The 13 amendment ‘The illegitimate child of Indian expansionism and Sri Lankan political naivety’
Posted on July 4th, 2009

Dr Sudath Gunasekara (President Senior citizen’s movement Mahanuwara)

19 11. 2008 -Now that once again the infamous and much debated 13th amendment is trying to raise its ugly head, I thought it appropriate and timely too, to highlight few critical issues on this subject in the broader interest of the nation so that it will open the way for a nationwide public debate.

The 13th amendment was brought up in pursuance of the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 29th July 1987 entered upon between Sri Lanka and India. This was singed by J.R.Jayawardene, the then President of Sri Lanka and Rajive Ghandi the Indian prime Minister. Though it was called an agreement, in reality it was the will of the Indian government imposed on JRJ by the Indian government under the able and cunning stewardship of Dixit the then Indian Ambassador in Sri Lanka. We all know how it was preceded by the famous ‘dhal invasion’ of Jaffna peninsular in August 1983, which demonstrated the high handed action on the part of Indian expansionism. It was a blatant violation of all accepted international diplomatic ethics. In fact we all still remember how Dixit summoned JRJ to his office and got JRJ succumbed to his dictations under threats of imminent invasion.

In the words of a group of patriotic people who made an analysis of it ‘The Indo-Lankan Agreement was an agreement between the two Heads of States that was conceived, incubated and hatched in the greatest secrecy’ until they were singed. They were singed under a country wide curfew and a total press censorship. Even the foreign Ministry was kept in the dark. Prime Minister Premadasa stayed out of the country in protest. Minister of Internal Security Lalith Atulathmudali also boycotted it. It was also singed under a country wide protest organized by the opposition under Mrs. B’s leadership. Thereafter JRJ used his steam roller majority of 5/6th to get it passed by the Parliament. The Chief Justice of the country also resigned and left for Australia in protest.

This was the backdrop under which JRJ used his dictatorial executive powers to get the 13th amendment through. This scenario makes it more than clear that he singed these agreements under pressure from India for his own political survival. It is also not surprising that he did so, when we recollect that it was he who said in 1920s that Sri Lanka of Dutugemunu and Parakramabahu is a thing of the past and if you want to develop the country, Sri Lanka should be affiliated to India as one of its regional states.

This tragic event in the political history of this country has once again highlighted the mistake of leaving everything in the hands of power hungry politicians, in matters dealing with the destiny of the nation. It also focuses on the serious vacuum created by the tragedy of absence of powerful national level leaders and organizations who can tame the politicians, when it comes to issues that decide the future destiny of the country.

All in all this chain of events clearly demonstrate that the Indo- Sri Lankan Agreements did not have the support of the masses in this country, in whose hands lies the sovereignty of the Republic which is also said to be inalienable. Obviously therefore the 13th amendment has violated article 3 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, although JRJ has legitimized it subsequently using his dictatorial executive powers. The Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was the result of a diabolical conspiracy hatched by India against Sri Lanka. It also has violated the provisions of Article 1 of the constitution which says that ‘Sri Lanka is a Free, Sovereign and independent country etc. Thirdly since by establishing provincial councils and the manner in which their functioning has been maneuvered, the unitary status of the Republic is also violated. (Article 2).The intension of the 13th amendment itself was not bon-fide. It was not enacted in the broader interest of the country and its people. JR singed this for his own survival and the survival of his government in the face the Indian threat.

One can argue that under the then prevailing rather sour Indo-Lankan relations (for which JRJ and his government was responsible) he had no choice. Therefore he had opted for the best choice in the interest of the country. But that is only mere rhetoric. The content of the agreements and the subsequent legislations (13th Amendment) clearly demonstrate how they have protected the interests of this country. Even the removal of civil rights of Mrs. B is a part and parcel of the same conspiracy.

Of the six amendments that were brought under the 13th amendment to the constitution, only amendments 2 and 4 are discussed here. The 2nd amendment amended Article 18 of the 1987 constitution which stated that the ‘Official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala’, making Tamil also an official language of Sri Lanka. It also said English shall also be the link language.
Amendment 4 on the other hand which amended sec 154 of the original Constitution added a new Article as 154 Aunder a new chapter XV11A and it provided for the establishment of the Provincial Councils. Under this it was proposed to establish a Provincial Council for every Province.

