I cannot vote for this Bill-Gamani-The speech GJ could not make
Posted on July 16th, 2013

The late Gamani Jayasuriya, one-time UNP minister, who died two Saturdays ago, opposed the Indo-Lanka Accord as he perceived it to be detrimental to Sri Lanka’s national interest.

The late Gamani Jayasuriya, one-time UNP minister, who died two Saturdays ago, opposed the Indo-Lanka Accord as he perceived it to be detrimental to Sri Lanka’s national interest.

When the 13th Amendment and Provincial Council Bill were being presented in parliament, he wanted to explain why he opposed the accord and the bill. But he was refused permission by Deputy Speaker Norman Waidyaratne. Consequently, Mr. Jayasuriya resigned from the government.

Today, The Sunday Times publishes the speech Mr. Jayasuriya never made and never entered Hansard, the official record of parliamentary proceedings.

“We have reached a very crucial period in our Parliamentary history. During the past 40 years since Independence many bills have been debated and passed by this House. Members of this House during those 40 years, both from Government benches and the opposition, should be proud of their services to this House.

Two bills that have been subjected to great debate in this country now comes up for approval before us today, i.e. the 13th Amendment and the Provinicial Council Bill. These are two bills that have a direct bearing on our people. These are bills that require the greatest consideration of this House, and therefore, I thank you Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity of expressing my own views on them.

Gamini Jayasuriya: opposed the Indo-Lanka accord

Gamini Jayasuriya: opposed the Indo-Lanka accord

These two bills are the outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord. For quite some time now there has been bloodshed and destruction due to terrorist activity, and let me first and foremost express my deep appreciation of the efforts of the President to tackle these problems. While I commend the President’s efforts, I must also speak of the long-term dangers that some of these efforts may cause to the life of the Nation.

The Supreme Court has deemed that these two bills now before us are constitutional. 5 judges held in favour, 4 against. Mr. Speaker, these judges are very learned men accepted by society. 4 of these judges have held with the view I hold and have given their reasons. They too have held that the Sinhala and Muslim people living in the Eastern Province will be greatly harmed by the merger of the East with the North under the provisions of this accord.

These two bills strike at the very root of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unitary nature of our country. These are very complex issues that require the strictest scrutiny.

How will these bills affect the peaceful coexistence between the Sinhala and Muslim people? How will it affect the Sinhala Buddhists? Will we obtain peace with honour through these bills?

The most important aspect of these bills, is the merger of the North and East Provinces. Mr. Speaker, give me the opportunity to explain to this House why I oppose this merger.

The reasons I have are very clear. They are firm. I express these views both as an ordinary citizen of this country, and as a politician who has served as a member of the United National Party and followed its ideals.

Senior members of the UNP will recall that on 15 January 1949 at the party’s inaugural meeting held under the distinguished patronage of the late D. S. Senanayake, I was elected as one of the 16 youth league members of the party. I have therefore had a 40 year association with the UNP.

What were the fundamental principals of our party at the time? They were Freedom, Democracy, Independence, Sovereignty and the protection of our territorial integrity. We did not even dream that we may have to one day deviate from those great ideals and fundamental principles.

We went before the people with these ideals. We marched to Kandy because of those ideals.

Under the leadership of Mr. J. R. Jayewardene we launched a campaign to boycott Lake House newspapers that had been taken over by the Government for this reason. I took part in a Sathyagraha campaign at Attanagalla for this reason. I was physically attacked at that campaign by our opponents.

Mr. Speaker, even if there were differences of opinion between us, we in the UNP worked together. We did this because we all made these ideals. I spoke of those fundamental principles, the cornerstone of our work.

I have been comfortable with these ideals and on occasions when I could not agree with the party whip because it went against my conscience like the schools takeover bill or when Mr. J. R. Jayewardene decided on a no contest pact at the Kalawewa by – election if Mr. Anura Bandaranaike was to contest. Equally when Mr. Jayewardene wanted to contest the Colombo South by – election very few agreed with him. I was one of them. These were difficult decisions and often I was distanced from the party leadership for the decision I took.

But at the end of the day, His Excellency the President must have realized that those decisions that I took were taken in good faith.

