Amend Constitution for a real Unitary Sri Lanka
Posted on December 12th, 2019

DAYA MADAWITA Courtesy Island

article_image

This an Open Letter to the President, PM and all MPs to amend the Constitution to create ethnic and religious harmony in Sri Lanka.

First, I wish to congratulate His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for his resounding win at the recent Presidential election.

I am writing this, as a patriotic Sri Lankan, with the hope the new 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 political leaders of Sri Lanka. It is also a good chance for most of the MPs to do something worthwhile for the country by helping to pass new legislation incorporating my proposals.

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

All ethnic and religious problems, such as, 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 or different court systems for different ethnic or religious groups or for different parts of the country.

Bring in anti-discrimination legislation preventing discrimination based on religion, race, caste or gender etc. Australian anti-discrimination legislation can be a good example. Then the Tamil politicians will have no legs to stand on, but ordinary Tamils, especially the low caste Tamils, will welcome 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. Instead, have District Development Councils as in the old days.

Amend the Constitution to change the present voting system so that the highest vote getter in each electorate is elected as in the 1972 constitution. This will eliminate in-fighting and minimise corruption. If you are keen to have proportional representation, restrict the number of such MPs to about 20%. 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 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 without time limits, and remove some unnecessary councils which hamper decision making.

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 the President and 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 the Tamil separatists.

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 mistake, which was corrected later. 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 also 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.

Since President Premadasa’s time and specially, after the end of the Eelam 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 1990s, after which some Muslims became radicalised, which led to recent riots, as well as, the Easter Sunday bombings. I hope that the proposed amendments will prevent such happenings.

Conclusion

I have no doubt that our President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would love to be remembered as the Statesman who saved the country from foreign influences and unified the country (for the second time) 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 all Presidents before him could not do. As we all know, 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 go on as it is now, the people who voted for him will be disappointed. I hope and pray that our President has the wisdom and the ability to implement my proposals

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

DAYA MADAWITA

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2020 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress