29 November, 2020

Blog

In Formulating A New Constitution: A Quick Response To S. Krishnanathan

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The purpose of my article, “An Appeal To Tamil Political Leaders On ‘The New Constitution is partly achieved as Mr S. Krishnanathan has constructively responded expressing what he thinks about the main contours of a new constitution that includes some of the questions that I have raised. This is conducive to a public debate on the subject. However, I would take some exception to what he has said at the outset.

He has expressed some displeasure, among other commenters, that I have made the appeal to the Tamil political leaders and says “Instead of appealing to Tamil Political Leaders, Dr. Laksiri Fernando should have appealed to the Sinhala political leaders because the Sinhala political leaders have a long history of being obstinate and even going back on agreed proposals.”

My purpose was not historical, but very contextual to the ongoing constitution making process. It is also not about blaming anyone, but an appeal. Therefore, as I saw it, and still see it, among many obstacles to a consensual constitutional draft, some of the views of the Tamil political leaders on the ‘unitary state, federalism, merger of the North/East and foremost position to Buddhism,’ among other matters, already have and could become stumbling blocks.

If I were wrong on those matters, then there is nothing wrong in showing them. Instead he is asking me to appeal or ‘rather condemn’ the Sinhala political leaders. I also don’t think keeping fixed views on Sinhala political leaders or Tamil political leaders is going to help the new constitution making process, however correct one’s positions may be. It is more unfortunate if someone thinks that a ‘Sinhala’ person should not appeal to the Tamil political leaders, instead of appealing to his own leaders. I think these are the psychological barriers that we should shake off for the sake of reconciliation, rather than reinforcing them. Breaking such barriers is equally important as a new constitution. I like a response from Mr Krishnanathan on this matter.

His Proposals

It is admirable that Krishnanathan has put forward his views on a new constitution. I also believe that he must have submitted these proposals to the Public Representations Committee (PRC) or to the Sub-Committees/Steering Committee. He undoubtedly must be in a better position to influence the process than me given his past influential positions, and he is operating on the ground.

If I may comment on some of his positions, I don’t subscribe to a general ‘theory,’ as he does, “that the Sinhala community being the majority community should be given the rightful place without jeopardizing the equality of all citizens resident in the country.” I don’t think such a ‘theory’ is necessary or correct, although I have expressed the opinion that the ‘foremost place for Buddhism’ could be accepted as recognition of a historical fact.

But I have some reservations on his compromised formulation on the character of the state. It is not because of his compromise, which I appreciate, but because of his ‘power sharing’ formulation. His formula is that “Sri Lanka shall be a unitary state with extensive power sharing with the provinces.” Such a formulation appears that ‘provinces’ are something alien and peripheral to something. It couldn’t be to the unitary state! If it is ‘power sharing between the centre and the provinces,’ then it makes sense, as a formulation. But I strongly think that what should be there in the qualification is not ‘power sharing’ but ‘devolution.’

What I have proposed is the following to the PRC and stated in my now controversial article.

Sri Lanka is a unitary state with devolution of power in nine provinces.’

I hope this is clear, precise and simple. It is somewhat strange that he has rather forgotten (or is it by purpose?), that the word ‘Devolution’ does not appear in his proposals. Neither his section on ‘Nature of State’ nor ‘Centre-Periphery Relations’ talk about devolution! I am not sure whether he is trying to invent the wheel? This is another thing that he should clarify. It is my view that we should not deviate from the cause that we have been treading in since 1987. The basis of provincial council system is devolution.

Power sharing with the provinces also can be misleading. In a way, it is understandable if an elite of a particular community (i.e. minority) claims to ‘share power’ with another elite of another community (i.e. majority). This is part of power politics in our contemporary society which I don’t admire very much. Power sharing is like sharing of spoils! But if the Sinhala leaders do that, then the Tamil and Muslim leaders also should have a claim for that. That I admit.

