers may recall that I had, even before May 2009 cautioned against certain policy phenomena and argued for certain others—the fundamental fact is that once a country takes a stand in relation to another, it affects public perceptions and the role that the said country can play in relation to certain sensitive issues. Nothing is free of cost or consequence. This is why abstention in crucial votes is an intermediate step, a better signal and a safer bet all round.
      C I agree with Dayan when he says “…the fundamental fact is that once a country takes a stand in relation to another, it affects public perceptions and the role that the said country can play in relation to certain sensitive issues.” In that context it appears Dayan and I are on the same wave length on the background for non-abstention because it has negatively applied to India, as I have quoted, and Dayan too agrees, as appearing in his comments. The Chinese, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis have been mentioned in the previous paragraph purely on positive relationship basis.

      I agree with him further that there are no free lunches!!!

      Q12 If anyone in authority has considered this option, I am unaware of it. My pick was hardly “at random”, as Austin should see from my argument in favor –which he has himself quoted here!
      C . Since Dayan has picked the Catholic Church at random, I must say I randomly agree with his selection, but I was trying to reminisce the immediate past which may be played around by groups that would not like to see reconciliation through a different religious source! Not only the Catholic Church, any one should be welcome, if the broker is honest. The problem will be to find that one honest broker or brokers!

      To end my comment I may mention a shloka I have learnt from a teacher who has passed away some year back. Governor WJM Lokubandara is one person who can share this with the President and explain the applicability of the shloka to alleviate the problems faced by the country.
      Amanthram aksharam nasthi = There isn’t a letter unusable for a ‘mantra’
      Nasthi moola manaushadham= There isn’t a root that cannot make medicines
      Ayogyo purisho nasthi = There are no inappropriate men
      Yojakakh tathra durlabhakh = Rare are persons to duly engage them.

      I believed in this shloka for the last 20 years or more. And will believe in it in the future. I believe that there are no inappropriate men. Very rare are persons to duly engage them. In the same spirit if we give an opportunity to the people to perform for their benefit they will. We should be bold to handover that responsibility to them, which is their constitutional right. It should not be placed in the hands of a few centralized power packs.

      Develop trust, which is inadequately available among the Government, Opposition, minorities, internationals, neighboring countries etc. Perhaps personalities like Dayan could be messengers of goodwill to enlighten appropriate persons, because some in authority come under the category of rare persons to duly engage the appropriate persons.

      Apologies for the long comment, partly due to quoting Dayan’s quotes for clarity.

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Rejoinder to Austin:

        1. Austin and I will have to agree to disagree on the CFA. By the way, my criticisms of it and its working were not made years after, but ‘real time’ in public and in print, during those years.

        2. Yes the dialogue for a solution should be triangular, but the SLFP and UNP must form the base of the triangle. What better place for a traingular dialogue than the PSC?

        3. The TNA was a fellow traveler of a fascist terrorist formation, the LTTE. It has refused to criticize that organization even for the murders of Amirthalingam, Neelan, and Mr. and Mrs. Yogeswaran. It has refused to renounce separatism. While engaged in a process of negotiations ( with almost always has pauses) it released a lengthy document supportive of the Darusman panel report in which it went far beyond the panel and went on to submit a lengthy document to the UNHRC in Geneva. These are hardly confidence building measures. Unlike Austin I do not equate these stands with those of the government or the Opposition. However intemperate may be the remarks of UPFA and UNP politicians, they do not call into question the unity of Sri Lanka.

        4. Unlike Austin, who sees in Mr Sampanthan’s keynote speech, a commitment to a united Sri Lanka though not a unitary one, I cannot pretend to be blind to the following statements in that speech and their clear implications:
        • “…Up to 500 years ago, the Tamil people established their own governments, and governed themselves. Our party symbolizes a time in history, until the entire country was, for administrative convenience, ruled as one Nation by colonial powers, during which our people had their own sovereign Tamil governments…Our fundamental objective is to regain our community’s Home, its historical habitat and its sovereignty. The symbol of the House symbolizes this unshakeable aim…
        • The softening of our stance concerning certain issues, and the compromise we show in other issues, are diplomatic strategies to ensure that we do not alienate the international community. They are not indications that we have abandoned our fundamental objectives…
        • We must have unrestricted authority to govern our own land, protect our own people, and develop our own economy, culture and tradition. Powers must be allocated under this structure based on the understanding that meaningful devolution should go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1987. This position has been accepted by our party. Our acceptance of this position does not mean that we consider the 13th Amendment to be an acceptable solution, nor that, in the event our right to internal self determination is continuously denied, we will not claim our right under international law to external self determination.
        • In other words – we must prove to the international community that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka. We must be patient until the international community realizes for itself that the effort we are involved in is doomed to fail. To put it more strongly, the international community must realize through its own experience, without us having to tell them, that the racist Sri Lankan government will never come forward and give political power to the Tamil people in a united Sri Lanka.
        • …The current practices of the international community may give us an opportunity to achieve, without the loss of life, the soaring aspirations we were unable to achieve by armed force.”

        If these passages constitute evidence of unambiguous commitment to a united Sri Lanka—or any kind of commitment to it except a tactical one – all I can conclude is that my understanding of the English language is rather different from that of Austin.

        5. I am a political scientist, not a lawyer, still less a Constitutional lawyer—thank God!—and my analysis and proposal were political. I leave it to others to work out the legal aspects, but I didn’t see how the Articles that Austin cited went contrary to my case.

        6. If the PSC is constituted with a time line and the government extends it unilaterally, the opposition can expose such bad faith by withdrawing.

        7. The TNA MP did not speak out of turn to DBS Jeyaraj, he spoke in public in Tamil Nadu and the report was republished by Jeyaraj. My point is this. If the excuse made by liberals is that Mr. Sampanthan made those radical remarks because he is under siege from militant elements in his party, how are we to assume that the same balance of forces in the TNA and Tamil politics will not force Mr. Sampanthan to agree to a Chief Ministerial candidate other than himself?

        8. The UDI of 1990 was BEFORE Kosovo and South Sudan, and while there was still a balance in the world, with the USSR in existence.

        9. As I have stated on the record, I objected to both the EPRLF leaders and the Indians about Vardarajaperumal as Chief Ministerial choice.

        10. I have never suggested China, Russia or Iran as honest brokers. My strictly personal view is that Singapore or any other ASEAN state may be a good bet, though I would prefer a Sri Lankan institution with Sinhala and Tamil representation over centuries, hence my suggestion. (Once again, I state that I didn’t pick the church ‘at random’, but because it fits the profile). Austin may believe that “there are no inappropriate men”. I think that fascists such as Hitler and Prabhakaran were rather inappropriate men to seek to make peace with.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    An appeal to Mr.Austin Fernando and Dr Dayan Jayatilleka.

    Why are both of you so much interested in “Devolution of Powers”? Is it because there would not be any power sharing “practically” through “devolution”?

    Why not consider an “Home grown solution” that would honestly benefit the citizenry.

    Create a UNIQUE SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE that would ultimately bring in GOOD GOVERNANCE by showing the way out for injustice, discrimination, oppression and corruption born due to and bred by the present system of governance that is mistakenly or mischievously termed as democratic by persons who call themselves political scientists.

    Even the demand for devolution needs to be re framed as a demand for democratization that brings government closer to all the people, not just minorities, apart from being made far stronger than the 13th Amendment, which has loopholes allowing the Centre to take back the devolved powers. Along with the demand for abolition of the Executive Presidency, and further devolution to smaller units, it would give all the people of Sri Lanka more control over their lives, instead of having their lives ruled by a remote power in Colombo that knows little and cares less about their needs.

    It is high-time we start to RETHINK in terms of a solution that would address the ASPIRATIONS ALL THE PEOPLE in the country, not just the aspirations of the Tamils, in a just and meaningful way rather than continue to criticize other people for their “faults”.

    A UNIQUE concept that moves towards a meaningful and just power-sharing arrangement (not devolution) based on true democracy – a large number of people participating in the governance of the country based on equality, equity – is a great deviation from the usual thinking of the meaning of the word “sharing of power” is given below for the perusal and comments of concerned people.

    The best political solution or system of governance to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.

    It has to be power-sharing (devolution) HORIZONTALLY where each and every set of representatives would be in the SAME LEVEL as equals and in par and NOT VERTICALLY, where one set of representatives would be above (more powerful than) the other, which is the normal adopted practice when talking of devolution, in this power-hungry world. It is because “devolution of power” has been evolved “vertically”, we have all the trouble in this power-hungry world.

    So, for sustainable peace it should not be the present form of “devolution of power” but “dilution of powers” or “meaningful sharing of powers” OR “DIVISION OF POWER”(not division of the country) in such a way that no single person or single set of people’s representatives be “superior” to another.

    This system would help to eradicate injustice, discrimination, corruption and oppression – the four pillars of an evil society – and help to establish the “Rule of Law” and “Rule by ALL” for sustainable peace, tranquility and prosperity and a pleasant harmonious living with dignity and respect for all the inhabitants in the country.

    Everyone must have similar powers, rights, duties and responsibilities and most importantly everyone should be deemed “equal” and treated “equitably” before the law not only on paper but also practically – be it the Head of State, The Chief Justice or the voiceless poor of the poorest in the country.

    Since all political and other powers flow from the sovereignty of the people, it is proposed herein that these powers be not given to any ONE set of representatives but distributed among different sets of people’s representatives (groups) elected on different area basis (village and villages grouped) to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution – the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life.

    In these suggestions the powers of Parliament have been so separated (divided)and distributed among different sets of people’s representatives in different areas so as to dilute the powers of an individual representative or that of a set of representatives in any area. (Dilution is better than Devolution).

    One way of Good Governance – a win-win solution.
    For your kind perusal and comments.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Mr Kathiravelu,

      it is proposed herein that these powers be not given to any ONE set of representatives but distributed among different sets of people’s representatives (groups) elected on different area basis (village and villages grouped) to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution – the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life.

      The problem is that human representatives quite unlike the organs of a body act not on a common set of DNA but rather on self-interest. Diluting power may diminish the potential for corruption, but it will also lead to a loss of accountability.

      The single positive aspect of the current Executive Presidency is that if anything goes wrong, it is clearly MR’s fault.

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Sie. Kathieravealu,

      Some corrections to my suggestions on measures to bring about good governance in the north and east:

      2. Appoint civilian governors of proven ability and high calibre to the north and east. The Governor should be Tamils in the north and Tamil/Muslim in the east.

      4. Appoint dynamic, efficient and pro-active Government Agents ( either Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim). If Sinhalese, they should be proficient in Tamil. In the East, if Tamil or Muslim, the persons should be proficent in Sinhala.

      Further, many would contest my suggestions, on the premise that this would subvert democracy. Democracy to me, represents the ability and ease with which ordinary citizens have access to the corridors of power to solve their problems. Elective democracy, as practiced today has subverted this principle. The situation in the north and east are such, those in the corridors of power have to reach out to the people to solve their individual, societal and economic problems in a humane manner. Those governing and the bureaucracy have to come down to the people from their ivory towers and superior postures. Our politicians and bureaucracy have proven that they are incapable of doing this.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Austin Fernando

    Rejoinder to Dayan:
    My comments are made under the comments numbered by Dayan.
    1. I too agree to disagree with Dayan. True that Dayan was critical of the CFA for a long time. There were and are several others who did the same.
    2. Happy that Dayan has agreed on the triangular formation for dialogue, which permits value addition to minority interests. There is lot of work done already on the subject usable for dialogue. I believe these should be used for an early PSC conclusion if it commences work and APRC recommendation may be appropriately considered.
    3. It is true that TNA’s pre May 2009 era and the harsh and worrying ITAK speech are questionable. I do not go along with them. Also, I stand for unity and integrity of Sri Lanka as much as others. Hence, I do not equate myself with TNA stances. Nevertheless, with all weaknesses TNA is an organization that cannot be dropped out from the equation.
    4. I agree that the ITAK speech is problematic and this is why I said earlier that the speech was harsh and worrying. As Dayan probably suspects I do not stand on the sidelines waving my flag for Mr. Sampanthan! However, are not these stated stances the maximal and need minimizing or worthy of pursuing for withdrawal after negotiations, for which the foundations should be laid at the triangular structure?
    5. As Dayan also knows I am not a lawyer / constitutional lawyer. But I expected the constitutional and legal arrangements and implications studied before proposing a structural change like what was proposed and that is why I insisted on the legal explanation. Most likely my past job experiences promote such step by step approach. If there is no legality his proposal will be rejected, unless the law is amended to suit. I have said in my article why 154L and 154T would not match Dayan’s proposal. I wish it is read again to understand why his proposition goes contrary.
    6. I agree that exposure is possible, but for what end result when the 2/3 s majority and media will not do justice to the persons exposing. The value placed on exposure could be judged from the manner the government had been responding with grave silence to the requests made to publish several Presidential Commission Reports, which are adding dust to dust on some rack somewhere in a corner. Dayan may agree that exposures have not worked well in Sri Lanka.
    7. I believe that Mr. Sampanthan will not contest as the CM candidate. The problem is that every political group has forceful extremists. So be with TNA. It is observed in southern politics too, as I quoted. If extremists can be in a Cabinet, how can we expect it not to be in a PC or a Municipality or Urban Council or a Pradeshiya Sabha? Under whose behest these odd personalities speak? As much as the government cannot stop these extremists making provocative statements, TNA also must be faced with similar problem. It is a matter for the government, law makers, judiciary etc to counter any anti-constitutional or anti legal and provocative utterance. Of course, it should be against every one, and not limited to opponents.
    8. Regarding UDI, yes. Any how it was in a different Sri Lankan situation too.
    9 No comment on Vartharajah Perumal’s status.
    10. My naming China, Russia etc was on the basis of “no Tamil Diaspora or endogenous Tamil population” in those countries and the closest relations Sri Lanka has maintained with them. Singapore too has a Tamil community and small Tamil Diaspora though it is under strict control. Singapore Tamils have different attitudes than the French or UK based Tamils. I agree that an ASEAN nation may fit in better as an honest broker. Japan too should be a good bet. I had no objection for the Catholic Church becoming the honest broker, but was hinting some questions that may be raised. I regret considering that you have picked the Church at random. It was my mistake.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Further Response to Austin

      The differences between Austin and I have narrowed considerably through debate and mutual clarification. I agree that “with all weaknesses TNA is an organization that cannot be dropped out from the equation”. However, I have also pointed out that given the TNA’s discourse and political behavior, it doesn’t quite fit into the equation either. My proposals are intended as a political (not a legal) answer to this political problem.

