Sri Lanka’s New Constitution – Return of the Divide and Rule
Posted on December 29th, 2016
Shenali D Waduge
There are several foreseen dangers as influence is exerted from multiple quarters to change, rather dilute the present Constitution. No constitution is 100% perfect and no constitution can cater to the demands or even aspirations of all of its citizens. No constitution can or should be created based on the desires of a handful of people especially when their past records are questionable and not investigated. We are at a very critical juncture. We can no longer trust in the representatives we elect some of whom are rejected but hold key portfolios. There are important aspects for all citizens to now think of.
Is it a coincidence that the players involved in the drafting of the new constitution all belong to a compartmentalized thinking and their thinking is funded by and supported by foreign parties. These foreign players have openly offered to fund various programs and initiatives to assist in changing the minds of voters to realize the overall objective if put to a referendum.
The proposals are frightening.
The PM wants to unite Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka and make an economic centre (we thought only the Eelamists wanted a Greater Eelam combining Sri Lanka and India!) By creating a bridge, rail link between India and Sri Lanka and paving way for an economic pact with free flow of Indian people, goods and services is that Greater Eelam not being realized legally and officially?
The foreign minister promises USA to downsize the military, make the constitution ‘federal’.
Both Mangala and Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne made assurances known as the Singapore Principles in 2013 to the Tamil Diaspora most of whom were members of UNSC 1373 Resolution banned LTTE fronts paving way for a federal state diluting the powers of the centre. https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=37606
The Opposition Leader Sambanthan will not accept a Unitary State, addressing Parliament after becoming Opposition Leader he demanded ‘three to five regions’ with maximum power devolved to them.
Just listen to his speech in 2012 at the ITAK Convention – http://www.tamilcanadian.com/article/6255
1977 campaign of the Tamil United Libertion front (TULF) sought a mandate for Tamil Eelam.
1977 election slogan was “VOTE For the Tamil United Liberation Front; For the emancipation of the Tamil Nation; For the Freedom of Tamil Eelam”
Its election manifestos of 2001, 2004, 2010 openly advocated links to LTTE
“Accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people, let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers’ struggle with honesty and steadfastness”
“Let us endeavor determinedly, collectively as one group, one nation, one country, transcending race and religious differences, under the leadership of the LTTE for a life of liberty, honor and justice for the Tamil people.”
“We emphasize that if the Tamil nation’s requests are continued to be rejected, rightful political solution denied and armed aggression and oppressive rule return, based on the doctrine of self-determination, it is an inevitable reality that Tamil sovereignty and independence will be established in the Tamil homeland.”
“Let us work side by side with the LTTE, who are fighting for the protection and autonomous life of the Tamil speaking people, for the political initiatives under their leadership”
The main constituent party of the TNA led by R Sambanthan the Opposition Leader. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu in an article titled “The Federal Party or ITAK Have Been Espousing Federalism Since Inception” May 2016 http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/46484
A case is on in the Supreme Court questioning ITAK constitution’s aims and objectives challenging them to be not federal but confederal/federation – which has nothing to do with a federal set up.
Head of the Centre for Policy Alternatives which advocates federalism is also on the Public Representation Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Need we say more!
C V Wigneswaran – Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council
Parachuted from Colombo to become the NPC Chief Minister instead of allowing a Tamil from the North to contest. Having lived all his life in Colombo, schooled, worked and having his 2 sons married to politically influential Sinhala families. This is what he now says….
‘Sinhala colonisation a great worry for Tamils’ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sinhala-colonisation-a-great-worry-for-tamils/article6358994.ece
“The Liberation Tigers are not terrorists but freedom fighters” he told a gathering in Velvetiturai 2013.
Tamil People’s Council wants a framework agreed before drafting the new constitution. Their demands include –
Demilitarization and ending state-sponsored colonization. It should be under-written by US or India or the UN. Sri Lanka to be made a federal state, no concurrent list, NPC to have right to seek foreign investments, financial assistance and have foreign embassies.
Some of the proposals are also tied to a historical objective by both Western Christian and Islamic imperialists to remove the sacred place given to Buddhism as evidenced by the policies of all the 3 colonial rulers who ruled the island.
Tied to this is India’s own objective of annexing Sri Lanka an endeavor that 17 invasions couldn’t fulfil.
We do not need to continue to remind readers that armed militancy did not evolve in Sri Lanka nor did it start after 1983 July riots but was clandestinely created by India taking jobless Sri Lankan Tamil youth in the 1970s and creating armed groups sent back with instructions to destabalize Sri Lanka. These groups found it easier to hijack the ‘Eelam’ slogan rather than create new demands.
