17 October, 2019

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Commander-In-Chief Must Give The Right Order For Constructive Transition

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

For any system of government to work it requires an acknowledgement and respect for each other’s role.  Trust and goodwill are also important to have between those who hold key decision making positions within the system.  When the Northern Provincial Council was established following democratic elections in September, it seemed that a giant step forward had been taken in terms of arriving at a political solution to the ethnic conflict that gave rise to protracted war.  But three months after the establishment of the Northern Provincial Council the breakdown of relationships is epitomized by the conflict between its presidentially appointed Governor and democratically elected Chief Minister.  There might still be an opportunity to mitigate this conflict before it reaches a chronic stage of no-return between the government and Northern Provincial Council.

Both Governor G A Chandrasiri and Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran are very capable individuals who rose to the highest levels of their respective professions.  They are now in positions that were meant to be a check and balance on the power of the provincial councils.   Nor surprisingly the appearance and reality today are of a Governor and Chief Minister locked in conflict.  The Chief Minister has found himself to be without the powers to discharge his responsibilities by the people who elected him.

Prior to the establishment of the elected Northern Provincial Council, the Governor was necessarily the key figure in the administration of the province.   He took all the important decisions, including providing budgetary allocations for the construction  of the new provincial council building, and engaging in various acts of charity, including providing funding to individuals who needed medical attention abroad.   With this practice in memory, the Governor has taken the position that the Constitution of the country vests the power of staff appointments to the provincial council with him. As a result the Chief Minister cannot even appoint the key staff, such as the Chief Secretary, he would have work for him in the provincial council. The Governor has also refused to give his assent to some of the initiatives proposed by the ministers of the provincial council.  In public statements in his defense, he cites the Constitution of the country as giving him the power of decision making.

Prevailing Role

The response of the provincial council, and of the TNA which is the ruling party in the provincial council, is to call for the Governor’s removal from office and replacement by a civilian governor.  While this call makes a clear political point in terms of the TNA’s right to govern the Northern Provincial Council after its electoral victory, it fails to bring a solution to the existing problem.  In the interim the people’s problems remain unresolved.   On the one hand, the TNA has the mandate of the people without any doubt, as it scored an overwhelming victory at the Northern Provincial Council elections.  On the other hand, there is also the TOR or terms of reference provided by the law, which specifies what the Chief Minister and his Board of Ministers may and may not do.   The Governor has taken to himself the power of decision making on this count, backed by the enforcement power of the State.

But there is also the spirit of the law, and the purpose for which the provincial council system was intended.  It was to resolve the ethnic conflict and to enable the Tamils in particular, and also the Muslims, who are relatively small minorities in the country as a whole, but who are majorities or large minorities in parts of the country, to enjoy decision making powers of their own.  Although there continue to be nationalists in the government who continue to deny the existence of an ethnic conflict, mainstream opinion in the country has become more liberal.  The report of the LLRC, which was appointed by the President to find the lessons of the past, and how not to repeat them, is evidence of this liberal spirit.

The view of the LLRC commissioners was that the political leaders of Sri Lanka needed to apologise to the people for their failure to find a solution to the ethnic conflict, and to address the genuine grievances of the ethnic minorities.   The elections to the Northern Provincial Council and its establishment as a political authority in the context of implementing the LLRC recommendations and meeting international expectations has considerable potential to address the problems faced by the people of the North in the way that they wish.  It also has had the benefit of showing who the representatives of the people of the North are, and what their priorities are.  This is to ensure that decisions are made by their elected representatives who are closer to them than the central authorities in Colombo.

New Role

The issues that took centre stage at a meeting of the Jaffna Managers Forum that I attended last week gave an indication of the priorities of those who are community leaders in Jaffna.  At the centre of their discussion was the need to empower the Northern Provincial Council to give direction to the allocation of resources in the province, and for the benefit of the people. At this time legal power is vested with the central authorities who have not been responsive to the people’s problems or to their demands.  In the discussion it was pointed out that there had been a spate of suicides of business persons due to the failure of their business plans and inability to repay the loans they had taken.  A number as high as 20 was given for the past few months.  The non-utilisation of the local labour force by south-based business enterprises was also noted.

Some of the other issues that came up were the re-emergence of army-run businesses, such as small restaurants and shops, along the main roads.  It was noted that travelers from the South preferred to stop at them, but that this deprived the local people of a source of income.  There was the observation that the ultra modern hospital put up with Japanese government assistance, which had 27 beds in the Intensive Care Unit, only used 16 of them as there was no nursing staff to ensure that all the beds were utilized.   The digging up of limestone in Kankasanthurai, within the high security zone which is accessible only to the military  had led to the possibility of sea water coming inland and to the possible loss of land to sea erosion.  Resolving such issues and empowering the provincial council to deal with them requires change in the attitude of the central government authorities and a willingness on their part to relax their controls.

