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Sri Lankan Expat Group in UK Critical on the Separatist Federal Constitution

e Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement of UK, a powerful Sri Lankan Expat group criticises the pro-LTTE Tamil terrorists’ constitution proposal made by the Yahapalana government lead by pro-Federal mind set Ranil and Sirisena.

The full text of the press release is as follows:

29th October, 2017

Dear Sir,

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The Sri Lankan people are today alarmed by the proposed constitution which they feel will only end up dividing the country. The proposed constitution includes all the elements of a federal system which is unacceptable to all patriotic Sri Lankans. We already have a constitution inclusive of a provincial council system. The present constitution is therefore more than sufficient to address the needs of the entire people of the country. There is no need to change the present constitution at all. If the Government wants to include enhanced fundamental rights of the citizen etc. in the constitution, this can be done via bringing on amendments. There is no need to bring on a new constitution whatsoever. India has brought on over ninety nine amendments to its constitution. Sri Lanka has brought on twenty amendments only, so far. So any changes to the constitution can be brought on as amendments. Sri Lanka is a unitary state and has been for the last 2600 years, at least. We do not want to change that in any way. In the present constitution, we already have the provincial council system as per the 13th amendment to the constitution, however with safeguards to uphold the unitary status of the country. The presidential system safeguards the unitary status of the country when taken together with the 13th amendment to the constitution. These safeguards should continue into the future.

All patriotic Sri Lankans and especially the Sinhala Buddhist people of the country are extremely alarmed by certain aspects of the proposed constitution which they feel will only end up dividing this country into pieces. Written below are the grave concerns of patriotic Sri Lankans and especially the Sinhala Buddhist people. The first point is a little long. However please be patient enough to read it since it is a very important point. We again emphasise, please do not change the constitution since the present constitution is more than sufficient to address the needs of the Sri Lankan people.

(i)      Sri Lanka has a written history of 2600 years and an unwritten history of 34400 years. From 600BC to 1400AD, Sri Lanka was composed of the Kingdom of Rajarata, the Kingdom of Ruhuna and the Malayarata. Today’s North was a part of the Kingdom of Rajarata and today’s East was a part of the Kingdom of Ruhuna. From 1400AD until 1815, both today’s North and the East were a part of the Kandyan Kingdom. Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and is not related to Sri Lanka’s history. Nor were the Sinhalese consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries by the colonialists. Therefore the Sinhala people cannot accept such a division of their homeland.

Sri Lanka as can be seen from its history, was always a unitary state for over 2600 years, at least. The indigenous people of the island are the Sinhala people and the adhivasis. Both are one and the same people. The Sinhala people built a Sinhala Buddhist civilization which consisted mainly of 10,000 to 15,000 irrigation reservoirs and was based in the dry zone of the island i.e. the North Central, North Western, Northern, Eastern provinces and the South East. The irrigation reservoirs were all built by Sinhala kings and include the Yodha wewa in the North, the Pavatkulum Reservoir in the North and the Kanthale Reservoir in the East to name a few. This hydraulic civilization is one of the greatest achievements of the indigenous Sinhala people let alone the propagation of Buddhism. An irrigation reservoir map in The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, Second Edition, 2007, published by The Survey Department of Sri Lanka, depicts the thousands of irrigation reservoirs built by this Sinhala Buddhist civilization. Other great achievements include the building of stupas which were some of the highest structures in the ancient world such as Jethawanaramaya, Abhayagiriya and Ruwanweliseya, steel making, evolution of our own language, evolution of our own script, writing down of ancient texts such as the Mahawamsa, Culawamsa, Thripitakaya and many other such ancient texts, Buddhist sculpture, landscape gardening such as at Sigiriya, development of our own architecture, ship building and many archaeologically important Buddhist shrines such as Thanthirimalai, Nagadeepa, Thiriyaya etc. Prior to the rise of the Sinhala Buddhist civilization, there were our tribal ancestors such as the Yaksha, Raksha, Naga and Deva tribal people and our culture consists, to this day, aspects of our tribal ancestors culture as well, such as devil dancing, belief in demon spirits, belief in deities who are said to reside in certain sacred places etc.