Each Council to have a Governor who will exercise executive powers in relation to subjects assigned to the Provincial councils. Legislative powers will be carried out by the Provincial Council headed by a chief Minister and a board of Ministers elected by the people of the Province. Wide and far reaching powers were given to the Provincial councils under the Ninth Schedule List 1, which is called the Provincial Council List. This includes practically all powers pertaining to governance within the province including among other things Land, Police powers, Legal powers tax and Finance These Councils were also given powers even to negotiate with foreign governments and organizations. This has been already done in the NWP when Jayawickrama Perera was the CM. Provision for establishing ‘Super Provinces’ were made under Article 154A ,(3) by combining two or three adjoining Provinces to form one administrative unit with one elected Provincial Council, one Governor, one Chief Minister and one Board of Ministers.

The main purpose of the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement was to find solutions to the so called ethnic problem said to be present here and find a solution to the North- East problem and restore peace and normalcy in the country. But it is rather ironical that it also included a clause to make Tamil also an official language and for repatriation of the estate Tamils who had already been declared to be Indian citizens. These manipulations and the proposal to establish nine Provincial councils on the Indian model and some times even going beyond in matters of devolution are definitely sinister moves on the part of subversive Indian politics.

What was even more serious were the provisions made to amalgamate two or three provinces to form one Provincial council? Here they went further by providing for a referendum to be held for the people of those provinces only to decide whether they should stay together as one administrative unit or get back to their status quo. This again is a nullification of the sovereignty of the people of this country. Probably the designers of this sinister plan would have had the North, East and the Uva or the Central Provinces where there is a majority Tamil population to form in to this happy pro-Indian Tamil nadu within Sri Lanka. The fact that Saumya Moorthi Thondaman has already had discussions prior to this event at Ella Rest House with some foreign donor agencies to construct a super high way to link Nuwara Eliya and Badulla with Batticaloa support this argument and conspiracy.

In fact the recommendation of Provincial Councils for the other provinces as well was made only to hoodwink the southern people. In reality India wanted them only for the East, North and another Province of their choice, where there was a sizable Tamil population. Following the 13th amendment fortunately only the North and East provinces were merged and that also had to be dissolved after Vardharaja Perumal declared independence. The proposed referendum for the people of the two Provinces to decide whether they should remain as one or two was never held. After nearly fifteen years of debate, thanks to the JVP who went to courts, finally the North- East provinces were demerged and now the first danger of Provinces getting together on an ethnic basis to form the Tamilnadu in Sri Lanka, perhaps what the Indian had in their minds when they designed the Agreement is no more there. It should be noted that even today Perumal is kept as a ‘state guest’ by India.

Although the two Provinces have been demerged consequent to a court order we cannot remain complacent that the danger is over particularly when we see the emerging new moves, both in international and local lobby circles to implement the 13th amendment. As we all know nearly for 15 years we did not have a provincial council for the North and the East for which it was really intended. Instead we have Provincial Councils in all other Provinces; causing an additional burden to the coffers of the state and enormous confusion to the good governance of this little Island nation. Since previously I have in several occasions discussed at length the tragedy of the Provincial Councils, I do not intend to deal further on that issue here. Instead now I will divert to a brief discussion as to why the 13th amendment should not be taken up at this critical moment of history of this Island nation.

As you would have already seen from the above observations neither the Indo-Sri Lannkan Agreement nor the 13th Amendment was ever wanted by the people of this country, with whom the country’s sovereignty rests. The agreement was something imposed from above by India against the wishes and sovereignty of the people of this country and the 13th amendment was thrust upon the people by JRJ to safeguard his political survival and none of the subsequent legislations were passed or implemented in the interest of the recipient country or its people.

Three major things happened as a sequel to the 13th amendment. They were unprecedented and critical too, in the context of the political future of this country.

