Photo courtesy Business Today

Minister Wimal Weerawansa, nicknamed as the ‘eldest son of the President’, during the 2010 presidential election campaign, came up with a rather serious proposal some two months back: To have a referendum to abolish the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the constitutional chapter that deals with devolution of power. Sinhala extremist parties and groups immediately expressed their support to the proposition, and some Colombo-based media still write editorials emphasizing the need for the abolition of 13 A. The suggestion does not merely convey the removal of 13th Amendment; but also means the elimination of devolution of powers, as a concept, from Sri Lankan politics.

For now the abolishing campaign has receded mainly because of the political upheaval created by the impeachment against the chief justice.  After the removal of CJ using the parliamentary majority anti 13 A alliances will get back on the streets with force.  The campaign mobilization will be based on war triumphalism and narrow Sinhala nationalism.  Slowly but surely it will become a part of the anti power-sharing ideological base of Rajapaksa regime.

It is difficult to think that a politician like Weerawansa, who actually has little power base of his own, will come up with such a political campaign without a strong approval from the Government higher ups. Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who initiated the current campaign to abolish 13th Amendment, making a public statement for the third time, said that not only he, but many, have agreed that the Amendment should be done away with.

Weerawansa, who soon after, took his protest even to the Chief Prelates of Malwatta and Asgiriya, obtained their approval to withdraw the 13th Amendment. The statement made by the Prelates was published as a lead story in the state controlled Daily News. The same paper later gave full publicity to a statement made by Deputy Minister, Faizar Mustafa, saying that 13th Amendment should be repealed.

None of the newspapers controlled by Rajapaksa regime published a single editorial saying that the Amendment will or should be in force. That’s not all. Minister Samarasinghe who made a lengthy statement on behalf of the Government at the United Nation’s UPR session on 1st November, mentioned nothing at all about the 13 A or devolution of power.

All these factors illustrate that Rajapakse Government does not really oppose the campaign to remove the 13th A to the Constitution. At least it has given up defending the 13 A.  Like 18 A overruled  the 17 A, which introduce important checks and balances to the powerful executive presidential system  proposed 19 A will make power sharing 13 A obsolete.

That is why we should challenge the anti devolution alliance to go ahead with the proposed ‘Weerawansa referendum’, if they insist on abolishing the 13th A. By providing people an opportunity to vote they can legitimise their demand. We should salute minister Weerawansa for proposing a of referendum to abolish the 13 A.

There is no doubt that such a referendum, if held, will make the political intentions of Tamil and Muslim people unmistakably clear to the entire world. It will also make clear the disparity between views of Tamil people on devolution of power and those of Sinhala people.

Moreover, it is already seen that a referendum to abolish the Amendment will shatter irreparably the political coalition on which the Rajapaksa Government stands. All most all minority political parties who support Rajapaksha regime for various reasons (except welfare of their communities) will be forced to take a stand against the Weerawans referendum.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, a party to Government’s alliance, has publicly expressed that it will stand firm against Weerawansa’s suggestion of referendum. And Minister Douglas Devananda, a long standing ally of the Rajapaksa regime, will have his reputation seriously injured, if he does not vote against the referendum, since he continuously speaks to media, saying that he is strongly for the 13th A.  Most probably the parties representing the Up-country Tamil people will also have to campaign against such a referendum.

By addressing the primary feelings of Sinhalese, a referendum could possibly score a majority among them. Humans, like all other beings, fear that what’s his/her will be taken by another. This is the basic instinct that incites majority against minorities. Already, there are groups supporting and promoting Wimal Weerawansa’s idea: amongst are Hela Urumaya led by Minister Campika Ranawaka, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna led by Minister Dinesh Gunawardana, several high level Sinhalese Government Officials, and Sinhala nationalist opinion leaders  like Gunadasa Amarasekara, Nalinda Silva and Elle Gunawansa Thero. They are openly backed by two powerful Rajapaksa brothers, Gotabhaya and Basil. The JVP also will have to join the band wagon, as they are dead against the 13A as well as the concept of power sharing. If a strong Sinhala- Buddhist nationalist campaign supporting a referendum will become a reality UNP will, at least, be pushed in to a silent stand and its Sajith Premadasa faction may even support the abolishing campaign.

The other camp consists of political parties which are united with Tamil National Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Upcountry Tamil political parties and progressive parties, organizations and individuals in the South. Countries like India, United States, Canada, European Union, United Kingdom and some other countries will also take a standpoint against the repeal of 13th A and power sharing as a concept.

In such a referendum, the vast majority of Tamils and Muslims will cast their vote in fovour of the 13 A, mainly as a protest against majoritarian rule, among other reasons. That will be a mandate for power sharing/self rule by Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Political implication of such a process will be that ethnic divisions of Sri Lanka is clearly established; the views of Sinhalese and those of Tamils are poles apart; and that Tamils demand political autonomy and Sinhalese majority oppose it. The numerical result of ‘Weerawansa referendum’ if it ever happens will pronounce that the 13 A should be abolished; and there’s only one reason why: Sinhalese compose the majority.

Removal of 13th A, which encompasses devolution of power and Provincial Council system by a majority community vote, will indicate that the Tamil and Muslim population of the country will have to comply with the wishes of Sinhala Majority. Unfortunately, if that is the political reality in Sri Lanka today one has to face it.

Further, the referendum of Weerawansa and Company will be taken by the Tamil people as an opportunity to write their destiny. One of the main demands of Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora is to have a referendum in the North and East of  Sri Lanka under the supervision  of the UN, on the question whether the people in North and East desire a separate State or not. So they might happily welcome this referendum and interpret its result as a manifestation of the need to have a separate state by the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. And clearly, ‘Weerawansa referendum’ will become an opportunity for Tamil people to say the whole world what they want.

