A welcome Contribution to Stimulating Public Dialogue on Constitutional change process
Posted on January 31st, 2017

A Review of the Sinhala Language Book on ‘Separatist Strategies and Constitutional Amendments’ by Manohara R De Silva

by M.L.Wickramasinghe Courtesy The Island

President’s Counsel Manohara R de Silva’s book of the above theme written in Sinhala is a timely publication that would stimulate public dialogue on the ongoing constitutional drafting process and contents. The original Sinhala title is ‘Bedumvadinge Upayamarga Ha Vyavastha Sanshodana’. Persons who normally use English for their communication, but in addition possess even a moderate knowledge of Sinhala, would certainly profit by reading this book as it contains invaluable information on Constitutional concepts as well as an analysis of key recommendations proffered by the six sub-committees of the current Constituent Assembly.

The launch ceremony was held a few days ago, and was attended by many Nayaka Theros, clergy, and laity. The SLFI Auditorium where the ceremony was held was overflowing. Many were standing at the back as well as outside in the lobby indicating the topicality of the publication and the value placed by discriminating public on initiatives aimed at educating the public on issues of national importance. Such unprecedented (large) audience present for an event such as a book launch at SLFI was not only due to topicality of the subject. It was also a deep and silent acknowledgment of the professional reputation and the integrity of the writer and his scholarly knowledge on Constitutional Law. It would also have been a tribute to his enduring legal struggle to preserve the integrity of the State of Sri Lanka, while protecting the fundamental rights of all segments of citizens of Sri Lanka.

The book identifies two strategies used by groups with separatist tendencies. (i) armed conflict and (ii) attempts at manipulating and choreographing drafting of constitutions and laws. The book focuses on the second strategy.

It covers such conceptual areas as people’s sovereignty, unitary system of governance, federal system of governance, national security, land powers, law and order (police) powers, financial powers etc. The author uses his deep legal knowledge about these concepts in writing the book. But the beauty of the book lies in author’s ability and willingness to explain these concepts in non-technical (non-jargon) simple language and easy to read (non-convoluted) style of writing. Therefore, the reader need not be a person with a legal background or an expert in Sinhala to read and understand the content of this book. What is required of the reader to benefit from the book is common sense and a general understanding of contemporary issues of national significance.

The book has 14 chapters. Although the author has not divided the book into distinct parts, for analytical purposes, the book can be divided into three parts. The first two chapters could be grouped as Part 1. Chapter one presents a summary of historical development of separatist ideas linked to post Independence constitutional development in Sri Lanka. Chapter two discusses principles and concepts such as sovereignty, unitary system and federal system.

Chapters three to 11 can be considered as Part 2. Chapters three, five, and six analyze the impact of the 13th Amendment, as well as the 17th and the 19th Amendments with regard to introduction of federal features into the Constitution(13A) and the weakening of executive powers of the President /Central Government (17A & 19A). Chapter four includes a brilliant analysis on the federalization objectives underpinning the aborted 2000 draft Constitution. Chapters seven to 11 are devoted to a discussion on the significance of concepts of national security, police, land and financial powers in different types of Constitutional arrangements and the potential impact that some of these arrangements would have on the integrity of the State of Sri Lanka.

Chapters 12 to 14 which can be considered as the last, but the most important part of the book, discusses the ongoing processes currently adopted to change the Constitution, the suggested recommendations of the six sub-committees of the present Constitutional Assembly, and their potential impact on the future course and stability of the country. Lastly, Chapter 14 identifies those constitutional principles and provisions with potentially negative consequences for the stability of the State of Sri Lanka, and analyses in detail the reason for their negativity and unsuitability for Sri Lanka. Through this chapter the author invites people to focus on the said inappropriate provisions, review and understand the negative impact of these on the country.

Some of the inappropriate issues, tactics, and provisions identified by President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva in his book (with a request that people should scrutinize these issues deeply) are presented below in summary form.

These are: The prospect of drafting a federal styled constitution under a unitary name (label); abolishing the Concurrent List and transferring those subjects to the Provincial List; removing the executive powers of the Provincial Governor; removing the right of the Central Government to decide on national policy in all subjects; giving police powers to provinces; establishing a constitutional court outside of the formal judicial structure; specifying that a designated ratio of central government revenue should be disbursed to the provincial councils; bringing the district and divisional administrations of the Central Government under respective provincial councils; giving land powers to the provincial councils etc.(For a complete List of issues and comprehensive analysis of each issue, the reader may refer to the above-mentioned book published by Visidunu Publishers).