Mr. Speaker, We as Sri Lankans must be proud of the heritage we have inherited. We must be equally prepared to make sacrifices to protect that heritage. We must have a clear vision for the future. In our minds must be a Sri Lanka that is united, free and independent, not one that is under the thumb or dancing to the tune of a foreign country. A country without unwanted foreigners for if we take the wrong decision today, unborn generations are going to curse us.

Sir, in 1977 the UNP won 80 percent of the seats. In 1982 an extension was granted through a Referendum but it was not a vote to deviate from those fundamental principles the party stood for. That approval cannot be mixed up with the party’s right to change its principles. That would run countrary to the essence of democracy.

And this is a National Question. It is something that is above party politics. So, whatever decision we take it must be according to our conscience.

The merger of the North and East is part of the bill that is before this House. According to these bills prior to September 31 of 1988 or on a date to be determined by the President a Referendum must be held in the Eastern Province to endorse this merger. For those in the East to decide whether they wish to merge with the North, or remain separate.

According to section 37 of the Provincial Council Bill the President has the power to merge two provinces as one administrative council with one chief minister and one Board of Ministers, and there is provision to do so without the consent of the people.

If the people in the country react to this the way they have, can you blame them? Our members could leave us. The strength of the party will weaken. Whenever there were attempts by whatever Government to grant to Tamil minorities more privileges than were due, our party opposed them.

The best examples of this were in 1957 when the Bandaranaike Chelvanayakam Pact had to be abrogated partly due to the agitation by the UNP and partly the people.

In 1965 though Mr. Dudley Senanayake signed an agreement with Mr. Chelvanayakam it was not implemented. From 1960 despite the agitation by the Tamil parties to merge the North and East we vehemently opposed it.

We have done our part in trying to resolve the question of the minorities. In June 1985 discussions were begun in New Delhi. In July and August the same year there were the Thimpu talks. We never agreed to any mergers during these talks. Neither did Rajiv Gandhi want them. He felt that our suggestions at the time were quite acceptable.

We have seen how Indian foreign policy experts have clearly used situations to implement their plans for the region. Their plans for Indian hegemony in its neighbourhood is an open secret. The decision to air drop food over Jaffna was not a sudden decision taken at the spur of the moment.

They calculate these moves well in advance. Our Foreign Ministry was totally perplexed by the decision of the Indian’s. That is why I fear a Referendum within an year and what is in the mind of Rajiv Gandhi.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall the statement made by our government in response to a message sent on 1 December 1985 by the TULF to Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. The President refers to this in his address to this House on 20 February 1986 and it is reported in Hansard as follows:

“When we have to take decisions there are moments when we cannot shift from our principles. We cannot see the unitary nature of the state. We cannot donate our democratic institutions. We cannot merge provinces purely for a constitutional or administrative solution. Whatever race, religion or caste, all persons must have equal constitutional rights.

The President went on to say:

“ƒ”¹…”We cannot accept these proposals in any way. If these proposals are implemented the TULF will obtain a separate state very close to Eelam. Even if there is a state among Tamil speaking people, there could be other differences. This is the foundation for Eelam that the TULF wants. For this Eelam they will annex not only the North and East, but also the up-country and the North central province.

That was the position taken by the government then.

The people have already expressed their opposition to these proposals now before us. Can we force them down their throats? Can we close our eyes to this opposition?

The people know that we have consistently been opposed to the question of the merger. And they know why? The Eastern province consists of all races. It has archaeological sites that prove that these were areas inhabited for centuries by the Sinhalese people.

The Sinhalese and Muslims in the East comprise 58 per cent of the population. When you merge the North with the East the Tamils become 65 per cent of that wider area. The Tamil party will use this majority to establish the foundation for Eelam.

The merger of the North and East is not only the problem of the people living there, but also that of all the people of Sri Lanka. It applies to the landless people in the South. How can the Sinhala people in the South reap the benefits of the Mahaveli scheme for instance if this merger takes place?

One merged council will have the control of 28 percent of the land mass of Sri Lanka and 60 percent of the coast. Jaffna and Bintenne will be ruled by one council.

There can be no objection to the North which has 92 percent Tamils being administered by one council. But to have a multi ethnic East being annexed to the North is not reasonable to say the least.

To give you some statistics: In Batticaloa there are 72 percent Tamils but in Trincomalee and Ampara Tamils are a minority – 34 percent in Trinco and 20 percent in Ampara. And 46 percent of the land mass in the East comes under the Ampara district (which has 20 percent Tamils) and all this is to be controlled by one Tamil dominated council.