  • RK

    As Mr Deshapriya has rightly pointed out, the proposed referendum would only highlight and sharpen the existing divisions in the country along ethnic lines. It’s a pity that the government does not see the detrimental repercussions of this move. From this sort of moves initiated by the extremist elements in the government (whose voice is the dominant voice in the government), it’s pretty obvious that the government does not even acknowledge that there is a serious ethnic problem in the country, let alone giving solutions to this problem. These brains, cunning but at the same time unbelievably short-sighted, are putting the future of the country in tremendous danger. Who is going to hold these elements accountable? Where is natural justice?

  • Ummu Hana

    The move for or/and against 13A is disastrous and hostile to the development of Sri Lanka and just an expression of complete lack of vision of politicians and journalists in building the country for better. Neither in supportive to the unimplemented 13A nor abolishing the same, will not add value to the common good of the country.

    It’s a time for media including ‘Ground view’, to become as playing a contributory role toward a pluralistic society instead of getting victimized by the politicians and engage the discussions on the issue like 13A by supporting or against it or even just pointing both sides as a parrot media.

    Therefore I repeat again that it’s a time for us to review the entire constitution of Sri Lanka in term of basic human values that are pluralistic, universal, national and societal.

    • Jayalath

      To ummu Hana .

      I’m agree with you . We should strip it off as soon as we had a chance , it is a plague to our country . If some one is lunatic would agree for carry on 13 A . And it is delightful to say the country is slowly heading to right direction , which is awesome .

  • Rameez

    The end of war in 2009 heralded a new beginning of Sinhala dominated hegemony in the country among the mainstream majority extremist groups. The repealing or abolition of 13 A to the constitution is the end of pursuits of the government to find a reasonable solution to the ethnic issue of minorities, both the Tamils and Muslims and may even highlight or sharpen the divisions in the country along the ethnic lines. More importantly, it will, as Deshapriya avers, pinpoint the wishes of the minority to the international community that they are longing for a separate autonomy in the North and East, free from the clutches of the centre. All in all, it may be counter-productive to what the extremists perceive in terms of repealing the 13 A, I suppose.

  • jansee

    Shouldn’t it be among the Tamils that a referendum be conducted to decide what actually they want? The UK and Canada are examples of this universal practice. Where those wishing to secede as a result of oppression this is the time-honoured approach. Does it really make sense to ask the Sinhalese whether the Tamils can secede or not? It would be obvious how the Sinhalese would vote. Any wonder why the TNA has declined to participate in the PSC.

    • “It would be obvious how the Sinhalese would vote.”

      Wouldn’t it be obvious haw the Tamils would vote?

      Thanks!

      • jansee

        yapa:

        When the East Timorese wanted to cede from Indonesia, it was the East Timorese who had the referendum. Your logic, fundamentally flawed, is akin to asking the Indonesians to vote on the stated subject. The Tamils want to cede. The SL regime says the Tamils want to live in a united SL. The Tamils should then have the right to decide their fate through a referendum. Quebec went the same way (I mean carried out a referendum) and so would Scotland. Ah, I forgot, SL has neither principles nor rules – the impeachment process of a CJ has become a laughing stock – what then can be expected from mouthpieces like you?

    • dingiri

      Shouldnt the Sinhalese at least have a say in how much land the Tamils secede with? Especially when they have generously helped themselves to 35% of the landmass and 75% of the coastline?

      • Velu Balendran

        Which fool said my plot of land must be equal to my neighbour’s plot? How about China claiming that goven it’s population density, they should encroach into adjoining Russia or Mongolia? The best fertile lands irrigated by several rivers are found in the South, for which reason people may have migrated there from ancient times. But as the North is essentially barren where only Palmyra trees grow, should the Southerners entertain Northern claims for redistribution of fertile lands? Certainly not! Land ownership is determined historically and whether it is 35%, 75% or more is immaterial. What is interesting is the thgought process of people who come up with such silly propositions.

        • Off the Cuff

          Which fool says that PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY.

          “Land ownership is determined historically ….. “

          Historically the Kandyan Kingdom extended up to Elephant Pass in the North and Trincomalee and Batticoloa in the East. Here is the proof

          Quote from Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan, an Ethnic Tamil Intellectual.
          it is not historically accurate to say that the Kings of Jaffna ruled the east, certainly even a cursory glance at Dutch records and the doings of Rajasinha the 2nd will tell you, that the Kings of the Kanda Uda Pas Rate, (the five countries on top of the mountains) were also the overlords of Batticoloa and Trincomalee.

          Dutch National Archive Record.
          During the 17th century the Company was engaged in a war of attrition with the king of Kandy, who had close ties with Ceylon’s Buddhist population. There was a narrow tongue of land at Elephant Pass a fort was built to guard the border with the king’s territory.
          http://www.atlasofmutualheritage.nl/detail.aspx?page=dpost&lang=en&id=682#tab2

          Using History for a Land Grab?

          • Gamarala

            Off the cuff,

            What sources do you have to support the claim that 80% of Sri Lanka’s land is public?

          • Off the Cuff

            Gamarala,

            Please see the 2004 January, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report “Investment Policy Review Sri Lanka” page 43 for the CURRENT Land ownership status, 80% Public and 20% Private.

            Please note that the “Exclusive Historical Tamil Homeland” proponents are basing their claims on the status of Land habitation during the British Colonial period (when the 9 provinces came into existence), during which time, the Govt., Ownership of Land was very much higher and the population very much lower.

          • Gamarala

            Hi Off The Cuff,

            Thanks for the link. The report states that 80% of the land is “state-owned”, which of course, is not entirely the same as “public”, other than in a very indirect sense. I will therefore make the observation that the problem with your counter-argument is this: you cannot state that 80% of the land being “state-owned” is not ethnically biased, if Velu’s argument in the first place is that the state is institutionally and structurally, ethnically biased.

            cheers!
            Gamarala

          • Off the Cuff

            Hi Gamarala,

            I appreciate the scholarly attempt at redefining “The State” and “The Public” but what authority are you quoting, Erskine May?

