Need to hold a National Referendum on the 13th Amendment
Posted on June 22nd, 2013

Mahinda Gunasekera Ontario Canada 

Urgent need to determine the will of the people on the question of retention or

abrogation of the controversial Thirteenth Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution  

The shameless act of our giant neighbor India to train and arm Tamil militant groups seeking to break up Sri Lanka in pursuit of their mono-ethnic separate state for Tamils in the early 1980’s, in contravention of her obligations in terms of the Pancha Sila Pact of Bandung and all other international conventions relating to the non-interference in the internal affairs of other states is well documented.  Subsequent aggressive acts of India led by Rajiv Gandhi such as violating Sri Lankan air space and having naval attack craft in Sri Lanka’s waters outside the capital city along with a threat of military intervention in support of Tamil separatists to please the Tamilnadu vote bank, further compounded the Indo-Sri Lanka issues. These non-neighborly measures culminated in the imposition of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 bringing with it a Provincial Council system based on the controversial Thirteenth Amendment modeled on India’s federal system which was implemented by President J.R. Jayawardene employing unethical means to coerce his ruling UNP caucus from whom he had previously obtained undated letters of resignation to pass the enabling legislation against tremendous opposition from within his own party and outside.

The Thirteenth Amendment was referred to a panel of nine Judges of the Supreme Court of whom four objected to its adoption, four other judges acceding whilst the ninth judge had maintained partial objections to certain clauses. Despite a majority of objections, President Jayawardene who feared Indian military intervention used his party’s steamroller majority to pass the Bill without reference of this important legislation to the people for their decision at a national referendum.

India failed to satisfy her undertaking to disarm the Tamil militant groups within 72 hours in terms of the Accord and later went on to do battle against some of their trained protƒÆ’†’©gƒÆ’†’©s losing nearly 1100 soldiers and the architect of the Accord Rajiv Gandhi being blown up by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber on Indian soil.  Furthermore, an international agreement between two states will cover areas of mutual concern, such as, free trade, maritime/land boundaries, technical training, exchange of goodwill ambassadors, etc., but would never impinge on the constitution of any of the parties as seen in the Indo-Lanka Accord, which is an area exclusively reserved for the citizens of the respective country.

Sri Lanka’s experience with the Provincial Council system since its adoption in 1987 has been a dismal one, beginning with the combined North-East Provincial Council to which Indian Government nominees were appointed under Chief Minister Vardaraja Perumal, only to find the newly formed council passing a resolution to unilaterally declare independence (UDI) from the rest of Sri Lanka, which was negated promptly by the executive bringing the administration under a governor.  On the financial side, it has been a thorough failure with most observers describing it as a “ƒ”¹…”white elephant‘ devouring funds that mainly benefited the elected representatives and their cohorts taking up almost 85 percent leaving a measly 15 percent to cover services to the resident population. The system tends to establish regional barriers leading to secessionist tendencies, a multiplicity of litigation between the Centre and the Provinces due to the overlap of responsibilities, and the added risk of certain provinces where the separatist sentiments continue to breed using Police, Land and other powers to once again attempt to break up the sovereign unitary state of Sri Lanka with outside help.  Canada which counts 146 years since confederation still faces the break up of the country as both the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois at the provincial and federal levels still seek an independent Quebec as they claim the French Canadians are a distinct society, whilst ignoring the rights of the indigenous First Nations people who languish in third world conditions.

Sri Lanka has to without delay ascertain the views of the people who have so far been denied a voice in respect of the laws promulgated in terms of the Thirteenth Amendment which seriously affected the structure and form of government to which they have been subjected to for the past 26 years.  It has been a highly undemocratic step to bypass the people in adding such laws to the Statute Book.  His Excellency the President has no other choice but to refer the question of retaining or abrogating the Thirteenth Amendment to the people to decide at a National Referendum.  If the decision were to abrogate the Thirteenth Amendment, Sri Lanka could consider the grant of adequate decentralized powers to District Councils which could be easily  serviced through District Secretariats, along with enhanced powers at the grass roots where the majority of the people live similar to the Panchayat model.  In addition, share some powers at the Centre by co-opting the elected members and qualified experts within the minority communities to Advisory Bodies to be set up for key Ministries where they would have input in the development of policy, plan implementation and monitoring process giving them an opportunity to have a say in the day to day governance of the nation.  Special ministries to safeguard and nurture the minority languages, culture and religions similar to those available to the majority community could be retained as at present.  Let us act now to safeguard our ancient land inhabited by all the great religions and philosophies where we could guarantee equal rights, peaceful co-existence and many opportunities for growth for all.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera OntarioCanada