But for the people’s sake, the better term would be ‘shared responsibility.’ If Sri Lanka is too early for such a radical departure, that I also understand. But for all purposes, we should not give undue importance to this ‘power game’ in the new constitution. Not in the name of the people. Devolution of power rather defuses it.

Agreements/Disagreements 

On many other points, I am in agreement and feel that his formulation on religion to be excellent. It says “Foremost place be given to Buddhism, but the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all religions alike.” Even on the question of presidency, his proposals go along with mine, but I have said that an elected President should be responsible for ‘security, reconciliation and also anti-corruption,’ while the system of government should parliamentary/cabinet with the Prime Minister heading the government. Elected President could be a check, and the Cabinet could be a check on him/her.

Krishnanathan’s electoral proposals are quite akin to what I proposed in “A New Electoral System for Sri Lanka” (FES, 1999). However, through further studies, I have come to the conclusion and expressed it in several of my previous articles that parliamentary (and also provincial council) elections could be held under an overall PR system with FPP seats within it. This is feasible and akin to New Zealand or even Germany without any disadvantage to the minority parties. The important matter is under such a combined system, people get a clear elected representative to a reasonably small electorate (not a district).

I admit to the inadvertent mistake, as pointed out by him, that it is not in the 13A per se the North/East merger is provided but in the Provincial Council Act. I apologise for the mistake.

I appreciate that he has come to the conclusion that “The Merger of Northern and Eastern Provinces may be set aside permanently.” My view however has been quite clear on that matter since 2003 (“Some Parameters for a Political Solution,” Pravada), the reasons that I have explained in my ‘controversial’ article. But I cannot agree with Krishnanathan however, when he says “but the provincial boundaries could be adjusted in consultation and with the consensus of the people of the respective provinces.”

Just look at the mess that we have already had in the delimitation process for the local government system. Any attempt for re-demarcation of boundaries of provinces in the recent future might open the Pandora’s box. Too ideal solutions might not be too practical. People should be convinced to live with what we have in the present reality, as much as possible, while necessary fundamental changes are being made. Same goes for his proposal for ‘Rajya Sabas.’ What are they? Why they are Rajya (royal)? What needs to be done is strengthening of the existing local government system with perhaps ward committees but not new creations.

He has expressed some good points on fiscal devolution being an expert on the subject. But I frankly don’t think such details of 4Fs (four functions) should go into a constitution. What might be more controversial is his proposal to get the Grama Niladaries and Divisional Secretaries completely under the provincial councils. As I have proposed, there could be ways the all public servants serving all three layers of government: local governments, provincial councils and the central government. If I may put it lightly, my Manthra is ‘cooperative devolution.’   

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    Dr. Laksiri Fernando

    “Foremost place be given to Buddhism, but the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all religions alike

    Vatican has their own bank. Vatican has businesses in New York. Vatican Assets are enogu to buy Sri lanka. It is the same with the christian church which collects money twice during the sermon.

    Muslim mosuqe is also funded by middle eastern oil money. If It is because majority displeasure, they fill Sri lanka with mosques in no time. That is their plan.

    Buddhism is living on pin kete

    Why religions should be treated equally on resource allocation ?

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      Jimmy,
      “Buddhism is living on pin kete”
      Really? The collection from Rangiri Dambulla is 1100 MILLION over 10 years, according to yesterday’s Daily News. Dalada Maligawa /Kalutara Bodhi/ Kataragama etc are making even more. What happens to all that money?

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        Dear Prof. Laksiri
        The basic principle in any negotiation is give and take so that the final outcome will be a win-win situation to all concerned. You have sadly ignored this when you ask Tamils to compromise when you have failed to ask Sinhalese or Muslims to moderate their stand. When you ask Tamils to drop federalism demand, you should at the same time ask Sinhalese to drop unitary concept. When you ask Tamils to drop north-east merger, you should ask Sinhalese and Muslims not to oppose it. When you ask Tamils to be satisfied with subdued police and land powers, you must appeal to the Sinhalese to grant full land and police powers similar to Indian states. You may have stated various things in the past, but at present you are taking a Sinhala chauvinistic stand to justify not dismantling the vestiges of Sinhala supremacy built up over the years. I do not think that you will ever ask Muslims to moderate their stance on Arabization of eastern province, refusing to hand back lands appropriated from Tamils or to control their birth rate, which is now becoming a political issue even among the Sinhalese.

