Preservation Of A Unitary State, A Strong Central Government, No To Bogus Homelands, No To Merger Between Any Two Provinces And Enhanced Civic Rights A Must In A New Constitution
Posted on October 10th, 2016

Chairman, Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement

07th October, 2016

Dear Sir,

Many persons, especially Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people are having very strong reservations about the drawing up of a new constitution. There are widespread fears that a federal constitution will be brought in surreptitiously with a ‘unitary’ label to hoodwink the Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people. Surely, a small country such as Sri Lanka does not need a quasi federal constitution since only countries which are large in size adopt quasi federal constitutions for better management purposes and small countries have adopted unitary constitutions for good reason.

The 13th Amendment Is Already Quasi Federal. Therefore Make Its Quasi Federal Features Unitary

Overturn A Provincial Statute In Parliament By A Simple Majority

The 13th amendment to the constitution is already quasi federal. This is due to the fact that, to overturn a statute approved by a provincial council with regard to a provincial subject which is inimical to the country, the parliament needs a two thirds majority to overturn such a provincial statute. This is in sharp contrast to a simple majority that parliament needs to overturn a law which has been approved by parliament i.e. the central government. Surely in a unitary state, to overturn a provincial statute, parliament only needs a simple majority? We urge that in a future constitution, if it really is unitary, then parliament should be able to overturn a provincial statute, if it is inimical to the country, by a simple majority in parliament. If the constitution really is unitary, the legislative at the centre should be able to wield its power over the legislative at the provincial level without any hindrance.

Any Law Approved By Parliament Should Automatically Be Applicable Countrywide, Even If It Concerns A Provincial Subject

Further, let us say that a law is approved by parliament with regard to a subject, which is also a provincial subject. Each of the nine provincial councils needs to consent such a law for that law to become enabled within each province. Surely, in a unitary state, if a law is approved by parliament, it should automatically be applicable countrywide, regardless of whether that law concerns a provincial subject. We urge that in a future constitution, a law approved by parliament should automatically be applicable countrywide, even if it concerns a provincial subject. If the constitution really is unitary, the legislative at the centre should be able to wield its power over the legislative at the provincial level without any hindrance.

The Governor Of A Province Should Be Appointed By The President Only

At present, the governor of a province is appointed by the president only. We hope this remains the case and the appointment of the governor will not be at the discretion of both the chief minister and the president since this will surely make the constitution federal in nature. If the constitution really is unitary, the executive at the centre should be able to wield its power over the executive at the provincial level without any hindrance.

No To Amendment Of The Public Security Ordinance

At present, if a provincial council acts out of line and declares unilateral independence, for example as in the case of the then chief minister Varatharaja Perumal, the president has the right to dissolved the said provincial council and govern that province from the centre using the relevant clauses of the Public Security Ordinance. We urge that the relevant clauses of the Public Security Ordinance remain intact and not be amended or deleted as the OHCHR’s Prince Al Hussein, the TNA, other separatists, the US, EU, UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India wants. If the constitution really is unitary, the executive at the centre should be able to wield its power over the executive at the provincial level without any hindrance.

The Concurrent List Should Not be Abolished

At present, there is a concurrent list of subjects. Even countries such as India and Pakistan, which are federal, have concurrent lists. However, the TNA, other separatists, the US, EU, UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India want the concurrent list gone and this should not happen in a unitary state. The concurrent list is essential in a unitary state and should remain.

No To Fiscal Powers

Under no circumstances should land, police or fiscal powers be provided to provincial councils. There are grave fears that certain fiscal powers will be provided to the provinces. All fiscal matters should be decided by the central government or parliament since provision of even certain fiscal powers to a province will make the constitution federal in nature and only end up encouraging a separate state. In a small country like Sri Lanka, fiscal matters should be centrally planned and executed by the central government which would be the only efficient thing to do and make a lot of common sense. For example, what loans the country should obtain for what, from where and from who should be decided by the central government only. All foreign loans etc. should be channeled via the central government or parliament.

Certain taxation powers should not be handed over to the provincial councils since this will make the constitution federal in nature. Besides, nine different councils will then have nine different tax regimes. At present, industrial development has indeed happened in the Western province. However, with nine different tax regimes, a competition will be created between provinces to attract investment and to industrialize. However, a country is obliged to keep at least 30% of its land area forested as per the Sustainable and Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Besides, Sri Lanka is a predominantly agricultural country and therefore, most provinces should indeed devote themselves to agriculture. In order to promote tourism, nature reserves and forests should be preserved. Sri Lanka should plan at the central government level, where industries will be located. Location of industries can be in any number of locations in any number of provinces but the central government should decide this matter in a planned way. Sri Lanka should plan at the central government level where agriculture will be located and where nature reserves and forests will be located. Therefore, encouraging nine provinces to compete with each other to industrialize and in order to achieve that, provision of certain taxation powers to provincial councils, is not advisable at all.

