Open Letter to the President, PM and the MPs regarding the Proposed New Constitution
Posted on August 16th, 2018

 From Daya Madawita

Dear Mr. President, Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,

Please Amend the Constitution Instead of a New One

I am writing this, as a patriotic Sri Lankan, with the hope that the President of Sri Lanka and the Members of Parliament including the PM will get the chance to read it and think seriously about implementing my proposals given below. If the President and the Prime Minister implement my proposals, the ethnic, religious and other problems of discrimination or perceived discrimination in our country can be solved while ensuring the unitary status of the country and in doing so, become the most respected statesmen of Sri Lanka. It is also a good chance for the Prime Minister and most of the MPs to do something worthwhile for the country for which they will be remembered.

My proposals along with the reasons why they are necessary are given below:

  • All ethnic problems, Tamil, Muslim or any other problems can be solved easily by enshrining a Bill of Rights in the constitution which guarantees equal rights to every citizen of Sri Lanka irrespective of race, religion, caste, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Although the present constitution mentions about equal rights, it does not guarantee its implementation.
  • It is also important to ensure in the constitution that all laws are applicable equally to every citizen, such as, land ownership, marriage and divorce laws etc. irrespective of race or religion. There shouldn’t be different laws for different ethnic or religious groups or for different parts of the country.
  • Bring in anti-discrimination legislation criminalising discrimination based on religion, race, caste or gender etc. Australian anti-discrimination legislation can be an example to be considered. Then the Tamil politicians will have no legs to stand on, but ordinary Tamils, especially the low caste Tamils, will like it.
  • Appoint an independent and powerful commission to oversee this legislation with offices in provinces with Assistant Commissioners with judicial powers to solve any problems of discrimination.
  • Get rid of the 13th amendment and abolish the Provincial Council system, which then becomes superfluous. The demands of Tamils for devolution of power to provinces and the colossal waste of money and corruption due to provincial councils can be eliminated.
  • Amend the constitution to change the preferential voting system so that the highest vote getter in each electorate is elected as in the 1972 constitution, which will eliminate in-fighting and minimise corruption. If you are keen to have proportional representation, restrict the number of such MPs to about 20-25%. This is the most important thing to eliminate corruption. Defeated candidates should never be allowed to enter the Parliament through the national list. The national list should be restricted to about 5-10 eminent citizens and not political stooges. This will ensure the election of educated, capable and honest men and women.
  • Amend the 19th amendment to the constitution restoring some of the powers of the president, such as, his ability to dissolve the parliament and removing the 4 year time limit to dissolve the parliament.
  • Do not allow the 20th amendment, before the parliament now, to be adopted, which will be disastrous to the country.

If these proposals are implemented, there is no need for a new constitution which would need a referendum. You will only need a 2/3rd majority in the parliament to amend the existing constitution. I am sure that the President and the PM will be able to convince most MPs, except some Tamil Vellala MPs, to vote for these proposals and at the same time take the wind out of the sails of former President Mahinda Rajapakse and his followers.

Background to the Ethnic Problems

Some Tamil politicians have been clamouring for a Tamil homeland amalgamating the Northern and Eastern Provinces and a federal constitution which would effectively divide the country. Their argument for this is that they are discriminated against, even though they have the same rights as the Sinhalese. Any Tamil can aspire to reach any position in government service or in the private sector as present and historical records show. There have been Tamil Commanders of the three Forces, IGPs, Attorney Generals, Chief Justices, Heads of Departments and Governors of the Central Bank etc. Making Sinhala the only official language was a big mistake which was later corrected. I think the main reason for their grouse is that they lost the privileged positions they held before 1960 and their loss of control of the Government and semi-Government institutions due to competition from educated Sinhalese and Muslims. When asked about discrimination, apart from the official language issue, the only thing my Tamil associates could come up with was the standardisation of marks for the University entrance. It applied, not only for students from Jaffna, but for all other students from major cities where the facilities were better than in rural schools. Anyway, they overcame the problem by sitting for the exams the second time around from rural schools.

Recently, they have been bringing up the argument of ethnic riots in late 1950s, in the 70s and July 83, to buttress their argument of discrimination. These riots were carried out by uneducated thugs, especially the 1983 riots, mostly by thugs of politicians and aided by the inaction of JR. This was in retaliation to the killing of 13 army personnel by Tamil militants. However, the majority of Sinhalese never condoned these acts of retaliation and did their best to hide and protect their Tamil neighbours. This was the most shameful and regrettable chapter in our recent history. These ethnic riots can’t be considered as discrimination of Tamils by the majority community, but as barbaric, retaliatory acts by a few uneducated thugs, just like the many atrocities committed by the LTTE and other Tamil militants.

Since President Premadasa’s time and specially, after the end of the war, the Tamils have been living among the Sinhalese in harmony without any problems.

The Muslims have been living in harmony with other ethnic groups until about the late 1980s, after which the Muslims became radicalised which led to recent riots. Hopefully, the proposed amendments will prevent such happenings.

