Sri Lanka Constitution: Questions for people to ponder

The People of Sri Lanka did not ask for a new constitution so to whose desire or benefit are we making a new constitution? A Constitution cannot be an experiment especially by political appointees who have overlooked historical facts and ground realities and political influences that require a strong national constitution to protect the entire island. We cannot have a situation where an unwanted baby is delivered to be told operation successful patient died. The repercussions and dangers are far too great to be indulging in experiments leaving a volatile climate of chaos in particular when the present government is now even internationally known as unable to govern the country.

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Sri Lanka is a small island nation. Its population is just 20million. Sri Lanka cannot be compared to US, India, Canada or even Australia. The governance structures adopted in these countries are to suit the size of their countries. There is no logical reason to duplicate their systems of governance. External players or parties cannot influence Sri Lanka and shove down Sri Lanka’s throat what they deem is suitable for us and Sri Lankan public must not allow their representatives the politicians to be influenced into agreeing by various handouts, promises and carrots offered. Recently the EU offered President Assad money if he agreed to allow terrorists to rule over parts of Syria. This was a shocking case of unashamed bribery. We know how far USAID and other international INGOs played in drafting Nepal’s new constitution to introduce secularism against the wishes of the people and the threatening role by India via economic blockades for Nepal’s refusal to incorporate what India desired are all lessons Sri Lanka cannot over look.

Secular tab is another western slogan flogged to take away, denigrate and dilute countries that have historical past and are trying their best to protect that past. The very countries preaching secularism take oaths holding the Bible and sing national anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ while their politicians make no bones about protecting Christianity. A religion has been made a state and is the only religion that has status in the UN. None of the Muslim-majority countries will budge from the supreme place given to Islam and Quran. Sri Lanka has every right to afford the foremost place to Buddhism that has prevailed for over 2600 years.

The countries urging Sri Lanka to draft a new constitution are countries that are larger in size and population, their histories are a few hundred years, their nations built as invading occupiers and immigrants and cannot be compared to the rich civilizational heritage and history lasting over 2600 years which Sri Lanka holds – no constitution can demand that the place of those who built the nation and the guiding principles on which it was built be removed and replaced with something foreign. Sri Lanka’s culture & Buddhist philosophy, history and artefacts cannot be allowed to become a piece in the museum.

The proposals made by the committee appointed by the PM has made shocking proposals unbelievable that they would even suggest to design a new national flag, remove the place historically afforded to Buddhism -

A piece of paper called the constitution which is not read by ordinary people and perhaps not even read by the majority of people in Sri Lanka cannot have legal clauses just to please a handful of people. A big noise was made about singing the national anthem in Tamil – it was allowed flouting the current constitution claiming it would usher in unity … what is the unity heralded? Just look at the speeches and statements made by Chief Minister Wigneswaran and the TNA as well as other separatists. It is very clear that no paper can change the mentality in the minds of people and no minds can be changed because of changing clauses.

Imposed structures have failed – 13a and provincial council system brought in through the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 has been a miserable failure and a burden on the tax payers.

Moreover no new constitution should be introduced without checks and balances  if the centre is delegating some of its powers the centre should have the right to take back these powers if the provinces are not functioning to its expectations. An excellent example was in 1990 when the merged NE Provincial Council Chief Minister Varatharaja Perumal declared unilateral declaration of independence which led to the province been dissolved and powers returning to the centre. Such provisions must prevail in particular when the 2 provinces demanding separatism are run by parties that have been openly propagating mono-ethnic self rule. As a small island nation all strategic, national, fiscal, international, monetary affairs must be held by the Centre. These items have no direct relevance or requirement for people of these provinces and these subjects should not be delegated to the provinces to independently handle on their own. If the political leaders of these provinces claim they wish to improve the welfare of the people – it is only affairs that are directly relevantly to the people that should be delegated by the center and nothing else.

The confederal system that Tamil leaders closely associated with separatism of Sri Lanka are advocating was initially adopted by the Founding Fathers of America (where sovereign powers were given to the States) the weaknesses and dangers of such a system made American leaders to replace Articles of Confederacy with a federal model in 1789. The troubles US faced under confederal system draws important lessons for Sri Lanka in the context of the same demands being made by TNA and constituent party ITAK whose constitution has as its aims and objectives the confederal model (a supreme court case continues to challenge ITAK on these aims and objectives)

No change in the structure of governance can come about when there are minority leaders and a handful of majority leaders who for political gain are fanning separatist tendencies. Until clauses are brought in legally to ensure no type of separatism is allowed the new constitution should not do any experiments in devolution or decentralization.

Any form of delegating powers to the existing provinces must be based on what is of practical need to the people of the provinces and not what the politicians of these provinces aspire. In other words a person should not have to travel to Colombo to pick up his passport or NIC, or obtain a copy of his birth certificate, education certificates, marriage certificate, death certificate etc. We are living in the age of information technology. Easily the provinces can be tasked to issue these certificates to the people (which is already happening) thus reducing the burden of travel and expense to the people. Similarly, it is important to see what else has been overlooked and cater to these – these are all administrative procedures which does not require a new constitution except the will to do so. Yet, how far has the practical needs of the people been put on the table for discussion instead of the political desires of the politicians? Yet all those pushing for changes have never really asked how far have the politicians demanded what is beneficial for the people when in reality the demands are only to grasp political power for themselves.