No To Land Powers

Land powers should not be handed over to the provincial councils under any circumstances. A small country has only a small amount of land area, coastline and exclusive economic zone or EEZ (the ocean around Sri Lanka which belongs to Sri Lanka and which is four times the size of Sri Lanka) which every citizen has the right to fully utilize. If the present provincial councils are given land powers, political parties such as the Tamil National Alliance who are clearly separatist in nature will deny all other ethnic, religious and linguistic groups in the country, apart from Tamils, the right to live in the North or even in the East, if they can. This would then constitute a grave violation of a vast majority of the citizens of this country to fully enjoy the right to live in or utilize effectively 28% of the land area of the country, over 66% of the coastline and almost 66% of the EEZ (since the North and the East constitute 28% of the land area of the country, over 66% of the coastline and almost 66% of the EEZ). Since over 87% of the citizens of the country live outside the North and the East, this will effectively deny over 87% of the population of the country the right to live in the North and the East and most especially this will affect the Sinhala people, who are over 74.9% of the population, the most. This is not acceptable under any circumstances. Therefore the fundamental right of a citizen to live in any part of the island and the right to utilize the resources of the entire island should be guaranteed by the constitution without favouritism towards any particular ethnic, religious or linguistic group.

The same goes for decisions regarding who can in the future be relocated to the North and the East. Surely, the TNA will deny the above mentioned right to the Sinhala people or to those of the Buddhist faith especially or anyone else who is not Tamil. This is a violation of the fundamental right of a citizen of this small island to live anywhere in the island which should be guaranteed by the constitution by ensuring that land powers remain with the central government.

In the early 1980’s, the ethnic cleansing of the entire Sinhala people of the North took place at the behest of the LTTE leader Prabhakaran. In the 1990’s, the ethnic cleansing of the entire Muslim people of the North took place at the behest of Prabhakaran. Over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people were ethnically cleansed from the North. Until 2009, these desperate and unfortunate people were living in small tin roofed huts in the Puttalam District and in other parts of the country for over 26 years. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people.

Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslim people and their descendents of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. We demand that the over 135,000 Sinhala people and their descendents ethnically cleansed from the North and the Batticaloa District be resettled immediately. Similarly, the over 115,000 Muslim people and their descendents ethnically cleansed from the North should also be resettled immediately. According to the most recent census carried out in 2012, over 32,000 Sinhala people and over 32,000 Muslim people have been resettled in the North. Therefore, the majority of the Sinhala and Muslim people displaced from the North are yet to be resettled. The majority of the Sinhala people displaced from the Batticaloa District are yet to be resettled too. If their original lands and houses have been granted by the LTTE to family members of LTTE cadres, then these Sinhala and Muslim people displaced from the North should be provided with alternative lands, adequate alternative housing facilities and resettled immediately.

Many Buddhist archaeological sites are located all over the dry zone, inclusive of the over 273 important Buddhist archaeological sites present in the North and in the East, and in particular the over 21 Buddhist archaeological sites in Jaffna in the North. We urge that the over 273 important Buddhist archaeological sites present in the North and in the East, and in particular the over 21 Buddhist archaeological sites in Jaffna, be preserved and to ensure their security. The preservation and the security of hundreds of minor Buddhist archaeological sites in the North too should be ensured.

No To Police Powers

Police powers should be with the central government and not the provincial councils. This is due to the fact that we cannot have nine different police forces in the country answerable to the chief ministers of nine different provincial councils. In a small country like Sri Lanka there should only be one police force, modernized, with the police administrative system computerized and connected electronically. The police force should be answerable to the entire public of the entire country via such a system. Since there is an independent police commission, as a counterbalance, there is no need to change the system that there is at present. Considering the fact that, for example, the Northern provincial council is very likely to be governed by the TNA which is separatist in nature, what would happen if a separate police force in the North answerable only to the chief minister of the North commence harassing for example Sinhala people or those of the Buddhist faith in the North?

