17 December, 2017

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A Note On The Federal Demand By The TNA

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

The TNA has in their mandate referred to their demand for federalism which has upset many people in the South who think it is a precursor to secession.

The federal constitution could be designed to remove such possibility of secession for the sub-unit could agree to give up such demand and the Central government as a quid pro quo agrees not to alter the allocation of powers and functions between the Center and the sub-unit. The Agreement is a Covenant. The concept of a covenant is drawn from the Bible where under the Old Testament God promises to protect and safeguard the Israelites from their enemies and the Israelites in turn agreed not to disobey God. Here is the note on
Federalism from Wikipedia.

“Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The term “federalism” is also used to describe a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation”.

Since 1956 several attempts have been made to resolve the demands of the Tamil people. There was the B-C Pact of 1957 which referred to Regional Councils. There was the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayagam Pact of 1965 which provided that “Action will be taken to establish District Councils in Ceylon vested with powers to be mutually agreed upon between the two leaders. It was agreed, however, that the Government should have power under the law to give directions to such Councils in the national interest”. The Agreement was not given effect to by the Dudley Senanayake Government due to opposition by Sinhala nationalist extremists. And this led to the withdrawal of the Federal Party from the Cabinet in 1968.

In 1979 there was the attempt to establish District Development Councils. Again they were abandoned after the attempt to rig the Jaffna elections. The Tamil parties withdrew their co-operation.

What is important to note is that all these Agreements were unilaterally nullified or abandoned by the Central Government.

The demand for federalism reflects the need for both sides to abide by any Agreement. But in a unitary State the Center is sovereign and there is no shared sovereignty. This means that the Center can unilaterally withdraw from any Agreement or can change the Allocation of Functions and Powers between the Center and the Provinces. Some also point out that the Central Government has not always been respectful of the fundamental rights and even the human rights of the citizens. So the Tamil minority is dissatisfied d with devolution within a unitary state. They would like to constrain the powers of the Center in relation to the division of powers for they fear that the Center may gradually usurp the powers of the Provincial Councils. A Federal Constitution envisages a Covenant between the Center and the subunits. So that the Center cannot unilaterally usurp the powers already devolved.

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    I agree with RMB’s interpretation of Federalism – which, surely, is and has been the best too for our peace. But Sinhala chauvinism has
    made the word a dirty one. I have met hundreds of well-meaning Sinhalese from peons, labourers to educated professionals and high Administrative officials who would not hear of it. (“meya nang mara pederal baduwak”)The nearest comment
    I have heard is the route is suitable only to large countries like the USA, India and Australia. When I point out the case of the smaller Switzerland and the Canton system along Federal lines, I am politely asked to change subject. Where is the education necessary in this country to make the mass familiar with a tool that can bring us our unity and, therefrom, sustainable peace.

    Senguttuvan

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      The same Sinhala nationalists are at work today. Look at the crap that the RACIST Pathala Champika spews: the PC for the TNA is like a grenade given to monkeys – well Pathala is the biggest Sinhala monkey and URUMEEYA!

    • 0
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      Hello Mr. Senguttuvan,

      Since the time I recently started reading CT, I have read many good comments by you.

      Can you please write a more detailed comment about whether the majority of the Sinhalese will ever accept federalism.

      I believe that both the ordinary Sinhalese and Sinhala racists will clamour for, stage public rallies in support of, and exalt the virtures of federalism, only when an independent Tamil Eelam is about to be created. I am sorry if I sound pessimistic! This may occur more than 7 years from today – my guess.

      Less racist Sinhala leaders (compared to Mahinda Percy) such as Chandrika, will also not offer a federal solution to the Tamils, during the next few years. One reason being, the virulent opposition they will face from the Sinhala nation.

      The TNA and the approximately 90% (80% + 10% to account for electoral fraud & intimidation) of the Northern Tamils who voted for them, will get disillusioned with the racism of Percy and his allies, in about 12 to 18 months. What do you feel will happen then?

      About 2 to 3 years (my guess) from today, the Northern Tamils, and many Eastern Tamils, will launch an initially non-violent campaign for federalism – at least a weak form of federalism. The millitary occupation and state sponsered colonization of Sinhalese civilians, thugs and soldiers will be some of the reasons for the severe disillusionment of the Tamils.