            You say “The report states that 80% of the land is “state-owned”, which of course, is not entirely the same as “public”, other than in a very indirect sense”

            I know what the report says but I believe you do not. Various terms are used when referring to Public property including Land.

            However your interpretation is very interesting.
            So we have 80% Land owned by the State which leaves a balance of 20%.

            Do the Public directly own any of it?
            Could you please elucidate and share your “WISDOM”?

            Make sure you know the history behind Lanka’s Land ownership before you try to help Velu out of the quagmire that he is in, lest you get muddied yourself.

          • Gamarala

            Off the cuff,

            You may use “public” and “state-owned” however you wish. It is entirely irrelevant to the point. The point, which you have brazenly evaded, I shall repeat for your convenience:

            You cannot state that 80% of the land being “state-owned” (public) does not make it ethnically biased, if Velu’s argument in the first place is that the state is institutionally and structurally, ethnically biased.

          • Gamarala

            Oh and off the cuff,

            I hope you’ll readily forgive me for not realising that you would use the phrase with such scholarly rigour.

          • Off the Cuff

            Gamarala,

            You seem to have forgotten “the point” you were contesting in the first place. Wonder why?

            Extract from OTC 12/04/2012 • 12:00 am,
            PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY.
            End Extract

            Gamarala:- “What sources do you have to support the claim that 80% of Sri Lanka’s land is public?” (12/04/2012 • 11:43 am)

            Me:- Please see the 2004 January, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report “Investment Policy Review Sri Lanka” page 43 for the CURRENT Land ownership status, 80% Public and 20% Private. (12/04/2012 • 10:32 pm)

            Gamarala:- “The report states that 80% of the land is “state-owned”, which of course, is not entirely the same as “public”, other than in a very indirect sense” (12/05/2012 • 6:32 pm)

            Me:- So we have 80% Land owned by the State which leaves a balance of 20%. Do the Public directly own any of it? Could you please elucidate and share your “WISDOM”? (12/06/2012 • 12:47 pm)

            You now say “You may use “public” and “state-owned” however you wish.”

            I used it in the context of normal English usage but you are attempting to give a new meaning to it (or pervert it). So be a man and either withdraw what you say and end the deception or stand by your statement and prove it with authoritative references.

            “It is entirely irrelevant to the point”

            If it was irrelevant, why did you raise it as your SINGULAR question, the first time you engaged me on this subject on 12/04/2012 • 11:43 am?

            You say “The point, which you have brazenly evaded, I shall repeat for your convenience: You cannot state that 80% of the land being “state-owned” (public) does not make it ethnically biased, ….”

            I do not see your logic, if there is any in the above.
            Kindly be more explicit and show us how State Ownership, translates in to an Ethnic Bias!

            First you claim that “State Ownership” is not “Public Ownership”. Now you claim that State Ownership is “Ethnic Bias”. This is getting to be a very interesting intellectual discourse. Please establish what you say, with authoritative references to support your “Wise” claims.

            When you originally questioned me, you thought I did not have a reliable source (in fact I have more, I gave you just one). You were taken aback to see the source was a UN document. Then you thought you could belittle the 80% Public Ownership of Land by giving an idiotic interpretation to the terms “State Owned” and “Public Owned”. When called upon to substantiate what you wrote, you realised your mistake and is now trying to back peddle.

            And oh Gamarala, it is you who is BRAZENLY and desperately trying to avoid the point. So don’t attempt another Velu, by trying to run with the goal posts.

          • Gamarala

            Dear Off the rocker,

            I am happy to grant you that public owned = state owned. Does that resolve that issue?

            Now, let’s focus on the issue that is really important. Your statement was “Which fool says that PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY”.

            My point was simple, if the state is institutionally and structurally ethnically biased, you cannot claim that “public property” is equally owned. Certainly, it might be equally owned “on paper”, but in practice, the state’s ethnic bias would render that useless. Comprende?

          • I think what Gamarala says is fairly obvious. State-owned and publicly-owned both denotatively mean the same thing. But connotatively they mean quite two different things. When someone say something is state-owned, you rightly understand that it’s the government (president, ministers, bureaucrats) who owns it, whereas when you say something is publicly-owned, you’d thinking about a much better world where people own it. When you say people, that includes all citizens, including Tamils.

            Denotatively they mean the same. Connotatively they are quite different.

            So if the government owns something, and Sinhalese people control the government, effectively it’s the Sinhalese that control the government property.

          • Off the Cuff

            Gamarala,

            Back to your childish antics when you fail to make a cogent argument? I expected the previous unsuccessful bout of childish tantrums (on another thread regarding the 13A which you ran away from) would have mellowed you but apparently that was too much of an expectation.

            Now that you have dispensed with your original puerile objection based on semantics and have accepted that “State owned” means that such property is owned by the “General Public”, hopefully we can proceed to argue Velu’s claim of

            quote
            “Which fool said my plot of land must be equal to my neighbour’s plot? ………Land ownership is determined historically and whether it is 35%, 75% or more is immaterial”
            unquote.

            My post was in response to the above. What we are concerned with here, is how resources that are OWNED by the General Public (in this case Land, Sea Coast, Water resources etc) SHOULD be shared. We are concerned with how this so called ethnic question could be resolved.

            I see the demand by Some Tamils like Velu Balendran and proponents of an Exclusive Historical Tamil Homeland, for an UNEQUAL, UNJUST and UNFAIR share of PUBLIC resources as the main cause standing in the way of a resolution.

