Do away with PCs,13th A and Presidency
Posted on January 31st, 2019

N.A.de S. Amaratunga

Several Provinces have existed without their Councils with no breakdown of essential services to the people for more than one year due to elections not being held. Though it is argued that not holding elections on time is a denial of democratic rights not holding elections for redundant institutions which in fact are a white elephant and a burden on the tax paying poor people could be considered a blessing in disguise. PCs were created as a solution to the so called ethnic Tamil problem but the silence of Tamil politicians on the issue of delay in elections to the Northern PC is deafening to say the least. If they can do without their PC there cannot be an ethnic problem of enormous magnitude which necessitated a protracted war of 30 years and the introduction by force of the 13th A by India. People of this country did not ask for the 13th A, it was forced on us by a hegemonic imperialist India partly to pacify Tamil Nadu politicians, and to prevent other interested global powers getting into the fray for geopolitical reasons. Our poor people have to pay for global geopolitical vagaries and local communal dubious ‘aspirations’.

There have been several letters in these columns asking for a clarification of the issue known by several names such as Ethnic problem, Tamil Problem, Language Problem, National problem so on and so forth. But an answer in clear terms that ordinary people understand has not emanated from those who wag eloquence on the subject. This problem could be traced back to the times before independence when Tamil leaders petitioned the British government calling for a separate Tamil state on the basis that a Tamil state existed before foreign invaders conquered the country. The fact that the Tamil state they refer to was an occupation by South Indian invaders can easily be proved but due to space constraints it could be postponed to a future occasion. The Tamil problem from that unholy beginning had evolved through several stages such as the demand for a 50% representation in the State Council for minorities, demand for federalism, anti-Sinhala demonstrations in 1956, Vadukodai Declaration in 1976 and the LTTE war for the creation of Eelam. There had always been foreign involvement and support for the so called Tamil cause and at present it is spearheaded by Britain mainly due to the political clout and vote base of the Tamil Diaspora with the British political parties vying with each other to please the diaspora to get their votes. The USA, Europe and other western countries and also the regional power India are involved due to geopolitical reasons. Thus the issue is not one that originates from the people of the country but one that has been created by minority politicians with the instigation, support and sponsorship of interested foreign powers. At present the Tamil politicians sans the LTTE seem to have reverted back to lobbying the foreign powers quite successfully with the willing support of local opportunist politicians to pursue their separatist agenda.

The Provincial Councils do not serve any useful purpose. Instead it is another bureaucratic barrier to the people that increase the red tape, inconvenience, waste of time, money and energy of the people. Further it has increased the number of corrupt politicians that people have to bribe to get any official work done. The devolution of power via these PCs is totally redundant as shown by the inability of the Northern PC, which was formed for the very purpose of solving the Tamil problem, to make use of the opportunity to serve the people. The work done by these PCs could easily be carried out by the GA and the kachcheri system we had previously without the involvement of politicians. Similarly administrative power could be devolved to the North through the local government institutions. The 13th A with its Land and Police powers hangs over us like a Sword of Damocles which could eventually pave the way for a separate state. Thus the 13th A and its offspring the provincial councils could be done away with bringing great benefit to the people including Tamils.

One of the main campaign slogans of he incumbent president, though he may now have changed his mind, was the abolition of the presidency. One of his main supporters the late Ven Sobitha was adamant that the presidency was inimical to the country and monstrous in its concentration of power in one office. However, those who vie for the preservation of the presidency argue that a president elected by the entire country and representing their sovereignty must have control over the provincial councils if centrifugal separatist forces which abound in Sri Lanka are to be thwarted. Yet the presidential powers relevant to this aspect of the problem become non-essential if the 13th A with police and land powers and the PCs are abolished. Executive powers then could repose in the cabinet of ministers. This would also reduce the political institutions and the expense of electing and maintaining them which may be too heavy for a poor country. JRJ created a monster when there was no need as there were no PCs then. 13th A added to the monstrosity. It is time to get rid of all these monsters and install a simple inexpensive system of governance consisting of incorruptible, honest, patriotic people.

One may ask what about the Tamil problem. Firstly this has not been clearly explained. As far as any fair minded person could see Tamils in Sri Lanka are better off than Tamils in India. In Tamil Nadu for instance, Tamils cannot represent a case in courts in the Tamil language, leave alone anywhere else in India, where as Tamils in Sri Lanka could do so anywhere in the country. Tamils in the North and the East have no issues that other communities do not have regarding the use of language, education, employment, economy, household income, culture, sports etc. The house hold income in Vavuniya is better than that in Kandy, so are the roads. They have excelled in education. They have no special problems that arise due to their ethnicity. If Tamils are  discriminated they would not be able to achieve what they have. As for their political rights, these could easily be addressed at the centre of political power instead of at the periphery as the country is very small. Tamil representation at the centre should be made more meaningful particularly on matters related to minorities. The money saved by the removal of the presidency, PCs and 13th A  could be used for the benefit of everybody. Tamils and other minorities should be made to develop a sense of belonging in the country of their berth. A federal state is not necessary for this, in fact a federal state based on ethnicity would result in the hardening of ethnic identity and lead to a tendency for secession.

