Morality of ‘de facto’ consent

(Courtesy of The Island)

An opinion piece by Mr. Rajeeva Jayaweera in The Island of May 8, 2019 reports that Jaffna District MP Mr. Sumanthiran during the first anniversary of a weekly, ‘Annidda’, had on April 29, 2019 stated: “the most significant minority has not yet given their consent to live together as one country”. The report also states that he had ‘warned of dire consequences if minority concerns are not addressed’. The fact that he decided to raise a political issue relating to the community he represents, at a time when the whole nation is grieving at the carnage inflicted across national and international communities by some demented individuals, reflects a level of insensitivity that should be an embarrassment to his entire community.

The last time the “significant minority” decided not to give their consent to live together as one country was at Vaddukoddai in 1976, when its leadership called for establishment of a separate state. A serious effort was made by them over thirty years to achieve this objective. Despite the cost in terms of blood and treasure expended by this “significant minority”, the project failed and was brought to a conclusion on May 19, 2009. Since then, no attempt has been made to ascertain the mindset of the “significant minority”. In the meantime, the leadership of the “significant minority” is proposing autonomy with the right of self-determination to a defined region within a united Sri Lanka as an arrangement that would address their concerns. This too would fail because the significant majority would not consent to it, since such an option would make the nation and the country vulnerable, notwithstanding the threat of ‘dire consequences’.

However, mot giving the consent to live together has not deterred the “significant minority” from participating in all activities of governance in the one country. This participation extends to the exercise of their franchise to directly elect an Executive President and separately a Parliament, in keeping with their sovereign responsibilities. In addition, this same “significant minority” decided to elect the TNA of which Mr. Sumanthiran is a prominent member, to represent them in the Parliament of the one country. Furthermore, it is the TNA that is propping up the current government. This degree of engagement in the one country by the “significant minority” should be considered as de facto consent, which on moral grounds amounts to de jure consent. Anything else is nothing but political hyperbole. If indeed it is not, for Mr. Sumanthiran to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution that categorically states in Article 2 that “The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State”, and actively engage within the one country, would amount to a betrayal of the People he represents.

While the leadership of the “significant minority” continues to harp on issues that are projected as grievances, regardless of the inappropriateness of the current occasion, two generations of the “significant minority” have lost out of living together as one country. The leadership of the “significant minority” has to take responsibility for misleading them with promises and notions that cannot be delivered, and now have lost their relevance. Therefore, the “significant minority” has to take upon themselves to explore how to transform themselves from a “significant minority” into a significant partner within the one country in which they live.





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