      The major point of difference between Austin’s position and mine is the following. Austin writes: “I believe that Mr. Sampanthan will not contest as the CM candidate. The problem is that every political group has forceful extremists. So be with TNA. It is observed in southern politics too, as I quoted. If extremists can be in a Cabinet, how can we expect it not to be in a PC or a Municipality or Urban Council or a Pradeshiya Sabha? Under whose behest these odd personalities speak? As much as the government cannot stop these extremists making provocative statements, TNA also must be faced with similar problem.”

      In short Austin equates the extremists in the South and within government with the TNA. Here I strongly disagree on several counts.
      (a) The extremists in the South are the fringe of their parties and formations. They are neither the SLFP nor the UNP, neither of which are extremists. The TNA however, is the equivalent of the SLFP or UNP. It is the main, preponderant force of Tamil politics.
      (b) The extremists in the South opposed separatism and the Tigers. The TNA did not and has yet to renounce separatism and denounce the Tigers. Thus the Southern extremists cannot be equated with the TNA.
      (c) The election of a Southern extremist as Chief Minister of a Province will not have the possible consequence of fostering the breakup of the Sri Lankan state and appealing to external forces for support. The election of an extremist within the TNA as Chief Minister of the North could have such consequences.
      (d) The North is the strategically vital frontier of Sri Lanka, across which we have the possibility of external hostility. No other province in the country is in that position. Everywhere in the world, border provinces have their special problems and arrangements, ranging from the US-Mexican border to Kashmir and Nagaland- Mizoram-Manipur. A TNA type party would come under serious security-related scrutiny if not legal obstruction in such places.
      (e) A parliamentary party much like the TNA, Herri Batasuna of the Basque region was banned in liberal, EU and NATO member Spain, for ‘distancing itself insufficiently’ from the violent separatist ETA. The much maligned democratic state of Sri Lanka has been more flexible and tolerant.

      Attempts to threaten, bully and intimidate Sri Lanka from without or within, will simply not work.

      • Austin Fernando

        Further Response to Dayan

        It is true that the differences have narrowed between two of us. It is as we are friends too. Main reason for the differences is based on the fact that Dayan’s approach is political scientific with past historical experiences, but my approach is political and legal. I believe politics cannot stand away from legality. We must remember approaches are personal too.

        As for me extremists in the North as well as South are equally problematic. Of course, rapidity and rabidity may differ, but extremism remains unchanged. Take late KMP Rajaratne and company or late Sunderalingam and company who were responsible for the initiation of further extremism, blood shed and later the creation of terrorists like VP for example. This could be matter of differing opinion which two of us might hold for long.
        I agree with Dayan that TNA is ‘extremist’ in comparison to the UNP or SLFP. JHU or NFP are also extremist than UNP and SLFP. Levels may differ, of course. As much as silence of the TNA gave LTTE a boost up, these southern political parties have given vast boost to the UPFA, led by SLFP, which is “the main preponderant force” in Sri Lankan politics now. Hence, I consider extremism in any party or stilting any main party as allergic to democracy and more over to reasoning and political gentleness.

        I agree to a great extent with Dayan on TNA’s negative behavior. Their lives were at risk during LTTE domination and it could have been the reason for such behavior. I cannot understand why TNA should be harsh as in the ITAK speech when the situations have changed. Most likely it would have been due to pressure as suggested by some. However, for whatever reason it made things difficult for reconciliation. Late eighties saw similar behavior from the public and politicians in the south when the JVP struck the south, but they stand corrected now. The TNA’s status has to be corrected since a different political and security environment has emerged and it may be done at the PSC or pre-PSC negotiations, with or without the backing of the UNP or even India or the US. I maintain that the initiation should be from the government and genuinely supported by all political groups.

        I do not buy wholesale the prediction of the potentiality of the behavior of another CM, though I do not rule out totally as such, under an emerged different context. ITAK speech has kept the doors somewhat open for such about which the TNA should rethink, review and change, if reconciliation is to be achieved. Similarly, the government also should keep such motivation crushed by genuine reconciliation approaches. They cannot be only fault finding. Of course, I deplore any such negative action because I am for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

        I agree with Dayan that borders are contentious. This is one reason to be serious and a bit relaxed too in a way; serious because it affects sovereignty and territorial integrity. Relaxed because a separatist state in Sri Lanka is anathema to India and hence it cannot support separatism by any means. Since Dayan has taken some examples I take the example of Mizoram for the government to learn. Mizoram rebels and Pradhan discussions and agreement reached between them in the presence of PM Rajiv Gandhi (incidentally on the day Pradhan was to retire!) could be a positive example of how things could be managed with a separatist group. (Refer “Working with Rajiv”- by Pradhan who was the Home Secretary and later Advisor to the Indian Government) Why not try such approaches with a political party, which is not a terrorist group, with past record of subdued behavior due to fear of life? Changing their mind set is their business, as much as government’s. Is it fair to make them lepers for life for the past when we treat, reflecting ‘open armed blood relationship like’ to other LTTE active killer leaders and closest LTTE associates who even dictated to TNA? TNA has not done so excruciatingly as much as these ‘newly found blood reelections’ had done.

        I am not conversant as much as Dayan is on international comparisons, as I am not a political scientist. But since Dayan has spoken of Batasuna’s case I must say (subject to correction) that it has different status from the TNA, as I understand. TNA is not in armed conflict with the government, comparable to the Spanish and Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). It has not been like ETA with active terror behind them, but as always pointed out by Dayan had been torch carrying for the LTTE when the north was dominated by the LTTE, most likely for reasons explained earlier.

        But if Basque is to be the comparison it cannot be only on banning the ETA. It has to follow other steps too. Otherwise to logically conclude from Basque operation will not stand aside. In the Basque issue, it is noted that an International Peace Conference was held aimed at promoting a resolution to the Basque conflict. It had leaders of Basque parties and six well known international personalities in the fields of politics and pacification: Kofi Annan, Bertie Ahern, Gro Harlem Brundtland , Pierre Joxe, Gerry Adams and Jonathan Powell. The former US President Jimmy Carter and the former US senator George J. Mitchell as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace also backed this declaration. I do not think Sri Lanka welcomes such an international team to settle the issues between TNA and government, for political reasons and probably for not having honest brokers. Further, TNA issue has no renouncing of armed activities to end a ‘conflict’ like in Basque. Even otherwise, do we even need Menons or Mukherjees or Mathais for that? I do not think so. We – the Government, Opposition and TNA- should be magnanimous and open. As the Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero described the Basque move at the end as “a victory for democracy, law and reason” let us try to get Mr. Sampanthan to say “a victory for democracy, rights, rule of law, dignity, equality.” If we fail it will qualify all these people and organizations to be tagged “SINNERS” in bold capitals! Dayan, shall we try to create this magnanimity, please?

        Regarding the controls to face potential issues that would emerge, as I have said earlier, the Constitution is there and international interventions should be available. Dayan being a diplomat may know better than this ordinary humane civilian- Austin Fernando.

        I am with Dayan if anyone attempts to threaten, bully and intimidate Sri Lanka from outside or within.

      • Duminda Ratwatte

        We have made it illegal to advocate secession. Has Spain done so?

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Varatharajaperumal’s UDI and hand in recruiting the Tamil National Army TNA), when faced with the Pramadasa’s strategic moves to emasculate even the much flawed PC system, will always be an example of what should not have been done. Varadarajaperumal complained then he had no power as a Chief Minister to even move a chair! This remains a fact to this day. Varadarajaperumal reacted as he did because he was angry at what Premadasa was doing and he felt there was or was assured of, Indian support.

        This unfortunate ‘Áction and reaction’ episode will cast its long shadow on the Northern and Eastern PCs for a long time. The words and responses of the TNA; reactions in Tamil Nadu, India and the west; Diaspora moves and recent incidents such as in the Vavuniya prison, will not permit the evolution of decent solutions based on devolution, at the present point in time. Further, a fundamentally flawed PC system, will not resove problems, but pave the way for another Varadarajaperumal-like response, which may invite Indian intervention. I suspect the TNA and the forces aligned with it or the forces it is aligned with are working towards such a scenario. China can do little under such circumstances as the ‘West’ may be supportive of Indian moves. It is the battered Tamils of the north and east who will be called upon to pay the price once again for the follies of Sri Lankan politicians, both Sinhalese and Tamil. Political charades and slyness should come to an end, now.

        The government is caught in an unenviable no-win situation, because of its own short sighted political moves in the post-war period.

        I have suggested before and hence concur with Sie. Kathieravealu that
        deliverence of sensitive, responsive, honest and effective governance is the only workable solution now. The government has to defy the world-India and the west, if need be, to pursue this option. If approached with honesty and determination, such moves will deliver the government from its present unenviable, trapped situation, in the medium term and offer much neede sucour and hope to the Tamils. It is a new war and the government should show leadership, wisdom, courage and mettle.

        Justice must be done and it must be patently visible that it is being done. The games being played by all sides must be brought to an end with bold and appropriate moves. If expediency is the response as usual, we are in for a lot of destabilizing trouble.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Sie.Kathieravealu,

        I would suggest the following to ensure good and trustable governance in the north and east immediately:

        1. Suspend PC elections for three years.

        2. Appoint civilian governors of proven ability and high calibre to the north and east. The Governor should be a Tamil in the north or a Tamil/Muslim in the east.

        3. Permit the Government Agents to work with (If possible) or under the Governors to unify provincial power centres.

        4. Appoint stnamic, efficient and pro-active Government Agents ( either Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim). If Sinhalese, they should be proficient in Tamil. In the Eeast, if Tamil or Muslim, the persons should be proficent in Sinhala.

        5. The Governor-GA combo should have supervisory, and when indicated directive and discilinary power, over all government departments, including the police.

        6. The Special Forces Commanders in the different areas in the north and east, should work in consultation with the Governor-GA combo.

        7. All finance and administrative matters should be delegated to the Governor-GA combo, subject to adherence to existing regulations governing such matters.

        9. Political interference in day to day governance should be minimizied to almost zero, permitting the Governor- GA combo to make decisions quickly and effectively.

        10. The Central government should restrict itself to policy making in a national context.

        11. Remove the government appointed political power centres from the north and east.

        12. Empower the police and the judiciary to act according to the law, without fear or favour.

        13. Deploy the anti-bribery and anti-corruption mechanisms to operate at full force in the north and east.

        14. Seek, employ and deploy experienced, but retired bureaucrats and technocrats to serve in the north and east.

        16. Fire the unfit and encourage excellence in the public services.

        17. Empower the banks to be responsive to the development needs of the community and lend where merited, without weighing only the risk factor.

        18. Constitute the members of parliament in the provinces into a consultative body, without executive powers to work with the Governor-GA combo.

        19. Ensure the Governor-GA combo are not made into mice and boot lickers.

        20. Empower the parliament to summon the Governor-GA combo for questioning and discussions, at regular intervals.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Kiththa

    At last Dr. Dayan has met a man who questions him and shows that he is not always right. Dr. Dayan quotes from India and receives stronger arguments against. He speaks of Basque (I do not know where!) and receives better arguments to rethink.

    Dr. Dayan’s unpreparedness to give a legal backing to his proposition and passing on to others that responsibility does not seem to me as an acceptable approach. Fortunately, Mr. Fernando does not press him too much, probably as he says Dr. Dayan is a friend of his. Dr. Dayan being a professor and an ambassador should have considered all aspects of executing his proposal.

    Congrats Mr. Fernando for teaching us and Dr. Dayan a few things anew.

    But I must complain that both of you write long comments that can be considered as a separate article. Please be precise hereafter.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Austin,

    Herri Batasuna was not the ETA. It was a peaceful, parliamentary party but was regarded as a fellow traveller of the ETA, just as the TNA was.

    Batasuna was not banned because of violent activities but of failing to distance itself sufficiently from an organisation that engaged in violence.

    The TNA has yet to criticise the Tigers or Prabhakaran. Now that cannot be because it is still scared of assassination by the Tigers.

    Mr Sampanthan’s remarks were not made on an election platform in the heat of a campaign. They were in a written text read out on a serious occasion, namely a party convention. The TNA’s criticisms of the government and of Sinhala racism would carry far more weight if they were preceded , paralleled or followed by a denunciation of Prabhakaran who murdered so many unarmed Tamil democrats. That has not been the case. All this means something.

    The major difference between Austin and me remains the attitude to the LTTE. He equates Pillaiyan with the TNA. I do not, because Karuna and Pillayan rebelled against the LTTE at one point, a resistance which proved crucial while the TNA never did and has yet to denounce it for even the murder of Amir and Neelan. I prefer an ex-Tiger who rebelled against the Tigers, to a fellow traveller of the Tigers who remains silent even today.