8 Responses to “Need to hold a National Referendum on the 13th Amendment”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Mahinda !! This is the same concept I articulated on the 18th June 2013, in this same forum. There are attempts to circumvent this for a possibly malicious cause. There is no other antidote for the 13th Indian Rope Trick, than a REFERENDUM. Hope wise counsel will prevail in the President.

  2. Senevirath Says:

    MUHUNA NAAKI PAATAYA
    REVULA THADA KALU PAATAYA
    SAATAKE DUMBURU PAATAYA
    PAATA VEDI EKA APATA NARAKAYA

    “””puluvannam thoranu hondai

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    The president is not firm. He says one thing and does another.

    A simple referendum of YES and NO can resolve this problem.

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    The Kinder Garteners in Parliament are helping him to cook his own Goose. The problem is that the President himself is unable to say YES or NO.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    WONDERFUL! The British Tamil Forum is one of the main Eelamist Tamil Diaspora organizations. If they don’t want Power Devolved under the 13th Amendment, then the GOSL will NEVER satisfy the Eelamist Tamil DEMANDS with it, because it is the Eelamist Tamil Diaspora that is driving the pressure brought to bear on Sri Lanka by Western countries to do devolve power.

    It is JUST AS WE HAVE SAID ALL ALONG: No reasonable accommodation can be achieved with the Eelamists; they want outright secession, just as the late unlamented Velupillai Prabhakaran wanted all along. He fought when he felt powerful, and talked when he was on the ropes, but NEVER BUDGED from his goal of an INDEPENDENT EELAM STATE. So it is with the Eelamists of today.

    Therefore, AT LEAST NOW, dear Mr. President, TAKE A STAND and set an EARLY DATE for a NATIONWIDE REFERENDUM to REPEAL the 13th Amendment and DISSOLVE the Provincial Council System, and LET THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE OF Sri Lanka DECIDE the ISSUE!

    The RIGHT TO ELECT one’s candidates to the National Parliament is FRANCHISE ENOUGH for any Law Abiding Citizen. Only SEPARATISTS and Provincial Council Bureaucrats with CUSHY JOBS paid by the Sri Lankan Taxpayer want Provincial Councils. GET RID OF THEM, they are a source of ABUSE & WASTE, and are a RAVE THREAT to the INTEGRITY OF THE COUNTRY. Tiny Sri Lana DOES NOT NEED another layer of EXPENSIVE & UNNECESSARY BUREAUCRACY …. it makes Sri Lanka NON_COMPETITIVE in the Global Marketplace!

    NEVER …. NEVER ….. NEVER let the UNREPENTANT SEPARATISTS Control Provincial Councils, or we will have COMMUNAL WARFARE AGAIN in Sri Lanka!

    ………………….
    British Tamils Forum Rejects Any Political Solution Based On The 13th Amendment

    ColomboTelegraph.com
    June 16, 2013

    “Tamils reject any political solution based on the 13th amendment – it neither addresses the root cause of the conflict nor safeguards the Tamil national interest on the island.” says the British Tamils Forum.
    Issuing a statement the British Tamils Forum says it insists that any political solution to the Tamil National Question has to be conducted through an internationally mediated referendum – only this can lay the foundation for a lasting peace and satisfy the socio-political and economic aspirations of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.

    We publish below the statement in full;

    Tamils reject any political solution based on the 13th amendment – it neither addresses the root cause of the conflict nor safeguards the Tamil national interest on the island.

    The 13th Amendment to the constitution, entrenched in the unitary state-centric model, cannot address the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka.

    This amendment to the constitution is not in any way a starting point, an interim or a final solution to the conflict and it prevents any lasting negotiated settlement, reached with the support of the International Community. The British Tamils Forum strongly denounces any efforts to impose this unsupported and failed political response, which was reached for the benefit and interest of two countries – India and Sri Lanka – without consulting the Tamil Nation.