According to the 1981 census, divisions like Gomarankadawela (99%) Sinhalese, Kantalai (82%), Morawewa (55%), Seruvila (57%) have the largest land mass in the Trinco district.

These are traditional homelands of the Sinhala people. If these areas come under the control of a council controlled from Jaffna the Sinhala people of the East will have no more say in the areas of health, education, agriculture or culture.

Archaeological sites that prove Sinhala civilization in the area will be in danger of annihilation. Deegavapi, Seruvila, Thiriyaya and even Nagadeepa Viharaya are already subject to terrorist attacks. For how long will these ancient sites that have existed for more than two thousand years be preserved?

Under the Indo-Lanka Accord 2.1 states on a proposal by the government of Sri Lanka.

“2.1 Since the Government of Sri Lanka proposes to permit adjoining provinces to join to form one administrative unit and also by a Referendum to separate as may be permitted to the Northern and Eastern Provinces as outlined below:

2.2 During the period, which shall be considered an interim period (i.e. from the date of the elections to the Provincial Councils, as specified in para 2.8 to the date of the referendum as specified in para 2.3), the Northern and Eastern Provinces as now constituted will form one administrative unit, having one elected Provincial Council. Such a unit will have one Governor, one Chief Minister and one Board of Ministers.

2.3. There will be a referendum on or before 31 December, 1988 to enable the people of the eastern province to decide whether:

(a) Eastern Province should remain linked with the Northern province as one administrative unit, and continue to be governed together with the Northern province as specified in para 2.2, or (b) The Eastern Province should constitute a separate administrative unit having its own distinct Provincial Council and a separate Governor, Chief Minister and Board of Ministers.

The President can postpone a referendum but what I say is that even a temporary merger must not be accepted. Why? Because you are then yielding to the argument that the East is a traditional homeland of the Tamil speaking people.

To divide Sri Lanka on the basis of language arouse fear among the Sinhala people. That is why it must be opposed at the all cost.

We will be able to see the motives of the Tamil parties even if the North and East are merged temporarily. We must consistently reject the concept of a Tamil traditional homeland. Clause 1.4 of the Accord says:

“That the North and East Provinces of Sri Lanka are the traditional homelands of the Tamil speaking people and that they have lived therein with those of other communities within this area.”

What is meant by “Within this area?” How did this concept come to be agreed upon by this Government?

It is clear to anyone the intentions with which those words have been used. If one were to use the classification of those areas properly it should be said that they are the traditional homelands of the Sinhala people. There is historical and archaeological evidence of this. There is evidence to show that the Sinhala race was in situ prior to the arrival of the Tamils there. There is evidence of ancient Buddhist temples. How can the Tamils ever say this is their traditional homeland?

The Accord says that the President can postpone a referendum. Who can say if the terrorists will stop fighting? The President says he will campaign against the merger at the referendum.

That alone shows that the President himself is against the merger. That he accepts it as not good for the country. Then what is the logic in granting a temporary merger? After a temporary merger the Sinhala and Muslim people in the East will be subjected to the will of the Tamils.

The contradiction is this. On one occasion we say small units are best for local administration. Then we devolve power to such huge units which can be stepping stones to separate states.

The British divided this country for their benefit. Now the Indians are doing it. Their Army and their Navy is already here.

Immediately after the Accord we watched helplessly as the terrorists chased away hundreds of Sinhalese from the East. The IPKF was in charge of ensuring peace. Under the Accord we could do nothing about it. Can anyone accept this situation?

The IPKF acted against the terrorists only after they themselves were attacked. That was as an act of being ashamed of getting a bloodied nose. We released terrorists in our custody under the Accord. But they did not release our prisoners nor did they surrender their weapons.

They were to surrender weapons in 72 hours. Now 100 days have gone by.

There are other dangerous provisions of the Accord. Provincial elections will be supervised by Indian officials. The Indians will monitor the cessation of hostilities in the North. They are still going on.

Generations of our people have made sacrifices for our freedom and independence. Many have lost their lives towards this noble cause. History proves that it was when foreigners tightened their grip over Sri Lanka making slaves of our people that the freedom struggle gathered momentum.