Conclusion

I have no doubt that our President would love to be remembered as the Statesman who saved the country from foreign influences and unified the country without dividing it on ethnic lines. People, especially the Sinhalese, will hail him as the saviour of our country if he repeals the 13th amendment, which Mahinda Rajapakse could not or did not do. As everyone knows, this is the only country the Sinhalese have and we all want the President, as the Head of the State, to save the unitary status of the country and preserve it for future generations. If he allows a new constitution to devolve power to the provinces or let things to go on as it is now, people will call him, along with Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, traitors of Sri Lanka, manipulated by India and the Tamil diaspora and puppets of the Western countries. I hope and pray that our President has the wisdom and the backbone to implement my proposals. This is also the last chance for Ranil Wickramasinghe to do something to remember him by and worthwhile for the mother land.

If the President does not implement my proposals to amend the present constitution and pave the way to bring in a new constitution granting all the powers to the provinces, he will be considered as the greatest traitor we ever had. I hope and pray that President Sirisena will realise the dangers in the proposed new constitution and see to it that it will never be adopted.

If this government does not implement my proposals, the former President and his new party, SLPP, should consider these proposals and include them in their manifesto for the next election.

May the Gods that protect our country bless our President, PM and the MPs and guide them to do the right thing by implementing my proposals and not pass the 20th amendment or bring in a new constitution to divide the country!

Yours sincerely,

Daya Madawita

 

4 Responses to “Open Letter to the President, PM and the MPs regarding the Proposed New Constitution”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    Excellent! Daya Madawita. There are enough and more people to articulate problems, but few are able to suggest solutions. You are among the few. The solution you propose should receive the attention of all stakeholders at this hour of national crisis. If the pair yoked together by the powers you mention (that do not hold themselves responsible to the people of sovereign Sri Lanka) accept your very reasonable proposal, the current unprecedented crisis will disappear immediately. But that easy way out is not likely to be adopted unless their ‘international’ handlers moderate their designs on Sri Lanka and allow them (RW and MS) to comply with what you suggest or unless the two turn out to be more patriotic than they have ever shown themselves to be to date and defy their foreign masters. It is good to get a pledge from their likely successors to implement your suggestions when they assume power in the future.

    I’d like to add the following proposal, though it is difficult to expect it to find favour with those who are hell bent on splitting the unitary Sri Lanka into nine endlessly feuding mini states. My suggestion is that the constitution making or reforming project be given up altogether for the time being. Within a few months of the fraudulently engineered ouster of the war-winning previous government, the hoodwinked masses got thoroughly disillusioned, and as a result the former president was set to convincingly win the parliamentary election in August 2015 and return to power as prime minister; but MS forestalled that outcome through his infamous, treacherous, misleading election eve statement (that MR would not be appointed even if the UPFA led by MS’s own SLFP which MR represented won the election!). It is not possible to believe that the parliament elected on August 17, 2015 is representative enough of the real public opinion to possess any democratic legitimacy to reform or change the constitution. If a new constitution must be made, let the RW+MS duo have the due elections and allow Sri Lankans to choose a new parliament under the existing constitution, and leave the task to be handled by that new parliament.

  2. Charles Says:

    We can write, advice and point out mistakes of the Yahapalanaya, but neither the President nor the PM pays heed for others. They have their own ideas and they carry them out whether it pleases the public or not and whether those actions of theirs’ are detrimental to Sri Lanka as a sovereign State. It is a Dictatorsip we have supported by American State Department , and the rest of Western Countries. What is necessary is to get rid of Yahapalanaya at all cost, without that there is no future to Sri Lanka or its people.

  3. Randeniyage Says:

    Quoting fro the article ” People, especially the Sinhalese, will hail him as the saviour of our country if he repeals the 13th amendment, which Mahinda Rajapakse could not or did not do.”

    President MR set the bar already. Others have to jump now.
    No popular politician talks about removing 13A now. Everyone is there to please the Tamils and Muslims. People will have 2 or 3 big names to choose from with no one with 13A removal demand.
    Or people can organise themselves to waste the vote on a one small name.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Agree with the recommendations except the executive presidency. It must be abolished. Otherwise executive president’s henchmen violate the law as they please. All other good is negated. Tamils and Muslims decide who the EP is going to be in the post-war era. 13A cannnot be abrogated as long as EP remains because the EP has given international commitments (1987 and 3 in 2009) for the continuation of 13A.

    Given the extreme danger of 13A, a candidate must contest the presidential election with that slogan and give both major candidates a run for their money. If the more patriotic candidate is unable to promise the abrogation of 13A, he must be defeated by splitting his votes.

    Sri Lanka will survive another 5 years and in 2024 the more patriotic candidate will be forced to promise and actually abrogate 13A. UNP cannot divide Sri Lanka (even if it wants to) as the UNP becomes irrelevant if Tamil Eelam is created. Its most crucial votes come from the north and the east! So the last thing the UNP and its international backers want is the division of the country. This is why they don’t demand Tamil Eelam when UNP is in power. They only demand it when another party is in power. In fact, USA, EU and India now want Sri Lanka to remain in one piece and USA even donates valuable military assistance to a military it accused of war crimes not so long ago! Sri Lanka Marines was raised by the USA in 2017 and another coastguard ship is donated. Sri Lanka is once again invited to US Indo Pacific Command meetings and the Shangri La Dialogue.

    Who are they trying to fool!

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