9 December, 2021

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Experimenting Federalism In Sri Lanka

By Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

Though it is five years after the LTTE was defeated, Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government failed to place a meaningful solution to the satisfaction of the Tamils as well as of the international community. On the contrary, Mahinda Rajapaksa & his siblings have achieved a systematic and calculated murder of innocent Tamils, which demonstrates genocide on different pretexts. Murdering innocent citizens is discouraged in religious teachings to defeat an enemy. The TULF has continuously sent a hot signal in respond to the international community for truce, but Mahinda Rajapaksa is still reluctant to place an acceptable meaningful solution while reiterating that Federalism has no place in Sri Lanka, without realizing the benefits of Federalism.

The suspicion of the people in every Province that they would be oppressed by the majority community, using the powers of the government, should be allayed without any reservations. The results of the Northern Provincial & Uva Provincial Council elections demonstrate that the government failed to allay the suspicion of the people that they were oppressed by the ruling party using the powers of the government, thus signaling the frustration of the people.

Recognizing one’s basic rights does not necessarily mean conceding to the demands of the minority, but the willingness to share power in a civilized manner. Recognition of the fundamental rights of the ethnic community is only possible through the incorporation of the obligations in the Constitution. Such obligations on the part of the central government towards the Units and the obligations of the Units toward the Central Government can only be found in Federal constitutions. Thus it signals the expansion of democracy. It is these obligations which symbolize as constitutional guarantees which will ensure the people of each Province some sense of security. Even the late Dr. N.M. Perera and J.R. Jayewardene once said Federalism is suitable for Sri Lanka.

In a democratic country especially in a plural society, the system of Checks and Balances and the civil liberties are inter-related for the maintenance of peace. The quest for peace revolves round the concept of the freedom to live from any fear whatsoever from any quarters. Freedom to live from fear symbolizes the freedom of speech, opinion, movement, the right to life, etc. Such civil liberties discourage the military rule. The legislators should realize that freedom of the press is the live-wire of democracy. The government should guarantee the freedom of criticism, so that a citizen would know what is right and wrong. There should not be any censorship. It is through exchange of views that peace can be brought. Peace discourages senseless violence and murder. Peace brings joy and happiness and allows room for unity and prosperity. It develops friendship and brotherhood all over the world.

Any fear that such obligations would lead to separation is totally baseless and groundless. Mention should be made that that the right of self-determination as expressed by the Sri Lanka ruling politicians had been misinterpreted as conceding to the demands of the Tamil community at the level of street wisdom. The Thimpu Declaration of 1985 and the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace accord endorse the right to self-determination. When Sri Lanka asserted that the right of self-determination implies the right of secession and the right to create a separate State, India was not happy over it. The purpose of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord is to simplify the administration and allow the Provinces to share powers with the Centre with the passage of time. India expected Sri Lanka to comply with the Peace Accord in granting a degree of autonomy to the Tamils. But it is unfortunate that Sri Lanka was reluctant to give power and allocate funds to the North-East Province. Sri Lanka government failed to realize that the voice of the people especially of the aggrieved community is considered as an essential integral part for the preservation of democracy and unity of a country. The aggrieved community demands the right of self-determination when their fervent hopes are shattered by the ruling majority community led-Central government. The right of self-determination allows room for socio-economic restructuring without any discrimination whatsoever through popular participation on a healthy footing of the maintenance of peace and unity (rather than allowing room for fat commissions for corrupt politicians in the central government). The principle of self-determination will not result in impairment of the territorial integrity and unity of a sovereign and independent State.

Had all the nine Provinces been merged into five Provinces and Colombo into a Corporation status under the Central government, the prevailing unsettled condition would soon disappear and certain to bring peace and harmony. If the Sinhalese political leaders are of the view that Federalism will lead to separation and therefore is unacceptable, then in the alternative they can have Five Provinces with Acts for each Province as in the United Kingdom, which again signals the meaningful devolution of powers to the Provinces leading to an expansion of democracy and will strengthen the unity of the country. If however, the Sinhalese political leaders are adamant in not agreeing even for separate Acts for each Province, then it is presumed that the Sinhalese political leaders intend to survive themselves at the expense of the division between the communities. This would eventually curb the civil liberties of the citizens and paved way for a failed State.

If a country is unable solve its racial problems, then it signals the beginning of the absence of rule of law. The cause of the absence of rule of law is poor governance. Corruption, political instability, absence of rule law and ineffective government contribute to poor governance. This is what had happened after the LTTE was defeated. Rajapaksa’s government became accountable to all segments of society because it did not allow room to receive opinions and views demonstrating poor governance and signs of anarchism.