Therefore this island is the homeland of the indigenous Sinhala people. The Tamils and even the Muslims are descendents of recent immigrations to the island and normally by world standards, descendents of recent immigrants cannot claim homelands or federal states. As per the UN Charter, minorities in any country should be provided language, cultural and religious rights. Sri Lanka has provided its minorities all these rights and going beyond that, provided powers to provincial councils. Therefore there is no justification of going beyond the present situation. This island is the homeland of the indigenous Sinhala people and has always been a unitary state for over 2600 years. There is no scope for changing that and the Sinhala people cannot allow such a thing to happen.

(ii)     At present, the sovereignty of the people lies with the president and the parliament. However via the proposed constitution, sovereignty of the people will lie with the president, the parliament and the provincial councils. Is this not a devious way of creating nine different independent countries?

(iii)    It is proposed via the proposed constitution to transfer the governor’s executive powers to the chief minister. The governor will then exist as a namesake only. Is this not a devious way of greatly strengthening the chief minister’s executive powers to even that of the president? Is this not another way of creating nine different independent countries?

(iv)   It is proposed via the proposed constitution to dilute the executive powers of the president to instantly dissolve any provincial council if it acts out of line. For example, when the chief minister of the North, Varatharajah Perumal, declared an Eelam, the president at that time instantly dissolved the Northern provincial council and imposed direct rule. However, in the proposed constitution, the president has to consult various people in order for that to happen and the president can even be challenged in a court of law! Is this not ridiculous and insane and will this not encourage chief ministers of the North to declare Eelams on a regular basis?

(v)    The present constitution imposes punishments on any person who espouses a separate state in terms of abolishing his civic rights for seven years, confiscating his properties etc. In the proposed constitution, such punishments are absent and it merely says that espousing a separate state by various bodies is forbidden. There is no punishment for such actions. Will this not encourage people to espouse separate states as they please on a regular basis if no punishment is forthcoming, no matter what they do?

(vi)   Even in the present constitution, a two thirds majority is needed to overturn a piece of legislation of a provincial council by parliament which parliament feels is an unjust piece of legislation. If Sri Lanka really is unitary, the parliament should only need a simple majority to overturn any unjust provincial council legislation.

(vii)  In the proposed constitution, there is a separate court to be established to arbitrate between a provincial council and the parliament, if there is a dispute between the two. Why a separate court when we already have a judicial system which consists of very senior and experienced persons who are more than capable of arbitrating such disputes?

(viii) It is proposed via the proposed constitution to abolish the concurrent list and to provide all thirty six subjects of the concurrent list to the provincial councils. Not even in India, where there is a federal system, has the concurrent list been abolished. The concurrent list is there so that parliament can also legislate on matters such as education, higher education, healthcare, the environment, agriculture, irrigation, water, archaeology, social care, land, police, administration, national planning etc. In a small country such as Sri Lanka, what will happen when there are nine different police forces, nine different environmental laws, nine different education systems, nine different higher education systems, nine different healthcare systems, nine different administrative systems, nine different agricultural systems etc.? It will create chaos in a small country such as Sri Lanka.

Does this not mean that the provincial councils will end up governing each province in a greatly enhanced way since they will legislate on a wide variety of subjects? As a result, taking the now enhanced provincial councils together, does this not mean that the now greatly enhanced provincial councils will end up governing the country and will not the parliament then become a joke with almost nothing to do, except legislate foreign policy, security, energy, the budget and a few other subjects?