1 Setting up of 8 Provincial Councils
2 Making Tamil also an official language (perhaps the only country in the world with two
official languages)
3 Repatriation of nearly 500,000 estate Tamils who should have been otherwise sent to India
under the then prevailing laws

Establishment of Provincial Councils was the biggest bane in this game. It not only strengthened the political boundaries set by the British for the permanent division of the Island in 1889 but it also further polarized the minority groups, both Tamils and Muslims who were clamoring for separation. The establishment of PCC also has multiplied the political and administrative institutions, which have in turn increased the government’s expenditure with almost zero returns. State of California in USA, six times larger than Sri Lanka, has only one Governor but this tiny Island has nine governors and nine Provincial Councils with a top heavy expensive state machinery over burdened with politicians and officials. For whose benefit do they exist? The increases in the number of political institutions, politicians, officials, offices and connected expenditure to maintain them were phenomenal and unbearable for a small country like ours. The waste, corruption, duplication etc also have unprecedentedly increased in keeping with the Parkinson’s Law. 

The new system also has increased ethnic polarization. Neither the LTTE terrorism nor the tendency for ethnic segregation among the Tamils has ceased or decreased as a result of this agreements or the implementation of the 13th amendment. Instead all problems in all fronts have escalated and it has even given new inspiration to Muslims and the estate Tamils also to agitate for separation. The proportional representation system of elections introduced by the 1987 constitution has made things even worse by complicating the election process and adding to the cost and above all alienating the elected from the voter and creating electorates without representatives; thereby making representative democracy a big mocker and a joke in this country.

As such the remedy recommended has now become worse than the malady itself. Therefore it could be safely stated that the overall outcome of this whole exercise has been disastrous to this country’s future. It only has consolidated the sinister intensions of colonial policies of divide and rule and the intentions of India of balancing political power at home and keeping Sri Lanka destabilized. The continuation of this system could be even more disastrous for the future of this country both politically as well as economically. What this country needs today is not policies that perpetuate and accelerate the disintegration of the Sri Lankan State but to look for ways and means of re-establishing the political stability, once we had in this country for millennia.

Therefore it is high time that we drop this curse and political cancer, the trap laid by the colonial masters by marking them on ground as well as in the minds of the minorities and that was given political and legal meaning and substance by India, at least now, and go for some pragmatic and meaningful system like the ancient ‘Tun Rata’ concept which will not only once again bring back political stability and ethnic harmony but also economic and social prosperity to this Island as one nation. I think Sri Lanka has already established an unbeatable world record as the country that has the highest number of Ministers, politicians and public officials, political and administrative institutions and that spends the highest percentage of the national income to maintain them, compared with other countries in the whole world. This also means the biggest burden to the public coffers adding very little or nil to national production.

The Provincial Council system and proliferation of unwanted and superficial public institutions is one of the biggest burdens we face today as a nation. Arresting proliferation of both political and administrative institutions therefore is a sine qua non, if any one is serious in good governance that marks efficiency, honesty and economy, in this country. The existing system only accelerates negativity in nation building and distances us far and further away from positivity. Why should this country labour the luxury of maintaining 874 politicians (including 9 Governors and 155 Ministers) when it could be run more efficiently with about 280 politicians and 27 Government Agents as shown below after devolution of power to Three political divisions and decentralization of administration to 27 districts.? See the following table for details.

  Present Proposed
President 1 1
Prime Minister 1 1
Governors 9 3
Total 11 5
  Present   Proposed
MPP Parliament 225   125
Provincial CS 638 (3 Ratasabhas) 150
Ministers Parliament 109   15
Provincial Councils 45 (3 Ratasabhas) 45
Total No Politicians 10+225+638= 873   4+125+150=279
           

 This is on the assumption that the country will be governed by one government at the
centre with a Parliament headed by a President and three Rata Sabhas, Ruhunu, Pihiti
and Maya. As it is I think Sri Lanka has the highest number of politicians and political
institution in the including Minister and Ministries and public servants in the whole
world. The expenditure incurred on this machinery therefore in y opinion is a criminal
wastage. It could be reduced at least by 50% and that could be gainfully diverted to
national development if we adopt the proposed system. In this backdrop my view is, that
not only the 13th amendment should be scrapped but the 1987 Constitution itself should ne
replaced with a new one that could bring about political stability and balanced
development in the country.