To get rid of the Portuguese, we welcomed the Dutch. They became a bigger headache. Then we got the British to oust the Dutch. In 1815 the entire country fell to foreign hands. At first the British ruled under the provisions of the Kandyan Convention. Within 3 years the people revolted and Keppetipola beheaded. As time went by the people of Sri Lanka came under the Jackboot of British colonialism.

After a series of bitter struggles it was in 1948 that we freed ourselves from 133 years of foreign rule. I appeal that this freedom we have so dearly achieved not be bartered away so easily.

I am proud to have been a member of Cabinet that has achieved so much economic progress in the past few years. I am proud that we have raised the living standards of the common man of Sri Lanka. But all this takes second place to the question of freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Whatever differences we have had during the past 39 years since Independence we have retained our National Freedom. It is a fundamental right of any citizen in this country to be able to reside wherever he or she so wishes. Sinhala and Muslim people must have the equal right to live peacefully in the East. The Tamil people must have an equal right to live anywhere in this country.

While the Tamil people must have this right, they cannot be given the exclusive right to a part of this country.

No country in the world will permit such unequal treatment for 12.6 per cent of the population to be given control over such a large area as the North and East of Sri Lanka.

If this Bill is to purely demarcate boundaries for administrative purpose I can accept it. So too if limited powers are devoted for such administrative purposes.

The President recently told a gathering at the BMICH that the temporary merger is a small sacrifice we have to make towards peace. I firmly believe such a merger, even a temporary one will only muddle issues further and see endless conflict and bloodshed.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall that in 1957 I was opposed to this kind of merger. That was when there was peace. There was law and order then. There was also racial amity. There was no bloodshed then as we see now. There were no terrorists then. But even then the UNP opposed the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact.

The situation on law and order today is completely different. Therefore the dangers now in the merger are far more dangerous than they were then.

I have considered these matters very intensely. We cannot forget the sacrifices made by our forefathers towards the freedom of our country. Many of them as I said, have put Nation before self and even sacrificed their lives for it.

Mr. Speaker, under these circumstances I find that I cannot vote for this Bill that provides for the merger of the North and Eastern Province.

Thank You!

 


 

The day he resigned- from the Hansard of November 10, 1987

(Mr. Gamani Jayasuriya – Minister of Agricultural Development & Research and Minister of Food) rose.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! We are having a list of 11 speakers for today – (Interruption).

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

The Hon. Minister of Agricultural Development and Research & Minister of Food is a very senior Minister in this House. He has earned the respect of everybody in this House including yourself, and if the Government is not prepared to allocate time to the Hon. Minister, I am prepared to give him 30 minutes from the time of the Opposition whenever he wishes to speak.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! Hon. Leader of the Opposition, there are only three more speakers for the whole day from the Opposition but there are eleven speakers from the Government side. So it cannot be done – (Interruption). I am balancing it well. But certainly I shall consider the suggestion you have made.

Mr Samaraweera Weeravanni and Mr. K. D. M. C. Bandara spoke; Then Mr. Jayasuriya rose.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker).

I am sorry. As much as I would like to, I cannot recognize you, there are six other MPs of the Government to speak.

(Mr. Gamani Jayasuriya)

Well, I will always abide by your decision, Sir. I am not a person who does readily…….. I am not a chap like that. But, Sir I asked for 50 minutes. I wrote to the Chief Government Whip. He got the letter by 2 o’clock yesterday.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

You will have to decide it with the Chief Government Whip. He is the person who sends me the list.

(Mr. Gamani Jayasuriya)

I know.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

It is not the question of time.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

Sir, I will give him my time. We will give from our time. Sir I would like to have a ruling on that.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

The ruling is this: As he is a Government MP, I am unable to recognize him at the moment.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

He is a Member of Parliament. Why can he not speak?

(Mr. Richard Pathirana)

Garu Niyojya Kathanaya-kathuamni, Kalin Avasthav-aka Kelaniye Cyril Mathew Garu Manth-rithumata Ape Kalayen Deela Thibenava.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

There is a precedence in this House.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please!

But I am asking the Hon. Member for Gampaha to speak. Are you speaking? If you are not, I ask the Hon. Deputy Minister of Fisheries to speak.

(Mr. Anil Moonesinghe)

It is very unfair.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

He is an Honourable Member of the Government side. He has to come to an understanding with the Chief Government Whip.

