22 May, 2024


Except For The LTTE, All Tamil Groups Accepted 13th Amendment

By Nirupama Subramanian – The Hindu –

Nirupama Subramanian

Lucien Rajakarunanayake is right to point out the difficulties that attended the 1987 India-Sri Lanka agreement. No doubt space constraints prevented him, as they do me, from recounting here the tragic events that led to the Indian intervention. The initial opposition to the 13th amendment notwithstanding, all parties that opposed it then, including the SLFP, the main constituent of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) today, and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), another constituent, have been enthusiastic participants in the provincial council elections held since then under the provisions of the amendment. Today, the UPFA controls all the provincial councils including in eastern Sri Lanka, where elections were held in 2008 for the first time after the collapse of the ill-fated North-East Provincial Council in 1990. No provincial council election has yet been held in the northern province. The JVP contested the provincial council elections for the first time in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. It is hard to detect the national abhorrence for the 13th amendment that Mr. Rajakarunanayake speaks about.

If it is really true that this particular provision is widely hated, and the SLFP and the JVP are still as opposed to it as they were in 1987, there could be no better time than the present to do away with it. For the first time since 1987 in Sri Lanka, a ruling party enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament and therefore, a unique opportunity to change the constitution to its liking. After all, the government has already demonstrated the ability to amend the constitution — in 2010 it used its majority to remove the two-term bar on the President. This too was opposed as being undemocratic — by the UNP, the JVP and the left parties in the ruling alliance, and the Tamil National Alliance, but the 18th amendment is now accepted as part and parcel of the Constitution.

All said and done, the 13th amendment represents the only constitutional measure towards the settlement of the Tamil question. In her first term as President, Chandrika Kumaratunga attempted to bring in constitutional reforms that would go far beyond the 13th Amendment in devolving powers to the provinces. After its tortuous passage through a parliamentary select committee, the package was scuppered at the last minute by the LTTE on the one side, and by the opposition and even by government members on the other. Since then, the only effort by the Sri Lankan polity at devising a “home-grown” devolution plan was the All Parties’ Representative Committee. Its report, never made public, seems to have been quietly shelved. The 13th amendment is no silver bullet, but at least it exists on the books. Except for the LTTE, all Tamil groups accepted it. If implemented honestly in letter and spirit, with devolution of financial and police powers, and land rights, it could still go a long way in meeting Tamil aspirations. Such a move would be welcome not just in the north and east but also in the other seven provinces of Sri Lanka.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0

    13th Amendment fundamentally flawed

    – Sumanthiran

    By Namini Wijedasa

    It is insulting when ministers say Tamils don’t have political aspirations or that ordinary people don’t want land or police powers, said M. Sumanthiran, TNA MP, in an interview.
    “Tamil people are very astute, politically,” Sumanthiran said. “They exercised their vote intelligently. We asked for a particular mandate and it is for this that they voted. It is actually an insult when ministers like Basil Rajapaksa say it’s not what the people want and that it’s what the politicians want. He has said people in the north don’t want land or police powers, and that they only want land and police protection.”
    “What does he think… we are on our knees pleading for these things?” he asked. “We take it as offensive.”
    Sumanthiran rejected the 13th Amendment as “fundamentally flawed.”


  • 0

    Nirupama, the situation today is all ruling parties officially deny SL´s ethnic issue.

    If UNP comes to power they do the same to get the right extreamist´s votes

    I am sure all other parties than LTTE want to show they are ready to accept something, which is called 13th ammendment and they know this GoSL is not going to accept even 13th ammendment.

    In worst case this 13th ammendment will be accepted, which will cause some additional problems after few years

    In best case we will come to a compromise like Sudan, a referendum, which will be the real solution for our conflict.

    GoSL help us to reach this step, they abduct innocent people,they kill everyone in custody, they demolish mosques and does not tolerate other monorities etc., all these happens in correct time, soon after UNHCR meeting

    We have to thank GoSL!

    • 0

      “In worst case this 13th ammendment will be accepted, which will cause some additional problems after few years”?

      13th amendment is already in place. All they have to do is to implement! What Sumanthiran said was, something along, “We opposed the 13th Ammendement then, and we oppose it now. But, we challenge the government to impelement it. The government finds an easy excuse not to implement it. They won’t implement, but they shouldn’t use TNA’s disagreement as an excuse”.

      I hear his point loud and clear.

  • 0

    The International Forces of arms manufacturers will never opt for solutions for good. If that be so they become the loosers, as it will affect their war industry. Forcing the 13th amendment as a solution leave greater room for outside manipulation in the furure. Now that everything has come to a head on, why not a new leader take the bold step with all the powers vested under the 18th amendment to introduce a secular state for this country once and for all, for the betterment of all citizens irrespective of ethnicity and religion. Buddhism and Politics should not be a vocation for some as it is now and the public should be weaned off from this age old CURSE. There should not be any homelands for any single group, but the whole of Sri Lanka should be the Home Land for all it’s citizens. The minorities should be assured and guranteed of employment in the State Sector on merit alone and preferably the minimum for the smooth functioning of the State Services. Good Luck Sri Lanka for a Truthful Future!

  • 0

    suz againste the 13th ammendment which all tamil groups accpted why we catholics never buy a car even contained 13th.so better discuss with india and the catholic tamil groups of srilanka to change the no13.suz realized the danger of 13th which all the journalist has forgotten the number.

    • 0

      India is part, or if not the problem although they get involved with the Tamil issue claiming the Tamil nadu connection. The truth is not only the Centre, even Tamil Nadu, both are making use of the Tamil issue here for their local political gain and for India’s dominance geo politically. Unfortunately we did not have nor presently, a bold leadership to understand external intrigue and take this Nation to new horizens. Parochial issues have been moved centre from the time of Independence, staged obviously with agendas to persue, of these very vested interest. Our fools with short memories and short sighted vission, led by a mediocrity since Independence, created the ideal conditions for the International wolves to get involved. Just imagine if all the ethnic groups together without personal greed, recognising all inhabitants of this country as equal citizens worked together after Indipendence where we would be today? Another Taiwan, Hong Kong or a Singapore? Only if we had, then we would be out of the clutches of India’s dominance and the Citizens irrespective being Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim or Burgher would have had their place in society in this country. No, unfortunately it was not to be as the system provided an opportunity for some nincompoops to climb the social ladder to positions of Authority and Financial giants in the system, at the expense of society spreading Nationlism for their narrow gain of these Humbugs.

  • 0

    suz is unable to think politically, suz should not have the feeling to comment every article. suz should eat well and sleep day and night

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.