      When this non-violent campaign fails, don’t you feel that around 4 or 5 years (my guess) some Tamil youth will take up arms? This will happen without much incitement by the Tamil diaspora. Today, many N&E Tamils resent the diaspora’s overbearing behaviour.

      Just before the July 1983 holocaust, LTTE leader Prabhakaran probably commanded only around 50 well trained militants. The July 1983 holocaust drove a several thousand Tamil youth to take up arms.

      What will be the mindset about 4 to 5 years from today, of the approximately 12 to 14 year old Tamil children of today, who would have:

      1) had mothers, sisters, relatives & friends who were raped by the Sinhala military?

      2) had several family and friends who were slaughtered during the final months of the 2009 war? (The killings of Tamil civilians by the LTTE are about 50 times less. We only have to wait for International War Crimes investigations to determine the total number of Tamil civilian deaths, and the identity of the killers).

      3) had homes, property, farmland, and fishing areas taken over by the Sinhala military or civilians.

      4) lived a life under a very hostile and alien, 99% Sinhala Budhist army of occupation.

      5) realized the very different, and much better, living and economic conditions of the Sinhala youth in the South.

      We know the answer today!

      The future outlook for all the inhabitants of the island of Sri Lanka, is bad.

      Thanks and regards,

      Indran.

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        Thank you, dear Indran. Your concerned thoughts and your real apprehensions are felt by every one subscribing to the Tamil Nation in ths country (in the North-East, Central Hills, Western Province and elsewhere) The same fears were felt in the early 1980s. The arrival of those 7/83 events in all its horror justified those fears and the hopeless thoughts during time of crises Tamils will have none to turn to – including that
        protection “guaranteed” under the Constitution all governments here boast of. Fortunately, the world is coming round to protect societies that suffer under the false veneer of democracy, Constitution and the like. If not for them SL Tamils may have end up as a vanishing species. They are in the List of Endangered Species now.

        As far as Tamils were concerned post-1956 Sinhala chauvinism and the political active Buddhist priesthood was bad enough. But beginning the 1990s the armed services have joined hands with this cabal – and that is a toxic combination. It certainly can – and indeed has – done much harm to Tamils in the island. But in no way can it bring in unity, reconciliation and sustained economic progress for the country. The reality in the past few decades has been the more the Sinhala Govts become strong the sufferings of the Tamils increase. See the example of theocratic Pakistan fastly going into disintegration fighting with itself. Thailand was lucky it saved itself from the clutches of its army.
        As I have commented before, the fate of Sri Lanka remaining undivided, reconciled, moving into unity and prosperity is entirely dependent on its majority – now under enormous influence of Sinhala Buddhist extremism and the outsized army. In the short-term, Tamils will not take to arms even at extreme provocation – now in the process. The region and the international community will continue to counsel the Rajapakse regime to be more just and reasonable to its Tamil minority (and the now numerically significant Muslims) but making and breaking of
        Sinhala governments will continue to depend on how much anti-minority they are t keep the chauvinistic forces in restless check. Mis-appropriation of Tamil land, excesses of the military and armed forces in Tamil areas, forced colonization, anti-Indianism will continue in earnest in the near term. Sinhala chauvinism will do its utmost to sabotage
        the smooth functioning of the NPC – via the legal process, force and in other ways – as we see now. Any potential censure on the Rajapakses by the UN on HR and War Crimes will be translated to make things difficult for Tamils within with charges of treachery, collusion and
        of being 5th columnist to the UN, diaspora and so on. As you can foresee, there is little reason for Tamils to cheer. Post-CHOGM months will see the Rajapakses in their true colours. Like in the case of the Language Rights, the Citizenship Issue or even the right of electins in the NPC of Sept 21, it is the international community that can use pressure on the regime to relent to reason. It is understood whatever concessions that have been since given by the Sinhala Govts have been in their convincing the chauvinists within unless Sri Lanka yields these minimums there can be international intervention. As often admitted by the President to close friends privately the regime is “captive to Sinhala extremism”.

        So to what the future holds for the frightened Tamil Nation, as the allegedly illegal Chief Justice told Geneva UN Commissioners –
        “Only God knows”

        How I wish could share better tidings with you, my friend.

        Senguttuvan

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          Hello Mr.Senguttuvan,

          Thanks very much for your detailed reply! Your thoughts are very useful. I look forward to interacting with you in the future, in the CT comments section. In 1983, I was a young adult in Colombo.

          I can only hope that the situation in SL will not get too bad, during the next few years.

          warm regards,
          Indran.