    The TNA still holds views which are more militant and intransigent than those of the Sinn Fein/IRA which has accepted devolution of power within the UK’s formally unitary framework. Sinn Fein has not even raised the slogan of federalism!

    Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir, a political leader and relative of the Nehru family, who never engaged in violence, was jailed many times and for extended periods by his relatives Shri Nehru and Indira Gandhi for espousing sentiments rather like- and often milder than – those of the TNA; sentiments which were deemed seditious.

    Sri Lanka has been far more flexible. Which is good. But it must be recognised and appreciated.

  • Austin Fernando

    Dear Dayan

    As I said earlier you are better informed than others on international experiences and as a diplomat this strength is reinforced.

    I have learnt that Batasuna was a nationalist political party. It was banned by courts for financing ETA. The EU considered it in the list of terrorist persons and organizations on the ground that it was a component of ETA. After the ban too Batasuna organized or supported some rallies, several workplace strikes etc. Have we got such a comparable past to ‘outcaste’ TNA? If yes, government should take legal action and finish it. If not, are you not comparing apples and oranges? As I have said earlier, with all the weaknesses is not the TNA a better alternative to negotiate with; unlike with Rudrakumaran or Nediyawan?

    Are we to follow up with international interventions, if we are to compare the Basque experiences? I said I am not for it in my comment. Part application of Basque; how far is it correct, is something one should review, if compared actions are in their minds.

    I have admitted that the ITAK speech is worrying, harsh and weakens reconciliation and hence I feel in our dialogue that this fact accepted by both of us need not be harped upon repeatedly, because it does not recreate a useful point. I wonder whether the implication is to prove that I am with the TNA, which is tagged to LTTE. If it is so, it is not cricket! For your information, if you are unaware, and for the information of our readers, I am not with both. I see more humorous cartoons for enjoyment!

    I vehemently disagree with you on your comparing my attitude with yours towards the LTTE. As much as you are, I do not hold any torch to LTTE and hold it for Sri Lanka, whatever the government is in power. All successive governments have built me, trained me, strengthened me, recognized me, paid me with a monthly salary and had given me vast experience in my life, here and abroad, as a public officer, for which I served honestly as the governments required me to do. I cannot therefore be ungrateful to the State and be with another who is detrimental to state policies.

    I am not accountable for what the TNA does or did or did not do too. Please note that I have no favorable “attitude” to any criminals whether they come from LTTE or any other political or secessionist groups or the underworld or any other backgrounds. Hence, on your quote on my attitudes towards LTTE in comparison, I do not agree or buy and no one should buy, in spite of your grand “marketing”. One’s attitudes are best known to that person and not to other commentators.

    If any former LTTEer with large liabilities against the government, country, nation, military (dead, alive or disabled) and civilians (dead, alive or disabled) and even clergy (mostly dead like in Aranthalawa) could be whitewashed for changing stripes, then why not try to make TNA too to change their “LTTE stripes” (if any as you endorse) by political interventions, negotiations, education and awareness creation of what ought to happen for the common good of Sri Lanka? This is what I have been throughout saying in my responses. Have not we done so with other LTTE VIPs as well as lower level cadres, of whom some probably do not speak their hearts out for unexplained reasons, though it could be pretty obvious to an outsider? If one feels that TNA cannot be rehabilitated at all, I have earlier suggested that the Constitution and laws are available to mould them.

    Dayan, from an erudite scholar, intellect and political scientist readers would like to hear (more than on Basque, ETA, Kashmir, Mizoram etc though they are important) on devolution, holding northern PC elections (Please do not think that I am holding a torch to Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, because I said about it in my original article before Mr. Wickremesinghe said this at a press briefing yesterday!), power sharing of land and police powers etc, which are to be managed by a proposed Interim Council, and the operational aspects of these. These are the important issues as much as ITAK speech or TNA.

    By focusing on international experiences we have deviated from the crucial national problems and it could be avoided by returning to the appropriate rails.

    “Moving out of the maze!” has alternate paths, and let us jointly attempt that, because the country is “Messing in the maze!”

    .

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Apples and oranges? ‘Eelam is our ultimate goal’ said Sivagnanam Shritharan, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Member of Sri Lankan Parliament from Kilinochchi in an interview given to Dr Paiul Newman published this June 8th. Dr Newman says that “In an exclusive interview to Dr. Paul Newman, he reiterates his position that securing Tamil Eelam is the ultimate goal of TNA.”

    In the interview Sritharan is quoted as saying “Our leader Sampanthan too has lived in Colombo. When a Sinhala flag was thrust in his hands, as a person living in Colombo he had to accept it. It was only a political tactic to hoist the lion flag and invite the Sinhala leaders to talk to the Tamils.”

    It would be difficult Austin, even for you, to ignore the follwing declaration of intent by Sritharan:

    “Since 1990, 26 countries have been born – twenty-three of them in Europe after the dismantling of the communist world, two countries, namely Eritrea and Southern Sudan in Africa, and East Timor in Asia. All these countries got freedom with the help of some western country. We too will get it one day or the other…We too hope that with the help of the Diaspora and the Tamils of Tamil Nadu we would be able to establish Eelam.”

    He concludes by saying: “There may be statements made by our leaders to suit the polity of the time but Eelam is our ultimate goal.”

    So I ask once again, is it apples and oranges to compare Herri Batasuna with the TNA? Indeed this statement shows a far greater degree of political intransigence and maximalism than Batasuna ever displayed.

    I have never been opposed to negotaitions with the TNA and have consistently advocated it. In fact I have never opposed outright and in principle, negotiations even with the LTTE! I have however opposed the kind of sell-out that Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe engaged in with and during the CFA…and Austin went along with and participated in, instead of resigning honorably.

    As for Austin’s citing Mr Wickremesinghe’s statement at the press conference, the latter may do well to concentrate on winning the PC elections that are to be held before he focuses on the one in the North that is not being held.

  • Neville Perera

    1. Austin Fernando, thank you for: ”….devolution, holding northern PC elections, power sharing of land and police powers etc …”
    2. Continuing to oppress the Tamils for more than 64 years, can we say they shouldn’t desire secession? It’s simply illogical to keep talking about the LTTE without stopping state violence and damage control exercises.
    3. One needs to have a combination of a head and a heart to understand the cumulative detrimental effect of the 64-yr state violence on the socio-economic-psycho-environmental fabric of the oppressed people. Many in the ethnic majority also begin to believe that you can be unjust to your fellow citizens and get away with that. Many politicians, some textbooks and a few writers help them.
    4. UNSC, UNHRC, CHOGM and CMAG are disabled by geopolitics – ganging up of oppressive regimes. Thus some conflicts around the world get more and more protracted. OK for the oppressors. NOT OK for the oppressed. The gap between the powerful and the powerless is widening. No signs on the horizon for a reversal.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    “I have however opposed the kind of sell-out that Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe engaged in with and during the CFA…and Austin went along with and participated in, instead of resigning honorably.”

    I think that Mr.Ranil was just trying to achieve the same present result in a different way. That’s all.

    None seems to be interested in an inclusive policy that would benefit the country in the long-run by allowing the ordinary citizens in great numbers to PARTICIPATE in the GOVERNANCE of the country EXCLUDING the power-hungry professional politicians who want to make a quick buck through political power.

    Help to DILUTE the powers of the elected representatives to such an extent that will encourage and allow GENUINELY SERVICE_MINDED persons to become elected as the TRUE representatives of the citizens of this country.

    Once that is done I do not think there being a chance for a cry for division of the country. The TNA and their like might just evaporate.

    So to preserve a UNITED COUNTRY, DIVIDE THE POWERS of Parliament and empower the people.

    Over to Dr.Dayan and Mr.Austin in the interest of the country.

    START DIVIDING the POWERS of Parliament and thereby STOP the DIVISION of the country

    • Austin Fernando

      To Mr. Kathiravealu

      Here, Dayan and I are trying to argue out the power sharing issues. But , please remember we two are not politicians who decide. It is not only the government politicians who should cooperate. It is also the Opposition politicians and especially the Tamil and Muslim politicians who should be genuinely and vehemently involved. Unfortunately, all these people (from the Government, Opposition, Tamil and Muslim parties,the public and internationals etc), have many individual agendas that override the needs of power sharing.This has to change to find a final solution.

      • Duminda Ratwatte

        ”Government, Opposition, Tamil and Muslim parties,the public and internationals etc, have many individual agendas that override the needs of power sharing.”

        These are reactions to government action. If the conflict goes on, the many ‘incidents’ that create these reactions increases. These would mostly evaporate if the government action changes, ie if a solution (with any third party participation) is actively sought and implemented.

  • Austin Fernando

    Dear Dayan
    Probably you have not read the last three paragraphs in my 29-5-2012, 10.17 am comment. Or read, but did not want to deal with them. These are obnoxious items in the agenda of the anti-devolutionists.
    You will recall you said in “Moving out of the maze”, which attracted me to this dialogue.
    “How then to resolve this complex conundrum? Fortunately there exists a legal and constitutional pathway: that of an interim administration. An interim administration comprising of all parliamentary parties currently representing the relevant (Northern) area, appointed in proportion to their parliamentary strengths relevant to that area, may be a provisional solution; a stop-gap measure. Any secessionist temptation would be blunted by the presence of the constituent members of more mainstream national blocs/coalitions.
    The entire arrangement would be reminiscent of the executive Committee system under the Donoughmore Constitution, which made for cross-ethnic consensus and constructive politics.
    What is the alternative? There is of course the option of permanent polemics and accusations, a cycle of demands and rejections. Each side may think that time is on its side and that the risk of delay is affordable but they may both be wrong. A downslide to a dead-end would be distressing but it could get worse, fast.”
    I requested the legal references for the “legal and constitutional pathway” which was not told and hence still I am to be convinced of the appropriateness of your proposal. You passed the responsibility to find them to others, a little unexpected from a scholar like you, having said it had objectives and precedence (i.e. Donoughmore Constitution) too. I agreed with the above quoted last paragraph and expected a dialogue, as it appeared to be what is in store. I think the media today after Indian Advisor Shiva Shankar Menon’s visit confirms my point.
    When I read most of your comments for the last few days I found your confirmed interest to carry on with the option of permanent polemics and accusations, thinking that time is on government’s side and that the risk of delay is affordable. You predicted “A downslide to a dead-end would be distressing but it could get worse, fast.” Of course, I should not challenge your liberty to permit the country reaching the worsened distressing dead end? But I must say that I am distressed, if it happens.
    True I responded your accusations in similar manner, but you and readers will note that latterly I suggested exploring ways to resolve the complex conundrum and placed before you and readers where we should focus attention to avoid a down-slide to a dead end. I remind you my response dated 28th June at 12.00 p.m.:
    “As the Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero described the Basque move at the end as “a victory for democracy, law and reason” let us try to get Mr. Sampanthan to say “a victory for democracy, rights, rule of law, dignity, equality.” If we fail it will qualify all these people and organizations to be tagged “SINNERS” in bold capitals! Dayan, shall we try to create this magnanimity, please?
    Further, lastly yesterday I mentioned of our deviating from a solution out of the maze, in which we as a country is entangled. If you look at our responses we can see that the dialogue finally boiled down to TNA’s sins and foreign experiences and not power sharing, which is the main issue on the table!
    Basically you were interested more in polemics and accusations and international experiences. I was interested in finding a way out of the maze, which was your initial interest. I asked for your erudite, scholarly, intellectual, and political scientist experiences to be extended to power sharing, holding Northern PC elections, power sharing of Land and Police powers, how power sharing could be managed, if operated by your proposal for an Interim Council the “legal and constitutional pathway” etc.
    You only brushed two of them (i.e. the legal and constitutional pathway which was passed on to others and NPC Elections). The latter was responded with a hack on Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, of which I am the least bothered, but wish that you revert to the other issues to find a feasible solution. Otherwise, I may conclude that our interests and approaches are also like apples and oranges, and ignore this dialogue.
    One personal comment about honorable resignation you have mentioned. If people have to resign from offices because there are differences on actions taken, media reports, explanation notes received from authorities, audit queries, personal fault finding by Presidents, PMs or Ministers, petitions received against, protest marches held here and there, individual concepts and personal conscience etc, I do not think in Sri Lanka there could be a stable Cabinet of Ministers, Secretaries of Ministries, government establishments, Ambassadors, Opposition politicians, Organizers of Electorates, Heads of Statutory Authorities, and even great religious leaders etc. I say so having interacted with almost all these categories of people, other than with Your Excellency and leaders of the clergy of any faith, and with nearly 50 years of public service, private sector and international sector relationships.
    Nevertheless, I thank you for the vast enlightenment of readers on polemics and accusations, but still hopefully expect a long article from you (sans polemics and accusations) on the operation of the Interim Council that has legal and constitutional pathway, as you mentioned, and responses to the power sharing related issues I raised in the comment I made yesterday- the last one.
    Thank you.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Austin,

      Just three points in conclusion.

      1. The Basque separatist terrorist ETA announced an end to its armed activities. The LTTE did not do so when it was stilll a meaningful gesture. The Spanish state did not win an outright military victory over the ETA. The Sri Lankan state won a decisive and complete military victory over the LTTE army. Throughout world history, the aftermath of such a military victory is vastly different from the aftermath of a negotiated end to a conflict or the cessation of a conflict because one side lays down arms. As a Tamil friend told me, a Western journalist had remaked to him that the Tamil nationalists talk as if they won the war rather than lost it! That has to change and reality has to be understood if it is to be transformed positively.