        You are citing the example of Swiss cantons where there are more than one state with same language. The comparison ends there as these cantons have full federal powers including law and land and full autonomy regarding external trade and finance. Also the state is ruled by their people for example German state by Germans and french state by French. There was never an attempt to change the demographic pattern either by large scale colonization of other ethnic group or ethnic cleansing of original people. There has not been any cultural destruction by changing place names of a German canton with french and French canton with German name. In vast areas of eastern province and in border areas of northern province, Tamils have been dispossessed of their lands, with alteration of demographic pattern and cultural destruction by changing Tamil names to Sinhala. First correct these before recommending Swiss model.

        Please go ahead and educate the Sinhala leaders and people that the compromise between unitary stare and federalism is either quasi-federalism as in India or large scale devolution to Scotland in UK where though there is no constitution, it functions as a unitary state. Also tell Sinhalese and Muslims, the compromise for north-east merger is to not deny Tamils their right, but to re-demarcate eastern province in a fair manner and link Tamil areas to northern province. Sinhalese or Muslims can only demand that their traditional lands should not be linked to north, but they cannot say traditional lands of Tamils should not be linked. When I cite historical and archaeological evidence to prove that Tamils were the first settlers in eastern province and evidence from population census to prove Tamils were the majority community in eastern province, you are simply brushing it aside. I have clearly and logically stated in these columns how to re-demarcate eastern province and link it to north., which is fair to all.

        • 2
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          When My3 is going to look into these maters http://sangam.org/topics/demography/ ?

        • 3
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          Very well put.

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          Dear Dr Sankaralingam,

          Where did you get your ‘basic principles’ in negotiations? I have not asked the Tamils, but the Tamil political leaders to moderate their positions on some specific issues. I am not part of any negotiations, therefore even if your propositions are correct for negotiations those don’t apply to me.

          Don’t ask me to do what you think correct. Please do it yourself. I am expressing my views and make appeals as I think necessary. Why do you want to dictate terms to others? From where do you get that ideology? I think we have a serious deficiency in democratic norms. I repeat, don’t ask others to do what you think correct. Do it yourself.

          I have not advocated a ‘Swiss model.’ I have just taken an example to show that even in Switzerland demarcations are not based on ethnicity or language. Because, I consider ethno-federalism or ethno-devolution would be a disaster for all communities.

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            Dear Prof. Laksisiri
            I do not think that you were ever involved in negotiations. Whether it is political, trade unionism or business, negotiations are based on give and take to make them successful. It is when parties stick to their entrenched positions that negotiations fail. The primary reason for consultation between communities in the process of constitution making is to arrive at a fair consensus. What we need for Srilanka for peace is to grant justice for Tamils who have been victims of Sinhala racism since independence. What Tamils are asking is, we have also inhabited this island as ancient as the Sinhalese and we have the same right to claim part of the land as ours based on scientific proof. Tamils have clearly spelled out their demand to allow them to live in safety and dignity in their lands of historic habitation as first class citizens enjoying the same rights and privileges enjoyed by Sinhalese. It is Sinhala chauvinism that is preventing to reach a fair solution. I am not dictating terms to others, but articulating my arguments on the basis of justice and international norms, by which standards, similar problem in other countries have been solved. Tamils must be given back their land and sovereignty without any impediments. It is you who is dictating terms to Tamils with your lopsided view based on supremacy and paranoia.

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              Dear Dr Sankaralingam,

              I have no intention to dispute your ‘claims and demands’ as you articulate on behalf of the Tamils whether they all agree with you or not. These are also well known whether completely correct or not. But my kind ‘advice,’ if you permit me to do, is to sober down your language and not try to accuse the others too much at least in negotiations. I accept your explanation that you were ‘not trying to dictate to me’ as to what I should write or not write. Thanks.