            My contention is that such resources should be shared Equitably, Justly and Fairly. Amongst ALL citizens of Sri Lanka and the ONLY way that this could be achieved is by doing so on a per capita base, disregarding all differences such as Ethnicity, Religion, Language, Cast, etc.

            Before we proceed further, please state your position succinctly and unambiguously in order to exclude extraneous issues that will cloud the main issue.

          • Off the Cuff

            Sharanga,

            Please read the whole thread including my debate with Velu on Land and the Historical claims here
            http://groundviews.org/2012/11/30/the-icg-report-on-tamil-politics-and-the-quest-for-a-political-solution-the-blind-spot/#comment-49782

            You say “I think what Gamarala says is fairly obvious. State-owned and publicly-owned both denotatively mean the same thing”

            The problem is Gamarala did not says what he says now, earlier.

            Please also see my reply to Gamarala here
            http://groundviews.org/2012/11/29/destiny-of-a-weerawansa-referendum-abolishing-the-13th-amendment/#comment-49875

            We are discussing how public property should be shared.
            We are discussing a Principle.
            Please do not confuse the Regime with the Principle.

            You say “When someone say something is state-owned, you rightly understand that it’s the government (president, ministers, bureaucrats) who owns it”

            I am sorry to disagree with you. The President, Ministers and Bureaucrats are SERVANTS of the Public. They do not own anything other than their private belongings.

            You say “whereas when you say something is publicly-owned, you’d thinking about a much better world where people own it. When you say people, that includes all citizens, including Tamils”

            Sharanga, I do not recognise any divisions amongst Sri Lankans.

          • off the cuff,

            Even in accounting, there’s a concept called “Substance over form”. The idea is that reality trumps legal form. The idea is to prevent companies from hiding behind legal definitions when they make their financial statements.

            Words have two kinds of meanings. There is denotative meanings; the kind that you find in dictionaries. Then there are connotative ones, the kind that is implied, even though never explicitly stated. Any good pamphleteer would be able to give you day long lecture on how to say the same thing in different ways so that the reader gets different impressions.

            State-owned and public-owned essentially mean the same thing. But you’re trying to smuggle in additional meanings associated with the word “public” in order to strengthen your argument. Th”is is really an informal logical fallacy. It is very much like saying Martin Luther King is a criminal.” Of course, denotatively, criminal means anyone who breaks the law. So the sentence is right. But connotatively, criminal means a lot of other things, and none of those meanings can be applied to Martin Luther King.

            In any case, we can agree that state-owned and public-owned both actually mean that it’s government owned. Once you realize that, then in order to make the argument you are making, you need to prove the government equally represents everyone’s interests. This is really not the case.

            The government in principle does represent everyone’s interests. Also, in principle, the President and ministers are all public servants. I give you that. I give you that.

            But substance over form. Is the President, in reality, a servant of the public? Our president acts like a king, talk like a king, and call himself a king. That’s what reality is. And in reality, ministers hardly ever act like servants of the public. Also in reality, government does not represent everyone’s interests equally regardless of their race or gender.

            You say “I do not recognise any divisions amongst Sri Lankans.” I do not recognize Yapa exists. That doesn’t prove anything. Your statement that you don’t recognize any divisions among Sri Lankans, is your statement of what you believe. It is not something you have established either through logical argument or through empirical evidence as an objective fact about reality. What matters here is not what you think how the world should be, but how the world really is.

          • Off the Cuff

            Sharanga,

            If your parents die intestate and you are one of several children, it would be necessary for a court of law to adjudicate on how that estate would be shared amongst the siblings in order that each sibling receives a Just, Equitable and Fair share of the estate. The estate consists of a Land bordering the sea.

            What in your opinion is a Just, Fair an Equitable share of the estate that each sibling is entitled to?

            The following meanings apply. Fair, just, equitable, mean free from favour toward either or any side.

            Fair implies a proper balance of conflicting interests, as in a fair decision.

            Just implies an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper as in a just settlement of territorial claims.

            Equitable implies a less rigorous standard than just and usually suggests equal treatment of all concerned as in the equitable distribution of the property.

            You say “Also in reality, government does not represent everyone’s interests equally regardless of their race or gender”

            Such acuity and insight!
            Unfortunately, the reality is, that we don’t live in a world devoid of Governments but in a world where governments makes laws and rules. But even if a govt is a rogue govt, it is irrelevant to a discussion, within a set of defined parameters, on what the PRINCIPLE should be in sharing common resources.

            In the USA some lands are held in the public domain by the federal government. Sri Lanka too has such land held in the public domain (around 85% historically) which currently is about 80%. In the USA this land cannot be alienated from Federal Authority.

            My posts discuss how such land should be shared by the public of Sri Lanka, on a fair, just and equitable principle. By definition everything other than fair, just and equitable has been excluded from what I have written. You are welcome to contest what has been written. Unfortunately you have been unable to do that with a logical argument.

          • I get the feeling that we’re talking past each other’s ears here.

            Look, there’s no question about how public-owned land (state-owned/government-owned) should be shared by the public. They should shared on a fair, just, and equitable principle. As to what constitutes a fair, just and equitable principle is another question.

            The operative word in the above paragraph is “should”. That’s how it “should” be done. But Gamarala wasn’t talking about how it should be done, but rather how it is done.

            I don’t think he has any problem with sharing the land on fair, just and equitable principle (conditional on what that principle is). His argument is about how it is done at the present. The state is institutionally, structurally, ethnically biased towards the Sinhalese so that currently public property is shared unequally.

            It is also easy to imagine what prompted him to make that argument. You said:

            Which fool says that PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY.

            Perhaps what you are trying to say is that public property is not owned by anyone other than the government. This is technically true. Public property is government property. But I think Gamarala, like many others here, including myself, very reasonably took that to mean that you are saying that public property is equally shared by the public, regardless of their ethnicity.

