22 May, 2024


A Timely Book On Constitution Making

By Siri Gamage

Dr. Siri Gamage

Dr. Siri Gamage

Issues of New Constitution Making in Sri Lanka: Towards Ethnic Reconciliation, By Laksiri Fernando, CreateSpace, Charleston, USA, 2016, pp. 206

Reviewed By Dr. Siri Gamage, University of New England, Australia

This book has come to light at an opportune time when the lawmakers in the country are engaged in a process to formulate a new constitution. The book provides useful comments and insights about political changes since 1948, the year Sri Lanka gained independence. It provides original articulations about the civil society forces that contributed to the change of government in 2015 as well as a conceptual framework based on social capital to comprehend the future direction and challenges these organisations face.

Three Parts

The book is divided into three parts. Part I has 11 chapters. Chapter I deals with general concerns on constitutional issues relating to human rights, effectiveness of civil society, decentralisation, decolonisation, subsidiarity and local governance. It provides a comparison between 1948 and 2012 situations. The author labels the vertical nature of democracy based on a unitary constitution and the authoritarian institutional structure that controlled civil society and human rights as an imbalance. The form and substance of democracy eroded when the masses came to the picture since 1956 changing the elite led political system. Ethnic conflict ruptured vertical structures since 1983. Horizontal democracy spread since 1987 with the introduction of provincial councils. Despite the introduction of provincial councils, devolution has not taken roots. Vertical hierarchies at the Centre tend to resist devolution.issues-of-new-constitution-making-in-sri-lanka-towards-ethnic-reconciliation

Other weaknesses in the political system in comparison to the pre-1977 era are also provided with examples e.g. lack of checks and balances. This has not only led to tensions in the pluralist society but also a significant lack of understanding pluralism, multiculturalism and minority rights. Notwithstanding the challenges faced, important dimensions of democracy survived due to franchise, people’s participation, multi-party system and international pressure. The current trend is to look for more democracy.

Second chapter deals with human rights and the 1978 constitution while testing the hypothesis that parliamentary democracies are more conducive to HR protection compared to presidential systems. If the state apparatuses are not governed by democratic rule of law, the author claims that HR violations emerge. Violators are not usually the civil society actors.

Chapter 3 is a highly useful one as it addresses the question of why we need a new constitution? To answer this question, the author points out certain defects in the presidential system. He claims that the Presidential system spelled disaster for human rights in Sri Lanka. The country is a polarised society in ethnic and political terms. Constitution making is not an easy task in such a society. However, there is emerging consensus on ‘furtherance of democracy’ while providing justice to the minority communities. This has dawned after changing an entrenched authoritarian regime in 2015. The road map outlined by the Prime Minister for constitution making includes constructive chat author emphasises that there has to be a future vision as well as compromise by key stakeholders to achieve success.

Horizontal Democracy?

Chapter 4 is about how to strengthen horizontal democracy? Author’s view is that the 1972 and 1978 constitutions reflected vertical democracy with minimal checks and balances for the unitary state until the 13th amendment was introduced. He argues that it is necessary to move away from vertical, top down democracy structures to a horizontal structure. For this, both provincial councils and devolution are necessary. In relation to this, Chapter 5 discusses the promotion of local government. It includes useful observations and comments on recent political developments in the country also. Interestingly, Fernando advocates ways of developing solutions to problems by expanding horizontal structures without rejecting vertical structures, in short adopting a middle path. There are aspects in the vertical structure relating to local government that can be reformed. There has to be a balance between efficiency and devolution in such reforms. Some proposals for reform are given including ward based citizens committees, less party competition, resurrection of committee system, and better scrutiny of financial interests of members. In the view of the author, local government system should be enshrined in the constitution.

The essence of chapter 6 is to argue that Sri Lanka is already quasi unitary ‘as the unitary state exists with a degree of devolution of power to Provinces’. The 13th amendment did not go to the extent of federalism or quasi federalism. Provincial Councils did not alter the unitary character of the state either. The former does not exercise sovereign legislative power, hence they are subsidiary bodies. An interesting comparison is made with India to show that the Indian state is a union – not unitary. In chapter 7, a discussion about federalism, confederalism and separate state is presented. Author does not see anything wrong in expanding devolution or even proposing a viable federal system. However, what is desirable is ‘cooperative devolution’ with constitutional safeguards to ensure that the centre does not take back or infringe the powers and functions of the provinces while coming closer to federalism or quasi federalism. He believes that the proposal by the NPC in 2016 is not realistic or acceptable –though the objectives are articulated clearly. Chapter 8 examines Cooperative Devolution in further detail using a reader friendly Q & A format to deviate from abstract debates and bring concrete substance to the discussion. For example questions such as what is meant by going beyond 13A, why not replace devolution with federalism, and the meaning of cooperative devolution, are discussed. These are important for the citizens to understand the state of play involving current discourses on constitutional reforms.