What will happen to the Sinhala people living in the North when Vigneshwaran, the racist chief minister of the North, even now insists that Sinhala people should not live in the North? Will not such racist chief ministers use the provincial police force in a wrongful manner to drive out the Sinhala people from the North? Will not the administrative system in the North mistreat the Sinhala people living in the North? Will the racist chief minister Vigneshwaran let any Buddhist temple exist in the North when he regularly says that Buddhist statues should not be built in the North? What will happen to the over two hundred and seventy three Buddhist archaeological sites of importance in the North when a racist chief minister such as Vigneshwaran is given all the powers in the North? What will happen to the hundreds of other Buddhists archaeological sites of minor importance present in the North? There are already no Sinhala medium schools in two districts of the North and in the Batticaloa District in the East. Will racist chief ministers in the North ever let the displaced Sinhala people from the North ever go back to live again in the North or restore the Sinhala medium schools? Land in the North will never ever be provided to the Sinhala people to live in the North nor to build any Buddhist temple. Abolishing the concurrent list and providing all such powers to racist chief ministers will only pave the way to a separate state.

Is this why thousands of our brave citizens in threatened villages who were massacred by the LTTE in their villages, our brave citizens who were massacred by landmines, claymore mines laid by the LTTE or massacred by bombs placed in public places by the LTTE or tens of thousands of our brave soldiers who were massacred by the LTTE gave their lives for? They gave their lives so that our country can remain a unitary state and our homeland, which is this entire island, is intact for us to live in. We have a right to live in our homeland, which is this entire island.

If land powers are provided to the provincial councils, especially the Sinhala people will no longer have access to the North or the East, due to racist chief ministers and racist provincial councils and this is over 28% of the land area of this island, over 66% of our coastline and over 66% of our exclusive economic zone (which is the marine environment around the island which belongs to Sri Lanka and which is over twenty three times the size of Sri Lanka).

The Sinhala people are the indigenous people of this island. We should have the right to live anywhere in this island. Yet the national land commission even today provides vacant state land firstly to those landless people living in a particular district, then landless people living in a particular province and only then do they consider landless people living in the entire island. Should there not be a national register of vacant state land and a national register of landless people and the two matched according to each landless person’s requirements? After land powers are given to the provincial councils, landless Sinhala people will never, ever be provided land in the North or the East by racist provincial councils of the North and the East. Is this not a violation of the fundamental rights of Sinhala people who consider this entire island our homeland? If Tamils and Muslims live everywhere in the island, why are Sinhala people persecuted in this way today?

(ix)   It is proposed via the proposed constitution to merge the North and the East. In the history of Sri Lanka, at no time has the North and the East ever existed, merged as a separate entity. From 600BC to 1400AD, Sri Lanka was composed of the Kingdom of Rajarata, the Kingdom of Ruhuna and the Malayarata. Today’s North was a part of the Kingdom of Rajarata and today’s East was a part of the Kingdom of Ruhuna. From 1400AD until 1815, both today’s North and the East were a part of the Kandyan Kingdom. Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and is not related to Sri Lanka’s history. Nor were the Sinhalese consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries by the colonialists. Therefore the Sinhala people cannot accept such a division of their homeland.

In no constitution in this entire world are there provisions to merge provinces of a country. This is simply a very devious way of creating an illegal Eelam by separatists and the imperialists such as the US, UK, EU. If Sri Lanka consists of nine provinces, it consists of nine provinces. Why is a merger of two provinces, the North and the East, even considered in the proposed constitution, except to create an illegal Eelam which never, ever existed in the history of Sri Lanka and is a totally bogus concept. Is this then not a creation of an illegal Eelam via the proposed constitution, which even the megalomaniac mass murderer Prabhakaran could not achieve via gunning down thousands of our civilians and tens of thousands of our soldiers?