            Technically, there’s no question who owns public property. It’s the government. But that doesn’t mean public property is equally shared by the public regardless of ethnicity. What Gamarala was saying, is that since the state is biased, that sharing of public property is biased too, favouring the Sinhalese.

          • Off the Cuff

            Sharanga,

            You say “It is also easy to imagine what prompted him to make that argument. You said: Which fool says that PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY.”

            You should look further up on the thread to understand the phraseology of my comment. Read Dingiri’s comment (11/30/2012 • 3:53 pm ) and Velu’s response to it (12/01/2012 • 3:02 am). My phraseology was meant to be a match to Velu Balendran’s.

            Gamarala and I have discussed the 13A and the “Exclusive Tamil Homeland Claim” previously and he is fully aware that my posts discuss what SHOULD be done and not what is being done. He knows that I debate the principle, not the current state of affairs. Hence the operative word is SHOULD and nothing else.

            Please read http://groundviews.org/2012/05/29/itaks-plan-of-attack-the-breakout-strategy/#comment-44977

            Gamarala intervened in that thread on 06/02/2012 • 11:32 am (http://groundviews.org/2012/05/29/itaks-plan-of-attack-the-breakout-strategy/#comment-45079)

            He wrote 7 posts, each of which I replied. He failed to respond to my last post on 06/08/2012 • 9:08 pm which still remains unanswered.

            You can observe the deterioration of Gamarala’s responses from an arrogant tone to a downright childish one. His post of 12/08/2012 • 6:01 am in this thread is an example of his childishness. He foolishly believes that, childish distortions of my pseudonym, will give him a debating advantage.

            You say “The operative word in the above paragraph is “should”. That’s how it “should” be done. But Gamarala wasn’t talking about how it should be done, but rather how it is done”

            That Gamarala was clueless about the provisions contained in 13A is abundantly clear to anyone reading the thread I referred you to earlier. Hence Gamarala is not in a position to discuss even what is being done as he is unaware of what is being done, let alone what should be done.

            When you read Velu’s reply to Dingiri above, you can see that Velu is trying to defend the Exclusive Tamil Historical Homeland claim.

            Dingiri – Shouldnt the Sinhalese at least have a say in how much land the Tamils secede with? Especially when they have generously helped themselves to 35% of the landmass and 75% of the coastline?

            Velu – Which fool said my plot of land must be equal to my neighbour’s plot?
            Velu goes on to assert, “Land ownership is determined historically and whether it is 35%, 75% or more is immaterial”

            I have contested Velu’s assertions with “Which fool says that PUBLIC PROPERTY is owned unequally favouring one ethnicity or the other? Well over 80% of Lanka’s land is PUBLIC PROPERTY.”

            I have also contested Velu’s version of history with indisputable evidence from Dutch National Archives and an observation from Dr Pradeep Jeganathan. Gamarala thought I was bluffing about the extent of Public Property and was taken aback to find that I was quoting a UN document.

            Gamarala cannot say that he had not read what I wrote 6 months ago on GV, as he participated in that debate (05/31/2012 • 6:43 pm http://groundviews.org/2012/05/29/itaks-plan-of-attack-the-breakout-strategy/#comment-44977)

            Extract
            The Govt with a 84% land ownership, is the overwhelming land owner in Sri Lanka. Consequentially the majority of this land is uninhabited. 54% of the above land is within the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Provincial boundaries are an arbitrary colonial division and a tool used for administrative purposes and does not reflect how the land was inhabited by the population.
            84% of Lanka’s Land therefore, has no ethnic owner.
            End extract.

            Hence Sharanga, Gamarala was not discussing either the current situation or the principle of what it SHOULD be. He was trying to apply soothing balm on his damaged ego.

            Glad to note that you and I agree on the following
            You say “Look, there’s no question about how public-owned land (state-owned/government-owned) should be shared by the public. They should shared on a fair, just, and equitable principle.”

            Certainly, this is what I have been stressing all along and Gamarala knows it.

            You say “As to what constitutes a fair, just and equitable principle is another question”

            I have stated how it should be done very clearly and have supported my belief here on GV. My opinion is that it should be shared on a per capita basis (not ethnic, religious, cast, etc). I would like to hear yours and supporting arguments.

          • Off the cuff,

            I think I can’t contribute anything more to this is-should argument. You were making prescriptive statements while Gamarala was making descriptive statements without realizing that about each other was doing, which can only lead to a long, unproductive, circular debates. I believe I saved the two of you the time and effort you’d waste into such a pointless debate.
            **

            Since you have invited me, I’d like to discuss about the way you think it should be done.

            You believe that public property should be shared on a per capita basis. I’m not clear what you mean by that.

            There are two questions here.

            1. What do you mean by sharing? This is probably the most important question here. Especially, I need to know whether it involves relocating people.

            2. What do you mean by sharing on a per capita basis?

            You are opposed to sharing the public land (whatever that means) along any ethnic lines. So your reasoning really can’t be that Tamils should get only 5,511 sq km because they are 10% of the population (55,110 * 0.1). That would be sharing the land along ethnic lines instead of an ethnic blind per capita basis. So it should mean that everyone should get 0.0027555 sq km regardless of their ethnicity.

            Okay, but how is it different from how it is at the present, unless what you mean is that we should actually go ahead and divide the land equally(again, I really don’t yet know what you mean by sharing) among all individuals in a very communist way?

            Also, you are against the idea that land ownership should be determined historically. Okay, that would mean that if the Tamils ended up getting 5,511 sq km from, say, Western province, you’d have no objection to it, would you? Since your sharing on a per capita basis is ethnic blind, it really could be the result by purely random chance.