      2. The contacts, interaction and overlap between the TNA and the Diaspora Tigers (Pulathap Puligal) is well known to anyone who follows the Tamil media including websites. It would not be wise to assume that these and even more details are unknown to the decision makers in the Sri Lankan state.

      3. This being the case I was of the view that there is a problem in taking the risk that an extremist like Mr Sritharan for instance, would be the Chief Minister of the Northern PC. That may not worry Mr Wickremesinghe, but it does worry me as a political scientist and analyst as well as a former Minister of that Council. Therefore I proposed a Middle Path between those who want to take that risk immediately and those who wish to scrap PCs altogether. That middle pat is the interim council. you have cited two articles in which such a council can be promulgated. They refer to a situation is in which the NPC cannot be set up or activated. I have argued that given the stance of the Tamil diaspora, the propaganda of politicians in Tamil nadu, Mr Sampanthan’s speech and Mr Sritharan’s interview, precisely such a situation in which the NPC cannot be instantly activated, prevails, therefore it is quite logical that an interim council can be set up, invoking precisely those articles you point to.

      By the way, it is not I but you who quoted (of all people) Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. You received my response. If you think that it is ‘a hack’, you should await the response of the voters in the NCP, Sabaragamuwa and the East…or seek that of his own party’s Deputy Leader.

  • Austin Fernando

    To Mr. Neville Perera

    I do not agree that secession is the answer for oppression in a democracy.
    2 Stopping state violence and damage controlling is necessary, wherever required.
    3. I agree that it needs a combination of a head and a heart to understand the cumulative detrimental effect of violence, but I do not think that the ethnic majority in Sri Lanka believes that they can be unjust to fellow citizens and get away with that, although some may be exponents of such thinking.

  • Neville Perera

    Mr Fernando,
    I don’t think secession is the best thing for a small island like ours.
    Even Federalism may not be necessary if we know how to live in a true democracy.
    But when things go too wrong for too long, …. how many generations of the ethnic minorities have to wait for justice?
    I think that if the Northeast is allowed to carry on its functions under the supervision of an international body for a period of 3/4/5 years, we will most probably have a very good united Sri Lanka at the end of the stipulated period. Most of the Sinhalese who have the paranoia of the ‘other’ will surely get over it quickly.
    I never say that ALL the Sinhalese have that paranoia.
    Actually it’s because of the magnanimity of the minority of the Sinhalese that Tamils still have faith in getting some form of justice some day.

    • Sie.Kathieravealu

      I agree with most of the comments made by Mr.Neville Perera. Something similar or very much nearer to my suggestions.

      But then I still reiterate that DILUTION and NOT devolution or power-sharing will in anyway be an answer to the present problem.

      “OPPRESSED PEOPLE” includes not only the Tamils but also a vast majority of the Sinhalese, Muslims and others as well.

      Please see my comment above made today.(June 30, 2012 • 7:21 am)

      Help to DILUTE the powers of the elected representatives to such an extent that will encourage and allow GENUINELY SERVICE_MINDED persons to become elected as the TRUE representatives of the citizens of this country.

      Once that is done I do not think there being a chance for a cry for division of the country. The TNA and their like might just evaporate.

      So to preserve a UNITED COUNTRY, DIVIDE THE POWERS of Parliament and empower the people.

      START DIVIDING the POWERS of Parliament and thereby STOP the DIVISION of the country

    • Navin

      “I think that if the Northeast is allowed to carry on its functions under the supervision of an international body for a period of 3/4/5 years, we will most probably have a very good united Sri Lanka at the end of the stipulated period.”

      I guess you want yet another CFA type setup with Norway, EU, US, … as observers?

      Its really amazing that we still have people who believe that we are better governed or supervised by international bodies than ourselves even after been under 3 different colonial powers for 300 year!

      “Actually it’s because of the magnanimity of the minority of the Sinhalese that Tamils still have faith in getting some form of justice some day.”

      Ah! So majority of Sinhalese need to be taught how to be magnanimous?

  • Austin Fernando

    Dear Dayan,
    Just a few points in conclusion.
    1. I agree that Tamil nationalists cannot claim victory. It was only the GOSL that won. That is the reality.
    2. Yes, it is unwise to believe that TNA and Tamil Diaspora are not having interactions. No one has said so either.
    3 The common threat exists also if a wrong person is elected as the CM with government support. According to government spokesperson, the NPC elections are not held due to demining and resettlement delays and not of fear of a wrong person becoming a CM. In common, he has further added that elections are held when the winning chances are the best! The cat is out of the bag! So he has confirmed one of the points I raised at the very outset of our dialogue regarding why NPC elections are not held.
    4 As I said earlier constitutional provisions exist to take actions if anyone wishes to secede. MP Sritharan was on the Fourth Floor explaining his statements which you quoted. If he is found wrong, he can be handled under the Sixth Amendment provisions, which I quoted as the constitutional provision to respond. .
    5. The Interim Council you propose cannot be activated unless the constitution is amended. I do not think 154L and 154T can be help, which I said at the outset of our dialogue. Any way, is not it withdrawing a democratic right, especially when General Elections and Presidential Elections had been held in worse conditions of security and mine clearance and resettlement were at lower ebb than now?
    6. I have lost interest on elections and for that matter in politics, Dayan. My responding you was for academic value only. This is the reason for me to even now request you to deal with the issues I raised on power sharing, which will be more useful to the country than discussing international experiences. Of course, international experiences sometimes can be the cue to deal with some domestic issues.

    Cheers!

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Austin,

      A clarification by way of a postscript. You wrote:

      “Yes, it is unwise to believe that TNA and Tamil Diaspora are not having interactions. No one has said so either.”

      However, this misses and misinterprets my point.

      I have nothing against interaction with the Tamil Diaspora and on the contrary am for it. Just yestertday I gave away certificates for the second year running, at a Tamil Diaspora school and felt very pleased and privileged to do so. I have not agreed to do so at any Sinhala association school. My problem is the TNA’s interactions with the Tiger Diaspora or the Diaspora Tigers ( known as Pulathap Puligal).

      As easily verifiable at a glance, what I wrote was: “The contacts, interaction and overlap between the TNA and the Diaspora Tigers (Pulathap Puligal)….”

      Austin’s statements confuses Tamils with Tigers and vice versa. I never did or do.

      Austin writes that : “The common threat exists also if a wrong person is elected as the CM with government support.”

      But which government– apart from one headed by Mr Wickremesinghe– would support a Tamil candidate who is pro-separatist ( such as Mr Sritharan) as CM of the North? Certainly not this one.

      Austin concludes that “The Interim Council you propose cannot be activated unless the constitution is amended. I do not think 154L and 154T can be help, which I said at the outset of our dialogue. ”

      I disagree: an interim administration was named by President Jayewardene in September 1987, but rejected by Prabhakaran. It was resurfaced in Mr Wickremesinghe’s manifestos of end 1999 and 2000. The idea was mooted once again under the CBK administration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the SLFP (2001).

      “Any way, is not it withdrawing a democratic right, especially when General Elections and Presidential Elections had been held in worse conditions of security and mine clearance and resettlement were at lower ebb than now?”

      Apples and oranges: the election of MPs at a general election has far fewer strategic and security consequences than the holding of Northern PC elections which involves the devolution of power– as we experienced with Vardarajaperumal.

      • Austin Fernando

        Dear Dayan,
        A clarification by way of a postscript from me too:
        1 Interactions with Diaspora will have to reduce when the locals get a handle in politics and decision making. Even the government has engaged with them and asked their hand to develop. We may even try changing TNA attitudes through the Diaspora. I think large numbers from the Diaspora visited the government authorities. Expensive public relations and media organizations are there to help the government , of course at a high price. I wish TNA or others engaging with the Diaspora will fall in line as expected by the country. If KP, Daya Master, George Master, Diaspora leaders from the UK etc can fall in line with the country’s needs, why cannot the TNA?
        2. If confusion was created in you, I will directly deny that Tamils=Tigers.
        3. It is well and good if a bad candidate is not the CM candidate for NPC. Selection of candidates at elections of various orders had been criticized in all parts of the country- for that from all political parties inclusive of the UPFA and UNP. I wish pious candidates will be nominated as the CM candidate for the NPC, by the TNA, UNP and UPFA.
        4. JRJ would have named an Interim Council in September 1987. Mr. Wickremesinghe’s Manifesto would have resurfaced as you said. CBK would have mooted similarly. JRJ offered it in September 1987 and not after November 1987 after the passage of the 13th Amendment (14th November 1987 to be specific). Mr. Wiskremesinghe and CBK need not have even thought of it when the 13th Amendment was in hand and they only required genuine political will to share power. They could have amended the Constitution and done whatever they wished. What I say is 154L and 154T cannot help you, unless the Constitution is amended. My disagreement is on that point.
        5. I disagree with you regarding the election operation. Do not accept what I say. Please accept what the government spokesperson said. Elections are held when wining is easy! Then I argue, “Elections are not held when elections are difficult to be won!” It is not on your strategic and security considerations. It is the crux of the matter. Ask the Commissioner of Elections to hold the elections, he will do. The Election Department had held elections in worse situations in the past (e.g. JVP and LTTE problems (1989) at the same time enveloping the whole country in turmoil). It is the politicians who messed up. See Chandrananda de Silva’s 1982 Referendum Report during JRJ regime, undemocratic, vulgar NWP PC elections during CBK regime, Prabhakaran in November 2005, etc.

      • Austin Fernando

        Dear Mr. Kathieravealu

        The military war is over, won by the government. The “political solution war” is not yet over!!!

  • Luxmy

    The author must be thanked for writing this article and the comments.
    This is the minimum people of his category should be doing now.

    By talking about TNA ”fallacies” Dayan is trying to hide the Rajapakses’ gross human rights violations not only to the Tamils but to the whole country:
    refusing to publish reports of all the commissions the President appointed in the last six years except that of LLRC (that is because the whole world was asking for it) http://www.scribd.com/doc/85007346/A-List-of-Commissions-of-Inquiry-and-Committees-Appointed-by-the-Government-of-Sri-Lanka-2006-%E2%80%93-2012

    It reminds me of the Easop’s fable of the Wolf and the Lamb: when the Wolf (staying upstream) accuses the Lamb (staying downstream) of muddying its water. Dayan is simply trying to increase the constituency of the hatred for the ‘other’.

    Successive governments have been oppressing the Tamils in all possible ways. Tamils have been reacting to them in all possible ways. We have NOT stopped oppressing them. Sampanthan’s speech shows how disoriented and disconcerted the Tamils are under the post-war militarisation of the Northeast and all its manifestations.

    Some form of third party mediation should start straightaway and hopefully that will arrest further oppression. Apart from blocking socio-economic progress our troops are sandmining the shores of Jaffna peninsula and sea water is coming into the villages (the rest of the world is worried about small islands suffering sealevel rise due to temperature rise) and cutting down trees (Sri Lankan governmental and non-governmental teams were in Rio last week !).

    Cyril Matthew attacked the Tamils and their properties. But Dayan Jayatilleke is trying to prevent third party mediation – on behalf of the Rajapakses. All conflicts are different. Ours is one of the most vicious and most protracted ethnic conflicts of the present times and ethnic conflicts have been found to be resolved by a third party only.
    TNA has mentioned the need for a third party in case of a failure in their talks.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Luxmy,

      I have never opposed third party mediation. I have however pointed out that a mediatory third party must not have an electorally significant Sinhala or Tamil citizenry.

      I have also suggested that the Church, which is the only social institution which cross-cuts ethnicity in Sri Lanka and has always done so, would be a suitable internal or domestic third party.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Austin Fernando
    June 30, 2012 • 6:15 pm

    Dear Dayan,
    Just a few points in conclusion.
    1. I agree that Tamil nationalists cannot claim victory. It was only the GOSL that won. That is the reality.

    IF THE GOVERNMENT HAS WON THEN THERE MUST BE PEACE IN THE COUNTRY. Even physical voilence has not ended. War is proceeding at different levels. That seems to be the truth.

    SO WAR IS NOT OVER and so JUDGMENT RESERVED

    IS THERE PEACE IN HE COUNTRY?

    Until the “PEOPLE ARE EMPOWERED FULLY TO PARTCIPATE IN THE GOVERNANCE (an ALL inclusive government)” with TINY portions of the POWERS OF PARLIAMENT – power distributed and not devolved – peace is a DREAM.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Most persons in this forum are DODGING the question of an INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT with citizens directly participating in the GOVERNANCE of the country in some way or other.

    RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY of those participating in the Governance is a MUST.

    I hope most in this forum would remember the famous “21 Demands” put forward by the “working Class” headed by the Double Doctor N.M.Perera and how HE WAS MADE to answer the “feasibility” of those demands.

    People must have the RIGHT TO GET INFORMATION in all matters connected to Governance of the country. That must the UNDENIABLE RIGHT of the citizens for CLEAN GOVERNANCE. Asking for “information” is also one way of “direct participation”.

    Only then the EVILS of the like, Discrimination, Corruption, Injustice, Oppression can be shown the way out TOGETHER with the Power-hungry Professional Politicians who have always an eye on “making a quick buck”.

    STOP HIDING BEHIND THE LTTE and its policies.

    Over to you “Patriots” for your kind perusal.