A central position of the book is to argue for moving beyond coercive or unilateral devolution to cooperative devolution. The latter means cooperation between central and provincial governments as in Canada. The author believes that when a matter is in the concurrent list; the central government can encroach easily. This is against the principal of autonomy – relative autonomy. He outlines instances where such cooperation can be achieved. Ability of central government to take over the concurrent list needs to be prevented by the new constitution. However, full federalism is considered as premature for Sri Lanka.


Chapter 9 includes further questions and answers on devolution and constitution making such as the nature of the state and whether to preserve unitary character of the state? The author argues that the nature of state should be democratic and the plurality of society should be reflected in the constitution. Ethnic, administrative and political factors need to be considered in devolution. One possibility is a devolved unitary state. It is argued that the existing 9 provinces are conducive for a desirable balance in devolution. However, overarching protection for minorities should be fundamental and the human rights and protective mechanisms need to be safeguarded. Citing international examples, Dr. Fernando refers to South African constitution and devolution to 9 provinces based on factors other than ethnicity emphasising the fact that the State should ideally be secular. He believes that Buddhism does not need state patronage today as before. Functions such as community policing and traffic police are areas that could be devolved. Likewise, police reforms are necessary. It is argued that land powers are an area where cooperative devolution should apply.

Chapter 10 is on electoral reforms. Author is critical of the presidential system and the electoral system on which it is based. He argues that a corrupt political culture has been created under the present electoral system. Both systems worked to undermine the democratic system and people’s influence in the representative government. Therefore, both have to be changed. In the author’s view, what is wrong in the electoral system is not the proportional representation per se, but the abolition of small electorates amounting to 160. In these, voters had some control over the election of members to the parliament. Now the elections are held in 22 districts and there is heavy competition for preferential votes. There is no level playing field for the candidates. Violence and killing of competitors are commonplace. Dependence of parties on financiers is a fact. The system excludes independent candidates, especially women. Drug dealers and political patronage have come to the scene corrupting the political culture. Financiers, who are not philanthropists, expect big returns from the elected representatives. As the electoral system has a tendency to corrupt politicians, there has to be stronger checks and balances. The author outlines three principles that are useful for devising a new electoral system including the need for civil society organisations to be vigilant about their elected members.

In chapter 11, the author looks deeper into the accommodation of First Past the Post (FPP) within the Proportional Representation (PR)system. A better method for electing representatives to the parliament is proposed. The method involves deducting PR seats from FPP seats. This deserves consideration by the authorities formulating a new electoral system. However, the author does not show how his proposed system is superior to the existing one. For instance, it is not clear how re-introducing the FPP based constituencies while retaining overall PR system can eradicate corruption? Since this is not only a mathematical calculation and those losing seats by the use of this method can be heartbroken, a question arises as to whether the candidates will support such a system?

Part II and III

Part II of the book includes three chapters. Chapter 12 includes author’s proposals for a new constitution, which I must say, are very thorough and constructive. Moreover, they encapsulate a futuristic vision for the country and reconciliation between population groups in the backdrop of the weaknesses identified and criticised in the previous section. The proposals have been submitted to the Public Representation Committee and include sub sections and sub proposals on 20 topics. For each proposal a rationale is also provided. Topics covered include presidential powers, two new courts (constitutional and Human rights), bicameral legislature and more. Chapter 13 on fundamental human rights and freedoms is also a commendable one. Chapter 14 on Local government system, its objectives, structures and functions is highly relevant for contemporary discourses on constitutional reforms. Among the proposals are an independent commission on local government, a quota of 25 percent for women, and a citizen charter.