The North and the East is over 28% of the land area of this island, over 66% of our coastline and over 66% of our exclusive economic zone (which is the marine environment around the island which belongs to Sri Lanka and which is over twenty three times the size of Sri Lanka). Almost all the mineral resources of Sri Lanka is found in the North and the East such as ilmenite at Pumuddai and many other minerals in the North. Almost all of Sri Lanka’s offshore oil and gas resources lie offshore in the Northern and Eastern seas such as in the Kauvery basin, in the Mannar basin and in the seas off the North East coast. There are many harbours both in the North and the East. Trincomalee is the world’s second largest natural harbour and it has a submarine canyon where radar cannot be detected and where submarines can hide without been detected by radar. There are harbours at Trincomalee, Mannar, Kankasanthurai etc. There are many fishing harbours too. There are many nature reserves and lagoons in the North and the East. Please refer to The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, Second Edition, 2007, published by The Survey Department of Sri Lanka. There are many hundreds of irrigation reservoirs in the North and the East, all built by our Sinhala Kings, such as the Yodha wewa in the North, the Pavatkulum Reservoir in the North and the Kanthale Reservoir in the East to name a few. There are many archaeologically important Buddhist shrines present in the North and in the East such as Thanthirimalai, Nagadeepa, Thiriyaya etc. The most fertile agricultural areas are in the North and the East where rice as well as other crops are planted extensively. There is a massive marine fisheries resource present in the Northern and Eastern seas. The coastline in extremely important for tourism and even the nature reserves, the lagoons etc. are also important for tourism purposes. If land powers are given to the provincial councils, Sinhala people will loose access to all of the above mentioned resources in the North and the East.

There are grave suspicions in the minds of the Sinhala people that imperialist powers the US, UK and the EU want to divide Sri Lanka via the proposed constitution and create federal states in the North and the East so that they can then use the Trincomalee harbour to set up their military bases, they will then take away the offshore oil and gas resources of the North and the East very cheaply, take away all our marine fisheries resources very cheaply and take away all our mineral resources in the North and the East very cheaply.

The above cannot happen since the the entire island is also the homeland of the Sinhala people as well as all the other minorities. Therefore the concurrent list should not be abolished and the North and the East should not be merged.

(x)    There are grave suspicions in the Sinhala people’s minds that the imperialist powers such as the US, UK and the EU want to create federal states in the North and the East of Sri Lanka due to the above mentioned reasons. The Government cannot give away the fundamental rights of the Sinhala people such as the right of the Sinhala people to call this entire island their homeland which is their right for over 2600 years, simply because the Government wants to appease the imperialistic powers such as the US, UK and the EU. The Sinhala people feel that their historical, archaeological and their fundamental rights for over 2600 years to call this entire island their homeland is being given away by this Government by bringing on a federal constitution which is against the fundamental rights of the Sinhala people and which will deprive the Sinhala people a part of their island home. This cannot happen and we appeal to the Government not to persecute the Sinhala people and the Sinhala Buddhist people in this way by bringing on this constitution.

(xi)   The handing over of legislative power of a great many subjects to nine different provincial governments which will then legislate on these great many subjects means that the Sri Lankan citizen will have to deal with nine different laws of nine different provincial governments, some which will be not to his liking. What if a provincial government legislates to further privatise education or further privatise higher education? What if the health service is further privatised? What if the water supply is privatised? What if social care or housing is not provided to Sinhala people living in the North by a racist chief minister such as Vigneshwaran? What if Sinhala medium schools are either not provided or the existing Sinhala medium schools are deliberately neglected in the North? What if Buddhist archaeological sites are deliberately neglected in the North? What if the history curriculum is changed and a bogus history, not backed up by any kind of archaeological evidence, is taught in the North? The governor or the parliament will be able to do nothing under such circumstances since a great many subjects have been handed over to the provincial councils to legislate on with powers to intervene by the governor or by parliament being limited or nonexistent. Therefore, again, we appeal to the Government keep the concurrent list as it is, not to hand over land and police powers to the provincial councils and to keep the president’s intervening powers in terms of the provincial councils and the governor’s powers intact as they are at present.

Kind regards,

Rundhi Gunapala

Chairman,

Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement

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