  • Luxmy

    Unbearable economic conditions forced Ranil Wickremasinghe to pretend to accept what the international community suggested – to have talks with the Tamils. If he was genuinely interested he would have tried to increase the constituency of a desire for peace in the South. He and most of his party parliamentarians were silent on the virulent opposition to the peace talks shown by the Opposition parliamentarians.
    While Ranil was presenting a facade of ”peace talks”, he was actively working on the economic front (eg securing GSP+ citing peace talks).
    No Sri Lankan government has been actively seeking third party mediation with the intention of resolving the conflict. Chandrika declined the offer by Nelson Mandela in the late 90s.
    Because Sri Lanka is an island the Tamils couldn’t move over borders in large numbers during the pogroms and thus failed to attract the attention of the international community. What fraction of the international community know that Tamils were ”safely” sent to the North by the government in boats after the pogroms? They didn’t know much about the pogroms before Black July.
    I come into contact with a lot of Tamils of various vertical and horizontal sections who are all scarred immensely by pogroms because it’s indignity unleashed on them.
    But the militarisation and everything connected with it of the last three years is most barbaric. Unspeakable.
    Of course that barbarism is on a smaller scale all over the island.
    We need to have a Sri Lankan version of THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY BY JOSEPH STIGLITZ to open the eyes, ears, hearts and heads of the majority in the South.

    The author speaks up for change in constitution – so did many in LLRC submissions.

    Not enough academics are speaking up. Social scientists should come forward and explain the current thinking in social sciences to solve social problems. This is an integral part of the huge challenge facing us in the form of exploding population and pollution and decreasing natural resources.

    • Off the Cuff

      Luxmy,

      “This is an integral part of the huge challenge facing us in the form of exploding population and pollution and decreasing natural resources

      Is this not sufficient reason to make sure that these resources are shared equally and equitably amongst ALL Lankans? Why cannot ITAK formulate a devolution proposal based on the above principle?

  • Austin Fernando

    To those who suggest third part mediation and Northeast be allowed to carry on under the supervision of an international body I have to only quote what Shiva Shankar Menon said after his last visit to Colombo.

    Having said that political reconciliation and settlement is a Sri Lankan issue and something that Sri Lanka has to do,he said “India always stood for a united Sri Lanka within which all citizens can live in equality, justice, dignity and self-respect.” This is the same I told Dayan on 28th June at 12.00 p.m. “….let us try to get Mr. Sampanthan to say “a victory for democracy, rights, rule of law, dignity, equality” in my reponse to him, though the order of preferred items has changed slightly.

    I have nothing do with the Indian government statement but the two statements show that either Menon has copied from me or I have predicted what Menon would say days ahead! But still some did not wish to agree and preferred permananet polemics and accusations agaisnt various parties, and propsoed new mechanisms like foreign body supervision and Internim Council administartion.

    I beleive the 13th Amendment could be the base for political reconcilaition, and not foreign supervision and Interim Councils. For that matter having been in the central focus of implementing the CFA, I would not agree for another intervention of that nature for reconciliation. The need is to have the heart do reconcile.

    All of you, please note that I predict today that the change of heart will take place sooner than later. As said by Dayan, “Each side may think that time is on its side and that the risk of delay is affordable but they may both be wrong. A downslide to a dead-end would be distressing but it could get worse, fast.” If my prediction comes true Dayan’s distressing conclusion will not take place. I believe signals favor my prediction.

    Let us keep our fingers crossed.

    • Neville Perera

      Mr Fernando
      It will be wonderful if your wishes and hopes materialise – We’ll be clearing up the mess we created and not leave our children to do that.
      I hope some others who also made excellent submissions to LLRC come and explain matters here (hopefully it doesn’t get shut down by the govt) or in any media.

      International supervision was suggested only because the following has been manifested in all what has been happening in the last 64 years – it shows how our ethnic conflict is a very vicious and complex one and why it is so protracted:
      a.
      i.“If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.” The government’s parliamentary group met the evening before the esteemed visitors arrived and decided; ‘’Let’s tell them the truth straight from the shoulder and upfront; let’s tell them. if we do it we are dead meat” – Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011 – http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html

      ii.”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012

      b.”Comments-
      Ethirveerasingam: I like to share conversations I had with Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranil Wickremasinghe 12 years later.
      On Feb 4th 1985,…. Finally I asked him why not his party with more than two-thirds of majority in parliament propose a federal constitution. He said that SLFP will oppose it. I said that as they have only 7 or 8 MPs their vote will not make any difference, especially with the TULF and CWC votes to add to the UNP. He said proposing a federal constitution, “Will be political suicide.” My older brother later said that, a majority of the UNP MPs will not support, let alone the majority Sinhala voters.
      On May 13, 1997, after an hour of discussion I asked him why not the UNP propose a federal consittuion. He said: “We are a political party. Like any other political party, we will not do anything that will not get us into power, nor would we do anything when we are in power to lose power” –
      http://groundviews.org/2009/02/08/rajapaksrized-chauvinism-in-flowery-prose-sri-lankan-diplomat%E2%80%99s-outright-humiliation-of-sri-lankan-tamils/

      c. ‘’Bandaranaike’s success in the 1956 elections was, without any question, mainly due to the well organized and well-financed campaign of the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (EBP) …. Once in power, Bandaranaike was unable to fulfill his lavish pre-election promises to the Sangha as a whole ….’’ – Buddhism in the Post-Colonial Political Order in Burma and Ceylon, *Edmund Leach, Daedalus, Vol. 102, No. 1, Post-Traditional Societies (Winter, 1973), pp. 29-54

      *anthropologists

      Mr Kathieravealu
      Shiv Shankar Menon came to see the three Rajapakses only on the government side – concentration of power. ( He met R Sampanthan too)

      • Austin Fernando

        Mr. Perera

        Accusations and counter accusations are there. You quote several and there are many differing quotes too. The need is to find a via media and unfortunately we have not been successful.

    • Ward

      Mr Austin Fernando
      Thank you.

      • Nelum Bandara

        Do

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Mr Austin Fernando,

    Dilemma in implementing the 13th Amendment

    “Dilemma in implementing devolution is due to observed dissent in the political environment. I believe that we should not be guided by these dissenting voices, for a few main reasons. One is that devolution is in the Constitution and the constitutional provisions should be honored. Otherwise, all authorities fail to be faithful, uphold and defend the Constitution in line with the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution. It is a shame!”

    Sri Lanka is a sovereign state. Her Constitution should be a product of internal discussion just like in the USA which is also a former British colony.

    The 13A is not such a product. Although I too support devolution, I believe that 13A needs to be amended to reflect the thinking within Lankan polity instead of reflecting the thinking of a foreign power.

    “Secondly, even adamant and vociferous critics accept the need to implement the Constitution, e.g.  Attorney SL Gunasekara who has said (while opposing land and police power devolution) that “if these powers are in the Constitution it should be implemented irrespective of anyone’s opposition.”  (Irida Divaiana January 29th 2012)”

    I believe Mr Gunasekera is right in advocating the implementation of the Constitution but I think it is wrong if he supports implementing 13A without any amendments that guarantees equitable and equal rights to all Lankans.

    “Thirdly, we have other constitutional provisions against which ‘strident local voices’ call for repeal, but very piously and convincingly adhered by the government, e.g. 18th Amendment. Therefore, strident local voices should not be the criteria for or not implementing the Constitution. Until repealed, 13th Amendment should also be implemented like the 18th Amendment, (the latter I personally deplore).”

    Though I too abhor 18A. the comparison does not hold water, as 13A was forced down our throats by a foreign power wielding the threat of force.

    “Fourthly, the government’s LLRC also recommended the devolution process inclusive of land power devolution. It should be honoured”

    Do you believe that the resources of the Lankan State, which are Public Resources, should be equitably and equally benefit her citizenry? I believe it should.

    Can you explain how this could be achieved by implementing 13A without amendment?

    If you cannot find a way out of the 13A maze, that would guarantee equal and equitable sharing of resources, for all Lankans (irrespective of ethnicity or any other consideration), without first amending 13A, how do you propose to implement it without causing rife?

    • Austin Fernando

      To Off the cuff
      The need to amend the 13th Amendment, if arisen, should be done. What and how or when is a political decision open to the sovereign Parliament.I think there should be clear dialogue before it is done. For example, I believe that the Concurrent List should be out of the 13th Amendment, but who am I to stipulate what should happen in the process of such amendment? It is the same with the 18th Amendment or resource sharing.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Mr Austin Fernando,

        You say “The need to amend the 13th Amendment, if arisen, should be done.”

        Apparently your view is that 13A needs amendment. This is my view too.

        You say “What and how or when is a political decision open to the sovereign Parliament.I think there should be clear dialogue before it is done”

        The problem is that the ITAK would not accept the decision of that sovereign parliament. ITAK wants an inequitable share of Lanka’s resources for the exclusive use of a MINORITY of the Tamil Minority. This has created a gap that keeps on widening making bridge building difficult if not impossible.

        How do you propose to bridge this yawning gap?

        In view of the fact that there was no clear dialogue before 13A became law, what in your view would be a fair an equitable solution?

        You say “For example, I believe that the Concurrent List should be out of the 13th Amendment,”

        Why should the concurrent list be abolished?
        What are the pros and cons for the abolition of the concurrent list?

        What else other than the CL, needs amendment and why?
        Please detail your views.

        You say “ but who am I to stipulate what should happen in the process of such amendment?”

        The request was for your views.

        You say “ It is the same with the 18th Amendment”

        But 18A was a political decision by a sovereign parliament!

        You say “….. or resource sharing”

        Has this been ever discussed?
        How should a scarce resource like land be shared?
        Do you believe that Public Resources of a country should be shared equally and equitably by all her citizens?
        If not why not?

        What is your stand on the Historical Homeland Theory?

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Austin Fernando
    July 2, 2012 • 10:53 pm

    Dear Mr. Kathieravealu

    The military war is over, won by the government. The “political solution war” is not yet over!!

    I think you are mistaken. IF the “military WAR” is over then why a huge military presebce in the North and east. “To suppress any symptoms of uprising” might not be the correct answer. Then what is the “correct” answer?

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    “Neville Perera
    July 2, 2012 • 11:01 am

    Mr Kathieravealu
    Shiv Shankar Menon came to see the three Rajapakses only on the government side – concentration of power. ( He met R Sampanthan too)”

    Mr.R.Sampanthn too is now a powerful person among the Tamlis.

    You will notice that neither Dr.Dayan nor Mr.Austin has answered my suggestion “for empowering the people to participate in the governance of the country”. In their dictionary “Devolution” has a different meaning and they have a “different agenda” of their own. They want an “imaginary” power-sharing that will empower the likes of “Sampanthan” ann NOT THE PEOPLE as a whole. Even the suggestion for “Right to Information” has not found a place in their opinion. That is the type of “devolution” they are talking about.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    “Austin Fernando
    July 2, 2012 • 10:53 pm

    Dear Mr. Kathieravealu

    The military war is over, won by the government. The “political solution war” is not yet over!!”

    Is there ANY POLITICAL PARTY interested in a political solution. So a “political solution war” is an imaginary slogan raised by some people who want to “harp” on it for political purposes.

    I still “harp” on the slogan:

    “The best political solution or system of governance to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.”

    Any comment for or against the above slogan?

  • Nelum Bandara

    Heads of Overseas Missions not addressed by Foreign Affairs but by the military?

    ”Sri Lanka, under siege for refusing to take steps towards granting Tamils their political space, and for refusing to look back into Eelam War IV and take action against human rights abuses, has summoned all Heads of its overseas Missions for an orientation session.
    The session, slated for July 7, will be held in the Army cantonment, Diyatalawa.
    The lectures would include a series of lectures on priorities, the status of the Tamil question, and what Sri Lanka should aim to achieve in the medium- and long-term.
    The idea is to get all diplomats on the same page given the fact that
    Sri Lanka is seeking new friends for support in multilateral bodies” – http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article3595519.ece

  • rita

    Dear all

    Many social scientists associations around the world have been saying for several years that social sciences should do more to contributing to solve social problems just as natural sciences have been solving our material problems. It’s heartening to note:
    ”Sri Lanka should implement several key measures contained in a report by a commission which studied lessons to be learnt from a recent civil war, some of which can be done without delay, a civil organization of professionals has said – Sri Lanka should implement measures in lessons commission: professionals, 4 July 2012,
    http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/fullstory.php?nid=138043574