Part III has a few more chapters. Chapter on ‘constitution making in Perspective: understanding political change in 2015’ is a highly relevant and useful one that deals with recent political changes and the way forward. The political change in Sri Lanka in 2015 brought about by two elections, one Presidential and the other parliamentary, is described as a change away from nationalism toward cosmopolitanism. The author analyses voter behaviour and changing electoral demography to ascertain this trend. During this time, in addition to electoral changes, alliance of majority-minority, civil society and professional groups, certain policies, notions and propositions also emerged, e.g. good governance or compassionate government. He contrasts these with the authoritarian, corrupt and nepotistic government prevailed earlier. Analysis of electoral results is conducted not only on the basis of two national coalitions but also minority votes. Fernando argues that cosmopolitanism rather than nationalism should be the basis for politico-psychological changes. The reason for suggesting cosmopolitanism as a conceptual framework suitable for the present conditions in Sri Lanka is because the government has provided necessary ‘space’ for it to succeed while technology has provided the required infrastructure.

The chapter includes a discussion of various dimensions of cosmopolitanism such as the political, cultural and economic as well as the international dimension. Cosmopolitanism is about broadening the moral, social, cultural and political horizons of people, leaders and organisations beyond their close confines. Thus it is an attitude going beyond nationalism. Free market cosmopolitanism is described as different from free market liberalism or neoliberalism. Importantly, the author identifies emerging synergies between cosmopolitanism, democracy and good governance.

Chapter 16 deals with the question of how to achieve balanced regional development through devolution? It complements other discussions in previous chapters on the subject. It includes a discussion of uneven development among provinces based on a range of factors and pointing out the existence of centre-periphery dichotomy among provinces – Colombo being the most developed. An important point made is that the Open economic policy since 1977 has not contributed to a balanced regional development. The author argues that uneven development among provinces highlights the need for devolution. He recognises that in underdeveloped provinces, the potential to develop agriculture exists. However, in planning for development, two extremes need to be avoided 1) view of unitary politicians that regional development can be projected from Colombo, 2) separatist thinking and demands of minority politicians for separatist policies. Since Sri Lanka is a country where the richest 20 percent receive 54.1 percent of total household income whereas the poorest 20 percent receive only 4.5 percent of such income, these ideas are all the more important to be taken seriously.

Role of Civil Society

Chapter 17 advances the argument that civil society must take over local government rather than waiting for the corrupt politicians to rectify the system. Fernando argues that bottom up democratic transformation is required through local government. This is because over-politicisation leading to corruption, mismanagement, abuse and inefficiency are present in the current system. He alerts to the fact that party hierarchies defend local councillors whatever they do. They also interfere in local government administration. In author’s view, there is no need for party competition at local government level. He seeks civil society involvement at local government level to rectify this situation. But he recognises the existing contradiction between the state and the civil society today. A contradiction also exists between the ‘political society’ and ‘civil society’. Conventional political parties represent the former. Author suggests that the civil society should mediate/resolve this contradiction by using modern media, information technology or direct intervention. In short, the author prefers the civil society to contest and defeat UNP and SLFP. Next chapter looks at two dimensions of the national question, i.e. internal (Tamil national question) and external (post colonialism) providing further food for thought. Chapter 19 is focused on stopping acrimonious ethnic debates. Here he draws from a discussion in an internet paper forum around a statement by the Chief Minister of the Northern province and criticises misrepresentations of histories by those participating with no regard for mutual respect. What we need is rational dialogue about federalism and self-determination while placing our histories, as contradictory as they are, in the broader context of human society.

By far the most valuable and constructive chapter is chapter 20 on Building Inter-ethnic ‘Social Capital’ for Reconciliation. Author emphasises the need for ‘bridging’ in addition to ‘bonding’ in multicultural societies. A conceptual framework based on Robert Putman is provided. He argues that building social capital is important as physical capital. Social capital is about networking for one’s personal and collective well-being. The author explains avenues of building social capital also. He observes that the maturity of a democratic society can be judged by the nature, quality and functions of social networks and associations, meaning the civil society. More importantly he states that during the Rajapaksa regime, primitive capital or networking emerged based on kith and kin, friendship alliances, provincialism and patron-client relations. They effectively overturned the democratic fabric. Fortunately, bonding social capital is on track again – though it is still lagging behind. The task of bridging social capital is one for the civil society leaders. Civil society organisations have to build multi ethnic networks and work in Sinhala and Tamil languages in addition to English. He observes that even in universities bridging social capital is not developed. This is a theme that can be researched further by social scientists.