(The writer is an ex-journalist, communication researcher, and a retired Officer of the International Civil Service.)

5 Responses to “A welcome Contribution to Stimulating Public Dialogue on Constitutional change process”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    This is how SL can be SAVED.

    D-DAY: The MILITARY with the SANGHA take over the country peacefully. Parliament, president, PCs suspended. All media controlled. Constitution SUSPENDED. 13 amendment is TORN and BURNT. Endia-SL peace treaty is TORN and BURNT. And cancelled.

    D-DAY + 1: A GOVERNING COUNCIL of 20 persons from ALL ethnic groups proportionately to their percentage with 50% men and 50% women appointed based on their skills from public service to run the country.

    D-DAY + 2: They both appoint a CONSTITUTION MAKING COUNCIL.

    ALL politicians told to SHUT UP or face FCID and end up in JAIL for corruption.

    D-DAY + 365: A new constitution is approved. NO provinces. NO racist, mono ethnic parties. NO more than 30 ministries. NO tolerance of SEPARATISM. NO tolerance of Endian or other interference. ALL media must follow guidelines. ALL people have to take an OATH OF ALLIGIANCE TO SL – failing to do it results in REEDUCATION.

    The FLAG is changed to have the LION with the sword and 4 leaves. The SWORD has symbols for ALL 4 religions.

    SCRAP the existing anthem that sings about WHAT THE COUNTRY CAN GIVE YOU (fruits, vegetables, grains, gems, free education, flowers, etc.).

    A NEW ANTHEM [HELA JATHIKA ABHIMANE – ELAM THESIYA ABHEEMAN] that sings about WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE COUNTRY (bring back the GREAT PERAKUM era) is introduced.

    Constitution has amnesty for ALL involved in the TAKEOVER. Constitution can be changed ONLY by 60% of the vote.

    A SUPREME MILITARY & SANGHA council is appointed permanently. ALL constitution changes must pass through this. All 10 MOST SENIOR military men are in it. SANGHA leaders are elected among the Sangha.

    D-DAY + 400: parliament elections called.

    D-DAY + 500: presidential elections called.

    D-DAY + 600: The MILITARY+SANGHA have completely GIVEN UP all powers.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Ado Yakko Katussa (Lorenzo),

    There you go AGAIN, ADVOCATING military takeovers!

    This time you are trying to turn the people against the two most patritic for es in Sri Lanka: the Buddhist SANGHA and the Armed Forces!

    You were wailing about CORRUPTION against the MR/UPFA to OUST that highly stable government IMPERVIOUS to the EELAMISTS. A MILITARY takeover of the kind you ADVOCATE is highest form of CORRUPTION there can be!

    Having gotten a PARA-GATHI Yamapalanaya govt that is easily blackmailed by the EELAMISTS to get their proto-EELAM, now you are doing your utmost to pit the people against the SANGHA and the MILITARY!

    A military takeover will create the perfect opportunity for the minorities and the UNPATRIOTIC party to invite-in foreign military forces who will HAPPILY PARTITION our motherland in favor of the EELAMISTS!

    Once again, Katussa (Lorenzo) is showing his TRUE COLORS as an EELAMIST AGITATOR trying to undermine Law & Order and the Sinhala Buddhists.

    There are PEACEFUL & LEGAL ways to RESTORE a PATRIOTIC GOVERNMENT and it will happen SOON!

    MILITARY COUP-DE-ETATS are unnecessary and dangerous to the integrity of the nation. Foreign and Local enemies of Sri Lanka are just waiting for just such a military takeover and a breakdown of law and order to INTERVENE!

    Katussa (Lorenzo), we NOW KNOW what your goals and objective times are, before you open your mouth!

    GO AWAY, BUGGER OFF, bhairavaya!

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    USA,

    “A military takeover will create the perfect opportunity for the minorities and the UNPATRIOTIC party to invite-in foreign military forces who will HAPPILY PARTITION our motherland in favor of the EELAMISTS!”

    REALLY?

    So one country can INVADE another country just because it is not a democracy (even temporarily)???

    What have you been smoking USA?

    Just because the MILITARY and the SANGHA take over the country it does NOT change SL’s sovereignty!!