  • Austin Fernando

    Dear Dr. Rajendran
    My comments on your interventions are given below. Apologies for the delayed responses.
    1. Suspend PC elections for three years.
    This is a government voice speaking! Why three years? Why not propose until the government can think of winning? It is what the government spokesperson indirectly meant when he said that elections are held when it is easy to win!
    2. Appoint civilian governors of proven ability and high calibre to the north and east. The Governor should be a Tamil in the north or a Tamil/Muslim in the east.
    Are the incumbent Governors disabled and of low caliber? I personally know Governors Wijewickrema and Chandrasiri who worked with me. They are able and proven officials in their fields! What is this Sinhala, Muslim and Tamil racial business for selection of Governors. Why should we mostly have a Tamil or Muslim Governor in the Western Province? All political nonsense, playing the ethnic cards!
    3. Permit the Government Agents to work with (If possible) or under the Governors to unify provincial power centres.
    GAs need not work under the Governors, as the law stands now. They have been working in cooperation.
    4. Appoint stnamic (????), efficient and pro-active Government Agents ( either Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim). If Sinhalese, they should be proficient in Tamil. In the East, if Tamil or Muslim, the persons should be proficient in Sinhala.
    I do not think there is a single Tamil or Muslim GA outside the North and East. Of course, earlier there were Sinhala, non-Tamil speaking GAs in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Ampara and Batticaloa, and managed those districts satisfactorily. Similarly, there were Tamil and Muslim GAs in other southern districts managing satisfactorily. Ethnicity was not the concern, but the efficiency, effectiveness and commitment.
    5. The Governor-GA combo should have supervisory, and when indicated directive and disciplinary power, over all government departments, including the police.
    The PC Act does not permit GAs to have any disciplinary- supervisory powers over the PC employees and what is the legal power for Governors to have supervisory functions over ‘central public officers’? Therefore, first change the Constitution. No government has given powers to Governors to issue directive or supervisory powers to Police and they will not too!
    6. The Special Forces Commanders in the different areas in the north and east, should work in consultation with the Governor-GA combo.
    Working in consultation by military personnel is good, but the complaint is different which Dr. Narendran can check on if he speaks to any of his kith and kin in the North or East.
    7. All finance and administrative matters should be delegated to the Governor-GA combo, subject to adherence to existing regulations governing such matters.
    Change the Constitution to allow the GAs to deal on PC financing through 154R of 13A! Dr. Rajendran when you comment it is best if you read the 13th Amendment first.
    9. Political interference in day to day governance should be minimized to almost zero, permitting the Governor- GA combo to make decisions quickly and effectively.
    Leave governmental decision making to the Constitution, laws, rules and regulations, and leave the GA-Governor combo to do whatever they are permitted by Constitution, law, rules and regulations. As for political interference, it should not be minimized only; it should be wiped out. But are we speaking of Sri Lanka or any other Utopia!! Ha Ha!
    10. The Central government should restrict itself to policy making in a national context.
    Erase the preamble to the 13A List II. Please read the 13th Amendment again.
    11. Remove the government appointed political power centres from the north and east.
    Does Dr. Narendran indicate these centers as Governor, GA etc?
    12. Empower the police and the judiciary to act according to the law, without fear or favour.
    While agreeing, I add “everywhere” instead of North and East. However, my suspicion that you live abroad is also confirmed by your comment.
    13. Deploy the anti-bribery and anti-corruption mechanisms to operate at full force in the north and east.
    Everywhere.
    14. Seek, employ and deploy experienced, but retired bureaucrats and technocrats to serve in the north and east.
    It is OK when required.
    16. Fire the unfit and encourage excellence in the public services.
    Applies everywhere.
    17. Empower the banks to be responsive to the development needs of the community and lend where merited, without weighing only the risk factor.
    Banks cannot function without considering the risk factors. Will Dr. Narendran lend his money without considering the risk factors? If you are originally from Jaffna or from deep South you may not!
    18. Constitute the members of parliament in the provinces into a consultative body, without executive powers to work with the Governor-GA combo.
    Even Dayan Jayathileka has suggested something like this. I do not know whether Dr. Narendran is also a spokesperson of the government which may be toying with this idea. I suspect that this is what is in the government’s store!
    19. Ensure the Governor-GA combo are not made into mice and boot lickers.
    You may be living abroad as I can gauge from your proposition! Regret to say you are not aware of the current realities.
    20. Empower the parliament to summon the Governor-GA combo for questioning and discussions, at regular intervals.
    Why only this combo, when other officials sometimes do much nastier acts?

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Dear Editor,

      Please delete the previous comment because it was accidentally posted before finalization.

      Thanks.
      R.N

      Dear Mr.Austin Fernando,
      My replies to your response are as follows. Incidentally, I have lived in Jaffna for the most part of the past two years and have often been in the Vanni and interacted with the people. I have also had the chance to see the IDPs pouring in from Mullaitivu and thereafter living in the IDP camps. I have visited the East as well, though have not been involved to the extent I have in the North.

      1. Suspend PC elections for three years.

      Answer: The insinuation is unwarranted and insulting. My position from the time the war ended was that the war-affected people needed time to recover from their dire circumstances before the elections are held. My fear was that premature elections would not reflect the considered opinion of the war-battered Tamils and open the way for partisan, extreme and emotional political positions of old to creep back. This has happened and paved the way for a new phase in the so-called national conflict.

      According to reports and what I see most people in the north and east are yet on the very margins of extreme poverty and disturbing social problems. Their needs and thoughts are not about the issues that the politicians-Tamil and Sinhalese are talking and making a big noise about. Only a small proportion of people will vote and those who vote will vote either out of habit or for money/gifts. Wold such a vote be a mandate for anything? Is this the democracy we want?

      2. Answer: It is not a question about individuals or their capabilities. It is a suggestion to mitigate perceptions that the north and east are under Sinhala- military rule under a civilian garb! A civilian, non-Sinhala Governor, will diluted the fire power of the TNA-type politicians and sections of the Diaspora, who are exploiting the current situation, in a very clever manner. This is a practical suggestion from a Tamil, who has rise above ethnic considerations and considers himself a Sri Lankan.

      3. Answer: I am aware of the present arrangements. I have suggested this as an interim arrangement, as I am aware of the conflicting nature of the relationship between the Governor and the GA. There is so much overlap now between the functions of the PCs and the Central Government that conflict, confusion and paralysis have become inevitable.
      4. Answer: Please note that I have corrected the spelling error subsequently. Further, are there no senior public servants-Tamil and Muslim, who are not GAs now, who could be appointed? I remember Yogendra Duraiswamy , reired diplomat was appointed GA, Jaffna,by JRJ. Are there no Senior Sinhala public servants who have no working knowledge of Tamil?

      Your position is a serious indictment on the government service and the state of implementation of Tamil as an official language. Is it difficult to find alternatives to meet an urgent need in the war-affected areas, where inefficiency will seed further discontent and make a bad situation worse?

      The only way out in the circumstances is to empower the Governor- who could be even the private sector and appoint a GA, who can advise him on the ARs and FRs!
      5. Answer: I am not talking about the existing situation, which is the major problem. I am talking of interim arrangements, which have to be given legal sanction. A government that passed the 18th amendment, can easily make these interim arrangements and given them legal sanction.

      6. Answer: I have very few kith and kin left in Sri Lanka, capable of giving me the right answers. Their answers, even if available, will not reflect he interests of the ordinary people, and would largely represent their class interests! The ordinary people in the north and east, seek solutions from the armed forces now. They are the first to be approached by the people, when they have a problem. This is the the reality and truth at present.

      Further, my intention in making was to bring together the power centers in the north and east in a meaningful working arrangement, to deliver services more effectively.

      8.Answer: The post war situation demanded and yet demands special arrangements for governance of the north and east. The present constitutional arrangements will only aggravate problems, as they are very visibly doing now. My answer above referring to the 18th amendment applies in this instance too. When there is a will there is way, especially to do what is right!

      The flawed PC system will not solve problems in the north and east and we have evlove mechanisms that will permit the PCs to deliver.

      9.Answer: Humour aside, it is obvious you are unable to comprehend the circumstance prevailing in the war-affected north and east and continue to view matters in the context of the rest of Sri lanka. This is the type of thinking which would lead to a repeat of the past, possibly in a different form. Special circumstances need special solutions and these can come from only the government. The fact that currents rule/ laws do not permit something, does not mean there are no legal mechanisms to deal with such circumstances. What is the role of the parliament?

      10: Answer: refer to above.
      11. Answer: Definitely, no. The quislings- Tamils and others, empowered to represent the government in the north and east and interfere with every aspect of governance should be neutralized immediately.
      12. Answer: The north and east are special zones in the post-war circumstances and these circumstances will determine the ultimate territorial integrity of Sri Lanka! The ‘Everywhere’ answer, may be acceptable ‘Everywhere’ except the north and east.
      I am very much here , but have been an keen observer of the political scene in the west, when I lived there for a for about a decade.

      13. Answer: same as above.
      14. Answer: It is an urgent requirement, considering the state of the public services in the north and east after 30 years of war and LTTE rule.
      15.Answer: Please refer to my answer to the earlier ‘Everywhere’ reply.
      16. Answer: Banking supporting development has to be based not only on 100 % security, but take into account the quality and capability of the individual/s and merits and viability of the project. The banks in the north are lending for consumption now and have no development thrust.
      I have lived in the North America’s long enough to know that they lend on the basis of good ideas, taking certain amount of risk. This is why these countries developed and are creative yet!

      18. Answer: You have failed to mention that this is one of the grievances of the TNA. While Dayan wants them to be involved in ‘Interim’ governing arrangements, I am against it. I recognize the possible pitfalls, because of the political ambitions of the TNA and the ambitions of others. However, I feel that they should be involved in a consultative capacity to solve the day-to-day problems of the people. The TNA is living yet in the clouds and this may be a good way to bring it down to earth to confront the ‘Real’ problems of the war-affected people.

      19.Answer: I am very much in Sri Lanka and the north. This is the reason I have ventured this suggestion. I refuse to accept the status-quo, especially in the war-ravaged north and east.

      We need good governance in the north and east now, if are to avoid another catastrophe.
      20. Answer: Why not? However, I feel the Governor -GA combo, should be the ‘Interim administration’ for the north and east, until the circumstances are ripe for meaningful elections. I also envisage this arrangement will be a good experiment in power sharing and lead to a better formulation of the PC system.

      Finally, I venture to say that many of your replies are influenced by your career evolution as a government servant. What Sri lanka, and the war-affected areas demand are radical thinking and solutions. We have to get out of the rut. The men like you should lead the way, without citing excuses to keep us in the rut.

      Dr.Rajasingham narendran

      • Austin Fernando

        Dear Dr. Narendran

        My responses to you are given below. I have omitted a few of your comments without responding, as I felt they had been dealt with in my other current responses, as well as previously.
        1. Suspend PC elections for three years.
        Please note that I never meant to insinuate insult on you.
        Postponement or ‘no necessity to hold elections’ for the NPC is generally considered government sponsored thinking and hence my response in that tone. Regret if I had caused any heartburn to you.
        BTW I may say that elections for the NPC are a form of available democratic opening. Dr. Narendran, you believed that people in the north and east are “yet on the very margins of extreme poverty and disturbing social problems”: their “needs and thoughts are not about the issues that the politicians-Tamil and Sinhalese are talking and making a big noise about.” Yet, the elections are held in the east now for whatever mandate required by the government. What response do you have for that democracy only for the east, which is not offered to the north, when both provinces are facing the similar or more or less similar status?
        2. Appointment of Governors.
        I am with you to “Appoint civilian governors of proven ability and high caliber to the north and east” but not for any ethnic consideration to be the criteria. This broad thinking also comes from a person who has risen above ethnic considerations and considers himself a Sri Lankan.
        3. Relationship between the Governor and the GA.
        I was trying to point out that the law stands against your proposition, though on personal levels or on ‘hidden threats’ cooperation between the two offices is observed.
        4. GA appointees.
        I was a GA when Mr. Yogendra Duraiswamy was GA Jaffna. The first to be appointed so was Brigadier Justace Rodrigo. Both appointments had political ramifications than administrative, which we need not discuss. Presently, Major General Ranjith Silva is there. There are a very few Sinhala SLAS officers who can work in all three languages. I am aware of the former Commissioner of MotorTraffic Mr. Dharmapriya as one. There was another who was the Local Government Commissioner in the Western Province. I do not know whether he is already retired. As I had not been in charge of Public Administration I do not consider this status as a serious personal indictment, but it is as against successive governments.
        5. Interim arrangements
        If you take the 18th Amendment as the example, I may suggest that the government can erase off the 13th Amendment and make way for whatever interim arrangements. My stance is what is in the Constitution has to be upheld, and thus the 13th Amendment.
        6. Service delivery methodology
        If service delivery is the need and not demilitarization, whether the solutions came from the civil administration or militarized administration. It may not be an issue to the common man. But, is it the problem? I do not think so. I am a believer in civilian rule (You may have different preference). Democracy should work. PCs and Local Authorities should be governed by the legally appropriate authorities.
        8. Flawed PC system
        I agree that “When there is a will there is way, especially to do what is right!”. Let this be tried with the existing legally capable institutions.
        I agree that PC system as well as the centralized system or political party nominee system and you name any system, it could have flaws. Act constitutionally, and if there are flaws, let the Parliament amend the laws to suit the needs.
        9. Legality and new mechanisms
        I disagree that I am “unable to comprehend the circumstance prevailing in the war-affected north and east”. For your information please ask any GA who had been in service in mid eighties up to late nineties how I have been working in the north and east. Check what I had been contributing to the CFA. Please Google and see my writings and see how I look at the minority issues. I do not “continue to view matters” in the wrong context. It is not thinking such as mine, but the contrary that would “lead to a repeat of the past”. I agree that special circumstances need special solutions and these can come from only the government. This is what some see as lacking, and I am in that “some”! It is not the Parliament as an institution that matters; it is that of the Government.
        10 Banking issue
        I was the Commissioner of Cooperatives for the country as a whole (1982-1986) before the PCs came in to being. I rated Jaffna District cooperative banking as the best and hence I will stand by anyone who wants financing of projects with easy conditions in Jaffna. I do not have the same complement to the east! But Banks are banks, and bankers are profit motivated men and women, unfortunately.
        18. Interim arrangements
        I am not with it as explained when I argued my case with Dayan. If anyone wishes to have it they can change the Constitution and kick start it.
        19. Good governance in the north and east
        I agree that good governance is essential, again in the whole country, not only in the north and east.
        I agree that my public service career has influenced my thinking. It is not all. I have been in the front demanding devolution and have written a lot. I agree that radical thinking is essential too. But I must say that the crisis is in a rut, not because of people like me, but due to LTTE led by Prabhakaran, politicians irrespective of the divide and yes, because of many who should speak out and act, but do not.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dear Mr.Austin Fernando,

    I hope you and the readers will pardon the typing errors in my above response. The impending day-long power cut in Jaffna, did not permit me the time to make the required corrections. The alternate day power cuts (on some days these cuts extend to several consecutive days), is another post-war curse in Jaffna and is a major hindrance for many development activities.