Let us not forget that the LTTE had its own courts, its own police, its own naval and air operations, its own administrative service, its own judiciary & judges, its own educational systems. TNA’s links to LTTE has never been investigated despite appeals and it is the same TNA leaders now using their political leverage to gain what the terror arm couldn’t noted in the specific demands for land, police other segments which were all part of the ISGA & PTOM proposals.

Therefore, any Committee making proposals cannot be ignorant of the dynamics of the ground situation and that makes them duty bound to ensure that their proposals cover these sensitive areas. Therefore the question is what is the rationale is dividing police into national and provincial police knowing that LTTE-TNA were having its own police using Tamils. The proposals are so shocking that it is like Prabakaran sending a set of proposals from his grave! The proposals are just what he had been fighting tooth and nail for. The call for the merger of North and East is an excellent example to showcase the identical nature of what the LTTE – LTTE Diaspora – TNA and external forces supporting them are demanding through their stooges now seated drafting the proposals.

What needs to also be never looked is the treatment that the World has afforded to only Tamils totally disregarding that Sinhalese and Muslims suffered more under LTTE terror for throughout 30 years it was the LTTE targeting them. However, all funds, aid and regular foreign visits have been only to the North – even the UNHRC head and the UNSG visited only Tamil victims some of whom were LTTE families. All of the funds given by foreign governments in particular India have been with the insistence that they are channelled only for the North. This has to be juxtaposed against some foreign parliamentarians with links to LTTE diaspora using their political status to call for a separate Tamil state and some of these have even spoken on top of LTTE stages overseas and attended their events too. These aspects cannot be overlooked as TNA representatives have also been present at these events.

What cannot be forgotten also is the Singapore Principles wherein the assurances made are identical to the proposals being made paving the way for a separate state. We are playing with fire if we ignore these aspects and not link them to the ground situation. Those making proposals cannot completely ignore ground realities and put the country in deep and dire trouble and expect another lot of army personnel to sacrifice their lives to save the nation again while the proposers will nicely abandon ship and say ‘sorry the experiment didn’t work’.

Given that Sri Lanka is a small island nation any decision that representatives elected to only serve a term in office cannot be allowed to decide for the entire country without seeking the mandate and approval of the people. This is extremely important given that the present government comprises MPs who have been rejected by the people by vote and who have been brought into Parliament through the back door without any basis or any approval by the people. Such MPs have even been given strategic cabinet level portfolios which no other country in the world would do. It is a surprise that none of the countries preaching rights, good governance and rule of law are making statements against the large numbers of MPs who are in Parliament inspite of people rejecting them. Therefore, this government has no moral right to be passing any legislative changes through the Parliament using these MPs.

Another factor neglected is the fact that the Sinhalese are been incrementally chased out from both the North and Eastern provinces and ancient Buddhist structures, temples and other artefacts are being destroyed or even bulldozed. The government is stoic silent on these factors even ignoring the racism of the Northern Province Chief Minister who has been repeatedly demanding the Sinhalese be removed from the North thus indirectly encouraging Tamils to be antagonistic towards the Sinhalese living in the North while at the same time Tamils are growing in numbers in the South and are buying land, residing, schooling, working and even running businesses. The majority of a country that numbers 74% should not be treated in this manner by politicians of all colours. While endless times challenges have been thrown at those claiming the majority are discriminating against the minority to produce examples of what legally, constitutionally and legislatively the minorities are denied which is given to only the majority – not a single example has been produced to date. What needs to be reiterated is that majority rule cannot be replaced with minority rule in particular by minorities who are racist and separatist. Moreover what needs to be said is that fundamental rights are for individuals and not for communities – therefore Tamils as a community or Muslims as a community cannot demand fundamental rights applicable to all. Only individuals can claim based on whatever discriminations they have personally suffered. There are enough of scenarios where all communities have suffered just like communities all round the world

No government should agree to make changes which have no relevance to the needs of the people and everything to do with the political agendas of political parties and external forces. This is a key reason for the patriotic forces in Sri Lanka to object to the new constitution as the changes being proposed are a fraud on the voters and a deceptive means to politically divide Sri Lanka in exchange for the support given to bring the present government to power.

No constitution can or should be made inspired upon revenge or to take revenge or based on promises to dilute the sovereignty and powers of a strong nation. From the appointees, to the proposals they are making and the secretive manner in which changes are being pushed and peddled these are growing signs of concerns. Moreover, the globalist plan is now shifting – the status quo of US and Europe has changed or is changing drastically. Additionally, the country is itself bankrupt and at a virtual standstill. In such a docile climate we should not allow any Parliamentarian to introduce elements we know are further diluting the powers to take control in the eventuality of a crisis.

The Prime Minister has made a public apology on behalf of the UNP for burning the Jaffna library – many believe that this event spurred angry resulting in youth joining armed militants which ended up in terror and took 30 years to defeat. The same leader and party are morally culpable for not unleashing another catastrophe especially when he will recall how his other infamous agreement in 2002 placed terrorists on par with the national army. In the light of these realities, the constitution making should be shelved until Sri Lanka is on a stronger financial, economic and social footing. 

Shenali D Waduge – Devolution of ‘Land Powers’: A Comment – Devolution of ‘Land Powers’: A Comment


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