Pros and cons of new Constitution
Posted on February 18th, 2019

By Ananda Ariyarathne Courtesy Ceylon Today

Is Sri Lanka still a poor Nation because we do not have a suitable Constitution? Simply because everyone has a mobile phone, a Hero Honda, a Maruti obtained on some leasing programme, and a credit card from some ‘international bank’, has our Nation become an affluent Nation? Have the housing problems been solved, and critical operations at the hospitals, finding decent schools for children who would end up as future citizens, and for those bright children, are opportunities in the higher learning centres becoming abundant?

The answer to all those is a definite ‘no.’ Then, in that case, will a change in the Constitution give the answers to the problems we have? The ‘problems’ we have are purely administrative deficiencies in our planning. How will the ‘planning’ become positive if the Constitution is changed? Are the changes aimed at, in the Constitution addressing anyone of the above mentioned negative features? If we analyse the effect of the changes aimed at, can we see any positive signs? Have we ever tried to look in that direction?”

Main objectives

‘To provide the Tamil Citizens a better status than now, by making them independent in minding their affairs.’ This concept is put forward by giving the World the impression that Tamil citizens in Sri Lanka are discriminated. At the time of writing, out of our Tamil Citizens, about 55 per cent live among Sinhalese, and work among them. If they are discriminated, how can they be in Sinhalese dominated areas?  It was more during the war, as the Tamil citizens felt safer among Sinhalese people, that in those so-called ‘traditional homelands.’ That is natural, and there is nothing wrong in them making a living among Sinhalese, and in that they do not face any barriers, in settling down in any part of the country.

It is necessary to mention that Sinhalese make up 74.9 per cent of the population, according to the 2012 census, and they are concentrated in the densely populated South-West and Central parts of the country. The Sri Lankan Tamils, who live predominantly in the North and East of our country, had been estimated as the largest minority group, with about 11.1 per cent of the population, according to 2012 statistics. And out of them, more than half can be found in the so-called ‘Sinhalese areas,’ living in harmony.

The Muslims, being the descendants of Arab and Malabari traders, craftsmen, and fishermen, including specialists in pearl hunting, settled in Sri Lanka and married local women over a long period of time. They are the third largest ethnic group, making up 9.3 per cent of the population. They can be found mostly concentrated in the Urban Areas in the Southern Parts of the country, with substantial numbers in the Central, Eastern Provinces. During the time of the Portuguese, they were persecuted, and many were forced to retreat to the Central Highlands and the Eastern Coast. King Senerath helped them settle down in Ampara, protected by the Sinhalese villages, and some of the extremist Muslims talk about ‘Muslim traditional lands.’ Apart from that, there are also the Indian Tamils, who form a distinct ethnic group of 4.1 per cent of the population, and they were brought by the British rulers to Sri Lanka in the 19th century as workers for the plantation sector, that started with coffee plantations, and later saw the addition of tea and other crops, and they were concentrated in the ‘tea country’ of the Central Hill Country. The Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka were considered to be ‘stateless,’ and over 300,000 Indian Tamils were sent back to India, under an agreement reached between India and Sri Lanka in 1964. India granted citizenship to some 200,000, who now live in India. Then about 75,000 Indian Tamils, who applied for Indian citizenship, changed their minds, and remained in Sri Lanka. The Government has stated these Tamils will not be forced to return to India, although they are not technically citizens of Sri Lanka. By the 1990s, most Indian Tamils had received Sri Lankan citizenship.

It had been purely due to extremist Tamil leaders, who followed the path chosen by Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, who led Tamil people in the early 1920s, and aspired for a separate State. In 1963, the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru made it very clear that no separation movements would be accepted. Then, those extremists started supporting politicians in Sri Lanka, who wanted a separate State.

The unprofessional approach by the political leaders in Sri Lanka, starting from 1956, gave reasons for Tamil agitators, and it became a very convenient way out for Indian Leaders to do their manoeuvring with the People of Tamil Nadu. Now that Tamil People of Tamil Nadu are convinced that it is better to stay together, the aspirations shall not hold. But, those who still follow that path, want a separate State.