Already, TNA councillors have threatened Sinhala villagers in the Bogamuyaya village in Vavuniya. The TNA councillors have threatened the chief priest of the Nagadeepa Buddhist temple not to build a Buddha statue. The TNA constantly makes complaints even if a few Buddha statues are built in the North. Buses going on pilgrimage to Nagadeepa have been attacked with stones on a number of occasions. Very recently, the leader of the opposition R. Sambandan has by force entered an army camp and made threats to the army to vacate the camp. Imagine if the Northern provincial council was given police powers. They will ethnically cleanse all the Sinhala people from the North. If the Northern provincial council was given land powers, they will ensure that no Sinhala person ever lives in the North since they will ethnically cleanse all the Sinhala people from the North.

No To Non-Existent (According To History) And Bogus Homelands

The clause in the 13th amendment which states that the Northern and Eastern provinces are the homelands of the Tamil speaking people is totally incorrect as attested by the history of the island.

The Sinhala Buddhist Kingdom of Rajarata (600BC-1400AD) which encompassed the North Central, North Western and Northern provinces was situated in the dry zone of the country (please refer to The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007 printed by The Survey Department for a map of the thousands of irrigation reservoirs located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka). The Eastern Province was part of the Sinhala Buddhist Kingdom of Ruhuna (600BC-1400AD) which encompassed today’s Eastern, Uva, Central and Southern Provinces. There was a third Sinhala Buddhism Kingdom called Malayarata (600BC-1400AD) which encompassed the rest of the island. The Kandyan Kingdom (1400AD -1815AD) encompassed most of the island inclusive of the Eastern and 90% of the Northern province. So it is very clear that this island always was a unitary state. The present provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policies in order to suppress the rebellious Sinhala people who they did not like at all (1815-1818 and the 1848 rebellions made the British very vary of the Sinhalese).

Further, Sinhala Prakrit writing written using the Brahmi script has been found all over the island inclusive of the North and the East, earliest being 600BC. Buddhist statues, relics, remains have been found all over the island, inclusive of the North and the East, dating back to earlier than 300BC. Other remains have been found all over the island dating back to earlier than 900BC. Even in 900BC Anuradhapura was a large village and expanded into a city by 600BC. Actually our tribal ancestors, Vaddho, have been living in the island since 37,000 years ago as earliest human remains found on the island date back 37,000 years. So it is very clear that all parts of the island is the homeland of all its citizens. This includes the North and the East. Therefore the clause which states that the Northern and Eastern provinces are the homelands of the Tamil speaking people is totally incorrect.

This should be replaced by a clause which states that the entire island is the homeland of all its citizens in total. This not only historically accurate but is only just and fair towards all the citizens of the country.

There is also the irrigation system built by the Sinhala Buddhist civilization consisting of over 10,000 large, medium and small scale irrigation reservoirs located in the dry zone of the country (please refer to The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007 printed by The Survey Department for a map of the thousands of irrigation reservoirs located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka). For example, the Yodha Wewa in the North in the Mannar District was built by the Sinhala King Dathusena, the Pavatkulam irrigation reservoir in the North was built by the Sinhala King Mahasen and the Kanthale irrigation reservoir in the East was built by the Sinhala King Agbo II.

Further, the history of the Tamils commence mainly with the Dutch and the British bringing in large numbers of people from Tamil Nadu to work in tobacco and Indigo plantations commenced by the Dutch and the British in Jaffna. There was the Jaffna Kingdom set up by an invader, Aryachakrvarthi, just prior to the arrival of the Portugese. However, that kingdom was confined to the Jaffna Peninsula only and was very sparsely populated. However, people such as the chief minister of the Northern province Mr. Vigneshwaran, is creating his own fake history.

Therefore we urge that the history and archaeology of the island be taught at school as a subject based on actual historical and archaeological finds so that the next generation is taught our very long history, who then will acquire a good idea of the actual factual history and archaeology of the island.

No To The Merger Between Any Two Provinces

The 13th amendment allows for the merger between any two provinces. Is this not a cynical ploy by the TNA, other separatists, the US, EU, UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India to somehow merge the North and the East, two disparate and unrelated provinces, just to ensure that a large separate state is created? Therefore, for the sake of justice and fairplay by all citizens, the clause in the 13th amendment which states that any two provinces can be merged should be deleted.

A Unitary State Should Be Guaranteed

The state should be unitary since Sri Lanka is a small country. Almost all small countries of the world are unitary for good reason. When considering the history of Sri Lanka, it has always been a unitary state. A constitution should reflect the history of a country too and considering the above mentioned evidence of the unitary nature, the independence and freedom of the country for over 2600 years, it is only right, just and fair that Sri Lanka remains a unitary state.