The 13th Amendment provides overriding legal powers to the central government vis-à-vis the provincial councils, not only in the Northern Provincial Council but in the other eight provincial councils also.  The Governor of each province is vested with superior legal powers by the constitution, even though he or she is an appointed official, and not elected as the provincial council members are.  Although the Governor’s powers are overwhelming, his or her political role needs to be a residual one.  The Governor is appointed by the President.  He is not elected by the people.  Three months after the holding of the Northern Provincial Council election, it is incumbent on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make the Governor’s post-election role clear and thereby empower the  Northern Provincial Council.  As a former army general, Governor Chandrasiri will surely take his orders from his Commander-in-Chief.  But so far alas, this does not appear to have been done.

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  • 4
    1

    From Mandela to Mahinda-
    “Dear Mahinda, I thank you for your respectful words for me. To make those respectful words meaningful you need to follow the path cleared by us. Please examine whether you are on the same path.
    …………………

    At times I wonder what do you have to learn form us when you have become a strong defender and a close friend of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has made himself president for life, in practice. His path was completely different to ours and laden with violence. Another disappointing news is your close relationship with the king of the Swaziland, a most backward country in Africa. If you have chosen to follow the examples of Zimbabwe and Swaziland, there is nothing we can offer you.” – http://groundviews.org/2013/12/16/a-letter-to-president-rajapakse-from-nelson-mandela/

    • 2
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      Jehan Perera, the Provincial Council System was set up to CHECK AND BALANCE the concentration of power in the Center. Tday one corrupt individual the President has all the power – in Colombo. That is where you should start, and not by saying that the provincial councils need checks and balances. You seem to start this article by putting the cart before the horse when you say…
      “Both Governor G A Chandrasiri and Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran are now in positions that were meant to be a check and balance on the power of the provincial councils.
      The PC system is a check on the centralization of power in Colombo – which is the original and biggest governance problem in Sri Lanka since independence. Remember the Time that the JVP spoke of : Colombata kiri, apata kekiri.. same problem – concentration of power in a corrupt president. It is the centre that is the HUB of POWER AND CORRUPTION and the rot has trickled down to the local and provincial levels and it is the centre that needs checks and balances.But these are being destroyed by the attack on the judiciary and erosion of sepatation of powers by Gota the Goons DEEP STATE military dictatorship with the facade of democracy.. This is where you must start your discussion..

      • 1
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        Jehan Perera, Does Chandrasiri speak GOOD Tamil – the language of the people of the area?
        I can well understand the frustration of the TNA and Dr. Wigneshwaran with regard to the inability to make and implement policy in the Northern Province. The real power in the Northern Province is still vested in Charndrasisi, a corrupt and criminal representative of the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Rajapakse regime that has concentrated all power – political and economic in the hands of a single family, the military and corrupt cronies at the central and local levels and made a mockery of DEVOLUTION in all parts of the country and not just northeast. Rajapaaskse’s representative Chandrasiri who is accountable for the arrest and “disappearances” of the FSP organizers in Jaffna, as Govenor is there there to maintain Rajapassa’s MILITARY DICTATORSHIP and Douglas Devananda’s criminal activities and looting of the northern people. The elected representatives of the people – the TNA is expected to provide merely a FACADE OF DEMOCRACY while the real power is with a military bugger who cannot even speak the language of the people of the region! This is also the case in the South where the Parliament of CORRUPT MORONS rubber stamp the Rajapassa military dictatorship and provide a facade of democracy, while democratic institutions are systematically destreyed by the Jarapassa dicatroship.

    • 1
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      ”2013 will be remembered as the year in which the world bid a sad but celebratory farewell to Nelson Mandela. I can think of nothing I would rather see in 2014 than for world leaders to emulate his example in upholding their moral and political responsibilities” – UN Secretary General: end-of-year press conference, 16 December 2013,
      http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=2092#.UrBBzfRdVqU

  • 2
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    Since this foreign funded NGO rep can only utter one half of the story, readers are invited to read Dr Vigneswaran’s appeal to both NPC and GOSL and Dyan J’s disection of NPC Chief Minister’s budget speech.

    You will get to know what TNA led NPC is up to.

    If TNA’s aim is confrontation, no governer whether military or civil has any other option than responding as per the law.

    • 2
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      As my info are concerned, Vignaswaran is though former Judge but not a Doctor. But DJ has a doctorate, this is known to many. Facts should be gotten before adding comments to this platform.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._V._Vigneswaran

      Anyway, I respect the stance in terms of the current problems that former Judge V has to face as a CM today. And there will be no solution to this so long Rajapakshes will remain as the leaders either.