With the decisive defeat of the Tamil Tigers, it became a desperate situation for such factions, which supported the secessionist movement in Sri Lanka. They started attacking the Sri Lankan Government through their international connections, Geneva in particular. The Sri Lankan Government was accused of atrocities and war crimes, in their efforts to promote the idea for a separate State for Tamil People, as the main problem.

Cloak-and-dagger Constitution

The question is whether the Constitution is the answer. It is a case of the Sri Lankan Governments failure to develop this country, to ease the burden of all the people. It is not a case of Tamil people only. It is a case for all, and there is nothing political in that. All those specialists have never shown how the life would become better.

Approving Constitution

Already, the Provincial Council has become a ‘White Elephant,’ and we all know that it was a system forced on Sri Lanka by India through intimidating tactics, in order to balance their image among the Tamil citizens of India. The system that existed in Sri Lankan was quite adequate, under the Soulbury Constitution. Those who objected to the nominal identification of Sri Lanka as a country without freedom, due to the presence of a Governor General who represented the British Monarch, would have been enough, even with a very simple change, like what they did in renaming the position as President.

But, under that, there was no Provincial Council system. See how cunningly those educated crooks have manipulated things. They wanted power to revolve around the Prime Minister, but with Provincial Councils gaining more ‘political’ power. No one talks about abolishing the Provincial Council system, but it is only about trimming the powers of the Executive President. The way they have jotted the path, even the Prime Minister would be powerless. How would the system be balanced?

They don’t give two hoots about that. The weaker the Central Government, the better it is for them. If it happens the way they anticipate, Northern and Eastern Provinces can decide to become one administrative unit, and neither the President nor the Prime Minister shall be powerful enough to maintain the unitary state.

Will such a situation help people? How will people benefit from ‘well planned and well organised chaos’ like that?

Especially in an environment where the ‘voters’ who are the ‘citizens’ are not adequately aware of such complications, such provinces shall be managed by either ‘very mediocre’ puppets, or by sets of scheming extremists, who are more concerned about preserving their authority.

How can we expect truly honest development programmes in such an environment? When it is complicated by the biggest chaos generating machine, the ‘free economy,’ the country will be left with only pieces, not peace.

Prabhakaran’s ill-fated move, in interfering with irrigation and water supply, can be taken as a very good example for what we can anticipate under such a Constitution. Then the revenue systems can play havoc, as the Customs gates which will appear subsequently will choke commercial activities, as transportation cannot take place naturally. Then, how will the producers benefit?

Such a scenario shall be completely lunatic, as the interpretation of the Constitutional stipulations itself shall be a total confusion. Thinking about agriculture, how will the farmers be assured of the basic infrastructure facilities?

Then shall come aspects like water supply and drainage, and power transmission. Then, the sharing of resources like fisheries, and water for irrigation, and so on.

Aren’t we slowly planning our own doom as a Nation?

Erosion of central Police powers

Imagine the situation where there shall not be any Police Department that can act independently, diligently. Think about the miscreant elements getting a free-run all over the country, especially in an environment where crime is on the rise. Economic failure is the root cause for crime to increase. A Constitution that erodes the Central Authority shall be the most fertile ground for the germs of criminal activities to grow.

Economy

In a highly developed society, the awareness and duty consciousness shall also be very high, and in such an environment, the rights of the people shall not be abused. Just imagine a scenario like ours, where politicians like Wigneswaran, Shivajilingam, and Sumanthiran make highly aggressive and provocative utterances. Imagine the situation is such, even before such a mad Constitution has been adopted!

One Response to “Pros and cons of new Constitution”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    There is nothing good in the proposed new constitution. It’s all bad.

    This is not true.

    “The Sri Lankan Tamils, who live predominantly in the North and East of our country, had been estimated as the largest minority group, with about 11.1 per cent of the population, according to 2012 statistics. And out of them, more than half can be found in the so-called ‘Sinhalese areas,’ living in harmony.”

    Only 30% of them live in so-called ‘Sinhalese areas. 70% of them live in the north and east. Don’t mix with total Tamils.

    This is also false.

    “The unprofessional approach by the political leaders in Sri Lanka, starting from 1956”

    It was from 1958 (B-C Pact). What happened in 1956 and 1957 was the right thing as happens in every developed democracy.

    Agree with the rest.

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