            I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. It’s just that I don’t see how your system would be different from how it is now unless you actually divide the land equally among all people in a very communist way, using an ethnic blind process.

        • dingiri

          Velu Balendran,

          As it stands, you dont have a plot. You once had one in Jaffna and the Sinhalese had their plot south of Elephant pass. You are trying to claim a disproportionately large plot at the expense of the Sinhalese and you are surprised that the Sinhalese are resisting? So who is the fool here? Jaffna has been a net exporter of food to the south. Onions, chillies, the best jack, the best mangoes and also food. There is also ground water. If the israelis can make a state for themselves in the dessert and export food to the world perhaps you should too in a land covered in trees if you put more effort into tilling the soil rather try to cook up lame arguments and fake history to grab more land. If you want more than your fair share you need to be able to prove your ownership with archaelogical and epigraphic evidence of a Tamil state in the Vanni and East. And remember to bring all this evidence with you when you meet up for negotiations with Weerawansa, Gamanpila and Ranawake! Good Luck!

        • Gamarala

          Thank you Sharanga, for your admirable restraint and patience.

          For my part, I find it difficult to suffer fools gladly, although I must doubtless be kinder to those who fell off the IQ tree, and hit every branch on the way down.

          Off the cuff, I am only infrequently inclined to bore readers to tears with long, hair-splitting harangues about trivialities and inanities, or indulge in narcissistic babbling about how right I am and how wrong everyone else is, when the general meaning is clear and comprehensible to those who are desirous of “getting to the point”.

          As Sharanga has explained, talking about some “abstract principle” is entirely irrelevant, when the reality clearly does not match theory. Most modern semi-educated humans will readily agree to key principles on fairness, democracy etc. But in the Sri Lankan context, the problem is precisely the absence of it.

          To deny this reality, to suggest that those who criticise or disagree are “rabble rousing”, and to prefer the ostrich algorithm as a panacea to this problem, is to find yourself in the wrong forum. Perhaps you meant to be on facebook, calming the population and stopping the “conspirators”? Groundviews appears to be an unfortunate mismatch, after all, discovering the problems faced by minorities, understanding different perspectives, and intelligently acknowledging the issues we all face in practice, is often a more demanding task 😉

          • Off the Cuff

            Gamarala,

            “For my part, I find it difficult to suffer fools gladly, although I must doubtless be kinder to those who fell off the IQ tree, and hit every branch on the way down”

            The Pudding is proved only when eaten. Though you try to place yourself high up on the IQ tree (narcissistic babbling???) you have been cutting the branch you sit on, at the wrong end, every time you try your hand at debating. Your prowess at debating was clearly exhibited in the thread that I have given Sharanga and your maturity denuded on this thread too, when instead of engaging with the subject matter, you descend to childishness. Hence of course, I acknowledge that you have a very high “IQ”

            Gamarala, you seem to share the views of Velu and though you have obviously read my responses to him in that thread about the ICG report, you decided to lie low and remain silent. It is cowardice to remain silent when the debate was on and to refer to it in a different thread where the reader is not aware of the original arguments.

            Velu made a statement on 11/30/2012 • 7:48 am which I consider inciting, unless charges made can be proven. Please look up the words that conveys the meaning of the following phrase “one that stirs up (as to hatred or violence) the masses of the people” in a standard English dictionary and let us know what you come up with.

            http://groundviews.org/2012/11/30/the-icg-report-on-tamil-politics-and-the-quest-for-a-political-solution-the-blind-spot/#comment-49748

            I responded with the following post countering Velu’s charges.

            http://groundviews.org/2012/11/30/the-icg-report-on-tamil-politics-and-the-quest-for-a-political-solution-the-blind-spot/#comment-49782

            Velu responded on 12/03/2012 • 6:24 am but instead of proving his statements, he tried to divert attention by dragging a Red Herring.

            Making unsupported inciting statements is Rabble Rousing.

            If you think Velu’s statements are correct please feel free to debate them. I will always accept a new view point if mine is proved wrong. But you have to prove me wrong with authoritative sources not with your puerile opinions.

            Are you willing to accept the challenge?

            You say “As Sharanga has explained, talking about some “abstract principle” is entirely irrelevant, when the reality clearly does not match theory”

            I have replied Sharanga, please read it. Try to stand on your own two feet without attempting to use Sharanga or anyone else as a crutch. Please tell me what this abstract principle is? Is it the existence of an “Exclusive Tamil Historical Homeland” or an “Exclusive Historical Tamil Habitat” encompassing the whole of the Northern and Eastern Provinces?

            I say NO, there is nothing of the sort. There is absolutely no historical evidence to support it. The Northern and Eastern provinces contain 54% of Public Domain land. The other 7 provinces combined contain 30% of Public Domain Land. Public Domain Land has no ethnic owner. The Public has common rights to it. Every single member of the public has EQUAL common rights. No one has special rights.

            Since you say “Most modern semi-educated humans will readily agree to key principles on fairness, democracy etc”

            You have obviously included yourself amongst the “Modern, semi-educated humans,” kindly define these principles without making vague verbose references that says nothing and conveys nothing.

            If you can prove that Velu is correct prove it, without writing balderdash.

  • Orion

    The majority Sinhala population will vote for the repeal of the 13A as they never were consulted. Majority Tamils never accepted the 13A and still they don’t. One reason is that the 13A was never implemented to see its effectiveness.
    Majority Sinhala Voting against the 13A will strengthen the Unitary Uni-Polar South. Majority Tamil voting against will strengthen their Thamil Eelam Demand. The Muslims will chose the side which would give them the most advantage is such division.
    India will have to deal with the fall-out of the widening gulf between the Tamil and the Sinhala communities.
    Anyway, abolishing of the 13A will not come before the March 2013 Geneva meeting of the UNHRC. If it did, the rift between Sri Lanka and India will widen causing earth tremor in the Region. India cannot afford to let its fault lines to widen between Chennai and New Delhi. Then there is Malaysia. It is now growling at Sri Lanka’s continued human rights abuse of Tamils.
    But there is a silver lining in the gathering storm cloud. That is, the Tamils and Sinhalese agree that 13A is not a solution. It is a good place to start to either come closer or keep widening the gap till it gives.