      • 0
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        DJ has a phd from a muddukku place called Griffith University. Vigneswaran is a product of the Ceylon Law College, just like Namal Rajapakse and Vasudeva. Nothing to choose between them from the point of view of academic achievement.

      • 0
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        Sirimal,

        I was referring to Dr K Vigneswaran. Please check the following link.

        http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/Take-Steps…/article1946364.ece‎

        The NPC CM name is generally spelt starting with ‘W’. Thought you would notice it. Dr K Vigneswaran has shown practical ways of a PC working with GOSL to build confidence and taking productive action with assistance from GOSL to solve PC issues.

        NPC CM doesn’t seem to be interested in such a course. He seems to be conciously taking a confrontationist path in order to sabotage the PC system itself so that he can demand Eelam.

        If he is pragmatic and has well being of ordinary Northern Tamils in his heart, then he can work with Rajapakses. Of course he cannot do it if is just a puppet of LTTE rump lead by diaspora groups.

    • 0
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      What do you term as Confrontation in this context? Are asking for the due rights of the NPC amounts to confrontation? Why would even NPC need to ask for the rights? What is your point? Are you saying the NPC should put up and shut up?

      • 0
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        Confrontation in this context are;

        Not having a constructive dialogue with the Governor. The practical way is having a dialogue, agree on actions which can be mutually agreed and take immediate steps to implement them jointly, acknowledge items where further work is required before both parties could fully agree, acknowledge ‘red line’ items such as land and police powers where broader political dialogue is required.

        Similarly, attend the development committee meetings as a co-chair as invited, so that NPC input can be given and projects benefiting the populace can be jointly implemented. It means working with GOSL reps such as Douglas Devanada in the region. TNA may consider Douglas as a bitter rival. However political circumstances demand having a working relationship. Exclusive politics cannot be played in a devolved structure. It requires participatory politics.

        All of above requires working together for the betterment of the people. However, is that what’s in TNA agenda? I don’t think so. Their agenda is based on building NPC as the sole political authority in the North and then get wider recognition as an exclusive, independent political entity. If this doesn’t work, sabotage the whole process through confrontation and open a direct path to Eelam.

  • 3
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    ”The digging up of limestone in Kankasanthurai, within the high security zone which is accessible only to the military had led to the possibility of sea water coming inland and to the possible loss of land to sea erosion”
    This has been going for several years and the (geologically) delicate water table of the peninsula has been at peril. Don’t the armed forces have to abide by Environmental Impact Assessment that is followed all over the world on any action that interferes with the environment?
    I believe our Environment Authority has some mandate on this. Where are they? NPC should report this to them.

    A few years ago it was reported that sandmining along the seashore began by EPDP-sanctioned businessmen caused erosion into seaside villages.

    Political, economic, social cultural and environmental oppression???

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/105133706/Who-Looks-After-the-Environment-of-the-Oppressed

    • 1
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      Who protects the environment of the oppressed?

      ‘’Large hotels are being built contaminating ground water and serving liquor near schools. When a Tamil industrialist (RAMCO) refused to restart KKS Cement saying the ecology cannot bear it, a Nepalese was brought in to tear our landscape apart. The police beat signs of Tamil aspirations into silence and do price controls to take bribes. Our institutions are mismanaged by political stooges” – S.Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, 30 June 2013, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/tamil-university-part-i-fr-xs-thani-nayagam-and-the-mannar-university/

      News-reports state that in Ariyalai East, contractors carry away 25 tractor-loads of sand for a fee of Rs. 10,000 to soldiers. The land is denuded. In these circumstances DIG-North Eric Perera’s statement that crime in the North is out of control and he is taking action seems disingenuous – his men never respond when telephoned upon seeing the tractors.-
      2 Feb 2013, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/state-repression-with-focus-on-war-crimes/

      ”There were some allegations that especially in Manner area Southern fishers are supported by military forces. Some fishermen in Karainagar explained the negative impact of the Southern fishers’ arrival to the North. The low income categories were mostly affected by some environmentally harmful methods used by them such as blasting of shells; using cylinders to catch conches and using ‘small eye nets’ to capture prawns by the fishermen coming from Negombo, Beruwala and Matara areas. A community leader claimed that “if this happens in their areas, the government’s response would have been different. But here they are able to destroy our resources, without facing to any charge” – Fishing in Turbulent Waters, 31 March 2012, http://groundviews.org/2012/03/31/fishing-in-turbulent-waters/

  • 2
    1

    The probable, and it looks like as the only one, solution is to have foreign forces to protect the elected reps of the NPC and allow them to carry out the duties for what they have been elected for. The regime has started to play its monkey tricks and it is as clear as day that it is openly denying the NPC to function meaningfully. The Rajapakse brothers are incensed. They could not enforce their writ the way they do in other parts of the country. The only answer to their evil machinations would be to place outside forces to protect the Tamil people from further genocide and protect the NPC members.