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      Jim Softy,

      Buddhism does not and should not live on ‘pin kete.’ It is a strong philosophy, and for some, a religion. If you mean financial requirements for its institution/s, it still has a strong patronage. Don’t envy other religions. Read Dharma Asoka’s 12th Rock Edict. There are so many Buddhist countries with resources. Perhaps ‘Sinhala Buddhists’ must reach out going beyond their present sectarianism. As far as you depend on the state (dependency syndrome), it cannot bloom internationally.

      • 0
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        As far as you depend on the state (dependency syndrome),

        How come you ask “Other religions” to depend on the State ?

      • 0
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        Laksiri,

        DO NOT COMMENT ON BEHALF OF SINHALA , BUDDHISTS.

        We will take appropriate action when it is right time !

        All the best

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          sinhala/buddhist_noise

          “DO NOT COMMENT ON BEHALF OF SINHALA , BUDDHISTS. We will take appropriate action when it is right time !”

          Is it a veiled threat?

          When did you appoint yourself the Pottu Amman of LTTE/Saman Piyasiri Fernando of Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya (DJV)?

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    Dr. Laksiri Fernando, I am at my wits end when you say that the purpose of your article, “An Appeal To Tamil Political Leaders On ‘The New Constitution” is partially fulfilled, based on the constructive response of Mr S. Krishnanathan.

    How about the many comments you received under your article as responses.

    I myself reminded you of the view of a genuine moderate, RMB Senanayake.

    He had argued that in a unitary State where the Centre is sovereign there is no sovereignty shared with the provinces. This meant that the Centre can rescind any agreement arrived at or alter allocation of functions and powers between the Centre and the Provinces. The Centre may at will usurp powers allocated to the Provinces, he had pointed out. That is why a federal set up, where the Centre does not get to usurp powers already devolved, is the proper panacea for our national ills, he had stated.

    You, who picks and chooses articles and comments to suit your view, are now bringing in Mr S. Krishnanathan, to bolster your stand. For further, kindly refer to my critique on his position, given under his article.

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        Dr Laksiri Fernando, Don’t descend AGAIN into your sordid personal attacks, to suppress dissent.

        I have read enough on my own to form my opinion on Federalism. I do not need additional help either from you or through you.

        Please maintain some decorum in defending your position. When you answer the points I have raised and sources I have cited, I will think about meeting you on matters outside of this discussion.

        For now, I wish to stay on the subject. I have enunciated the main thrust of my antipathy towards the position you hold. Face it fair and square.

        Don’t indulge in diversionary tactics. If you do, be assured, that I neither have the time nor the appetite to dwell on them.

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          Mr Nathan,

          What do you mean by the following? Please clarify?

          “I will think about meeting you on matters outside of this discussion.”

          Is it a threat? Who are you by the way?

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            The answer to your first question is there in my very first sentence: – ‘Don’t descend AGAIN into your sordid personal attacks’.

            Who am I? You are asking for it. How about, – A cultured forumite!

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          Nathan,

          Dr. Fernando was the one who proposed the honorary doctorate from Colombo University to the Rajapaksas. When another Sinhalese academic exposed that fact on CT, he protested that he had hesitated and was under pressure from others (I am paraphrasing).

          But he was well aware that the Rajapaksa mafia had been responsible for many murders and atrocities, not only in the theater of conflict in the North-East, but outside it, and still chose to go with the honorary doctorates.

          And if he indeed hesitated as he claimed, he couldn’t explain his later public support for the reelection of Rajapaksa for the second term. He opposed him only for the third term.

          One doesn’t expect a just and fair solution from such unprincipled people; rather, a papering over of real conflicts so that they can claim–and benefit from–a false peace.