    IF politicians run the country like this they will DIVIDE it and call it RECONCILIATION – ALL politicians.

    “There are PEACEFUL & LEGAL ways to RESTORE a PATRIOTIC GOVERNMENT and it will happen SOON!”

    You are living in LA LA LAND. Peaceful? Of course it is peaceful. Who is using violence to peacefully take over.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Ado Katussa (Lorenzo),

    Yes, countries INVADE other countries on VARIOUS MANUFACTURED PRETEXTS …… ALL THE TIME!

    Hiding you head in the sand, is not conducive to learning …. Kovil Management PhD not doing well either, I suppose!

    Historical examples are a MYRIAD! For example, remember Iraq (2nd time) by Bush Jr., and Libya by the Obama-Clinton duo?

    In fact even WWI was triggered deliberately by the engineered PRETEXTUAL murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, so the German-Austrian alliance could grab Serbia that was a barrier to their building the Berlin-Baghdad railway! That was the PRETEXT, the real prize were more Colonies for the Central Powers to match those of Britain and France!

    The Military + Sangha takeover you ADVOCATE may be represented as an assault on minorities and on democrazy.

    A few violent incidents will be engineered (remember the 1983 riots), the military leaders will be demonized, the Sangha compared to Naxis, the Tamil EELAMISTS will chime-in on cue, the West will express outrage, the puppet UNHRC will pronounce sanctimonious concerns, Human Rights Watch will announce thousands of deaths magnifying molehills into mountsins, and VOILA the puppet UN will call for intervention, carrier-borne aircraft will bomb military installations, troop carriers will appear magically off-shore to intetdict and seize the ports, and airborne troops will parachute-in to seize the airports and major government buildings, Indian Armed forces will join in to give “Asian face” cover to the invasion … pretending to do so very reluctantly, and the Yamapalana government will welcome them with open arms telling all the world that they are coming at the govts invitation! The minorities will sing hosannas for deliverance, and of course, the CERTAIN PARTITION of the country in their favor!

    You don’t think that the US, Indian and Western ships that have been queuing up calling at our ports, and military attaches and contingents presumably training together the Sri Lankan Armed forces have just been partying, do you? They are spying, CASING THE JOINT, for making a smooth Grand Entrance if and when necessary!

    Plenty of INTERNAL TRAITORS like YOU exist to grease their way in and incite the violence necessary to create the PRETEXT!!

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    USA,

    IF they want to eat a KAPARAKOYYA they will anyway pretend it is a THALAKOYYA and eat it.

    Remember WMDs in Iraq?
    Osama in Afghanistan?
    Assad using chemical weapons?
    Panama was going to invade USA?
    Gaddafi developing WMDs?

    American CROTON eaters believe these but not others!!

    So it does NOT matter if SL is a perfect democracy, military rule, Sangha rule of whatever. IF they want to invade, they WILL.

    But what about LOCAL politicians doing SAME or WORSE DAMAGE as invaders? This is what happens today. Even a simple invasion COSTS billions of dollars. NO COUNTRY can afford to do that in SL because there is NO oil or other easily extractable stuff. IF SL is disturbed, US economic and shipping interests are at risk. EU, Canada, USA, etc. will have millions of refugees!! Already they suffer with them. So don’t worry. The invaders now use the LOW COST strategy – use locals (some a US/UK dual citizens) to stuff up SL.

    To ALLAY fears of minority oppression, we are going to have Christian priests, Hindu priests, Muslims priests and even a rabbi in addition to Sangha!!

    IF in the rare case of US-EU-Endia invade SL to “save mino-rat-ies”, will that save or WIPE OUT the minorities?
    Look at Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. Their minorities are ALMOST EXTINCT after the US intervention!! Look at the Tamil mino-rat-y of SL during IPKF invasion – HORROR – the Tamil mino-rat-y had to SAVE their private parts from the IPKF!!!!! The Bangaldeshi mino-rat-y in Endian invasion to “save” them – total horror!

    So, either way SL prevails. But SL CANNOT prevail IF politicians continue to RUIN SL. They break SL’s backbone, the WILL to be free and UNITY. Soon even drug dealers and the underworld will be able to take on the military and the Sangha. IF you are the patriot you TRY to be, support the GUARDIANS OF THE NATIONAL TRIAD (military, Singhala speakers, Sangha, DESA, BASA, RESA).

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