    The 13th Amendment has several flaws: executive power will be exercised by a Provincial Governor appointed by the President; public services in the province will be controlled by the Governor; the President has the power to dissolve the Provincial Council; the Governor is not duty bound to the advice or instructions of the Chief Minister; the executive power of the Governor is subject to the control of the President; the Provincial Council cannot access the Provincial Fund without the sanction of the Governor; power over the police and public order is retained by the President; and the Disposition of State Land is also in the hands of the President; among many others.

    Due to these flaws and inadequate provisions, it has been consistently rejected by the Tamil people and political leadership at several democratic stages, in the past and at present, ever since this bilateral agreement was signed between India and Sri Lanka.

    The genocidal actions – pogroms, massacres, colonisation, land dispossession – committed by the Sri Lankan state in the Tamil homelands even under the current provincial council system foreshadow the realities of life following the 13th amendment.

    All those who seek a genuine solution to the Tamil question must remain vigilant against falling into the traps that have been set by the Sri Lankan state and certain external forces to impose the 13th Amendment or a watered-down version of 13th Amendment upon the Tamils.

    The Sri Lankan state, through its hard-line allies and ultra nationalist forces, has initiated a political campaign encouraging hard-line views and xenophobic sentiments on the 13th Amendment, with a view to diluting the amendment even further to its interest, before thrusting it upon the Tamils. This is clearly visible to observers of contemporary southern politics.

    In the contrast, certain external actors who aspire to play the role of ‘saviour’ in the Tamil-Sinhalese political arena are pushing for implementation of the 13th Amendment in its entirety, in the pretext of rescuing the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    On these grounds, the British Tamils Forum stands in solidarity with our people in our Tamil Homeland and state that any political initiatives grounded in the 13th Amendment cannot be feasible and will not create an enduring peace in Sri Lanka.

    The British Tamils Forum insists that any political solution to the Tamil National Question has to be conducted through an internationally mediated referendum – only this can lay the foundation for a lasting peace and satisfy the socio-political and economic aspirations of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Looks like nobody really wants the 13-A ! So let’s have that REFERENDUM and get rid of it, once and for all.

    If Tamil Eelam is created for Tamils Only, then the next step will be that Tamil Nadu will impose the full Caste System there for that is their ‘crowd control’ method for Greater Tamil Nadu. Tamils have fled Tamil Nadu to get away from the Caste System of Tamil Nadu. They do not want it re-imposed on them.

    The solution for all in Lanka is to get rid of the 13-A. Next, let the present TNA let go of the Tamil people and allow them to be Sri Lankans. Then proper governance of Lanka becomes a common problem for ALL Sri Lankans. We have the solutions at hand.

  7. Max Silva Says:

    WE should not get excited on the 13th.No use spending money on a stupid referendum.A referendum will come in the form of the next parliamentary elections in which case the likes of Vasu,Thissa Witharana,DEW,Rajitha etc,all freeloaders will be sent to the political dustbin.Of course Ranil Rajapakse will retain his life time job of leader of the opposition.

  8. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Quoting the article:”The Thirteenth Amendment was referred to a panel of nine Judges of the Supreme Court of whom four objected to its adoption, four other judges acceding whilst the ninth judge had maintained partial objections to certain clauses. Despite a majority of objections, President Jayawardene who feared Indian military intervention used his party’s steamroller majority to pass the Bill without reference of this important legislation to the people for their decision at a national referendum.” and the fact that the main objective of the 13th amendment was to end the war using the devolution of powers to the provinces failed and by that nullifies this amendment. It does not even deserve the nation’s attention for this piece of Indian garbage and should be summarily abolished. For example if the 13th amendment of the US to abolish slavery did not work then that amendment would be abolished for another. The same holds for this amendment. Instead an amendment that declares Sri Lanka a Buddhist nation that tolerates the function of other faiths but denies them the right to convert Buddhists but allows Buddhists to convert others. keep powers in the center. Stipulate that any party or organization that seeks foreign help in the domestic politics will be treated as an act of treason and that all political parties must place the integrity and unity of Sri Lanka above all else.

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