The unitary Constitution needs to be preserved for posterity.
Posted on January 2nd, 2017

By Lt Col. Anil Amarasekera (Retired)

If a new Constitution will allow secessionist objectives to be realized the majority in this country will reject such a new Constitution or even an amendment to the present Constitution that would encourage the secession of their island nation. Many may be unaware that secessionist aims were bone long before independence. Moving an amendment to the address of thanks to the Throne Speech in the first House of Representative on 26th November 1947, Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam K.C. said, If Ceylon is fighting to secede from the British Empire why should not the Tamil people if they feel like it, secede from the rest of the country?” This was perhaps the first instant where the idea of a separate Tamil Nation was articulated in this country.

However the term Tamil Nation was first used in the Vaddukodai Resolution of 14th May 1976 and in the Tamil United Liberation Front manifesto for the General Election of 1977. Subsequently various organizations with separatist intentions including the LTTE referred to this so called Tamil Nation as Tamil Eelam. The word ILAM (Eelam) is apparently being used by separatists to connote the impression of a land of the Tamils”. Indeed, the Tamil word ILAM was never before used in that sense. On the contrary, this Tamil word ILAM did not refer to Tamil land but to the Land of the Sinhala people”. None other establishes this than the Tamil lexicon published under the authority of the highest seat of Tamil learning, namely the University of Madras. Page 328 of this Tamil lexicon says that ILAM means the land of the Sinhala people. The Tamil word given as the meaning of ILAM reads SINHALUM”. The term ILA in Tamil means SINHALA”, having its origin in the word HELA, by which term the ancient people of LANKA were known. Thus ILAKKACHU in Tamil means Sinhala Coins”- ILA means Sinhala, Kachchu means Coins. Similarly, since NADU means LAND, ILANADU means the Sinhala land. According to the said lexicon the word ILANADU was derived from ILAM. The foregoing establishes the fact that the word ILAM (Eelam) never referred to any Tamil land but always signified the Sinhala land. Therefore if one were to ask for ILAM (Eelam), what is being asked for is the traditional homeland of the Sinhala people.

The LTTE under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran was able to rule over the Northern Province and certain parts of the Eastern Province for nearly three decades during a period in which the country had four executive Presidents namely Mr. J.R.Jayawardena, Mr. R.Premadasa, Mr. D.B.Wijetunga and Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga. All of them failed to give the necessary political leadership to the Security Forces to defeat LTTE terrorism and separatism. It was however President Mahinda Rajapakse who gave the necessary political leadership to the Security Forces to achieve a convincing military victory over LTTE terrorism and separatism in this country. Though Prabhakaran and the LTTE military leadership was annihilated in Sri Lanka on 19th May 2009 the LTTE supporters in the Tamil diaspora living abroad were able to keep the Eelam dream alive. They together with western vested interests are now active in supporting those who said the war against the LTTE can never be won and who now hold political power in Sri Lanka to either promulgate a new Constitution or to amend the existing Constitution to surreptitiously usher in federalism. Such an effort must be resisted by every patriotic citizen of this country and never allowed to see the light of day given the fact that over twenty seven thousand Security Forces personnel sacrificed their lives and a similar amount were disabled to protect and preserve the unitary Constitution of our nation for posterity. The sacrifices made not only by the Security Forces but also by the Police, the Civil Defence Force and even the innocent villagers living in LTTE threatened villages cannot and should not be cast aside for political expediency.

It is true that much pressure is being brought by the so called international community consisting of mainly western countries and India upon the politicians now in power for constitutional reforms. However the blame for an effort to devolve power to Provincial Councils beyond the 13th Amendment cannot be attributed only to those now holding political power. The former President Mahinda Rajapakse too has to take part of the blame. He had an opportunity to end the Provincial Council system that was proving to be a white elephant by repealing the 13th amendment soon after defeating LTTE terrorism. The 13th amendment to the Constitution was introduced sans the approval of the people as a result of the Indo Lanka agreement that was forced upon this country by India. One of the conditions in the said agreement was that India would undertake to disarm the terrorists.  India failed to honor the letter and spirit of the Indo Lanka Agreement and Sri Lanka ultimately had to defeat LTTE terrorism.

Therefore Sri Lanka had every right after defeating separatism to repeal the 13th amendment that pushed the country a step closer to federalism. Not only did President Mahinda Rajapakse fail in this regard he also allowed corruption and nepotism to grow after defeating LTTE terrorism. The people therefore lost the confidence they had in him and he was defeated at the presidential election held on 8th January 2015 and his party the SLFP failed to obtain a clear majority at the General Election held on 17th August 2015. Since a mandate was not received from the people either at the Presidential or the General Election for a new Constitution the government is now trying to implement at least some constitutional reforms to please those western countries and India that supported the regime change.

