31 December 2017

Sri Lanka’s Peril: Attempting to go beyond a Federal constitution as a solution to an unknown problem

We seem to love to go round the mulberry bush and in circles. Why do we need a new constitution? Who is asking for a new constitution? What in the present constitution needs to change, why and who wants it changed and are all these changes aligned to what the common & ordinary public wants? Is there a list of hands-off, cannot be touched, no-compromise areas in the present constitution that cannot be changed in any new constitution? Will these new changes have any adverse effects and have remedial actions & solutions been considered? Have these basic fundamental questions being answered before turning the present constitution upside down and drafting a new one? We certainly doubt so. Without such we should not proceed any further. As a citizen you are bound to ask these questions and seek answers. Don’t just live in a nation, be a valuable stakeholder and contributor.

What we see by the statements from both government & foreign envoys is that a new constitution is a must to meet the aspirations of the Tamil minority. Do these foreign nations change their constitutions to meet the aspirations of the minorities in their countries?

If discrimination is the benchmark why has everyone ignored and neglected to reverse the 443 years of discrimination Sinhalese suffered when invaders confiscated their rule that had lasted over 2600 years!

What is this new constitution promising the Sinhalese for the discrimination they have suffered? If the Government & foreign envoys are hailing the new constitution as catering to the Tamils what are the majority Sinhalese getting in return? Can the MPs that come from the Sinhala vote please respond.

No constitution can take stock of only the demands of one community totally disregarding the views of all others.

No community can make demands if by its implementation it affects the rights of other communities.

These are fundamentals that the government cannot ignore.

Irrespective of what political party you belong to think about these questions & seek the answers yourself.

It is the TNA that is making the demands on behalf of the Tamils. But, how representative of the Tamils is the TNA? The 2015 General Election only 515,963 voted for TNA which means that only ¼ of Tamils support the TNA.

So why is the Government taking the views of a party that is yet to be investigated for links with the LTTE given that every election manifesto of the TNA has openly canvassed for the Eelam demands of the LTTE.

The TNA leader, who is also the Opposition Leader is now demanding the merger of the de-merged North East provinces. What the TNA is presently demanding is exactly what the LTTE fought with the gun to achieve. Are we then insane to be legally setting the stage for its realization? Does the MPs in the present government have no brains to realize the danger of appeasing to these demands?

No constitution can be allowed to create exclusive ethno-religious ghetto areas or provinces while that ethnic group reserves the right to live, own land and work in all other parts of the island.

Aren’t these questions important? Don’t you want to know the answers?   

This does not align whatsoever with the peace doves who are preaching reconciliation and peaceful coexistence though they also happen to be also promoting these ethno-religious ghettos conclaves!

No constitution can be drafted with petty objectives in mind given that it is a document that is relevant to the country and its citizenry. Nonetheless, some clauses appear to be targeting only one family and meant to prevent or obstruct them from standing for elections.

No constitution should be drafted if it is being promoted and funded by vested interests and external forces for enough of such newly drafted constitutions and newly formed ‘independent’ countries now facing chaos should suffice for us to not fall into the same soup. Anyone in doubt please refer the chaos in Kosovo and South Sudan.

The simple logic should be – how can you unite a country by dividing it?!

Have you seriously given thought to these questions?

As Mr. C Wijeyawickrema says ordinary Tamils are not asking for police or land powers or even the merger of the north & east and they certainly do not care whether King Devanampiyatissa is Tamil or Greek.

What they do want now is to be able to live in peace, to educate their children, to earn a living, save some money and live in harmony with others. These are the same wants that the ordinary Sinhalese & Muslims too share but these are not the same wants of elite Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims & the politicians they move with. 

No constitution can be prepared to cater to the demands of controversial characters. There is little to hide that this government is in power as a result of a well-planned and executed regime change. The statements issued by leaders of Western governments and India suffice to confirm this. No foreign force helps a government to come to power without expecting them to carry out a list of promises they have committed to implement once in power. Voters should not be naïve to these realities in particular the supporters of the parties that campaigned to bring this government in power.

There are some political pundits clamouring to promote a ‘middle path’ believing they can fool the Buddhist majority who continues to question why TNA demands should be entertained when it has not been investigated for LTTE links & when TNA is basically making the same demands as the LTTE terrorists. But this is the path that some political pundits are schemingly advising. Negotiating the concurrent list is taking the LTTE/TNA path. The 13a should be scrapped because it is taking the path of division and destability and it is on account of this that both India & West wants its continuance.

Why leaders are shy to declare abolishing of the 13a is not because the people want it but because external parties influencing the people want to keep it. However, if a political party genuinely sees the dangers in maintaining the 13a and decides to revoke it, having appraised the public of its dangers the voters will overwhelmingly accept it. Sinhalese or Muslim voters see no advantage in the 13a and only Tamils can be externally influenced to object. If a honest strategy is adopted 13a can be revoked without much trouble. Why are politicians shy to do so?

Let’s also not forget that the ITAK constitution of 1949 was amended in 2008 removing its objective to a confederal from a federal replacing Samashthi with Innaipachchi. Legal fraternity should also seek court clarification on the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976.

ITAK’s calls do not align to a federal option it claims to demand. ITAK calls for referendums when only the Central Government can seek referendums & not provincial states. The calls for a ‘united’ Sri Lanka ‘collaboration’ ‘coexistence are all aligned to confederate model of governance as states are held together only by a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ which can easily be broken. The demands and clauses that provide the state with powers that makes it impossible for the Centre to reach the citizens of the provinces is also confederal elements and not federal.
Our governments have made mistakes. Our leaders have been influenced. We have gone through much turmoil & chaos. If we do not learn lessons we deserve what we are getting. When external forces forced an incursive agreement (Indo-Lanka Accord) in 1987, when external forces forced us to tweak our constitution (13th amendment), when external forces created terrorism that lasted 30 years and cost us not only loss of lives, tears and reversed our development, surely we need to ensure our territory is kept safe from these external forces!

We need to identify the enemies from the friends whether they are local or foreign. We need to seriously address the needs of the nation and not a handful of selfish and destructive people. Why should external forces and people who only live in Sri Lanka because it serves their personal interest dictate what type of constitution we should have. As far as we know no one in the general public want or have even asked for a new constitution. So why are we wasting time drafting one! What is ridiculous is that those drafting the constitution are those dying to divide the nation.

We have made plenty of mistakes. Some are now irreversible. However, we cannot make another major faux pas by allowing a new constitution that is being drafted for the wrong reasons by the wrong people.

Give some serious thought to this.

Shenali D Waduge