13th amendment will not appease the North and the East
Posted on July 30th, 2009

Gomin Dayasri Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The 13th Amendment has been in existence for over 20 years and it has brought no relief to Sri Lanka. Nobody has a word of praise for it except the few politicians who have obtained office under its dispensation and enjoy the perks associated with such office. None see it as a possible cure for the problems affecting the country. The deficiencies are overwhelming; the expenses are devastating; benefits are not forthcoming.

One thing is for sure, it yields power and position to elected politicians to the detriment of the electors. Besides exercising the franchise, the electors have received no return during its lifetime. We cannot escape being locked by the requirement of a 2/3 parliamentary majority that is unattainable, to have it jettisoned. We are destined to live with the 13th Amendment in the statute book; salvation is not to give it more strength.

It was passed by a 2/3 majority in a parliament where the members were not elected by the people but whose term of office was extended by a referendum; at a time when the voters were denied the right to elect their parliamentarians since J.R.Jayewardane suspended General Elections to safeguard his 2/3 majority obtained under a different Constitution which had a single constituency system instead of proportionate representation. The sordid referendum was the instrument to keep alive his 2/3 parliamentary majority. It was under such a scam that the 13th Amendment was passed as legislation. Those who voted in favour of a 2/3 majority were not members of Parliament elected by the People at a General Election. Worse, those who voted were elected by the people under a different defunct Constitution.

In the search for a solution, 13th plus or minus will offer no benefits for the Tamils but plenty for Tamil politicians. Governments have found it convenient and comfortable to pamper minority politicians to retain their parliamentary majority than attending to the grievances of the minorities; more a grind and a work mill. The living monument is the CWC, the only party of the minorities to have been in every Cabinet continuously from 1977, hinging to all governments, but the Indian Tamils grievances remain untouched while the Thondaman family have enjoyed the best of all worlds. Same will happen to other minorities, especially if the track records of Tamil politicians are assessed, if power is passed, to their politicians.

It will be enlarging the power bases of Tamil politicians with no tangible benefit flowingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to their constituents. There is live experience of the 13th Amendment being functional in eight provinces which has led to the proliferation of politicians and an enlarged administration being a drain on the finances but has failed to address the issues of the people or provided an iota of support to the national issue.

Tamil people are not asking for Eelam or devolution or separatism or federalism? That remains the cry of the Tamil politicians and their acolytes. The minorities are seeking remedies for their grievances-just or unjust. The answer is to identify and evaluate the legitimate grievances and provided remedies acceptable to achieve a just and fair society.

The identifiable grievances are (1) the right to live a life of honour in peace in their own homes (2) life of safety and security for children with future expectations mindful of the travails undergone (3) security concerns (4) development and welfare in the home areas (5) employment opportunities (6) reasonable use of Tamil language (7) land water and forests cover on a equitable basis especially for agricultural purposes and alienation (8) Compensation and where possible return of lands acquired for High Security Zones (9) multi ethnic Security Forces for comfort (10)ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  enhancement ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  indigenous culture of the provinces.

These appear to be reasonable demands with achievable objectives executable under the present Constitution with a simple majority by parliamentary legislation, Presidential executive fiat, administrative regulations and financial provisions. It requires no tinkering of the Constitution and the need for an artificial majority vote in parliament.

Most of these so called grievances are beyond the powers of peripheral authority-it needs the power and the weight of the central government to be remedied. These can be marketed and sold to the country by the centre through the President and the political parties than by provincial politicians whose reach is narrow and limited.

The 13th Amendment was an Indian midsummer nights dream conceived in haste shrouded in secrecy to dent the LTTE thrust at a time when the Tigers freely roamed the North and East and our relationship with India were not cordial. It was an effort to absorb the LTTE into the political and administrative structure just as in the case of the post tsunami structure proposed by the Chandrika government. LTTE and the 13th Amendment were to walk hand in hand along the aisle; in the absence of the walking partner the 13th Amendment stands like a bride without the groom.

13th Amendment was a lukewarm effort for government in the south to work in tandem with the terrorist organisation in the north and east within a democratic framework but it did not satisfy the autocratic Prabhakaran to whom Eelam was an all or nothing excercise.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It was an ill conceived effort to bring the terrorist organisation in to the mainstream democratic process but without understanding that Prabhakaran could not survive in that climate. North and East were merged as a sweetener to provide an enlarged arena for the LTTE to operate.

The backdrop of events after 5/19 has made the LTTE irrelevant and the accommodation of a non existing LTTE, redundant. With the disappearance of the LTTE the 13th Amendment passes into oblivion.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The 13th Amendment now lives isolated in a lost valley and a rescue operation of it is a lost cause.

More interesting is to identify those who desire to restart the engine of the 13th Amendment to re launch it and their hidden motivation. It is the emerging combination consisting of the former cheer leaders of the LTTE still in business and those in the government column who hated the Tigers but instead mooted federal structures as the alternative. Those sleeping federalists in the government column had their wake up call with the disappearance of the LTTE.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ These two competing groups have now coalesced to push the 13th Amendment to the forefront realising that the 13th Amendment will not satisfy the prevailing expectations of the Tamil people and their grievances will continue unattended and to fester; ideally, for another terrorist outfit to be reincarnated thereby enhancing opportunities of reviving federalism as an alternative which is as dead as the LTTE presently. Bottom line is, atmospheric conditions are unfavourable to usher federalism at the present juncture, so keep it alive with the 13th Amendment which will not settle the outstanding problems.

Those seeking refuge under the banner of the 13th Amendment know well it will not appease the North and the East. They do not want to witness a content society- the problems of the minorities must not recede but the Tamil politicians must prosper with whom they will before long establish linkage to attain their goals.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

The 13th Amendment is an Indian import and still touted by foreign elements within and outside the country owing allegiance to white western powers, sycophants of Varatharaja Perumal establishment which unilaterally declared an independent state, NGO elements, Tamil Diaspora, neo liberal conservatives sporting the colours of neo liberal leftists with Western orientations and pseudo Cuban immitations, the Colombian seminar circuit and travelling academics of fame and fortune. They will soon be joined by the LTTE rump in disguise. Irrespective of whether they supported the LTTE or otherwise they hailed from the federal school of thought which is a stepping stone to a separate state. Now they come out to the open displaying in their true colours with the LTTE buried. They always yearned for federalism without a LTTE.

Those desirous of ushering a federal structure in the future will opt for the enhancement of the 13th Amendment. They will be press for further devolution seeking enhancement of powers under the 13th amendment as a launching pad for a secessionist movement which will initially take a democratic pathway before commencing on an agitation campaign.

They will emphasise that we must move with the 13th Amendment to please India. Had we waited to please other nations we would not have seen the end of terrorism? India genuinely wants the problems of the Tamils settled amicably and would take a realistic approach if the grievances are assuaged. They would well understand that the 13th Amendment belonged to a generation that had to co-exist with the LTTE and where the LTTE were made to feel good, they were providers of relief to their people- the art work behind this legislation. That landscape has disappeared from the scene and it is the Central Government that must find the answers to the legitimate grievances of the minorities.

The government has to safeguard itself more from those within, than those from outside. Initiation of the next generation of terrorists will originate from the ranks of those in camouflaged dress within the government.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

One Response to “13th amendment will not appease the North and the East”

  1. jana Says:

    M R should have a referandum on the 13th amendment. The provincial council system is a administrative and a financial burden that SL cannot afford. M R should not forget that he opposed it in parliment and that 75000 sinhala youth sacrificed there life against it.

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