7 Responses to “The 13 amendment ‘The illegitimate child of Indian expansionism and Sri Lankan political naivety’”

  1. PRIYAN WIJEYERATNE Says:

    Well said!! I could not agree more. We need to think carefully. Ask the people and they will tell you what to do. “Thun Rata” is the best solution. Together we can legislate equal opprotunity and equal employment rights to all Sri Lankans. This will bring Sri Lanka in par with Australia and rest of the western world. Aborigines in Australia do not ask for a separate state because one they will never get it, two they do not want it and three they are discriminated by their own backwardness and not by the white Australians. Tamils in Sri Lanka who are saying that they are being discriminated in their homeland must come out of this “bad dream” and get together with all Sri Lankans in nation building and shareing its good fortunes.

  2. jana Says:

    Politicians and there henchman have been the bain of this country. We dont need any more of them. I agree with the writer that the 13th amendment must be put into the dust bin of history. Disagree that it needs to be replaced with another. We have too many politicians already not forgetting that the country has to bear burden of there families as well.

  3. Harris Says:

    Dear Dr Sudath Gunasekara (President Senior citizen’s movement Mahanuwara)

    I read your article and was fully impressed with your views over the reality of the 13th ammendment and also with the new proposal of three provincial governments.

    Basically, I don’t like to have any provincial governments in our country other than to have the powerful Dristict councils. As Sri Lanka has already been in the provincial council set up by having them (8 PCs) for decades it would be difficult to turn back and stay at District councils alone. Therefore, the best option is to set three provices as you have suggested tp protect the unity of the country.

    Brilliant idea.

    Please forward your article to all the politicians, news papers and to all the responsible people if you have not done it so far. Take action to educate as much as possible.

    Thank you

    Harris from NZ

  4. cassandra Says:

    This certainly is a huge improvement on the 13th Amendment that is being touted like some magic nostrum to fix the Tamil ‘problem’. 13A was bad, forced on Sri Lanka and sought to address a problem current 22 years ago. The landscape is very different today. And we have had a chance to see how useless 13A is. It is time to think anew and this proposal is to be commended.

  5. ahangama Says:

    Great idea.

    Now let’s plan on making a way to pass it as a referendum. A referendum does not need to be what the present constitution says. The fact that it would replace the current government system takes it above the current law.

    May I humbly suggest that the constitution is the covenant of the people agreeing on principles by which they agree to live together? That means, they need to understand what it says. That is, it has to be written by people for people, therefore, in SINHALA. Other countries that have self-dignity do not let foreigners suggest changes to their constitution. (And those people speak in their native language). We can have a certified copy of it in Tamil but not in English. In the event of a need to have it interpreted in English, let it be done by those who want it. The government should not be obligated to provide translations of the constitution to anyone.

    I have a complementary Sinhala blog on the subject of the need for a new constitution at:
    http://harimaga.blogspot.com/
    It is only if you understand Sinhala. It is not in Unicode Sinhala, but just plain romanized Sinhala. You need to use the Firefox browser and Suriyakumara smart font to read it. Please visit that blog and make your comments. You can make anonymous comments and use English for the purpose, if you are embarrassed to write in Sinhala. If you want to reply in romanized Sinhala, read:
    http://LovataSinhala.com, especially its Liyanna page.
    If you want to read the first constitution of Ceylon used after Independence, see it here:
    http://LovataSinhala.com/1945
    I suggest you read the first few pages and then read also pages starting at page 046. You will read some very interesting comments by the British about discrimination.

  6. Abbey Says:

    I think it is time to come out of the servility to English occupation. These constitutions, system of government, instruments of governance and managing society is wholly based on the barbaric system of English monarchy that uses the ultimate power of the armed forces made of brainwashed poor and underprivileged humans who would do any harm to fellow humans on orders coming from their masters. Talking of tinkering with such a system operated by the local English minority and its servile members is an insult to the Sinhala people. Though many of you fail to recognise, there are the English System of Government, Sinhala System of Government and the Natural System of government functioning in Sinhale’ (Lanka) in varying degrees. Though much attention is given to the pathetic English System of government becoming continually dysfunctional and outdated and living on borrowed time, it is time to ignore it and let it die. Obviously, I am not going to talk about other systems in detail, though the natural system of government will remain forever, every where, as it is the almighty that decide the fate of life. Being submerged under English oppressive governance, many of those affected by it have succumbed to its pressure and have no ability to find a way out of their misery. Like flipping coin, they just keep picking one or the other side. Some are even going backward to solve so-called concerns of minorities. It is in a way extremely funny given the majority suffering enormously under this alien system of government, those migrants who settled during the English occupation keep on complaining for more rights while enjoying the best that they never had in their own countries of origin.

    As someone with the least interest in this pathetic government breathing its last, your solution sounds more like a miniature version of the same combined with what you called Thun Rata concept. We had many silly set ups of governance and in fact they are all results of those unworthy of leadership becoming leaders under some of the greatest rules of respect, unfortunately based wrongly on inheritance, developed by our civilisation. We are the first people who chose the first leader by Maha Sammatha consent, a along time ago. It is now developed in to the best of the criminals becoming the dictator for a fixed term by a worthless mark on a paper once in a while with no individual input in governance or other great values. This is the worst of the evil that has to be eliminated by coming up with a new system of governance, which will become a reality in the near future. The Thun Rata rule was evolved as a result of worthless scum who treated country as their fiefdom and divided among their children culminating the demise of Sinhala civilisation and turned us to the kind of weaklings that we are today.

    As people who created the scourge of post extinct human menace by offering their knowledge, Sinhala people are also responsible to some extent to solve this with a similar innovation to solve the problems we face today. As the criminal nature of the laws adopted from English occupation of many other countries that turned the native people into nobodies in their own territories by introducing the concept of citizenship controlled by the monarchy (Single authority) exists, we are left with many of those migrants speaking alien languages among us. As a matter of fact, language is the key to locate the native origin of any humans, which was developed under very orderly and calm life that humans had a long time ago under Sinhala rule of the known world before Hindu (animal) domination that caused its collapse. Though it is challenging, it is time to get rid of dead system of governance and advance the Sinhala System of governance with its latest innovations, which allow all beings to have their way of life in full until we overcome the evil of the English and resettle all these humans turned destitute and migratory under inhumane conditions prevailing around the globe. When this is done, many of you will rejoice and will be ashamed of trying to prop up the worst of the evil systems that sent many lives to extinction.

    Referring to one of the comments, I do regret for the commentator’s lack of knowledge about the Aborigines and the attitude shown towards them. As someone committed to protecting and building Sinhala civilisation that developed many great human values not available with those barbarians who live on others’ blood, I am appalled by the content and should emphasise that Sinhala people never let any one to treat others like scum just because of their stage of life on the long march outside the jungle. As the leaders of modern human civilisation that moved humanity outside the jungle, we know how hard it is to give up animal ways. Rather than going with the worst of the mass murderers who used our knowledge, originally developed to protect life, to take others’ lives, we must restrain these murderers as we are also responsible for their crimes by providing knowledge without thinking of consequences. Comparing situation in Lanka with an English colony built by mass murder and run by exploitation is an insult to humanness.

    Interestingly, English have selected the best of the filthy scumbags and installed them in power so that they will never make any headway, rather will go down and turn life into hell over time. Now they have reached that level and whatever they do will turn things worse and have no escape. They really deserve this fate for being traitors to those who lovingly protected this scum for so long as their own by Sinhala people. Only Sinhala leaders watching all this pain and suffering from a distance have the best of solutions. It is an irony that they are the least interested to protect this evil scum. But they will stand up and make their presence felt when their children, the Sinhala civilisation, is affected by the deeds of these stinking morons.

  7. ahangama Says:

    Abbey, good girl!

    Your analysis is flawless. You seem to know so much about history. Now what do you propose doing? How about a constitution that elects representatives from local electorates to a single legislature? That is still like the British Westminster system. So, do you have a nice, indigenous alternative? Let’s discuss that. We need people like you who still hold the key for our heritage.

    Thank you.

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