Sincerity on the part of the Government is essential because there would be a moral duty on the Tamils to reciprocate in the same manner for the benefit of the entire nation. All three communities should realize that the quest for peace revolves round the concept of the freedom to live from any fear whatsoever from any quarters. Freedom to live from fear symbolizes the freedom of speech, opinion, movement, the right to life, etc. Such civil liberties discourage the military rule. The tension prevailing among the Tamils can be minimized only when the Military Forces do not interfere on civil matters and allow room for educated moderates to emerge and participate in decisive roles in peace process.

It is common that every country has its own problems. Problems arise in a country with complexities relating to race, religion, and language when its constitution allows room for discrepancies. The main aim of the constitution is to maintain peace and rule the country for the benefit of the people without any discrimination. Therefore, a constitution should be framed with a sense of care for the adjustment of the relationship between the powers of the government and the rights of the people. It is the legislators and not the religious dignitaries who should be entrusted with the task of protecting the rights of the people. No country can prosper by mixing up politics and religion. What is needed is the role of the Professionals to mould the political thinking absolutely and decisively in keeping with the trends of the Western democratic countries where the decentralized form of government has achieved its desired goals by discouraging the deliberate marginalization of the minority community for the prosperity of the entire country. Politicians should realize that a Constitution is a living document which sets out a plan of government and should not be changed at their will and pleasure, but could refine it by way of bringing Amendments like in the United States of America  and  India  to mention a couple of examples.

When the fundamental rights of the minorities have been suppressed by evil provisions of the constitution together with the aid of aggressive military operation, it is a fact that the minorities as freedom fighters treat the government as a foreign domination. The ruling politicians have been in the practice of resorting to communal speeches without realizing the horrors of war because it is only the people who have suffered and lost their loved ones do really realize the gravity of confrontation and war. Crying for military solution by the politicians will only result in leaving a legacy for brutality. What Sri Lanka has witnessed in the Unitary form of government for the last sixty years was and still the corrupted politicians and their stooges enjoying absolute power had been engaged in the evasion of taxes, unpaid loans to the banks, lack of transparency and accountability, threats to journalists, promoting religious animosities, destruction to lives and properties, interfering with the independence of judiciary, etc, all of which are not possible under a Federal form of government, especially because of the system of Checks and Balances. It is time for experimenting Federalism in Sri Lanka because the ruling politicians have failed miserably in solving the burning ethnic issue and other related issues for the last sixty years. In the circumstances, it need not endorse the granting of full independence to the Regions where the minority community lives as a separate entity but a regional autonomy as it exists in India, Canada, Switzerland and other Federal countries, which, if granted, will not affect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. This is the expectation of the Tamils and the International Community at this hour.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    4

    I hope you don’t think that you are smarter than previous generations of Tamils. They figured out 65 years ago that federalism was the best model of governance for the island, and that’s why they agitated for it so many decades ago. The reason for the Vadukottai resolution was that the Tamil leaders of the day correctly concluded that a federal system was not possible in SL because of the nature of the Sinhalese polity. The essential character of that polity hasn’t changed even today. The state cannot be reformed from within, it has to be rebooted from the outside, and fortunately that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Now that the big boys are involved, neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils can prevent the partitioning of the country. John Kerry is not going to get involved in the SL situation unless he knows that the US is going to dominate affairs on the ground. He is not going to be happy with merely dealing with a “federal government” in the NE where Colombo still calls the shots on foreign policy in the entire island. The US is going to completely dominate affairs in the NE to the point where John Kerry and friends can fly into China Bay as readily as they would fly into Baghdad, Benghazi or Juba. I see this as a perfect win-win situation for the Tamils and the US.

    • 2
      1

      From above comment – “The reason for the Vadukottai resolution was that the Tamil leaders of the day correctly concluded that a federal system was not possible in SL because of the nature of the Sinhalese polity.”

      “The Vaddukoddai Resolution and other statements made by Tamil leaders in the late 70s under severe pressure from young militant groups were effectively repudiated by every responsible Tamil leader; ” Devanesan Nesiah
      Is Mr Nesiah he telling the real story?

      Thanks

    • 7
      8

      Poor LTTE monkeys still waiting for their masters to swoop in and hand them their mythical Eelam :D

      • 7
        2

        Siva Siva Sankara Siva Sankara “Sarma” you Sinakalam:

        We have no Animal Gene but you do ” Half Animal” the only Race on the Planet with an Animal Gene.
        As for the masters handing us our dream Land ” Eelam”, it is a bit complicated for your Animal Brain. But don’t worry you are on a Chain and tied to a Lamp Post and all you can do is P..s against the post. But be careful don’t do it when a Bitch walks past.