    Further to my comments above I have to ask you why the GOSLs which are quite lackadaisical in adhering to constitutional norms and conventions,should be averse to taking extra-ordinary/ exceptional measures to deal with the critical issues in the post-war north and east. Would the cost to end the war by defeating the tigers, win back the north and east, and the resulting destruction in terms of the land and its people, justify a ‘ Same as everywhere’ attitude in the north and east?

    Governments that have failed to implement the language provisions, the equality clauses, the 13th amendment and the now defunct 16th amendment in our constitution, cannot claim that they are strict adherents of constitutional norms. Governments that deliberately designed a faulty provincial Councils law and deliberately subverted the very purpose for which the PCs were designed cannot claim that they are not capable of doing what is right for the north and east. Governments that failed to concede powers granted to the PCs by law, for various reasons, cannot claim that they are crippled by the need to observe constitutional norms. A government that brought in the 18th amendment to the constitution to replace the 16th amendment, cannot claim that it is constrained by constitutional norms, procedures, practices and parliamentary hurdles to do what is required for the north and east! Governments that fought the JVP insurgencies and the Eelam wars, mobilizing all its resources and circumventing many laws of the land cannot claim that when it comes to providing solutions to the manifold war-related problems in the north and east, they are circumscribed by the constitution and related laws!

    The GOSL has to treat the north and east as exceptions to the other provinces in the country for a few years in light of post-war circumstances and the reversion to old goals and politics by the TNA and sections of the Tamil Diaspora. The stance of the west and India, have to be considered in the equation. If we fail to do so, history will unfortunately repeat, probably in an unexpected but more malevolent form.
    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • Austin Fernando

      Dear Dr. Narendran
      I respond paragraph by paragraph.
      1 I Forget about errors. We all make them!
      2 Governments have been lackadaisical for political reasons. What I meant by “same as everywhere “ is that the issues are relevant to all parts of the country, and not limited to north and east.
      3 I agree. My demanding that the governments should respect the 13th Amendment is to see at least one of these issues related to the periphery for power sharing is activated. There are many others, other than the 13th Amendment
      4 How can one expect exceptions to be when the already available provisions are not honored? Hence asymmetrical treatment for north and east whether in power sharing or otherwise cannot be expected. I agree with you on the gloomy status if the governments fail and when Oppositions and Tamil and Muslim parties also fail.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Wherever I have referred to the 16th amendment in my comments above, srefer to the the 17th amendment. The error is much regretted.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dear Mr.Austin Fernando,

    Thanks for your reply. I reply here only on the issue of elections in the north and east. It was a mistake to constitute the PC in the east, even before the war in the north was fought to finish. I have met the Chief Minister of the east and found that he despite his severe limitations, was also very frustrated with the system. I consider him not of the calibre to be the CM of the eastern PC. He was an unfortunate or probably even a fortunate pawn, in the ‘democracy’ drama the government had chosen to enact to please the international community. I remember advising him that he should be walking the corridors of power in Colombo, to get things done for the east. This was the only role he could unfortunately play. The PC in the east today is only one more institution through which people can be fleeced! Unfortunately, the people in the east do not have the capacity or leadership to express their frustration-real and imagined- as the Jaffna man does.

    I had told some important individuals in government in 2009-2010 that Jaffna was a different kettle of wish and the drama enacted in the east would not work there. As opposed to the Eastern Tamil, the Northern- particularly the Jaffna- variety are vociferous and have the capacity to make a big noise beyond the levels their numbers or issues warrant. The Jaffna man is yet, unfortunately, the leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils! The tiger propaganda apparatus is yet at their disposal and they are making good use of it, while the government is holding seminars in Diyatalawa for its diplomats on how to counteract it.

    While not holding PC elections in the north- a good decision, the government decided to rule the north through proxies, who were largely detected by the Tamils- a terrible decision. Instead of the required good governance these quisling-proxies provided everything that is anathema to it. Administrative failures and bureaucratic insensitivity, have added spice to the evil broth. This has opened the can of worms! The likes of the TNA have got a second lease of life. The efforts of the government to bring back development and hope to the north and east are being misrepresented to the people by the TNA and the media it controls. Another ‘Democracy’ drama enacted in the north will only create more problems for the government and bring back the Eelam agenda with new faces and new strategies! This has already started to happen and has to be nipped in the bud.

    I am convinced good governance is the only answer and the government has to find ways to deliver these to the north and east in abundance and fast to win the hearts and minds of the war-affected Tamils. Only the central government has the power and resources to do this. Unfortunately, it is paralyzed by the contradictions- political and ideological- within it and the lack of will to do what is most needed.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • Austin Fernando

      May I respond to your quick responses, going by paragraph to paragraph?

      1. What you describe in paragraph one may be more appropriate to EPC and CM Pillaiyan, but he is not alone in the boat. It is so even in the other PCs. With humor and without insulting, I must say I heard of “the people in the east do not have the capacity or leadership to express their frustration-real and imagined- as the Jaffna man does” when I was a SLAS Cadet in Batticaloa in 1967; of course originated by my Jaffna friends! I believe the situations are similar in almost every province in the south too. With Executive Presidency working with venom, I think this is common to all provinces!!!

      2. Messers Ponnambalam, Ramanathan, Arunachalam, Chelvanayakam, Amirthalingam etc were from Jaffna. Velupillai Prabhakaran was also from Jaffna. Therefore, before VP, when VP was living (for most Tamils at least) and after May 2009 Jaffna man is the Tamil’s leader! One reason for Karuna Amman’s defection would have been this attitude among Jaffna politicians as well terrorist leadership. Very few leaders like Mr. Rasamanickckam or Mr. Rajadurai were from east. I think Mr. Sampanthan is the exception right now. Yes, in that case, on the whole Tamils have been very unfortunate, if I am to go by your interpretation.

      3 PCs have weaknesses. Democracy has weaknesses. Administrations have weaknesses. Politicians have weaknesses. Still it is better than a handful of cronies managing affairs. Elected persons can be kicked out, but cronies can be kicked out only with heavy losses. Why not try to live with PCs, democracy, administration and politicians rather than to fertilize and nurture chronic cronyism?
      4 I agree with you.

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Dear Mr.Austin Fernando,

        My understanding is that Mr.Sambanthan’s family has also origins in Jaffna, though now based in Trincomalee. I stand to be corrected.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dear Mr. Austin Fernando,

    Thanks for your recent response.

    You ask, “Why not try to live with PCs, democracy, administration and politicians rather than to fertilize and nurture chronic cronyism?”

    The PCs will not work at this juncture as they are seriously flawed. They are designed to give with one hand and take away what was given with the other. The PCs cannot deliver any meaningful devolution as designed now. It has to be accepted that the PCs as designed now, are not an acceptable or reasonable alternative to the Eelam demand.

    Further, they cannot be improved upon in the circumstances prevailing now. The government should have acted to reform the PC system soon after war, when the political climate was more conducive. That moment has unfortunately passed. Mutual suspicions and the lack of trust, that have been whipped up once again,will not permit any attempt to improve the PC system. Attempts to continue with the flawed PC system in the north and east, will prove counter-productive and pave the way to further widen and poison the communal divide. The TNA and sections of the Tamil Diaspora are eagerly awaiting this opportunity to further their political agenda.

    The effete, inept and corrupt bureaucracy in the north and east, has to be driven with the whip to deliver. As someone told me in Kilinochchi recently that it was the tiger threat of a death sentence, that made many in the bureaucracy in the north work- carry out the orders of the LTTE – before the war ended. The public services in the north is much more degenerate than in the south, as a result of the prolonged wars. Public servants have lived and worked in a no man’s land of sorts, iredeamably too long.

    Most Tamil politicians strutting the stage today are the products of the Tamil militancy cum terrorism phase. Their mindsets are a major barrier to reconciliation, reconstruction and regeneration. They are yet the mirror image of the Sinhala extremist fringe. Unfortunately, the Tamils do not have a moderate alternative, as correctly identified by Sathyamoorthy in a feature in the ‘Island’ today. The TNA is not the moderate alternative. It is the alternate face of the LTTE, as its MPs are largely those brought to the forefront by the LTTE. Sambanthan is not the leader Tamils need now. He is time and again proving himself to be a cheap short-sighted politician.

    Democracy is a charade in Sri Lanka. Our democracy is designed to elect monarchs and their sycophants. The democratic rights of the people are in reality limited to casting their votes. In the war-affected north and east, democracy even as a exercise in voting has lost its meaning. The Tigers dictated how the people should vote and not vote for too long. The TNA and the Tamil proxy formations have become experts at whipping up emotions at election times. The TNA without doubt will use any election as an opportunity to further its divisive agenda. Is this what we want?

    What are the alternatives left? ‘Chronic Chronyism’ is an avoidable danger, if the government desires so. It also probably is a lesser danger than the possible alternatives, in the context of a united Sri Lanka.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,

    “Our democracy is designed to elect monarchs and their sycophants. The democratic rights of the people are in reality limited to casting their votes. In the war-affected north and east, democracy even as a exercise in voting has lost its meaning.”

    You are correct. You and Mr. Austin are providing good reading and thought provoking dialogue. One is interested in having the PC and the other for an Interim arrangement.

    For a start what about considering the following suggestion to promote democracy and provide enough space for the ordinary citizens interested in Good Governance to participate and get involved in the governance of the country without allowing it in the hands of a few professional politicians.

    “The best political solution or system of governance to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.”

    A UNIQUE concept that moves towards a meaningful and just power-sharing arrangement (not devolution) based on true democracy – a large number of people participating in the governance of the country based on equality, equity – is a great deviation from the usual thinking of the meaning of the word “sharing of power”

    Over to those who are for a meaningful “democracy”

  • http://nil Henry de mel

    Thanks to the writer and all the commentators for the light and a little bit of heat generated.

    As Sri Lankans we like to see our country rising rather than declining. However, the performance of the government so far in any sphere (governance, politics, economics, etc.) does not make me optimistic that change will come sooner. The passing of the 18th Amendment is the culmination and the best indicator of the thinking of those that matter. Just one example, 137 graduates have been recruited to the planning service in Tangalle. I am told that a batch of 35 each of them are asked to report for duty, two days a week – because there is no room nor chairs to accommodate them! Need more be said of the decline.
    Good luck to the younger generation!

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Sie.Kathieravealu,

    I wonder whether we are engaging in a futile discussion on devolution, power sharing and good governance.

    According to ‘The Hindu’ today, the president is talking about 13th amendment plus, with the plus being the creation of a Senate. I do not think radical changes to the present mess is even being contemplated. I hope the Senate does not also end up as another meaningless political set up! The probability is, it will.

    What we need are radical changes to the present constitution, revision of the Provincial Councils law, a new political culture and interim arrangements for good governance in the north and east. Such matters are unfortunately not in the agenda of our politicians.

    What you are suggesting is something akin to the Panchayat system India, if I understand it correctly. Even in India the Panchayat system, as I have heard and read, is controlled by the rich, powerful and heartless, at the village level. How can this system work in a country like Sri Lanka, where there is no tradition( as remembered in recent times) similar to the Panchayats and where we are producing less and less educated and more and more literates, without the capacity to think, identify problems and act. We are mass producing mindless voters, who are totally incapable of standing upto a bunch of venal and equally ill-educated politicians.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    The system suggested is not the Panchayat system. This is very much different. Please read below to understand a little more:-
    Through this system of representation and empowerment – different sets of representatives in different areas elected and empowered by different groups of people to implement different ‘distinct and defined’ functions of one and the same parliament – “corruption” in any form and at any level cannot easily arise. If there is no “corruption” then the Rule of Law will prevail making way for peace and good governance in the country, which is the need of the inhabitants of a country.
    In my humble opinion this new concept of democracy while delivering good governance would preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and guarantee the due respect and dignity of the people – both collectively and individually, who are, under the present system, treated as their “subjects” by the “ruling class”.
    To be more explicit the concept is explained below:
    1. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to enact laws for good governance, taxation and connected affairs (One Group functioning at National level and elected on district basis).
    2. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to generally manage the finances of the country including collection and disbursement of revenue on the basis of the laws enacted by group 1 above, national planning and connected affairs in consultation with other groups. (One Group functioning at National level and elected on regional basis).
    3. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to administer different regions of the country and approve project proposals submitted (Groups functioning at Regional level and elected on divisional basis).
    4. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted with the functions to prepare and submit project proposals based on the needs of that village for confirmation (Groups functioning at Village level and elected on village basis).
    5. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to implement approved project proposals formulated by Group 4 and confirmed by Group 6 with funds provided by Group 2 through Group 3. (Groups functioning at District level and elected on sub-divisional basis).
    6. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to coordinate and confirm/priority of project proposals submitted by Group 4 (Groups functioning at Sub-divisional level and elected on village basis).
    7. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to monitor the functions of all groups for transparency, accountability and irregularities with an eye on the elimination of injustice, discrimination, corruption and oppression (Groups functioning at Divisional level and elected on village basis).
    All the above groups and individuals in the Groups enjoy parity of status as they are part and parcel of one and the same institution – the Parliament.

    Your queries are most welcome.

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Sie.Kathieravealu,

      Thanks for the detailed explanation. I hope others will respond to your ideas. It is not a question of whether your suggestions make sense or not. I feel they make sense. However, will there be any takers? Would the present stake holders, who are thriving on the present system at the expense of the people, touch such suggestions even with a barge pole? While what we are discussing in grounviews is neccesary and useful, we have to be also aware that these are seeds sown in dry, desert sand. There has to be rain, for these to germinate and lots of rain at regular intervals thereafter for the plants to grow and become trees!