Only a unitary state will create an impression amongst all the ethnic, religious and linguistic groups living in this country that we are indeed living together in one country. If the country is in pieces (very powerful provincial councils for example will only break this small country apart considering the separatist nature of the Tamil National Alliance, for example) and will not do justice to the fact that, as shown above, that during the very long history of this island, it has always been unitary, independent and free. Therefore if provincial councils are provided further powers than at present, the unitary nature of Sri Lanka will collapse and Sri Lanka will fall apart especially since the separatist TNA and the like are likely to hold power in the North, for example.

If the constitution really is unitary, the executive at the centre should be able to wield its power over the executive at the provincial level without any hindrance. If the constitution really is unitary, the legislative at the centre should be able to wield its power over the legislative at the provincial level without any hindrance. Further, there is a suspicion that a special constitutional court will be set up to deal with disputes that may arise during the implementation of the new constitution. We strongly urge that the present judicial system be used to resolve to any legal conflicts that may arise during the implementation of the new constitution and not a special constitutional court. This is since this special constitutional court may consist of personnel who, in the past, have been under the pay of foreign dollar funded NGOs, who would then be concerned about the welfare of those countries who have paid them in the past i.e. the US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India.

We are also gravely concerned that due to the pressure of the TNA, other separatists, the US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India, Sri Lanka is in grave danger of being divided up on ethnic lines into two, three or even four different pieces. Is this not crazy? There are suspicions that the TNA proposals were drawn up by experts whom the TNA hired from the UK, Canada, Belgium, Norway, the US and the like. Is this not interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs by foreign powers, even to the extent of trying to draw up Sri Lanka’s constitution?

The State Religion Should Be Buddhism

As stated in the present constitution, Buddhism should be safeguarded and be provided a foremost place. This is reconfirming the historical reality that since 300BC, Buddhism has indeed been the state religion whether it was during the Rajarata period (600BC-1400AD) or during the Kandyan Kingdom period (1400AD-1815AD). A constitution should reflect the history of a country too and provide due respect to that history. Therefore it is only right and proper that Buddhism is provided a foremost place in the constitution and going further, be safeguarded as the state religion.

If Buddhism becomes the state religion, promoting, fostering and the safeguarding of Buddhism, as at present, will be a duty of the state. As such, Buddhism must be taught at school as a subject (those of other faiths should be taught their own religions) as at present. If this is not done, knowledge of Buddhism will disappear from the island altogether, which cannot be accepted. It will also lead to deterioration of morals, values and ethics in society. There are fears among the Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people that a secular constitution will be brought in. However, when looking at the history of the island, it is amply clear that Sri Lanka was at the forefront of preserving Buddhism being one of the first countries to write down the Buddhist scriptures and then propagating Buddhism to South and South East Asia. Scholars from all over the world came to Sri Lanka to take back the Buddhist scriptures to their own countries during ancient times. Sri Lanka was one of the foremost centres of Buddhism in the ancient world. In fact, we would say that Buddhism is, without any doubt whatsoever, the foremost and primary identity of the country or the soul of the country. Therefore Buddhism should be provided the foremost place in the constitution and be made the state religion. We are sure that almost no one will object to this.

Considering the Lal Wijenayake Committee regarding acquiring public views with regard to drawing up of the new constitution, some of our own members forwarded our views too. However, it is very clear that the members of this committee are very partisan and many suspect that they have, in the past, been under the pay of foreign dollar funded NGOs. Therefore, are they really interested in the welfare of Sri Lanka or those countries who paid them i.e. the US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India. Many Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people have no faith in this exercise, as a result. There were only 3,655 responses from individuals and organizations with heavy inputs from the five Northern Districts, the Eastern Districts and the Colombo District. Surely this tells us that Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people’s views are in no way represented in this committee report. The report provides a very distorted view since 3,655 responses can in no way represent over 20.3 million people’s views.

Further, the entire parliament has become a constitution making assembly, drawing up the new constitution. Can 225 parliamentary members, some of whom who lost at the general election but have since been appointed via the national list, draw up a new constitution in secret and even that, in a few months? Surely it takes at least a few years to draw up a new constitution and the widest possible views of the entire Sri Lankan public must be sought, not 225 members drawing up a new constitution in secret.