Overall the book is well organised and the ideas, observations, insights and proposals are valuable in addressing current challenges facing the society as well as moving forward as a united country to achieve good governance, reconciliation, democratic rights and a less corrupt political society.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    It doesn’t matter how good the book is or how wonderful the new constitution is, nothing will change because there is no political will for change. The new constitution will simply be manipulated by the politicians for their own ends.

    They do not want change for the better. They just want to make it appear to be so. There is a Sinhala saying ‘changing your pillow to cure your headache’ that is what they are up to. They couldn’t care less for the headaches of the masses.

    Also, in South Korea and Brazil, corruption scandals are met with huge public demonstrations. Where are ours? And if they took place they would be met with gunfire.

    • 5


      “Also, in South Korea and Brazil, corruption scandals are met with huge public demonstrations. Where are ours? And if they took place they would be met with gunfire.”

      Do the Sri Lankan politicians know something, the people are too stupid to understand?

      National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

      ——– Country
      ———————– %
      1 Singapore 108
      2 South Korea 106
      20 Brazil 87
      28 Sri Lanka 79


      • 3

        Colombian President in his speech when accepting Nobel Peace Prize said that he based his accord with rebels on the agreement reached in 2002 between LTTE and Srilanka government negotiated by Balasingham on behalf of LTTE and Prof. Peiris on behalf of Srilanka governemet. This accord says “To explore a settlement on a fedaeral basis considering the right to internal self determination of Tamil speaking people to their lands of historic habitation within a united Srilanka”. International community has accepted as fair any settlement to effectively devolve power to territory inhabited by Tamils without division of the country. It is the racist mindset of the Sinhalese that is preventing a just solution to be reached. The present government which promised the international community that they will settle Tamil problem in a fair manner is faltering on the onslaught by Sinhala racists.

  • 1

    Some say Siri Gamage is the Ivor Jennings of Sri Lanka. I fully agree. Look at the burgher’s scholory work!

  • 2

    The reviewer has done an exemplary work. I will find the book to read as this review encouraged me to do so. The subject matter discussed in the book is currently in the lime light and my congratulations Sena for the job well done.

  • 0

    Would the USA govt consider unilateral dismantling of their nuclear arsenal on the advice of their own self proclaimed ‘intellectuals’ assuming that all others will follow which will soon lead to a world free from nuclear arms?

    Similarly no idea is so naive and childish like this concept of dismantling of the existing unitary state and creating a federal unit with the North East combined will change the hearts of all Tamils leading to peaceful coexistence with the other provinces ever after.

    Quite the contrary, it will lead to the greatest explosion this country has ever seen. Minorities living in other provinces will be subjected to untold discrimination. Groups of people based on their race or religion will be forced to move from province to province. Muslims will have ‘no place to go’, so to speak.

    Wingesharan recently gave us a taste of things to come by banning Buddha statues in the North reminding us once again of Mavil Aru water blockade. Division on racial and religious lines will immediately give rise to uglier scenarios. In some townships Sinhala businessmen are already holding against Muslims setting up shop, I hear. What if when they get political powers with land rights and police powers to boot?

    Let us face the naked truth:

    Historically, Ethnically, linguistically, culturally, and religion wise Tamils in the North are one continuum with those in the Tamil Nadu which is just 20 miles away. Devolution will lead to immediate resurfacing of Vadukkodai ambition LTTE fought for with greater vigor. Will even big India be able to hold against a greater Tamil Nadu combined with the North of Sri Lanka, I wonder.

    Balkanisation of Sri Lanka will be complete within a decade. Huge military resources will be required to hold against this pressure which in any case will fail in the end leaving the greatest pool of blood behind.

    The greatest lesson the recent history has shown us is the rejection of the RW-VP pact by the Tamil political class. Supremely confident of their military machine they decided to go for the Vadukkodai objective, regardless of the cost in blood.


    Can we risk this?

    If we all are angles this devolution will work. But then if we all are angles we don’t need any devolution, do we?


    • 3


      “Would the USA govt consider unilateral dismantling of their nuclear arsenal on the advice of their own self proclaimed ‘intellectuals’ assuming that all others will follow which will soon lead to a world free from nuclear arms?”

      There are other possibilities. Have you ever thought about it?

      “Similarly no idea is so naive and childish like this concept of dismantling of the existing unitary state and creating a federal unit with the North East combined will change the hearts of all Tamils leading to peaceful coexistence with the other provinces ever after.”

      Are you saying that the issue of devolution of power is something equivalent nuclear arsenal?