  • 1
    1

    Commander-In-Chief Must be Given The Right Order and marched to the Hague to face war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide of Tamils!

    • 0
      1

      Sure, there is something called command responsibility for commanders in chief.

  • 0
    0

    Jehan you can expect all what you say from a gentlemen politician but not from a power drunk thug.

  • 1
    0

    A few days ago TNA leader R.Sampanthan told the parliament about
    1. the letter written by the Secretary of Presidential Task Force for Northern Development(PTF) to Mr Subinay Nandy, UNHCR Representative:
    ” This note is sent to you to confirm the involvement of the PTF in monitoring the above activities in the Northern Province as practiced in the previous years.
    The procedure adopted by the PTF in relation to approval and monitoring of the above activities carried out for the benefit of the resettled families in the Northern Province remains unchanged. I would therefore, be grateful if you would kindly inform all heads of the UN Agencies and the Humanitarian Country Team to follow the same procedure for the year 2014 as well. The Monitoring through 3W Monitoring Tool will continue. The District Secretaries and the Divisional Secretaries have been informed to liaise with the UN Agencies and the INGOs like in previous years in relation to such activities implemented in those Divisions”

    Copies were sent to 1. Hon. Governor, Northern Province
    2. Chief Secretary
    3. All GA’s/ District Secretaries – for compliance and to keep the Divisional Secretaries informed
    4. All SF Commanders

    No copy was sent to the Chief Minister.

    During the election campaign Economic Minister Basil Rajapakse told the people that the PTF would be transferred to the Northern Provincial Council after the election.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/colonization-schemes-what-did-the-b-c-pact-say/

    Will the President become decent enough to transfer the PTF to the Chief Minister as the first mark of change to put into practice to show that going to Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service has changed him.

  • 0
    0

    Glad Jehan that your are able to recognize the systemic issues in the current provincial council system. Varadaraja Perumal experienced the same. Nothing new.He has nothing to loose. So has Vignesh. If he had he would not be acting this way ?

  • 0
    0

    In the runup to Geneva the Governor NP is providing all the ammo required to prove that the President is not in favour of devolution of power.

    If this be the case there is no meaning in having the NPC elections or talking about LLRC and 13A. Better be done with it and have a Military Administrator for the North. If worse comes to worse NPC can stand dissolved.

  • 0
    0

    Jehan obviously hasn’t seen Mr Sambandan’s latest Racist speech in Parliament..

    If he has he would know why Mr Sambandan wants ex General Chandrasiri out..

  • 1
    1

    The newly appointed Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran as you rightly pointed out was elected by the people. Hence he should have more say in what is necessary and good for the people of NE. Major Chadasiri as you said is an appointee of the President.

    CVW’s stance and that of the TNA is that enough is enough and that central government cannot dictate what the chief minister can and cannot do and give over-riding powers to the governor who has the track record of conducting military offensive against Tamil civilians in the pretext of wiping out the LTTE, lands confiscated, businesses allocated to the military which is over and above their mandate and to the detriment of NE Tamils being deprived of their livelihood.

    The chief minister can and should liaise with the governor. But if the governor is a stubborn mule and a puppet of the President and not willling to forfeit his positon and prestige and lord it over the North and East, then NE Tamils will have no choice other than to agitate. And when that happens God save the President.

  • 1
    1

    Are we back to Square1? 50s when Tamils asked for only federalism and got satisfied with meagre concessions of SWRD but opposition even to the meagre concessions catapulted us to hell and now trying to climb out are the Tamils again pushed back?

  • 1
    0

    After 65yrs of wrong governance, will our leaders take up:

    “Never, never and never again shall it be that that this beautiful land will allow the oppression of one by another”

  • 1
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    Oppression means destruction of environment of the oppressed:
    ”The digging up of limestone in Kankasanthurai, within the high security zone which is accessible only to the military had led to the possibility of sea water coming inland and to the possible loss of land to sea erosion”

  • 1
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    Jehan Perera is a sane voice in the wilderness of political expediancy of the government epitomised by the indifferece of the President,whose only aim appears to be to win the next presidential election – which he cannot afford to lose.

  • 0
    1

    Jehan suggests to keep Chandrasiri continuing and deal with him.TNA wants to oust him to protect democracy.Do you know that MARA originally had an idea of withdrew Chandrasiri but later changed his idea as a result of the demand of TNA for removal.Jehans best friend Akashi wants further time(unlimited) for MARA to do the needful.Why these people intervening the affairs of affected Tamils without invitation ?.Let TNA as elected representatives of Tamils to deal with the matter.MARA alone can do every thing but the political will is lacking.MARA is for himself but not for the people who elected him.Are you suggesting to trust him. Can you give at least one reason for Tamils to trust him.

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