There are suspicions among the Sinhala Buddhists and the Sinhala people that a new constitution has already been drawn up in secret by known federalists such as Dr.Jayampathi Wickremarathna and other federalists along with the US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India at their behest.

If there is to be a new constitution we would urge the preservation of the unitary state, a strong central government, no to bogus homelands, no to merger between any two provinces and enhanced civic rights as a must in the new constitution. Surely, as long as citizens are provided enhanced civic rights within the new constitution, even the minorities will have no reason to complain.

There is a view that the general Sri Lankan public does not want a new constitution and that it is the TNA, other separatists, the US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India who want a new constitution. We are personally of the view that in order to preserve the unitary state, it is best that the presidential system remains and that the proportional representation system is the most fairest. Therefore, is drawing up a new constitution an extremely urgent matter or even necessary at present? Does the government not have other pressing and urgent matters to attend to, like governing the country? Can amendments not be brought in as necessary, if any need arises to change a certain matter in the present constitution?

Yours faithfully,

Chairman,

Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement

8 Responses to “Preservation Of A Unitary State, A Strong Central Government, No To Bogus Homelands, No To Merger Between Any Two Provinces And Enhanced Civic Rights A Must In A New Constitution”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Very well argued with facts. Thank you.

    Sri Lanka is already a quasi federal state. The journey back to unitary status is an uphill task which must be undertaken. it cannot be done by those who refuse to abrogate the 13A.

  2. Christie Says:

    ” US, EU, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and India at their behest.” ?

    It is the Indian Empire from the start. Let us understand who are enemies within and without they are Indian Colonial Parasites and the Indian Empire.

  3. nilwala Says:

    ABSOLUTELY….AGREE ALL THE WAY WITH THIS CLEAR EXPOSITION OF THE PEOPLE’S STAND.
    THANK YOU SOLIDARITY!!

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    The 13-A is ILLEGAL as it was imposed under Duress on the JRJ govt in 1987.

    It is the most divisive piece of legislation. The 13-A has allowed Sri Lanka to be divided along language/ethnic lines. INDIA is divided into sub-states along language lines.

    As matters stand, Tamil leaders of Lanka brought in the Vadukoddai Resolution in 1976 (Eelam through Violence) > nascent LTTE > LTTE trained by INDIA in Tamil Nadu > LTTE violence spread across Sri Lanka for nearly 30 yrs > war with the LTTE finished in May 2009.
    Even today more Tamils live outside the so called Eelam areas.
    Tamils of Lanka have all the rights the Others of Lanka have.
    It does not make any sense to have any ‘Eelam’ in a small country such as Lanka (25,000 sq miles).

    Besides, the Tamils are really fighting a 3,000 yr old Caste War in Tamil Nadu, not the Others of Lanka.

    The 13-A must be removed, sooner the better.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    I am reproducing below an article on the 13-A, by Kamalika Pieris (Lankaweb) :

    “THE 13TH AMENDMENT”
    Posted on June 8th, 2016
    KAMALIKA PIERIS

    The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution owes its existence to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. Under the Accord the government of Sri Lanka had, inter alia, to devolve political powers to the provinces. If the Accord was not signed India would intervene militarily. President J.R. Jayewardene was in no position to oppose. He had bungled Indo-Sri Lanka relations and antagonized the Indian Prime Minister. He signed the Accord on 28 July 1987.

    There was strong public opposition to the Accord before and after it was signed. There were island wide protests with black flags and slogans expressing strong opposition to Indo-Lanka Accord, Tamil separatism and the UNP Government. Protestors had gone in procession to Panadura MP to request him not to vote for the 13th amendment. The day before the Accord was signed, 20,000 people gathered in Colombo to protest. Police tear gassed, baton-charged and fired on the crowd. 21 persons died. An island wide curfew was declared.

    When Rajiv Gandhi left Sri Lanka after signing the Accord, Wijemuni Vijitha Rohana, 22 years, a naval rating in the honor guard at Katunayake airport, hit Gandhi on the shoulder with his rifle. Wijemuni was expressing his resentment at India for intimidating Sri Lanka and using force to impose the Accord. There was no serious injury. Several leading lawyers appeared voluntarily for Wijemuni who was sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment. He was pardoned and released in 1990.

    Regardless of the protests, the 13th Amendment and Provincial Councils Bills were sent to Supreme Court to determine whether they conformed to the constitution and whether they needed a referendum. Five of the nine judges including Chief Justice Sharvananda, Justices Colin Thome and H.D. Tambiah found the Bills acceptable; while four others held that they were not acceptable , resulting in a wafer thin majority of 5-4 in favor. Justice Ranasinghe stated that two clauses required a referendum.