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    The fact remains that any government that offers federalism as a solution is unelectable in the south. When the day arrives that the TNA is able to get a 80% vote without resorting to pro tiger rhetoric, that will be the day a conversation around the concept of federalism can commence. Sad but true.

    The war has changed the thinking of the young people. Mr Sennanayeke’s generation has the right kind of thinking but that is not how the young think. We know this cuz 65% of the Wayamba turnout was the under 40 group.

    It will take a long time before trust is re established.

    If in the meantime Mr Gotabaya decides to play midwife to neo-tamil militancy. No one one will be more reviled than then Rajapakse clan.

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    This thinking is a good start for further discussion by intellectuals of the ilk of Ben leading to genuine reconciliation. In 1979 those were Development Councils and not District Development Councils. Bensen

  • 0
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    Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan state with its genocidal intent, and having already shown its hand in the genocide of Tamils will not voluntarily accept federalism.

  • 0
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    That is exactly what the centre aint gonna give em meboy. Dontcha get it?

  • 0
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    NGO mafia US$ paid crap writers who are in dustbin, float many theories , even quoting Bible, with ulterior motives to divide single unitary state Lanka with over tens of thousands years of history.

    So they come out with federalism /this /that damn thing, after a hard earned victory over a 30 years devastating war.
    Where those West/ NGO jokers when Terrorists were waging the war ? were they building bunkers for them, then ??

  • 0
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    It is a good thinking. Federalism is the best way forward to resolve the problems of the nation, and a good starting point for building relationship between communities. It is a myth that people of south are against to Federalism. In fact it is a myth created by a few fear mongering politicians. It is myth created by Southern political competitors SLFP and UNP. As RMB pointed out Federal formula was accepted in the South but competitors in the south used this as a fear mongering tactics to cheat people of South. They hide the truth from the people. As we all know North East is not very rich in natural resources like south. Employment wise Southerners will get more opportunities than now as most of the North Easterners will move back to there traditional homes. Once this arrangement is made, the political culture in the South need to change and there will be a true democratic competition between political parties in terms of economy and social aspects and you will get back the rule of law and proper justice system.

  • 0
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    Federal formula is the best form of Govt for srilanka. But the South singhala will not accept. The need of the hour is to educate the south.

    • 0
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      Bganendra is right on the ball. I am neither Sinhalese nor Tamil. I like to see beautiful, united and peaceful Ceylon in which we grew up
      to go forward with the rest of Asia, much of it progressing fast. It
      appears more educated Sri Lankans are now coming around to the thinking
      rapprochement with the Tamils is the key to peace and prosperity.
      But, beginning from 1956 and more with the BBS crowd now, is the bigoted racial-religious semi-educated Buddhist priests and their hierarchy. The Mahanayakas have never dared to come down from their lofty comforts to save the country drowning in virtual bloodshed. Look at the havoc chauvinism creates these days – against Muslims, Christians, Tamils, NGOs. Now how does the country overcome this menace. It is time the entire country engage in a honest discussion about the role of the Buddhist priest in search of unity, reconciliation and multicultural tolerance.

      The Indian media will take note of it because the Sri Lankan media is cowed down to silence in the matter by the Govt. and the Buddhist clergy. Following July ’83 India Today and other leading members of the Indian media brought the spotlight on the role of active Buddhist priests who contributed to the pogram, which scared the JRJ regime. It is time the Govt. looked at this seriously because BBS priests often threaten they have 400,000 active priests round the country through which any Govt can be brought down. The Rajapakses cannot remain satisfied the extreme Buddhist clergy will always be with them. Already there are signs leading lights in the BBS and the like have political ambitions of their own.

      Burgher Boy

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    RMB Senanayaka looks like a Tamil. If it wasn’t for Indo-Aryans imposing their language on the ancestors of the Sinhalese, the people now speaking Tamil and Sinhala would both be speaking Dravidian or Munda languages.

    Tamils and Sinhalese fighting each other is like a person cutting off their nose to spite their face; it is just bloody stupid internecine warfare that only benefits Arabs and Brahmins

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    There is absolutely NO place for federalism is Sri Lanka. The majority of the Tamils live interspersed among the Sinhala/Muslim etc. Giving in to the irrational demands of a minority for a large share of the land mass and the water resources of the land is not a solution, but a disaster, for the rest.
    The land of Ron Ridenour (with an article today in CT) ‘liberated’ by genocide from the natives may be more than willing to grant them what they need. The genocide and ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka was by the minority Tamils in the lands that they demand for their EXCLUSIVE use. This must NEVER happen.