The Tamil separatist politicians and their disciples found it convenient to outsource their dream to the Tigers and wait till they delivered eelam by armed struggle while keeping the political wing ready to take over in the event of armed militancy being defeated. TNA is that political wing.
Is it not ridiculous that this group is now in Parliament, and its leader the Opposition Head? It is true that no one is guilty until proven but the links are glaringly available. All that is needed to absolve their role in providing material and intellectual support aiding and abetting terrorism is to simply investigate their links with the terrorists. Why is it not being done?
It is getting clearer and clearer where those tasked to draft the new constitution are heading. It’s nothing that the people want but obviously those now jumping from one party to the other with the sole intent of staying on in power are likely to compromise on deals that would be beneficial to them and not to the country or its people. This is the danger that we face.
Firstly, what we need to all come to terms is that Sri Lanka’s conflict was not ethnic but a terrorist problem with the terrorists hijacking the racist demands of a handful of elite Tamil minorities whose demands have a history and connected to the desire for a separate State for the world’s Tamils encompassing Tamil Nadu and even Sri Lanka.
While it is important to separate terrorism from Tamil racism there is a problem given that the players have been interlinked. To absolve these allegations an investigation is required to the links with the banned LTTE and all those in the TNA. Not surprisingly it is these characters who are calling to change the framework of the constitution to be aligned to their racism and separatist agenda as is showcased from their own statements, their election manifestos and public speeches. This cannot be allowed. It is unthinkable to allow such people to come anywhere near drafting a constitution that is meant for the entire citizenry.
It is the right of all citizens that with LTTE remaining banned not only in Sri Lanka but in 32 other nations none of LTTE demands through any other mouthpiece should be included in any draft legislation/constitution. Therefore it is imperative that any demand similar to any of LTTE’s demands have to be removed forthwith from the new constitution proposals.
Moreover, it is time to call a spade a spade. No one can hold the country to ransom using politically correct terms – multiculturalism, multi-religious, reconciliation, peaceful co-existence while promoting mono-ethnic & mono-religious provinces/states/regions. The parties involved in drafting the constitution are attempting to divide the nation into religious/ethnic components all seeds to further chaos and conflicts. Such divisions are practically impossible and should not be experimented. Failure of ethnically-divided independent Kosovo and South Sudan are good examples to prove this.
Every country has the right to preserve its history and heritage. While nations like Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand have a history of usurping land from original inhabitants they continue to proudly call and uphold their right to refer to their countries as Christian nations. No liberal can take that right simply because they love to roll out new notions to keep themselves in vogue.
The island nation was built by the toil of the Sinhale Buddhist civilization that existed for over 2600 years. The people and Buddhism are intertwined because the kings followed the 10 royal virtues (dasa raja dhamma) to govern and all citizens abided by these rules. The island was not built by Christian colonials, Saudi Wahhabis or Indian Hindus to be demanding what ONLY they deem should exist in a constitution. If Tamils, Muslims, Hindus, Christians/Catholics, Islam as individual rights are enjoying rights that is all that matters. Simply because leaders of these groups have unfulfilled desires and ambitions they cannot use their minority ethnic group or religion to demand rights. There are no collective rights except individual rights that a constitution is bound to uphold.
The case of the Chavakachcheri accident is important. While the victims were all Sinhalese, the Tamils came to assist and went further by holding candlelit vigils, posting posters of condolence and even holding prayers. They did so or were able to do so because the Tamil separatist racist leaders did not have time to influence them not to. The take-away from this is that the minorities and the majority will be able to live in peace and harmony if we remove these racist and separatist elements and people from the equation and not allow them to dictate how we should live. It is in bringing out this example that these Tamil racist leaders saw fit to openly come out against the article written proving that the message being conveyed was spot on.
While there are many efforts from all quarters to showcase to people the dangers of diluting the present constitution (however imperfect it is) the one being proposed is far more dangerous. Moreover, from the manner that even the opposition voted for the 19th amendment except Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, we cannot place any trust in these MPs.
Therefore, it is only in the hands of the people to realize, to evaluate the real aims of the people drafting the constitution and those on the committees and then picture the likely outcome to foresee the danger that is likely to engulf the country if a new constitution is allowed.
What we must all understand is that the ordinary people have no issues living with each other. All our problems are as a result of the power politics of politicians vying for power to keep all of us in eternal servitude by introducing issues and conflicts out of which they make hay. If we can all understand this, we can stop the division and separation of our island nation.
Shenali D Waduge