Provincial Governors with more powers needed to protect unitary status
Posted on December 27th, 2016

 By Kelum Bandara  Courtesy The Daily Mirror

In the wake of proposals for the reduction of powers of provincial governors in the new Constitution, Southern Province Governor Hemakumara Nanayakkara spoke out against the move. In an interview with , he says a Governor should have more powers to protect the unitary status and to prevent the country sliding towards secession. Excerpts of the interview:   

Q : How do you analyse the role of provincial governors in the present context ?

A Provincial Governor is the direct representative of the executive President. As the President cannot look after intensively the affairs of nine provincial councils, the President vests some powers with the governors to deal with the respective provincial administration. A Governor enjoys the power vested upon him by the President only. The committee on centre-periphery relations has not taken a decision as such. But, there are organizations, particularly International Non-Government Organizations (INGO)s that want to enact a Federal Constitution.

The two main parties – United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Maithripala Sirisena – do not want it. They are not for Federalism. Yet, there are people advocating Federalism. These people have come to the conclusion not to use the word ‘Federal’ as a ploy to hoodwink people. They will not call the new Constitution Federal. That is to mislead the general public.

Instead, they will use a different terminology. However, they will try to a get a Federal structure into the Constitution. This is their ulterior motive. We have to bear in mind that 74 per cent of people in this country are Sinhalese, 12 per cent Tamils (Sri Lankan Tamils and Tamils of Indian origin) and eight per cent Muslims. The balance accounts for Malays and Burghers. In a structure like this, how can they think of any Federal structure which will harm the majority community and create eternal problems among different communities? First, we will go against it if anything harmful happens to the Sinhalese.

Also, if there is any injustice to the minorities, I will be the first to come out and voice. This form of Federalism is not advocated by ordinary Tamils and Muslims. The architects of this are those fed with dollars by INGOs and Tamil diaspora. They want a Federal state. It is only a dream. It will never come true.

They have sought to trim the powers of provincial governors. It means the pruning of the powers of the President. The President and the governors appointed by him preserve the unitary state in its real shape. The moment the governors’ powers are trimmed, the provincial councils will become provincial governments. Today, we have only one government and nine provincial councils. In India, it is a kind of Federal system with provincial governments. There is also, the governor who is appointed by the centre. The governors in India hold much more power than we do in Sri Lanka. Here, MPs like Jayampathi Wickramaratne are there.


This is a democratic country. Let anyone scream and shout. We do not care. We know they cannot get through this. Probably, we need a new Constitution. We do not object to a new Constitution without harming the Sinhala people who have been living in this country for more than 2500 years, and those of other minority communities who live in close affinity with the majority…..


He is a member of Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) but entered Parliament on the UNP National List. It is a peculiar type of hybrid I cannot fathom out. Mr. Wickramaratne, long before he became an MP, had been clamouring for Federalism. I went for a forum in Switzerland. Jayampathi was there in that Forum. Even at that time, he was clamouring for Federalism. Today, all these Federalists have come to an agreement not to use the word ‘Federalism’ but to get the Federal status to the provinces.
Q : In your view, how will the reduction of governors’ power lead to strengthening separatist ideology?
Let’s take for example the North, the Chief Minister and the board of ministers are from another party. The President belongs to different party. What is the control the centre should have over the provincial councils?

This is what people like Jayampathy Wickramaratne and Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu are trying for. They are spending millions and millions. They have held conferences in big hotels inviting the governors and the Chief Ministers. I could not make it.

They have given a dead rope to the Chief Ministers. They have said once the governors’ power is trimmed, the Chief Ministers will be very powerful. Most of the Chief Ministers have not been carried away by this idea. A few Chief Ministers have been caught into this trap. It clearly speaks of their strategy to fragment this country into nine.

Today, the rights of even minoritiies are protected due to the unitary status. In the North, Catholics are a minority. In the south, Tamils and Muslims enjoy their rights because of the unitary structure of the Constitution. Foolish people coming up with this sort of idiotic proposals should realize that they should get two-thirds in Parliament. No person with a clear conscience will vote for a dangerous proposal of this nature. It is a draconian proposal. After getting two-thirds in Parliament, it should be referred to approval of the people by a referendum. The President is intelligent. The Prime Minister is intelligent. They know what could be the repercussions. But, foolish persons think it can be forced down the throats of masses. These fools should realize what has happened in Italy. The leaders had to resign after being defeated at the referendum.
Q : As a Governor, you are a direct representative of the President. How do you use your good office with the President to pre-emt this move?
This is a democratic country. Let anyone scream and shout. We do not care. We know they cannot get through this. Probably, we need a new Constitution. We do not object to a new Constitution without harming the Sinhala people who have been living in this country for more than 2500 years, and those of other minority communities who live in close affinity with the majority.

The SLFP has taken a decision that it is not for a new Constitution. It is only for reforming the present Constitution. Only a few people, looked after by powerful elements, would want this. People of this country will teach them a lesson.

Q : What is the kind of solution you propose for this?
To begin with the war, a dissatisfied group of youths took up arms. Even at that time, these youths called Tigers killed even the leaders of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at that time – Mr. Amirthalingam, Mr. Dharmalingam to name a few. Starting from Alfred Duriyappa, they killed decent, educated politicians. If these youths contested elections, they could not have come to power. People in the north and the east are decent. They do not advocate terrorism.
Q : Do you advocate power devolution as a solution?
It is a good question. We have devolved power. We never had this provincial council system. Former Indian Prime Minister the late Rajiv Gandhi proposed it, and then President the late J.R. Jayewardene agreed to it. A few leaders like R. Premadasa and Lalith Athulathmudali were against it.