5 Responses to “Do away with PCs,13th A and Presidency”

  1. Randeniyage Says:

    Thank you very much for writing this.
    I think 90% of Sri Lankans (including North and East people) will agree with you !
    Those 5% disagree include,
    1. Those who depend on political games and crimes.
    2. LTTE , Jihadist and sepratists
    3. Indians with Sri lankan citizenship

    There are another 5% of unpatriotic PURE FOOLS who wait until politician Gods they worship recite it. They think PCs system is their power base.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    By Malinda Seneviratne
    Provincial Councils and the silence of the federalist ‘lambs’

    M.A. Sumanthiran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) makes much of caveats in the proposed constitution that makes ‘division impossible’. The call then is for a new constitution where ‘indivisibility’ is scripted in. That’s lovely. On paper. Politics doesn’t happen on paper and neither are constitutional proclamations worth the ink they are written on (if you have doubts, think of the ‘19th Amendment’). Loveliness on paper can be misleading. In this instance it is a clear sign to be cautious simply because it is Sumanthiran who is doing the decorations. Let me elaborate.

    A little over a year ago, Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, in an article titled ‘On wise verbal concessions in the art of negotiations’ published in the Colombo Telegraph, salutes Sumanthiran for being clever with words. Hoole, the TNA’s nominee to the Election Commission, noted that Sumanthiran had told him privately that ‘problems of negotiation should be approached judiciously without being hung up on words that can be inflammatory’.

    Sumanthiran had pointed to Article 18 of the constitution as an example of this ‘brilliance’: ‘While 18(1) says Sinhalese shall be the official language of Sri Lanka, Article 18(2) brilliantly goes on to subvert it saying that Tamil shall also be an official language. If we had been stuck on objecting to 18(1), Tamils could never have been liberated through 18(2). It is an oxymoron like 18(2) that can make Tamils get powers to take decision on those matters that concern our well-being through participatory governance.’

    The problem with Sumanthiran is that he says one thing in one place and something else somewhere else, says something and says something else later. For all his ‘unitary’ posturing, he did state vehemently at the Parliament debate on the interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly (as reported in the Daily Mirror on November 2, 2017) that the TNA wants a secular and federal Sri Lanka. He has not pointed out, as he did with respect to Article 18, that the non-secular clause (Article 9) is made meaningless by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    That’s an aside, by the way. What’s pertinent is that the devolution-voices are dead silent when it comes to the provincial councils

    Anyway, it seems a bit confusing. An indivisible federal state doesn’t sound right, especially when the indivisibility is marketed as keeping the unitary nature intact. Sumanthiran is word-playing here and we don’t need Hoole’s congratulatory observation to know it.

    Federalism comes from the late Latin word foedus, which means treaty, compact or contract. Interestingly, it comes from an older Latin word, fides, which means ‘trust’. Trust is not something we have here, Sumanthiran as Hoole explains unwittingly is not to be trusted, or rather, his words are oxymoronic and deliberately so.

    Politically, a federation refers the coming together (okay, on the basis of an agreement, based again on some degree of trust) of two or more distinct political entities. While we have the problem of Tamil nationalists, wide-eyed liberals (many of whom are rabidly anti-Sinhala or anti-Buddhist) of using demarcation lines that have no basis in history and are not derived from any important geographical factors, there are other issues that rebel against such an arrangement: a) demography (almost half the Tamils live outside the so-called exclusive traditional homelands), b) vast sections of the Eastern Province and considerable territory in the Northern Province are traditional homelands of Sinhalese, c) the archaeological evidence indicates that the North and East constitute the heartland of Buddhism in the island, and d) the alleviation of grievances (shorn of embellishment and exaggeration) does not necessarily require devolution.

    Importantly, the ‘coming together’ of it immediately creates the logic for ‘coming apart’, never mind ambiguous caveats about indivisibility. We could have court determining that the ‘indivisible’ clause (stand-alone) is subservient to the ‘divisibility’ encrypted in the very definitions of division of power (context). Yes, like the 19th Amendment, where court determined that the power to dissolve is made meaningless by the removal of the power to devolve in the very same piece of paper!