  • Citizen

    The politicians continue to play the communal card to entrench themselves in power ignoring the rights of the minorities. Maybe they will succeed but at the cost of national unity and democracy.

    Politics of majority rule does not translate as democracy. However the ruling clique does not mind these subtleties as long as they can make their bucks by fooling the people.

  • Velu Balendran

    As a Tamil I would advise my fellow Tamils not to take note of the fate of 13th A, as it is an engineered distraction of focus of Tamils, masterminded by the govt. After all whether the13th A survives or not matters little to Tamils who having realised the treacherous plan of the Sinhalese to convert SL into a Sinhala Buddhist country, are inexorably walking towards only viable solution of separation.

    If I am pressed for an opinion I’d say go to hell with the 13th A, but I may cheer you if you hold a referendum.

    • Hela

      Velu, Sri Lanka is primarily a Sinhala Buddhist country. Whatever anyone does to erase it will not succeed. Ranji malli’s benefactors do not recognise 13A. Yet they oppose repealing it. What a duplicity!

  • Jayalath

    13 th amendment , in other words the provincial council system . What is it and whom it for ? And what we made of it ? Honestly it gave us nothing , it was a money waster and it created far more problems than resolving problems . We do not need it , get this out from the country the minute you get it . I hope , the president and all his battalion have courage to do it as soon asthe opportunity had.personally For me this is a lottery , if we can do it ,it will be the day we really done some thing to the country and it’s great future . That also could be the judgement day of Sri lankans .

    Please let’s have a small round about this futile , chaotic , and disastrous 13th amendment .this was a fundamental disposal product of indo Lanka accord of 1987 .
    A resemblance of cancer, and delution of devolution, this is my perception over the 13 th A .we brought it as a solution to the ethnic conflict ,and it is noteworthy to say that did not practise at all where it made for . Instead ,it became a heaven for politicians to waste money . We would have renounced it long ago ,but our wise politicians ignored like they always do . their reluctant and sluggish attitude has dragged the reforms upto today , therefore this is a golden opportunity.

    Infact , it seems a new outbreak of Sri lankan politics ,already minority parties have shown their discontentment to abolish the 13 th A . I believe this approach needs to discuss with every one and make an unanimous decision as it can be antagonised minority parties . This is essential to take into wider consideration after negotiating with every one .
    Firstly the government has to deliver the assurance to win the support of them and how the government is going to deliver the more devolution power to the councials .We need to build the trust among us and make sure no one will be misled or deceived . President should try and be more assertive and attentive .

    However , the president has to ensure that all decisions are made for the benifits of all citizens in the country not an intention of aparthied .

  • Dev

    Wimal would make an excellent PM, now that the current one is expected to retire due to ill health Mahinda must resist giving it to a sibling and give it to Wimal !

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Mr Sunanda Deshapriya,

    I support a modified 13A with full devolution of Police and Land powers to the provinces but only if the following two conditions are met.

    1. Land that is PUBLICLY OWNED, should be shared by each province, in proportion to the number of citizens residing in a given province, on an island wide per capita basis, disregarding ethnic or any other division. This applies to any other PUBLIC resource (the principle of equal ownership of any public resource).

    2. The Constitution of Sri Lanka is based on a Unitary State and is held inviolate.

    You say “The numerical result of ‘Weerawansa referendum’ if it ever happens will pronounce that the 13 A should be abolished; and there’s only one reason why: Sinhalese compose the majority.”

    Weerawanse’s reasons for repealing 13A may or may not be racist. Let’s assume that it is racist. How did you logically arrive at a sweeping conclusion from that, to label the Sinhala majority as racist for it to be the SINGULAR reason for rejecting 13A?

    I believe you have erred in your assessment that 13A would be rejected by the majority simply on ethnic grounds. I believe it is a very naïve assessment, reached out of ignorance and a preconceived mindset. What if the rejection is based on other factors such as inequitable allocation of public resources or bias? How did you eliminate them?

    You seem to assume that the majority of Sri Lankan’s and specifically the Sinhalese are racist. Are you amongst a fair minded minority amongst a racist Sinhala majority?
    That is what your conclusion means.

    Is the only option available to the majority, to prove otherwise, is to commit harakiri by acceding to an inherently lopsided 13A, imposed on Sri Lanka by a foreign power?

    Can you prove that 13A as it stands today, is Just, Fair and Equitable to ALL citizens of Lanka?

    • Jayalath

      To.
      Off the cuff .
      Kindly could you describe why the 13 A you think should alter to give more power and keeps it ? And what is your assessment about it from the day it born ? Basically I would like to know the benifits that we gained having the 13 th A ? Thank you

      • Off the Cuff

        Jayalath,

        Bluntly put, Sri Lanka did not derive any benefit from 13A. It was forced on us by India and the Indians failed miserably to uphold their end of the Peace Accord agreement. Hence everything that was implemented under that accord from the Sri Lankan side could be abrogated.

        However, the Tamils and the Muslims who form a significant population should be allowed to govern themselves, in areas where they form a democratic majority, as they would have local needs that could be best addressed locally. Such governance should always be subordinate to Sri Lanka’s Constitution.

        The first draft was named “The Draft framework of Accord and Understanding”. This was later modified in ways favourable to the Tamils (Elusive Peace by William Zartman)

        Authors like Sunanda Deshapriya write about 13A though they are clueless about it. His inability to answer questions posed, for 4 days, raises questions about his bona fide.