After devolution of power to this extent, did terrorist problem end? It did not. They were concentrating more on the warpath after that only. In the areas with concentrations of Tamils and Muslims, there should be enough and more government officials to work in Tamil.

Otherwise it is unreasonable. When someone goes to a police station to lodge a complaint in Tamil, it is wrong to entertain it in Sinhala. All successive governments complained about the lack of competent people to work in Tamil. Today, it is not a big deal because of Technological advancements. The computer technology can be used in translation work.

It is better to get more and more translators. There are so many unemployed youths in this country. We have devolved power. But, administration is not functioning well. In the North and the East, the administration should function well in the language spoken in the area concerned.
Q : Does it mean the decentralization of administrative power rather than devolution of power?
Yes, we have one central government. We have the provincial councils with devolved power. If there are lapses, we can look into them. What is needed really is devolution of administrative power to a great extent so that people could be happy. We have not really devolved administrative power.
Q : What do you think of the current provincial council system as the unit of devolution?  
That is all right provided that adequate staff is given.
Q : Has the system serve the intended purposes?
Hmmm, I can say yes and no, both.
 Q : Why do you say so?  
When you get the cost-benefit ration, it is not there. There is duplication of work. There is complication of work. When you compare the cost to maintain these councils in terms of payment of salaries for members, the administrative staff etc, there are less dividends. But, when you think of long term development of those areas, this could be a good unit as long as geographic and climatological conditions are taken into account to fast track development.
Q : When you compare and contrast the appointment of governors, how do you compare and contrast the systems in Sri Lanka and India?
In India, governors are much more powerful than here. We went through the Indian Constitution. Governors are appointed by the centre there. Yet, they have provincial governments- Tamil. Here, we have provincial councils. When the President appoints governors, we should, in fact, have more powers than those in India going by argument. It is very important to have lots of power with governors to prevent the country from sliding towards separatism.


They have sought to trim the powers of provincial governors. It means the pruning of the powers of the President. The President and the governors appointed by him preserve the unitary state in its real shape. The moment the governors’ powers are trimmed, the provincial councils will become provincial governments


I advocate unitary status and a strong centre. I do not call it a central government. When we say the central government, it connotes that there are provincial governments. There should be one government.

Q : What is the role of a strong military?
We need a strong military to protect the country. We need a strong Navy, Army, Airforce and a police. Those who are opposed to the strong military forces are the ones aspiring to take arms against the legitimate government. When the JVP started its insurrection in 1971, we had a ceremonial army. It was not prepared with enough ammunition to deal with it. Some countries try to make their paradises in Sri Lanka. Some countries try to have their military bases here.

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Provincial Governors with more powers needed to protect unitary status”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    This Chief Minister seems to think that the envisaged new constitution is at the behest of some NGOs INGOs. The two traitors the incumbent President and Ranil are neck deep in this constitution change project to satisfy their masters in the West – in the US and Europe. The US and the EU wants Sri Lanka destabilised in the same way as Iraq, Libya and Syria. This they are doing at the behest of the Tamil Economic Migrants also wrongly called the Tamil Diaspora.

    From the time this government came into power they have been at various projects to deny the majority Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka their place in the only country they have in the world.

    I congratulate the Chief Minister in having the courage to speak out, but he must not be deceived to believe that Sirisena and Ranil are against Federalism. Sirisena will do anything that will keep him in his seat as the President and Ranil will do anything to harm the Sinhala Buddhist. Just like his uncle the traitor JR – he hates Sinhala Buddhists.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Traitor tamils, mussies want their dreamlands now. This is the best time to start the project since catholic-run
    UNPatriotic party is at the driving seat. Traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist Batalande Wadakaya pol pot
    [email protected] wickramaSinhalakiller is running Sri Lanka is an added bonus the traitor lot knows. Traitor alugosuwa (to
    Sinhalese only) thambi mudiyanselage [email protected] put the foundations to break up Sri Lanka by introducing 13 and 13A.
    (Did any Sinhala modaya wonder why royal college should be so ashamed of producing the biggest traitor ever in Sri
    Lanka – [email protected], and the second biggest traitor [email protected]; shame on royal college. Not just one, two of them. And the
    biggest two).

    Tamil Nadu Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Multiplying Community (SLMC) know this is the best time when the
    anti Sinhalese, anti Buddhist, anti Sri Lankan catholic-run UNPatriotic party ruling Sri Lanka. The rubber stamp puppet
    maru (hora) sira is just a pussy cat in front of die hard catholic token Buddhist Batalande Wadakaya pol pot [email protected]
    wickamaSinhalakiller. He gave half the country on a plate to his catholic buddy hitler mala paharan in 2005. This
    time he is going to make it official to please his ardent supporters tamils and mussis.

    Land and police powers will be
    the first step to break up the country. Once that is done there will be eternal border wars with the traitor tamils and
    mussies. The two traitor lots will see Sinhalese as the common enemy and will be eternal blood bath trying to expand territories. Traitor chief
    die hard catholic token Buddhist Batalande Wadakaya pol pot [email protected] can put his feet up and enjoy the demise of
    Sinhalese, Buddhism and Sri Lanka. His life time’s ambition! Sinhala modayas put up a statue of Batalande Wadakaya
    in Galle Face Green? Maybe the world’s tallest? Arjunaya Durjanaya will do it with different money – can’t be used
    for any other purpose – of course!

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