      By the way, you could have your own Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto, I promise you I will fight for your right to your own ghetto, therefore leave the rest of the people to live peacefully.

  • 0

    “Are you saying that the issue of devolution of power is something equivalent nuclear arsenal? “



    • 1

      International intervention is absolutely necessary to bring justice to Tamils. At present the current government will not be rocked, but they will not be given indefinite time to settle the Tamil problem in a fair manner. From the way the present government is faltering due to Sinhala racist onslaught, a just settlement according to international norms acceptable to self respecting Tamils is unlikely to emerge. In other parts of the world such as East Timor, South Sudan, Bosnia etc where similar problem existed, it is only international intervention, which brought peace to those countries.

      • 0

        International will also be compelled to give a just solution the the problem of +50% Tamils occupying Sinhala areas(area outside “Tamil areas”).

        As for economic sanctions and other ‘punishments’ we will ensure that the burden is equally shared.


        • 1

          Please find out what is happening to Sinhala racists in UK. Two such racists received mouthful from me and both of them could do nothing about it, remaining like dogs with their tails tucked between their legs, because in UK there is a level playing field.

  • 0

    The Unity government and the third tier Local Governments are real giving with one hand and taking with one. The Local governments will receive government blessing as long as they oppose NPC, EPC government.

    We saw how Hakeem was bribed to act against Tamils in the Eastern Provincial Council. Now he has become the worst anti-Tamil person in Lankawe. He openly said that “Tamils are begging showing their Beggar Wound”. Muslims community has become strong and wealthy, but it not by clean and self respectful action of Hakeem, who has been begging for pardon for his crimes from Old and New Royals as per news. This is how Central operates. This is for what it wants to use the Independent Local Governments. There can be any kind of power devolutions, but Central will not stop maneuvering and manipulation.

    When perks and bones were thrown all PC governments signed for surrendering PCs’ authority to the Divineguma Looting. When a Lankawen Parliamentarian is told money coming, he doesn’t think second time before he sell his wife or children. There was fake investigation about Divineguma looting, but the CM’s who received the bones were left free out of the hook by the Yahapalanaya white vankaraya, the F word CID. Hakeem called from America, where he was to sell the dupes of the LLRC to Hillary Clinton, and ordered to SLMC members to have the bill passed in East. Even a third grade child will suspect why would somebody hand over their authority without any benefit from the one who was for the authority to loot, after all Hakeem was in that game? Further this was invoking the even the first ever dismissal of Lankawe CJ, Shirani Bandaranayake, and which was interestingly watched by even foreign embassy.

    Ranil who is implicated by Emil Mahendran on CB looting is now asking PCs acceptances to Development (Special Provisions) Bill. He did not invite NPC CM. Because passing in NPC is very easy. Divineguma was passed by the centrally appointed governor. It appears in Lankawe any province refusing to submit its authority to Central can be easily overwritten by the centrally applied Governor. The past Chandrasiri action is telling if needed NPC will be overwritten by governor Cooray. Even for that need he can dismisses and pass all the necessary to central and bring back a new NPC.

    Central wants to target the border villages by making them independent from PC. That is how Central can appoint Thuraiappa, Yokeswari.. to rebel against the PC and work as traitor like PIllaiyan, Najeeb Majeed,Ahmed Nazeer.

    What Tamil need is a minimum Federa North-East with self determination. Local structure has to be decided by the NEPC.

    • 0


      “What Tamil need is a minimum Federa North-East with self determination. Local structure has to be decided by the NEPC.”

      What the Sinhalese need is all the Tamils (Tamil speaking people) to be physically relocated into NEPC if and when a federal unit is established there. They are welcome outside NEPC only so long as all Tamils are willing to live in a unitary state.

      Tamil political demand for a federal unit for half of them while the other half have the right to occupy Sinhala areas will be resisted at all costs.


      • 2


        “What the Sinhalese need is all the Tamils (Tamil speaking people) to be physically relocated into NEPC if and when a federal unit is established there.”

        You don’t represent entire Sinhalese people nor does Mallaiyuran represent whole of Tamil speaking people.

        As usual you are putting your stupidity before rationality (if you have any).

        The government/state can enshrine all the federal ideas into constitution and pass it conditional upon Tamil speaking people leaving the Sinhala speaking (habitats) areas coupled with all Sinhala speaking people leaving the Tamil habitats (the colonisers who were planted there since 1940s).

        Arrangement can be made for the noisy Sinhala/Buddhist minority builders to have their own ghetto.