  • 4
    4

    May be a small multi-ethnic group of constitutional specialists can draft a new constitution based on the Swiss Model;

    https://archive.org/stream/federalconstitu01switgoog#page/n8/mode/2up

    It can then be published in all three languages for citizens to start a concrete civil debate.

  • 6
    7

    Patriot,

    “The US is going to completely dominate affairs in the NE to the point where John Kerry and friends can fly into China Bay as readily as they would fly into Baghdad, Benghazi or Juba”

    Keep dreaming.

    The Vanni wll be full of Sinhalese in time to come, as the government has already stated planting more and more Sinhalese. Only Jaffna Peninsula would be 100 yours. East has never be and will never be yours.

    • 9
      10

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking Demela.

      “The Vanni wll be full of Sinhalese in time to come, as the government has already stated planting more and more Sinhalese.”

      Its a good news for Hindians as they have started the process of Hindianisation of North those Sinhalese now being settled in the North would become the front line converts who would carry the process further into the South.

      As you yourself is a descendant of kallathony Tamil, who turned hard line Sinhala/Buddhists bigot should know how the Hindianisation process works. However look at it this way, irrespective of language, race, religion or region, the fact still remains that people share the common stupid gene M20. Hence whether you are a Sinhalese or Tamil should not matter as the momentum of Hindianisation process speeds up, you will be lost in translation.

      You will become another b(p)rick in the wall.

    • 6
      5

      UN is a bloody sorry state of affairs, World to take note of radical rascals like ravi perara who licks rajapaksha feet for the dream of sinhalizing the tamil people land. Exactly that’s why they keep muslims in danger now in east and will go on to do the same in Vanni.

    • 4
      2

      Perera you [Edited out]:

      The trouble with THUGS is that they are used to courting danger and will not heed any warnings until pushed. But don’t worry your BOSS the THUG will be pushed as he is already on the cliff.

  • 7
    8

    Tamil pretending to be a vedda,

    Are you always in front of the computer. Are you an asylum seeker ?
    Nodaking umba

    • 7
      4

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking Kallathoni Demela

      “Are you always in front of the computer.”

      Does it matter?

      “Are you an asylum seeker ?”

      I am not a descendant of asylum seeker mythical Vijaya.

      “Nodaking umba”

      I love to see you again, again and again and share a peace pipe.

      • 3
        3

        Umba – means “suck”?, if it is correct, I understand how sinhalese came into existence

  • 6
    5

    manikasekeram,

    “World to take note of radical rascals like ravi perara who licks rajapaksha feet for the dream of sinhalizing the tamil people land”

    Tamil people land is in Tamil Nadu or if it is in Sri Lanka Jaffna peninsula.
    You seem very concerned about the muslims. It is a pitty that coward VP sungod had no pitty for the muslims. Muslims are not in danger despite the ramblings of booru bala sena. Booru bala sena do not have the support of the majority Sinhalese. Sinhalese have always sent Muslims MP’s to parliament from the UNP & SLFP. 75% of the Muslims live among the Sinhalese and have benefited with their trade etc. No matter how hard the Balu senas try Sinhala – Muslim unity will not be broken.

    • 5
      6

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking kallathoni Demela

      “It is a pitty that coward VP sungod had no pitty for the muslims.”

      You loved it when VP ethnically cleansed Muslims from the North and you were proud of him. Probably you would have said to yourself, here is the man who did what all those majority Sinhala/Buddhists couldn’t do since 1915.

      “No matter how hard the Balu senas try Sinhala – Muslim unity will not be broken.”

      That was what Sir Ponna thought when he defended the Sinhala/Buddhist criminals/murderers just after 1915 riots,

  • 2
    3

    Veddo,

    “I love to see you again, again and again and share a peace pipe.”

    [Edited out]

    • 4
      3

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking Demela

      “[Edited out]”

      I am not Paranavitana am unable to read your interlinear inscritions.

  • 3
    1

    I had the opportunity to read the article as well as the comments. I do not agree with comments that are disrespectful to ethnicity or religion, however small the fraction of population may be.

    The fact remains is 9 provinces or 5 provinces are neither here nor there. The purpose of any devolution (implying that there is associated land) should be to give power to the locality to attend to their basic things without recourse of seeking the authority of a central government. For that to be effective, the unit should be small. Judging from the fact that Switzerland is slightly less than Sri Lanka and it is divided to 25 units, the recommended unit of devolution should approximately be the district.