(Mr. Anil Moonesinghe)

No- (Interruption).

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

He is a Member of Parliament.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! This is Party Government and the Party Whip has not given him any time today: Nobody can give time excepting the Chair.

(Mr.. Anura Bandaranaike)

He is a Member in this House – (Interruption).

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

No, unless he joins the Opposition.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

There is no such rule.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

If he joins the Opposition, I shall certainly recognize him – (Interruption). Order, please! “Karunakara vadiwenna”

(Mr. Richard Pathirana)

Meka tharu pahe prajathanthravadayak (interruptions) Vipakshayata ven kala velaven katha karanne. Meeta issara Kalaniye garu manthreethumata (C. Cyril Mathew) ida deela thibenewa(interruptions)

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Hon. Minister, I think you realize the embarrassment of the Government if you were to speak on Opposition time – (Interrupion). I am unable to recognize you. It is not a matter for the Opposition.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

You are the custodian of the rights of every Member of this House. How can you do that?

(Mr. Deputy Speaker) Definitely.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

You are not the custodian of the Governement. How can you do that, Sir?

(Mr. Dupaty Speaker)

This Debate is confined to Members of the Opposition and the Members of the Goverment. The lists are made by the Chief Whips of the two Parties.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

No. That is not correct.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Then I will have to recognize 140 Members of the Government. – (Interruption). My order has been made.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

Sir, you must accept that the Hon. Minister of Agriculture is a senior Member of this House. he is a senior Minister in this Government. How can you do that?

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! As an Hon. Member of the House he holds one of the most important portfolios of this Government and as a Member of this Government he cannot defy the Chief Government Whip’s order in making the list. There are certain rules – (Interruption).

There is some reason. Opposition time is for Members of the Opposition. – (Interruption). I am asking for Order. I have recognized the Members for Gampaha and if he is not speaking –

(Mr. G. M. Premachandra)

I rise to a point of Order, Sir.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

Sir, the Member for Gampaha is speaking anyway: The Hon. Minister can take 30 minutes of our time.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! It is not a question of anybody’s time. He is a Member of the Government.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike)

He has the right to speak.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

I am sure he does not want to speak. I am sure he will accept my Ruling. He has accepted it.

(Mr. Anura Bandaranaike) No!

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Of course, he has.

(Mr. Dinesh Gunawardene)

It is not in the Standing Orders.

(Mr. Deputy Speaker)

Order, please! The Speaker will now take the Chair.

Resignation of Mr. Gamani Jayasuriya, Member of Parliament for Homagama

(Mr. Speaker) The Secretary-General of Parliament has received a letter from Mr. Gamani Jayasuriya, Member for Homagama, which will now be read to the Parliament:

Whereupon the Secretary- eneral read the following letter:

Parliament

10th November, 1987.

The Secretay-General of Parliament,

Parliament of Sri Lanka,

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

Sir, Under the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I hereby tender my resignation, with immediate effect, from my Seat as the Member of Parliament for Homagama I thank the Hon. Speaker, yourself and the rest of the Staff for the kindness shown to me during my tenure of Office as a Member of Parliament.

Yours faithfully,

Gamani Jayasuriya,

MP.for Homagama.

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/980510/news4.html

One Response to “I cannot vote for this Bill-Gamani-The speech GJ could not make”

  1. Nimal Fernando Says:

    Arguably, there would’ve been, in the least, a handful of UNP ministers/parliamentarians who must have
    considered a similar course of action …

    The historian, however, will only reserve a very special mention for the late Gamani Jayasuriya, who alone
    had the guts to put the national interest above all else … and defy the wishes of the formidable
    J.R. Jayewardene.

    One other minister in the Jayewardene cabinet also considered so doing.

    Just a handful of Sri Lankans are in the know that the late Anandatissa de Alwis considered resigning
    over the Indo-Lanka accord. Anandatissa, generally regarded as JR’s right-hand man, was more
    sad than angry over the issue.

    Finally, fierce loyalty to JR won over the national interest. [It must also be acknowledged that human nature
    makes it mighty difficult for people to put even national interest above self-interest].

    To be sure, the historian will most definitely reserve a special space for those who treated the
    nation’s Constitution like a favourite toy: they will be confined to the chapter dealing with ignominy.

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