    Critics differ in their interpretation of this Supreme Court ruling. Some say that the Supreme Court sent three separate determinations, not a single‘collective’ determination, leaving Parliament to figure out what to do with them. Others say that Supreme Court did not make any ‘determination’ at all, but had sent recommendations for consideration of Parliament. They note that Supreme Court did not specify the amendments necessary to make the Bills legal, either, though they were empowered to do so.

    Critics declared that Parliament should have prepared fresh bills, taking care to omit the provision for a referendum and sent them back to Supreme Court. Instead Parliament approved the original Bills, (which called for a referendum), saying that they only needed 2/3 majority, not a referendum. No referendum was held. Supreme Court had also said that the Provincial Council Bill should come only after the amendment Bill became law. Instead, the first bill, (13th Amendment) was passed in Parliament two days after the vote on the second (Provincial Council) Bill, which sought to amend the first bill.

    In this confused manner, on 14 November 1987 the Sri Lanka Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987. Members of Parliament were put into a hotel the night before and taken to Parliament in a van from there, with President Jayewardene holding undated letters of resignation from them. Had there been a second assembly (Upper House), this matter would have taken longer. The Bills received the Speaker’s Certificate, preventing any further discussion of its validity within Parliament.

    But the 13th Amendment continued to be discussed outside Parliament, specially the highly questionable manner in which it was passed in Parliament. The Amendment was forced upon Sri Lanka by India, critics said, any statement made under duress, threat or compulsion is illegal and invalid in Sri Lanka law and in the Vienna Convention on law of Treaties.

    The 13th Amendment was dangerous, they added. It is a prelude to the breakup of the country. Provinces could merge, which meant that Sri Lanka could break up into autonomous units. The Provincial Councils will need to compete with each other, to attract foreign investment, creating greater disunity. The country would then become chaotic and ungovernable and interested parties, such as India, could move in.

    The Provincial Councils were to get the all-important subject of land, as well as police, local government and a host of other subjects. Provincial Councils also had the right to pass laws (statutes). The intention was to transfer sovereign power to the Provincial Councils and weaken the central government. This meant a separate near-sovereign administration for the north, considered a majority Tamil area and one of the two homelands of the Tamils.

    The central government could not pass any law relating to provincial matters unless it was seen and approved by the Provincial Councils first. This was seen as outrageous. The Divineguma bill had to first be approved by the Provincial Councils before the central government could pass it. A bill on industrial effluents also had to go to every single Provincial Council first. The North Western Provincial Council had to be persuaded to approve the Bill for National Environmental Amendment Act 53 of 2000 though the Bill had nothing to do with the North Western province. .

    The 13th Amendment is directly linked to Eelam. The 13th Amendment gave legal recognition to the provinces of Sri Lanka and also permitted them to merge. The Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 demanded that Northern and Eastern provinces be merged and a single Provincial Council be created. Accordingly, in September 1988 President Jayewardene, using emergency regulations, declared the Northern and Eastern provinces to be one administrative unit administered by one elected Council. The North- Eastern Province, with Trincomalee as its capital, was born.

    This ‘Eelam’ had been planned in advance. M Sivasithamparam, A. Amirthalingam, R. Sampanthan of the TULF wrote to Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minster of India, in 1987, drawing attention to the discussion between government of Sri Lanka and the TULF, in 1986, where it was agreed that the Provincial Councils would have ‘ near absolute’ legislative power and the Governor would be a ceremonial head. They had expected a single administrative unit of north and east with legislative and executive powers similar to the powers given to a state in India especially in executive and legislative matters (Sunday Leader. 17.2.08 p 12).

    Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V.Wigneswaran, stated in 2016, that the 13 Amendment, when conceived in 1987 was intended to provide for a merged northern and eastern province “by the Government of India on behalf of the Tamils of the north and east in its negotiations with the Government of Sri Lanka.’(Daily News 20.1.16 p 14)

    The merger of North and East was bitterly opposed by those against Tamil separatism. The combined North Eastern Province occupied one fourth of Sri Lanka. This merger was to be temporary until a referendum was held in the Eastern Province on the matter. This was to be held by 31 December 1988, but the Sri Lankan president could postpone the referendum at his discretion. The referendum was never held. The President of Sri Lanka annually issued a proclamation extending the life of the Council. In 1990, Varatharajah Perumal, chief minister for the North-East Provincial Council declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and fled to India. President Premadasa dissolved the Council. The North-east Province was ruled directly from Colombo thereafter.