        • Anuruddha Tilakasiri

          Many years ago I also used to support the 13A. I was even politically active, supporting the Amendment. But now I too realise it was forced upon us. But how do you think the Indians failed to uphold their part of the bargain?

          Give Sunanda a few more days. He might reply. Queries like those you have raised need a few days to respond to. He must be frantically scratching his head wondering what to say. If he doesn’t respond after about a week you can safely assume that he has no response and that you have won the argument. That is exactly what everybody else will also think.

          • Off the Cuff

            Here are some areas where India failed

            2.9 The Emergency will be lifted in the Eastern and Northern Provinces by August 15, 1987. A cessation of hostilities will come into effect all over the Island within 48 hours of the signing of this Agreement. All arms presently held by Militant Groups will be surrendered in accordance with an agreed procedure to authorities to be designated by the government of Sri Lanka.

            Consequent to the cessation of hostilities and the surrender of arms by Militant Groups, the Army and other security personnel will be confined to barracks in camps as on 25th May 1987. The process of surrendering of arms and the confining of security personnel and moving back to barracks shall be completed within 72 hours of the cessation of hostilities coming into effect.

            2.14 The government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions, and co- operate in the implementation of these proposals.

            2.16 These proposals are also conditional to the government of India taking the following actions if any Militant Groups operating in Sri Lanka do not accept this frameworK of proposals for a settlement, namely,

            A) India will take all necessary steps to ensure that Indian territory is not used for activities prejudicial to the unity, integrity and security of Sri Lanka.

            B) The Indian Navy/Coastguard will co-operate with the Sri Lanka Navy in preventing Tamil Militant activities from affecting Sri Lanka.

            C) In the event that the government of Sri Lanka requests the government of India to afford military assistance to implement these proposals the government of India will co-operate by giving to the government of Sri Lanka such military assistance as and when requested.

            D) The government of India will expedite repatriation from Sri Lanka of Indian citizens to India who are resident here, concurrently with the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu.

        • Off the Cuff

          Jayalath,

          Please follow the discussions here for more info on SL Land laws etc

          http://groundviews.org/2012/11/30/the-icg-report-on-tamil-politics-and-the-quest-for-a-political-solution-the-blind-spot/#comment-49782

          Also the discussion above (on this thread) with Velu, Gamarala and Sharanga.

          Please read the following about Land and Devolution. In fact the whole thread will give you a lot of info along with views from Dr Rajasingham Narendran, Dr Dayan J, Kadphises, Bira etc

          http://groundviews.org/2012/05/29/itaks-plan-of-attack-the-breakout-strategy/#comment-44977

          This is a thread you should read completely to gather info on matters of interest to you.

  • Happy Heathen

    sharanga
    12/08/2012 • 10:44 am

    Isn’t it the classic pitfall of democracy…and Sri Lanka is not in a unique situation in this regard.

    Australia is a good example, the government is white as it is voted by white people, not only they stole the land from the indigenous people but they control the entire mining and mineral section, but no one calls the mining and mineral section racist simply because they hold free and fair elections every 4 years?

    The bottom line is that in a one-man one-vote system Cingalese can out-vote Tamils and Muslims and any other minority combined at any given day, just like the good and well-informed Swiss people voted overwhelmingly banning Islamic minarets.

    Is it racist? Well that’s subjective.
    Is it wrong? Of course not, the good people of Switzerland are just practising their democratic right. The Swiss call it Direct Democracy and for Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is it Majoritarian Democracy (duh?). I fail to see the difference.

    Perhaps GG Ponnambalam saw this coming, hence the demand for 50/50?

    • Is it wrong? Of course not, the good people of Switzerland are just practising their democratic right.

      You realize that for this sentence to be true, you must first establish that pracitsing your democratic right is moral right. Why is it morally right to practise your democratic right? I didn’t see that argument in your comment?

      Don’t waste your time to come up with moral argument for democracy. All I want to say here is that democracy is not a sacred, automatically morally right thing. I’ve had my problems with democracy since I was 8 years old. It always seemed to me that democracy, simply defined as majority rule, would inevitably lead to tyranny of the majority.

      • Happy Heathen

        Yes I agree… that democracy is nothing but a popularity contest and that there is no co-relationship between morality and democracy hence my original argument. Just because the government is elected by Cinghalese the government doesn’t automatically become good or bad (or the land distribution being racist or not in this instance)

        After all due to the laws of probability and the demography the Sri Lankan government will invariably be a Çingalese government, just as the Tamil Nade government will be Tamil and the Australian government will be White/Anglo Saxon for a foreseeable future. This gets reflected in every aspect of the life.

        Just take a simple example of 100 equally qualified people applying for a job vacancy. The candidature consists of 75% Cingalese, 15% Tamils and 10% Muslims (roughly as per the demography of Sri Lanka) There is roughly a 75% chance of Cingalese being chosen for the job. Is this racist?

        • The answer to your last question is simply, no. What we usually mean by racism is discrimination or prejudice based on race. That’s not the case in the scenario you’ve given. But this is not relevant question here.

          Here’s a relevant question. Suppose a democratic government implements a law that says if a person belongs to Race-B, that person should get 10% more marks than a person of any other race should get to pass Examination-X. Here, this is a clear racism. The person of Race-B has to get more marks than others because and only because his race is Race-B. That’s racist. But it’s also very democratic, if you define democracy simply as majority rule.

          Now, what I think is, a country should not make such harmful decisions and hide behind democracy. There should be measures put to prevent exactly that kind of situation. This is in fact why classical liberals (and myself) were somewhat distrustful of democracy.

    • Off the Cuff

      “first establish that pracitsing your democratic right is moral right.”

      Next question. …. establish what is moral and immoral

      Next question…………. ?