  • 0
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    It is time to realize the suitability of Federalism in Sri Lanka. Any argument that Federalism amounts to separation is absolutely baseless and without any foundation.

    • 0
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      Citizen,

      Once a Federal State is established, it will have the right to a referendum to seek a separation after 5 years and once every 5 years until separation is attained. Canada and Quebec is the perfect example.
      The only reason Canada is yet to separate from Quebec is because the majority of the people in Quebec consider Canada to be their country(although they speak French).

      It’s a totally different story in Sri Lanka. The Tamils do not consider Sri Lanka to be their country(although they have utilized the resources of the country to improve their lives). Federalism cannot be done on racial lines as demanded by the Tamils. This will only lead to separation

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        Rajiv

        You are talking bloody rubbish mate. We have inhabited this Island as long as you have and we have had our Kingdoms. It is not up to you ( not any more ) to prescribe to us out rights and it is for us to demand it with the help of the International Community and we will reach our promised Land.
        Get your bloody English right and instead of saying Canada is yet to Separate from Quebec you should say Quebec is yet to separate from Canada because Canada is the Country.
        What bloody resources have TAMILS utilised in the Country and for your information the North is a barren Land.
        Division on the basis of Racial lines is the cornerstone of Federalism.

  • 0
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    Hello Mr. Senguttuvan,

    I posted a comment in reply to the one you made with the following date & time. Am not sure how the CT site will alert you about a comment, on your comment. Can anyone let me know?

    thanks,

    Indran.

    Senguttuvan – October 2, 2013
    1:37 am
    Reply

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    R M B

    Judging from the articles you have posted it will be right to class you as a reasonable moderate with whom Tamils can do business. But you are a tiny minority and the vast majority are inherently racist. Even your article has a message and that is Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Countrty and the Tamils have to play second Fiddle.

    1)The TNA has in their mandate referred to their demand for federalism which has upset many people in the South who think it is a precursor to secession.

    My answer to the above is that the People in the South have to get used to it.

    2)The federal constitution could be designed to remove such possibility of secession for the sub-unit could agree to give up such demand and the Central government as a quid pro quo agrees not to alter the allocation of powers and functions between the Center and the sub-unit. The Agreement is a Covenant. The concept of a covenant is drawn from the Bible where under the Old Testament God promises to protect and safeguard the Israelites from their enemies and the Israelites in turn agreed not to disobey God. Here is the note on
    Federalism from Wikipedia.

    I find the above perplexing as what you seem to be suggesting is that leave it to the Almighty. A covenant is something you can enforce in a Court of Law and in Sihala Lanka there is no such thing as Court of Law and frankly it is Jungle Justice.
    Anything that we enter in to with MR and has to be guaranteed by a Third Party.

    3)Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation”. This is the ideal in a truly uniform Country but in Sri Lanka where you have two distict groups divided by Language and Religion “Federalism ” has to have safeguards which cannot be trampled on by the centre.
    In Sri Lanka what we need is an Autonomous State within a State and anything short will not meet the Tamil aspirations.

    4)Since 1956 several attempts have been made to resolve the demands of the Tamil people.
    Nothing has come out of this for the simple reason that the Sinhalese will never willingly grant anything to the Tamils and that is why all these Agreements were unilaterally nullified or abandoned by the Central Government.

    5)”Sovereignty is the quality of having independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make laws.”

    The demand for federalism reflects the need for both sides to abide by any Agreement. But in a unitary State the Center is sovereign and there is no shared sovereignty. This means that the Center can unilaterally withdraw from any Agreement or can change the Allocation of Functions and Powers between the Center and the Provinces. Some also point out that the Central Government has not always been respectful of the fundamental rights and even the human rights of the citizens. So the Tamil minority is dissatisfied d with devolution within a unitary state. They would like to constrain the powers of the Center in relation to the division of powers for they fear that the Center may gradually usurp the powers of the Provincial Councils. A Federal Constitution envisages a Covenant between the Center and the subunits. So that the Center cannot unilaterally usurp the powers already devolved.

    The million dollar question is how will the Covenant work in Sri Lanka where the rule from the centre reigns Supreme with callous disregard civilsed standards and common decency.

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