    In 2006, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna filed petitions against the merger, requesting a separate Provincial Council for the Eastern province. They said that the merger was illegal. The relevant clause in the Provincial Councils Act had not been amended and the referendum never held. Supreme Court ruled that the merger was unconstitutional. The North-East Province was formally de-merged into Northern and Eastern Provinces on 1 January 2007.

    Most people, judging by comments in the media, are against the 13th Amendment and want it repealed. Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya, All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and the Collective for the abolition of Provincial Council systems (CAPCS) formed in 2013, say 13th Amendment was imposed on the country from outside. It challenges the supremacy of Parliament. They are opposed to the granting of land and police powers to the provinces, and the power to merge provinces. .”

    OPA has called for the repeal of the 13A, saying Sri Lanka did not ask for it, the PC system has totally failed and only added a financial burden, and also administrative confusion. Provincial Councils are a temptation to separatism, 13A it a threat to sovereignty, independence and unitary status. Neither the government nor people wanted it (Island. 1.12.12. P 4).

    The limitations of the 13th Amendment have been noted. The Provincial Councils cannot go beyond the country’s constitution. They can function only ‘subject to the provisions of the Constitution’. Provincial statutes could be declared void by the law courts if they are inconsistent with Constitution. The President of Sri Lanka can take control of a province, if there is mismanagement. Further, Article 157A of the Constitution prohibits a wide range of acts which relate to the creation of a separate state within Sri Lanka. Chapter 6 of the Penal Code gives a list of offences against the state prohibited by the Penal Code. A ‘new’ constitution is now mooted to strengthen the 13th Amendment, remove barriers like the ‘concurrent list‘ and make the Provincial Councils supreme and sovereign. http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=141253

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Cold War politics together with
    Ports & Location of Lanka,
    plus ‘divide & rule’ using Tamil Caste Wars,
    have ruined Lanka and made Lanka into a miserable warring ground.

    Do not fall for it !

    PORTS can be leased out, if necessary.
    NOT the rest of the country.

    Again, REMOVE the 13-A !
    REVOKE the V’koddai Resolution (Eelam through Violence) – 1976.

    Also, Yahap Plans for :

    * A new Constitution : not necessary. Just remove the 13-A & activate the 6-A.

    Also not necessary :

    * ETCA
    * 5,000 acre lots on leases to foreigners
    * Sea tunnel to Tamil Nadu

  7. Dilrook Says:

    Removal of 13A starts with the people. If a significant number of Sinhala people decide not to vote for any party that doesn’t promise to abrogate 13A, then politicians will be compelled to listen. Not otherwise.

    If we truly love the nation and want it to become unitary, we must oppose all political parties that are unable to promise the abrogation of 13A. If we put up with parties despite not making that pledge, that seriously questions our true allegiance.

    We should encourage retired war heroes to form into a political party with specific and clear slogans like abrogation of 13A, removal of VAT, removal of ETCA (if signed) and due punishment for corruption and violence. Although they cannot win the largest number of seats, they can win a sizable number of quality seats. That is a very good start.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    What is DAWNING is the CONSOLIDATION of India’s HEGEMONY over Sri Lanka, with the aiding and abetting of SRi Lankan TRAITORS!

    It is RUMORED that the ETCA agreement will NOT BE PUT TO A REFERENDUM, or even VOTED ON in Parliament, but will be ONLY A CABINET decision, and will be presented as a FAIT-ACCOMPLI for Sri Lankan citizens to swallow,

    The Yamapalana GoSL is DIGGING its own GRAVE by acting in this way SUBJUGATING sovereign Sri Lanka to its nemesis India that is the SOURCE of all our NATIONAL problems, including a 30-year war against terrorism!

    And our PM is signing HOSANNAS arguing for Sri Lanka to be a PART of the $400 billion South Indian Economy.

    GOD HELP US, this FOOL sees only the POTS of Money, not out independence to choose to live as we Sri Lankans want in our own Motherland! Bah!

    ………………………..
    New dawn for India-Sri Lanka relations
    Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 11:54 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 11 (NIE) Historically, relations between India and Sri Lanka have been fraught with controversies and even high tension at times. There has always been an atavistic fear in Sri Lanka of being dominated by India, the Big Brother just 30 nautical miles away from the island�s northern tip.