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            Agnos,

            What is the relevance to the present debate, unless you want to attack me personally? Your paraphrasing is not correct, whether intended or not. If you refer to Dr Nirmal Ranjith as the academic, long before that on CT, I stated that proposing honorary degree to MR was a mistake on my part. It was raised by someone else. Yes, I hesitated which I stated frankly on the first instance. When Nirmal raised it again, as you do it now, I asked him to go and revoke it. He didn’t do it or not even responded to my call for some reason.

            Of course, I did supported MR for the second term against SF. I don’t regret. More importantly, I supported MR to defeat LTTE terrorism. I repeat, to defeat LTTE terrorism after many futile efforts at peace negotiations under CBK. What else do you expect? Did you support Prabhakaran? Tell us frankly. Of course, we cannot verify your record as you are ‘covered’ as Agnos? What a shame.

            I consider Prabhakaran and the LTTE to be mainly responsible for the Tamil civilian casualties during the war. What do you think? Any army atrocities should be punished however.

            What do you mean when you say “one doesn’t expect a just and fair solution from such unprincipled people”? Whom do you mean? Are you inviting, supporting or preparing for another ‘conflict’ because you consider the present is a false peace and ‘just and fair solution cannot be expected? Please answer with clarity.

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              Well, you proposed doctorate for MR and GR despite knowing they were responsible for the deaths of Lasantha W., the disappearance of Ekneligoda, the disappearance and murder of Eastern Univ. VC Prof. Raveendranath, the white van abductions and murders of businessmen in Colombo, the Trinco-5 murders, the ACF-17 massacres, etc.

              And then you supported his re-election.
              The LTTE was not responsible for those crimes. MR and his goons were.
              Has there been any progress in justice for those crimes? Have you agitated for it?

              Defeating LTTE terrorism didn’t warrant the mass atrocities committed by MR in the North-East. The fact that with the death of LTTE leaders, there has been no LTTE activity ( despite some fake or exaggerated claims by the SLA) shows that a different strategy targeting the leadership without committing mass atrocities would have been effective. The incompetence and inability of the GoSL/SLA to do so, cannot be used an excuse to justify the violations of the fundamental right to life of people.

              I didn’t support VP. I have been making comments for nearly a decade using my name as Agnos consistently, so you can check it if you want. But why should Tamil people even listen to you when you have shown no remorse for your past support for MR, nor raised your voice for an internationally supported investigation of war crimes and just punishment, and the release of political prisoners and people’s lands. So, go work on those issues first before pontificating to Tamils and their leaders what they should do.

              I don’t want or support another conflict; but if there is no progress on many fronts, including justice for war crimes, within a reasonable time frame, many people will feel they have to take matters in their own hands, and then a more forceful international intervention is possible. Don’t blame me for such a turn of events.

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                What a shame Agnos. Eknaligoda disappeared in January 2010 two days before the elections. This is well after MR’s honorary doctorate. Your accusations are baseless and based on lies. How do you know that I knew who killed Lasantha and Prof. Raveendranath? Do you have proof? Then produce. I denounce those killings and disappearances. If you knew who was responsible, then what action have you taken to reveal those facts. You can still do it because these matters are now being investigated. However, you must come out of your Agnos cover.

                You say, you have been making comments for nearly a decade in the name of Agnos. That is not an excuse for hiding. A decade ago means around 2007. You also say, “I didn’t support VP.” It is possible that you were supporting another violent armed group. What was/is that group? I don’t see much of a difference between these groups. Did you oppose VP? Can you supply any evidence that you opposed VP even in the name of Agnos? This period is well before VP’s demise. I have nothing to hide. My opposition to terrorism and violence, including JVP violence, are well recorded. You can find my articles in the Asian Tribune for that period.

                You say, “you don’t want or support another conflict.” Then you put your own conditions, and say if those are not met, “many people will feel they have to take matters in their own hands.” What does it mean, other than another conflict? Then you wish for a “more forceful international intervention.” You people are trying to imagine another conflict in Sri Lanka for your own fancy theories or personal egos. But so coward to reveal your own name.