    So we are compelled to suspect that the following are the key components of Sumanthiran’s game plan: 1) ‘Oxymoronize’ the constitution, 2) Get it approved through a referendum, banking on seemingly harmless wording (in isolation), 3) Get the Supreme Court to see it in context and not isolation, 4) a constitutionally federal Sri Lanka, and 5) separation (following the time-tested Chelvanayakam mantra: ‘a little now, more later’). Maybe Sumanthiran will not be around to wave the indivisibility flag by that time or maybe he will be silent and say ‘I simply changed my mind because, as any lawyer would tell you, circumstances alter cases’. Hoole, tellingly observes, ‘words do not matter so long as we get what we need!’ That’s Hoole on Sumanthiran. Need we say more? We do.

    Why are Sumanthiran and the TNA silent on provincial council elections not being held? Why is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) silent? Why are the born-again democrats, candlelight ladies and funded-voices silent? Are elections, in their minds, anathema to them? Are they not important elements of democracy? Is it that they are more camouflaged UNPers than anything else and are hell-bent on saving their political masters/heroes the blushes?

    That’s an aside, by the way. What’s pertinent is that the devolution-voices are dead silent when it comes to the provincial councils. We’ve gone more than a year since term-expiration in relation to three councils and several months in relation to three more. The country hasn’t collapsed. The people have not protested about the relevant representational-deficit. In short, PCs or no PCs, things are fine. They weren’t needed in the first place (India stuffed them down our throats). They served only politicians and political parties. They were veritable training grounds in crookery for politicians seeking even better pastures.

    We can do without them, Sumanthiran, the TNA, the JVP and the UNP have in their silence and their complicity in the non-holding of election, have proven. The President wants them but let’s not fool ourselves that he believes in the virtues of power-devolution. The same goes for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). They are looking for legitimacy and political momentum, nothing else.

    What’s clear is that the people are not interested in devolution. As of now, only Sumanthiran is keen on it. All moves for a new constitution, therefore, need to be seen as being key elements of Sumanthiran’s political agenda, and subscription to it by Tamil Nationalists can only be surmised by their silence and tacit agreement. And, in his case, it’s not just any kind of devolution he’s proposing. He’s going for broke. He’s batting for federalism as a necessary precondition for division. It’s easier, compared to armed insurrection, let us not forget.

    Let us not forget and let us not be swayed by flowery language and assurances made meaningless by a virtually acknowledged strategy of subterfuge. As for provincial councils, it’s high time that the truth is recognized: they never worked and are not needed. Out with them, and with the pernicious 13th Amendment to the Constitution!

  3. Christie Says:

    “Do away with PCs,13th A and Presidency”.

    All of the above is the work of India and Indian Colonial Parasites.

    The so called Tamils are Indian Colonial Parasite like in Fiji, South Africa or Guyana.

    We have to refer these people as Indian Colonial Parasites and not Tamils.

    We should always tell the world about the Indian Colonial Parasites.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Well said!

    The three curses of Sri Lanka. They are interdependent. One depends on the other for survival.

    Political patriots must know that a true patriotic presidential election candidate is being groomed to contest the 2019 presidential election with these promises and more. Sri Lanka must be turned unitary again from current federal set up.

    As someone commented above all three are Indian impositions.

  5. Ratanapala Says:

    Sumanthiran is adamant not to use the word Unitary in the English version of the Proposed Constitution. This is because it has a definite legal meaning in English. This is why he is trumping to use the word Eekeeya even in the English version and the word Orumitta Nadu in the Tamil version. Orumitta Nadu means United Country as against Ottruachchi means One Nation.

    With a wordplay, Sumanthiran is trying to deceive the Sinhalese and convince the Tamils that they have now a walkway to Eelam through the backdoor.

    Over and above these the other provisions in the Proposed Constitution is literally to balkanize Sri Lanka into 9 states which wll ultimately end up being really 8 states with North and East joining to form one contiguous large province – the precursor to Eelam and with the proviso that other provinces cannot join without almost impossible legal wrangling. At the same time, the intent is to weaken the center to just a ceremonial institution not worth its name.

    This conspiracy by Jayampathi Wickramaratne and Sumanthiran at the behest of the UNP, TNA hierarchies and the Diaspora Ex LTTE terrorists to facilitate big power intervention and the attempts at the making of another Libya or Syria should be fully exposed to the people of Sri Lanka.

    Either we must retain the Full Presidency with powers greater than that exist today or the abolition of the Presidency should be concurrent with the abolition of the Provincial Councils and the much cursed and Indian imposed 13 A! There is no daylight in between!!

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