    Devolving power to units does not solve ethnic or religious issues. We have to build a new culture where everybody can live with mutual respect.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Mr.Rajasingam

    I read only the first para of your article and I didn’t want to go through the rest.
    Rajapaksa is not going to give the 13th amendment to the Tamils nor federalism for that matter. And I assure you that no Sinhala leader will agree towards this process. There is no point in arguing on this issue.
    Like the rest of the world who are agitating on separation, the Sri Lankan Tamils should peruse for a referendum to decide on their fate and the Sri Lankan Sinhalese have to agree to it. There has to be protests on the streets of the North of Sri Lanka.

    • 1
      0

      But Indian Prime Minister, Mr.N.Modi wanted the 13th Amendment to be implemented.

      • 0
        0

        It is a side talk. Modi is not interested at all in the affairs of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. He wants to be a friend of Rajapaksa for fear of intrusion by the Chinese in Sri Lanka.

        • 0
          0

          If that is so, why should the BJP wanted Rajanikanth to be the CM of Tamil Nadu, when Rajanikanth was praising VP during the height of the war against the LTTE.

          • 0
            0

            Rajanikanth is an actor but not a good one in that and not a politician as well. DMK is no more in Tamil Nadu. It is a fading political party. So BJP has selected Rajanikanth to succeed Jayalalitha but it will fail.

  • 1
    2

    Mr. Rajasingham: You talk so much of the “Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord”. Before you talk of that, it is very important to reflect on the environment in which that was brought about. It was India who had that “Parippu Attack” on Sri Lanka and “Twisting” the arms of the then President JRJ that led to signing this very “controversial” agreement at the height of civil war. Perhaps you were not a child at that time to have noticed how JRJ virtually “imprisoned” the MPs in hotels to get that passed through the Parliament. Also you would have known and must be in embedded in memory how a naval rating merely killed Indian PM- Rajive Gandhi. There were wides spread riots in the country. So you in your own knowledge and understanding would realize that this “Accord” is the most HATED and arising from there the so called 13th Amendment remains a “most controversial” in the books of Legislation. So in this “environment” more the Tamil community driven by “pure communal” sentiments, clamor for any type of settlement of Tamil problems;( that which I do not agree) would always be resisted and frowned upon by the majority.

    So long as the Tamil community do not decide to “integrate” and “live as one nation” of a unitary state, do not expect this demand or clamor will be entertained or granted by the majority Sinhala community. You have experimented that in so many stages and finally with LTTE’s Prbakaaran and still has not learned and will never learn.

  • 2
    4

    Why Tamils don’t want to exert this effort in Tamilnadu to achieving what they want ?

    Do they think, they can not bully India ?

  • 5
    4

    No one in SL wants federalism.

    Keep it to yourself.

    If Tamils want to live in a federal country, go to Tamil Nadu. Everyone is happy.

    • 4
      0

      Fathima

      Hunny you are correct no one wants an Islamic State in a Buddhist Land.

    • 0
      0

      put away the unfounded (His)stories aside for a second and see for yourself why the whole Srilanka belonged to Tamils once and how other languages and people must have evolved from them. check out the link.
      https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Gulf+of+Mannar/@8.8302966,79.7067612,241127m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x3afde84d8f7419d5:0x608041587cae9859?hl=en

    • 1
      0

      It appears that you are allergic to hear the word Federalism. But you are not allergic when your relatives receive monies from their relatives who are in Federal countries and that too sometimes from their pension. Moreover, you also forget when aid to Sri Lanka is coming from Federal countries. If you think Federalism is bitter why can’t you ask your President not to have flights to Federal countries, such as Germany, Australia, Malaysia and even to UK where the Acts for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have federal features. Double standard. Federal countries will never encourage Sharia laws. Civil liberties are the live-wire of Federalism.

  • 3
    3

    After reading the article with the previous articles, I think if Federalism is experimented, the Provincial Police will solve all the crimes. There would not be any burning of business establishments and institutions like public libraries, etc. The Provincial Police will easily detect and expose the culprits and their evil motives. Moreover, the Provincial Councils may also initiate granting pensions to all Seniors whether they were employed or not. Will any law-abiding citizen oppose such a move.

  • 1
    1

    Tamils don’t have their own country.

    Yet, they propose Referendum as in Scotland, they talk about Federalism.

    What is wrong here.

    • 2
      0

      Jim softy

      “Tamils don’t have their own country.”

      Sinhala/Buddhists didn’t either.

    • 1
      0

      Jim Sooty:

      Your ignorance shows what you know about the definition of Country and that is why you are involved in Rag Trade selling dodgy stuff in a Sunday Market.

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