      I attended a seminar on ‘Povert Allieviation’ at the Luxshman Kadirgamar Institute in Colombo, yesterday and asked the question whether our major problem nationally was material poverty or spiritual/ values poverty. The deficit in spiritual or higher values is what is ailing Sri Lanka and many countries around the world. The progressive decline in spritual or higher values has been accompanied by a concommitant increase in social decadence, profanity and decline in individual and societal standards and values. This problem is the root cause of the tragic crisis our nation continues to confront, even three years after the war ended.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    Thank you for your comment.

    “I feel they make sense. However, will there be any takers? Would the present stake holders, who are thriving on the present system at the expense of the people, touch such suggestions even with a barge pole? While what we are discussing in grounviews is neccesary and useful, we have to be also aware that these are seeds sown in dry, desert sand. There has to be rain, for these to germinate and lots of rain at regular intervals thereafter for the plants to grow and become trees!”

    You are correct. But then I do agree that the “professional politicians” will NOT accept it because they will have nothing to gain and much to lose. So they will collectively work hard against it.

    It is those people who want “good governance” and those who are against “dictatorship” will have to do the ground work for the success of these suggestions. It was always “one persons rule” or “dictatorship” right from the beginning and that is inevitable in the present system designed by those who wanted “political power”.

    I am sure these suggestions would be accepted by the people IF THEY ARE PROPERLY EXPLAINED TO THE PEOPLE. I am neither a writer nor a speaker.

    I do hope that a group of dedicated people would come forward to make the people aware of the benefits of this system. The people will have nothing to lose BUT everything to gain.

    The “majority” in this country as in every other country are the “poor”. So it is the SINCERE trade union leaders who have to spear-head this movement along with those for “good governance” and those against “one man rule”.

    In India Sonia is only an M.P officially BUT the Executive President practically and with more power than Obama in the USA.

  • Krishna

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    You say
    “The deficit in spiritual or higher values is what is ailing Sri Lanka and many countries around the world. ”

    SL being a Buddhist Nation , how did it allow itself to degenerate so much .Buddhism is the most rational of all religions and it was a religion that took a solid stand renouncing all form of violence . Irony is that SL saw the worst form of Violence in the last 3- 4 decades both by the state and also by those who opposed the state .
    I remember Prabhakaran saying in a very early Interview in Mid 80s that if Jayawardane was a true Buddhist , he would not have taken the gun .
    My question is : Why did Buddhism fail to maintain peace and harmony in SL and is there a hope for the future if people go back to Buddha’s basic teachings ?

    • yapa

      “My question is : Why did Buddhism fail to maintain peace and harmony in SL and is there a hope for the future if people go back to Buddha’s basic teachings ?”

      I think you can have a glimpse at the answer looking at what happened to the Ashokan Empire in India aftermath of his death.

      Buddhism is not about “good governance”, I think, though it could be helpful.

      Thanks!

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Dear Krishnamoorthy,

      The answer to you query lies in what Middleton Murray concluded after exhaustively studying the Vatican. “There was only one Christian and he died on the cross”.

      Lord Buddha was a great seeker of truth, reformer, philosopher and a very compassionate being. To expect that everyone who professes to be a Buddhist will become like him, is unreal. This applies to all the prophets, Avatars and religious savants. They come, preach and go. We the humans and our condition remains unscathed. We continue in the same old dcreading way. We can only be ppretenders to the throne!

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Sorry. Should read ‘Dear Krishna’.

        Dr.R.N

    • Silva

      Krishna, Not only Sri Lanka but many countries in Asia was blessed and affected by the teachings of Lord Buddha around the period Buddha lived. The profoundness majesty and depth of the religion the people of that era understood is personified by the time-honored massive doctrine impregnated religious monuments the people of that era built for posterity. Even a cursory glance at the teachings would reveal the signs of logicality, science, spirituality and universality of the doctrine. But the problem is unlike in the ancient days people do not in earnest live the religion in their lives. Buddhism is not a religion that can survive in holy books, temples, idols, statues or mere traditional gestures. For example, the non-violence-the determination, the commitment and scarifies a real religious man must make and hold-is explained and contained in these words from the words of Buddha as stated in the scriptures (the exact words I do not remember hence I approximate words with the concept): “Oh monks! Even if a powerful man ties you and cuts off your fingers limbs ears nose, removes your eyes with each move asking you if you hate him a true follower of my religion would never hate him even though he may finally take the disciple’s life away!” So it is a very good question what happened to a nation who practiced such a great religion and a noble heritage of the best religion ever to be preached on this earth! I think it is due to the fact that only a handful of people really understood and lived this religion and the rest merely pasted the label in their minds, rituals, traditions and birth certificates! I don’t think there are many real Buddhist people left in this country even among the monks. I think the ancient people including their kings/rulers were very wise and intelligent which is why Buddhism spread all over the countries where it existed like a wild fire being readily assimilated embodied and personified. But with the passage of time and the life style of people getting more complicated urbanized due to so called material development spawned by industrial revolution people were more occupied and busy with the existential and material issues rather than spiritual pursuits. The appalling increase in the population, increase in the intensity of the incessant fight for survival, complex and complicated lifestyles etc. may have distanced the search for religious fulfillment. Also people subsequently used to use the religion as a cause to wage wars and kill each other in the name of religion. I think this degeneration also has an element of “quest and tradition for greatness”. It is said that during Buddha’s era there was this great quest among contemporary religious people in India for understanding the “truth”. Is there such a pursuit today? This tradition in search of truth may have produced people of similar thought processes in considerable amounts which may have led to the establishment of a “real” religious environment in the region. It is logical that when people are seeking in earnest they will find it. Now consider the people in the present era. What is their pursuit? What is the pursuit of the Buddhist monks? Are they ordained for religious pursuit or because their parents cannot sustain them or their horoscope claim they are unfit to lead a layman life? What is the pursuit of the ruler of the country who must guide the people and set the first citizen’s example? When you have a ruler who holds up the country’s own museum, plunders the ancient treasure troves the ancient people have deposited with a noble hope, operates white van squads and citizens just disappear dissolved in acid baths, military training and therefore mindless subjugation to authority is superimposed on the minds of the future generation of this country, when Colombo Kachcheri is arsoned by the very government people have elected and established to destroy some documents to grab some valuable lands would such a country achieve religious heights or mess around in the maze and perish on the table at UN adding another country to the list? Isn’t this the answer to what happened to the religious culture once existed in this country?

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    Krishna,

    Are you sure that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country? I have my doubts. People who worship Buddha need not be followers of the teachings Buddha. Only followers of the teachings of Buddha are Buddhists. That is my humble opinion. You must try to live by the name you call yourself.

  • Silva

    Dear Austin Fernando,

    Dayan is and was never an enterprising, creative person contributing his portion in evolving a solution for the politico-ethnic strife affecting this country for years. He never said “let us do this!”. What he has been doing is seeing crocodiles and alligators in the cup of tea whereby creating a fear and skepticism psychosis and a culture of irresponsibility and impunity on the part of his propped up regime. He has found an easy means of living out of the tax payers money at the expense of selling the suffering of humanity! He also harbors a great fear for Ranil as a hope for ending this dead-end culture of hopelessness and takes every opportunity to level unfounded criticisms and mudslinging at him. The Rajapaksha regime and Dayan are the merchants of death. They do not want to solve this problem. The only hope people have now is to get somehow Ranil to power and I reliably predict that by two years’ time after his taking over this ethnic problem and all the other myriads of problems created by Rajapaksha regime with the help of people like Dayan would be history!

    • Sie.Kathieravealu

      I have my reservations about Mr.Silva’s thinking that Mr.Ranil would solve all the problems IF HE COMES to power. It is the “people” who will have to empower him.

      In my humble opinion “corruption” in various forms is the cause for nearly all the “ills” in the country.

      “Transparency” in all matters is the key word in arresting “corruption”.

      For this purpose it is essential that all activities connected with the “power to govern” be made transparent. To achieve this the “power to govern” must be “shared” among “the people” and not among the various communities/ethnic groups as is being promoted by some political parties.

      This new system of representation and empowerment – different sets of representatives in different areas elected and empowered by different groups of people to implement different ‘distinct and defined’ functions of one and the same parliament – “corruption” in any form and at any level cannot easily arise. If there is no “corruption” then the Rule of Law will prevail making way for peace and good governance in the country, which is the need of the inhabitants of a country.
      In my humble opinion this new concept of “power-sharing” would not only strengthen democracy but also deliver good governance and would preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and guarantee the due respect and dignity of all the people – both collectively and individually, who are, under the present system, treated as their “subjects” by the “ruling class”.

      1. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to enact laws for good governance, taxation and connected affairs (One Group functioning at National level and elected on district basis).
      2. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to generally manage the finances of the country including collection and disbursement of revenue on the basis of the laws enacted by group 1 above, national planning and connected affairs in consultation with other groups. (One Group functioning at National level and elected on regional basis).
      3. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to administer different regions of the country and approve project proposals submitted (Groups functioning at Regional level and elected on divisional basis).
      4. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted with the functions to prepare and submit project proposals based on the needs of that village for confirmation (Groups functioning at Village level and elected on village basis).
      5. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to implement approved project proposals formulated by Group 4 and confirmed by Group 6 with funds provided by Group 2 through Group 3. (Groups functioning at District level and elected on sub-divisional basis).
      6. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to coordinate and confirm/priority of project proposals submitted by Group 4 (Groups functioning at Sub-divisional level and elected on village basis).
      7. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to monitor the functions of all groups for transparency, accountability and irregularities with an eye on the elimination of injustice, discrimination, corruption and oppression (Groups functioning at Divisional level and elected on village basis).
      All the above groups and individuals in the Groups enjoy parity of status as they are part and parcel of one and the same institution – the Parliament.

      • Silva

        Mr. Sie.Kathieravealu,

        It is a very good thing that you have come up with your valuable suggestions for promotion of the mechanism of governance in the country. The pragmatism, viability, efficiency and efficacy, the method problems of selection and integration to the existing mechanisms, the constitutionality and whether the expected outcome would be generated, the precedents and the experiences we have had etc. are all matters for serious deliberations by the serious, learned and wise people. I suggest if you think your proposal is worthy of being considered by responsible people under a future government you would prepare an organization chart of the government of Sri Lanka indicating where your suggested mechanism would fit in also elucidating merits, demerits of rejection, its contribution to the state etc. and submit it to the UNP leadership for consideration. In this moment of soul searching in the national psyche I hope your ideas would receive due recognition.

        • Sie.Kathieravealu

          Thank you for having read the suggestions and coming out with some positive suggestions.

          For your kind information these suggestions are “on the round” for the last many years- since JRJ’s All Party Conference when Mrs.Srimavo Bandaranayake was the Leader of the Opposition. Only two persons acknowledged receipt of the suggestions then. One, Mrs.Srimavo Bandaranayake who said that she has forwarded same to the All Party Conference for due consideration and the other was Mr.Vasudeva Nanayakara who said that he will take it up at the appropriate time.None others acknowledged.
          Of the past few years I had been taking it around to political party Leaders and wherever I could table it.
          No success of a serious consideration. Mr.Jayantha Danapala took some interest to study the proposals but later gave-up.

          I am not that qualified as to prepare charts and diagrams. I can only answer specific questions on my suggestions.
          Another suggestion is given below for your kind perusal.

          Election and Composition: Every area would be a multi-member electorate electing a minimum of two members. Members of the various Councils would be elected from among those residing within that area on “first passed the post” basis subject to gender and age group conditions being fulfilled and where necessary and possible trade, political ideologies and ethnicity being considered. The number of members of any one gender or age group shall be a minimum of 20% of the total to be elected from an area to a Council and at least one member from other ethnic minorities if they form more than 10% of the eligible voters. The members so elected would be considered as independents. The number of elected members in a given Council – other than Groups 1, 2 & 4 – would vary from Region to Region depending on the number of sub-administrative areas in that region, governed by the principle of equal number of members to the same or similar councils from similar areas – irrespective of the size and population of the area concerned. (Similar to the principle applied in the election to the Senate in the US – two members per State and in the UN one member per country/administrative area).

          There are some more suggestions ALL aimed at “good governance” and enabling the people to PARTICIPATE in the governance of the country.

          The above are some suggestions that would help to create a UNIQUE SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE that would ultimately bring in GOOD GOVERNANCE by showing the way out for injustice, discrimination, oppression and corruption born due to and bred by the present system of governance that is mistakenly or mischievously termed as “democratic” by persons who call themselves political scientists.

  • Silva

    Short answer to Mr. Sie.Kathieravealu,

    In fact when I said Ranil will solve the problems I actually meant and envisioned him as a facilitator in the process of the governance by the people. He as an individual cannot solve these problems. It is the people who have to collectively do it and those of us in the society who are capable of contributing towards that end can participate here. The primary difference of a government under Ranil is that there will be democratic process where the former category can participate and play their part. First a legitimate government under a legitimate parliament and a judiciary and then the legitimate extensions of various arms of government including the various commissions which are now absent, down to the furthest point of government the Grama Seva Division. It is also necessary that we either abolish this problematic constitution altogether or amend its bones of contention parts. The goal, path and means is very clear-the chosen one is Ranil and Ranil alone, a man of principles, policies and visions which is how other countries in the world have become developed.

    • Sie.Kathieravealu

      I hope Mr.Silva’s expectations are fulfilled.

      I cannot compel him to give his views on the mode of “power-sharing” suggested by me. But I do hope that he and others concerned would seriously consider the suggestions. Basically the idea was to “Divide the powers of Parliament to enable the ordinary people to PARTICIPATE in the governance of the country and for uniting the people of the country”.
      It also supports the slogan “One Country, One Voice”