It is very unfortunate that some candidates defeated at the last General Election have crept into parliament through the back door and have been even appointed as Ministers in the present regime. However the President and the Members of Parliament either voted by the people or appointed through the National List will be considered as traitors by the people if they allow constitutional reforms that would pave the way for the division of this country in the future.  To avoid such an eventuality the National Joint Committee has very correctly articulated twelve requirements that must be followed by the government if constitutional reforms are inevitable. These requirements are as follows;

  1. Prohibit the establishment of a separate state or a federal state within the Republic of Sri Lanka and for that purpose 6th Amendment to the present constitution should be incorporated into the new constitution after suitably adjusting the same, Article 2 dealing with the Unitary character of the state and Article 9 giving Buddhism the foremost place in the present constitution should remain without any amendment.
  2. The supremacy of parliament should be secured for the purpose of maintaining the unitary character of the state and therefore legislative power of the people exercised by parliament should not be in any way restricted. Any other body exercising legislative power must operate subject to the supremacy of parliament. The parliament should have the power to repeal or amend any statue or by-law made by such body in the same way the parliament could repeal or amend any ordinary law made by parliament. Existing provisions of the constitution which restrict the legislative powers of the parliament should not be included in the new Constitution.
  3. The executive power of the people including National Defence must be vested with the President and/or the Cabinet of Ministers. If any other body is vested with executive power such power must be exercised subject to the executive power of the President or the Cabinet of Ministers. Henceforth as long as the Provincial Councils are in operation in this country, the executive power must be exercised by the Governor under the supervision, control and direction of the President.
  4. Judicial Power within the Republic of Sri Lanka should never be exercised by a person who is not a citizen of Sri Lanka or by a foreign institution. No court including any constitutional Court should be established outside the court structure of Sri Lanka and no appointment should be made to any such court based on ethnicity.
  5. No administrative or political unit should be established within the territory of Sri Lanka based on Race, Religion or Language. Northern Province and Eastern Province should not be amalgamated as such a move would lead to separation. Existing provisions in the present Constitution to this effect should be removed forthwith and should not be incorporated into the new Constitution.
  6. The power of the Government of Sri Lanka with regard to maintenance of Public Order and Police Powers at any time should not be delegated to a body governing a province or any region. The Police should operate within the entire territory of Sri Lanka under the direction and control of Inspector General of Police who is the head of Sri Lanka Police Force.
  7. Power with regard to State land must always be vested with the Republic of Sri Lanka, and rights in and over land tenure, transfer and alienation of land, land use, land settlement and land improvement should continue to be vested in the government of Sri Lanka.
  8. A concurrent list has been included in the Constitution to enable Parliament, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers to intervene in respect of 36 subjects to prevent any misdeeds of the provincial council and/or its provincial board of ministers. Such an arrangement is necessary specially to protect the rights of regional minorities. Therefore, if the provincial council system is to continue it is important to retain the concurrent list.
  9. The composition of the constitutional council or similar institution established for the purpose of making appointments to high posts and to commissions established by law, should be by a body composed of individuals nominated proportionately by recognised political parties of parliament and such nominations should be approved by parliament. The President should not make any appointment without the approval of majority of members of parliament in respect of such appointment.
  10. Parliament should have full control over public Finance and no institution should be permitted to receive funds without the approval of the President or the Cabinet of Ministers from any foreign source. The government of Sri Lanka should have the right to allocate funds to any institution at its discretion.
  11. The District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladharies who are appointed by the government of Sri Lanka function as the link between central government and provincial administration. Any attempt to remove such officers from the central government and bringing them under the provincial administration will adversely affect the smooth functioning and cooperation between them.
  12. The government of Sri Lanka must reserve the right to determine the National Policy with regard to any subject. Moreover, the government of Sri Lanka must also have the right to determine over any matter not specified in any list incorporated in the Constitution.

20th December 2016.

3 Responses to “The unitary Constitution needs to be preserved for posterity.”

  1. SA Kumar Says:

    Hela in Thamil Ilam(Eelam)
    Sin Hela mean in Tamil Chign(hala)Eelam that mean Sinhaless land or Chignhela Thevu (Sinhela Island) .

    Mother Lanka is Sinhela Nadhu .

    We Ilankai Thamilar are not Tamils at all We are Eelavar who speck Tamil like Sinhelese are Eelaver(Hela) who speck Sinhala.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    SA Kumar old chap,

    Have you been hitting the bottle heavily again?

    Why this Kolaveri my Damila Sakodaraya?

  3. SA Kumar Says:

    Ananda-USA

    You have to excuse me My Sakotharam You know Aluth Avurudu !

    ha ha ha….

    No more kolaveri !!!

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