    The fear became acute with the brazen Indian political and military intervention to settle the Tamil question in the island nation in the 1980s.But now, due to the evolution of new thinking in the corridors of power in New Delhi and the change of regime in Colombo brought about by the Presidential and parliamentary elections of 2015, the two countries appear to have broken away from the past and are moving towards mutual understanding.

    Having learnt lessons from recent history, the two countries now recognize the legitimacy of each other’s concerns and are addressing them in a spirit of give and take to ensure that both operate within their respective comfort zones. The change was evident even in the body language of Indian and Sri Lankan leaders during the visit of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to New Delhi in the first week of October. Several issues were resolved amicably. One of the outstanding features of the detente is India agreeing to fast track negotiations on the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) and sign the pact by the end of this year.

    India had not originated the idea of an ETCA and did not want to rush into it, having had a bitter experience with trying to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Sri Lanka in 2008. CEPA would have promoted Indian investment in Sri Lanka and helped the latter avoid the debt crisis it has been in. But fuelled by entrenched fears of Indian domination, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had cancelled the deal at the last moment, much to India’s chagrin. But, unlike the Rajapaksa regime, the incumbent Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government wants to build Sri Lanka economically through close links with India, especially the four South Indian states, which, together with Sri Lanka, have a combined $500 billion economy, as Wickremesinghe keeps saying. By touting close relations with South India, including Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Wickemesinghe is signaling that Sri Lankans, at least in the top echelons, have begun to shed their fear of Tamil Nadu, which is suspected of inspiring Tamil separatism in north Sri Lanka. Although India was disappointed with the cancellation of the coal-fired 500 MW power project in Sampur, it has been asked to set up an LNGfired plant there.

    However, when ETCA was proposed by Wickremesinghe in 2015, India was cautious. Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Colombo only recently, that India wants to negotiate ETCA “in detail” consulting all stakeholders “on both sides” and that there could be no time frame for concluding the talks. But Sri Lanka wanted ETCA fast and Wickremesihghe has now got Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to agree to sign it by year end. Since the mood in New Delhi is to accommodate Sri Lanka, Modi gave in, leaving it to Wickremesinghe to mitigate opposition to the pact from the protectionist lobbies in Sri Lanka. But India also got what it wanted from Sri Lanka. India will now build roads from Jaffna to Mannar; Mannar to Colombo; and from Mannar to Trincomalee. Wickremesinghe gave in to this as he is aware that the Indians can build roads at one fourth the cost quoted by the Chinese.

    India will also build an oil refinery in Trincomalee to produce 100,000 barrels of petroleum per day, and go into a joint venture with Colombo to refurbish and use 84 giant oil tanks in Trincomalee. Two Indian firms will build a container terminal in Colombo harbour.If ETCA is signed, Indian investments will flow into Sri Lanka to make the island’s production facilities part of the Indian and international value chain. In the process, Sri Lanka will lessen its humongous debt burden of $65 billion, $48 billion of which is owed to China alone. It will also improve its relations with China which wants to invest in Sri Lanka partnering private and international firms rather than give loans to the government.

    Despite several visits to China, Sri Lankan leaders have not able to convert the debt into equity in loss making state-owned projects which were built with expensive Chinese loans. In fact, China would like to partner with Indian firms in its $ 1.4 billion Colombo Financial City project. In strategic terms, Wickremesinghe has assured India that unlike Rajapaksa, he will not allow China to build harbours to contain India militarily and that there will be no secret visits by Chinese nuclear submarines. China itself has said that its “String of Pearls” project of harbours are purely commercial projects. But it’s not going to be smooth sailing all the way.

    Nationalistic and protectionist lobbies, headed by former President Rajapaksa are still strong and have the support of media. The fear of Indian domination runs deep in the Sri Lankan psyche, although a section of leaders and the intelligentsia want close ties with India. As to what might happen if Rajapaksa comes back to power is anybody’s guess. Therefore, India should be prepared for upsets. It should not venture into very expensive investments or sweeping asymmetrical commitments. Nirmala Sitharaman has hinted that India’s approach will be hard headed. But in its part, India must attend to Sri Lanka’s practical difficulties in trading with India. Non-recognition of Sri Lankan standards, apathy of Indian officials, and unreasonable restrictions to the entry of Sri Lankan goods, are areas in the existing Free Trade Agreement which need urgent attention. Above all, optics is very important: India must see that its footprint in Sri Lanka is not too large.

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