        However, the majority people of this island may agree to give you the much cherished Ghetto to you and your followers.

        You put forward your demand for a separate ghetto along with time frame for government to act upon it. This can be included in the constitution.

        Have you thought about it? This will neatly get you lot out of the main stream, get you off the back of the majority people.

        • 0


          1) Write down a set of reasons why a separate political unit is required for Tamils(Tamil speaking people). Discrimination, genocidal nature of the Sinhalese, gheto building tendency, economic mismanagement etc.etc.

          2) Try to demonstrate that those reasons are not applicable to 50% of the Tamuls and they have the right to continue occupying Sinhala areas.

          When your ‘sole representative’ was ruling Jafna the only ambition of a Tamil mother was to send the children to Colombo.

          There seems to be an inherent superiority in the Sinhala Buddhist society for I cannot think of any other reason why you Tamils are so forceful on this argument that Tamils must have the right to live in Sinhala areas too.


          • 1


            “1) Write down a set of reasons why a separate political unit is required for Tamils(Tamil speaking people). Discrimination, genocidal nature of the Sinhalese, gheto building tendency, economic mismanagement etc.etc.”

            Where have I said Tamil speaking people require a separate political unit. On the contrary, what I am suggesting is that the government should indeed give a separate state to the noisy bigoted Sinhala/Buddhist minorities.

            Pull your head from whereever it is and read my comments carefully.

            You know pretty well as to the nature and governance of this island since 1948. Therefore there is no need for me to add further.

            “Try to demonstrate that those reasons are not applicable to 50% of the Tamuls and they have the right to continue occupying Sinhala areas”

            My preferred option is to kick you racist out of the majority and confine you lot to a space of no more than 10 miles radius. In fact, I want to help you to build your much-cherished ghetto. I am on your side.

            ” When your ‘sole representative’ was ruling Jafna the only ambition of a Tamil mother was to send the children to Colombo.”

            When “your” sole representative the psychopath was ruling Jaffna you sent poor teenagers from villages and farms to kill their brethren in Jaffna.

            “There seems to be an inherent superiority in the Sinhala Buddhist society for I cannot think of any other reason why you Tamils are so forceful on this argument that Tamils must have the right to live in Sinhala areas too.”

            Have you been reading without glasses? It’s high time you saw the local optician.

      • 0

        Can you tell that to Chinese too. Tell them if they want Hambantota they have to dismantle the Colombo embassy and build it in Hambantota. They have to give up their claim on Nuraicholai, Colombo Pong Cing, Colombo Harbor….

        If you have back bone to do that then we can talk the rest.

        Unlike the Chinese who dumped couple of White Elephants in Lankawe, remeber, Up country Tamils have been feeding Lankawe with free rice for last two centuries. How much of Up country acres you are ready to give to them?

  • 2



    Seriously, where did you learn the properties of nuclear arsenals.

    Mahanama’s 5th century CE old physics for Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto building dummies?

    Mahanama was also knew about genetic engineering,

  • 0

    It is sad to see that the debate on this subject -every time it is raised-degenerates into one of Sinhala-Tamil rights and what will happen to the Unitary nature of the country and state if more powers are devolved to provinces. Not much is spoken about the benefits to all provinces? Sharing power between the centre and provinces(elected reps in these entities)for running the country should be a good thing instead of concentrating power-more power-in the centre from a democratic sense. Those who desire more power to the centre or to put it differently centralisation of power(we have good examples from the past about this under the Presidential system)seem to believe that in that case Sinhala Buddhists will have more power to control the whole island.Tamils,particularly in the North and East will have less power. There is some truth in this. But is this the priority today in Sri Lanka’s political system? I mean centralising more power in Colombo to the detriment of Provinces? What do the people in the 7 provinces other than North and East think about this? Should this debate about devolution of power be dominated by what will happen to N and E only? I think it is important to have a broader discussion on this topic, including consequences of not devolving more powers to the provinces and retaining a strong centralised power structure,ability of the political class to dominate decision making,resource allocation(and misuse) under such a system etc. One alternative is to do away with Provincial Councils altogether and keep only the Central government and Local Government councils so that we save a lot of money and resources while giving local communities more powers to determine their own affairs. Three levels of government for a small country like Sri Lanka is unsustainable. When we have such a three tiered system, it is inevitable that one layer becomes obsolete as what has happened to our Local Government System today.

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