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                  You think my using an alias is shameful and cowardly while you feign ignorance about command responsibility for all crimes committed by the SLA, including military intelligence and allied paramilitaries, rested with the President and Defense Secretary, especially in a State where everything was controlled by the ruling family, with direct orders to Kapila Hendawitharana, the head of military intelligence?

                  MR could order the release of Keith Noyahr, and he had control over every case. I made a mistake in adding Ekanaligoda to the list because my memory of the dates is a bit hazy, but it doesn’t take away the thrust of my argument that MR and GR were responsible for all these atrocities, and it was common knowledge at the time you proposed doctorates to them.

                  How laughable, Dr. Fernando, the feigned ignorance coming from someone who was supposed to have taught human rights to the SLA!

                  Your request to me to show evidence is akin to the defense attorneys for a serial rapist requesting his victims’ advocates that the victims show their private parts and prove they were raped.

                  Moreover, unlike you, I didn’t think some form of armed resistance by Tamil militants in general was unjustified; when the State was as oppressive and terroristic as it was, they didn’t have many other options; it was the manner in which the LTTE leadership and some other groups conducted the resistance that was wrong .I didn’t support any particular armed group, but I broadly, but mildly, supported the idea of Tamil ‘resistance’ to the oppressive state, and I still do.

                  If you couldn’t make this distinction, your degrees are worthless, and you can pontificate to the walls around you. Adios.

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                    Of course, I consider you as an outright coward. However, I like your admission that “I didn’t think some form of armed resistance by Tamil militants in general was unjustified.” That was the form of armed resistance against a democratic government/system that brought disaster to the country and the Tamil people whatever the weaknesses of the system. You still talk about ‘people taking matters into their own hands’ and ‘more forceful international intervention.’ It is those theories that even misguided youth who took arms under the LTTE. I feel very sorry for them.

                    I came to know Maren, Geetha and Selvi in Kilinochchi (all LTTE activists) when I went for some human rights and conflict resolution teaching during temporary ceasefire time. I again met Maren in Kyoto (Japan) during one of their visits just before the war again irrupted in 2006. Since the war was impending, I personally asked him ‘are you going to take up arms again.’ He said, ‘It is too late.’ I feel very strongly for his unfortunate demise, as I feel for losing my own nephew during the terrorist bomb blast of the train at Dehiwala in 1996.

                    It is not so much the people we should denounce, but their misguided theories and actions.

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                      How convenient to evade the point that you knew command
                      responsibility made the Rajapaksas criminals, and you still had
                      no compunction in awarding doctorates to them. Now you are here pontificating about democracy and the rule of law. It is hypocrites like you who are the bane of the country.

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                  Dr Laksiri Fernando

                  “If you knew who was responsible, then what action have you taken to reveal those facts. You can still do it because these matters are now being investigated.”

                  Are you being serious?

                  Even the president was angry when top military goons were summoned to courts. Seriously we have lost count of investigations, arrests, courts granting bails, courts finding the charged innocent (jury nobbling perhaps), now no one knows weather Wimal Weerawansa is in custody or free to travel abroad on his own passport, …….

                  In 2009 just after the war had ended Sri Lanka Guardian published a photograph of Balakumar (LTTE leader)and his son sitting inside an army camp. When Ranil was asked about Balakumar, the Prime Minister just dismissed the question by saying he was killed during the war. The wife was with him when Balakumar surrendered to the army.

                  Seriously what sort of justice do you expect from a state machinery which has been built on sheer brutality, smart patriotism, anti minority sentiments and practices, …… ?

                  What is the point informing the state when the state shoots the messenger?

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                    Native Vedda,

                    I cannot answer on behalf of RW for the answer he has given. I am not asking anyone to completely trust any politician. But I am asking the people to rely on the democratic process, not on violence or extra democratic means. RW is the Prime Minister, RS is the Leader of the Opposition. I do trust the Supreme Court and the judiciary, to a great extent. It is up to the people, and you and me, to try and rectify the situation whenever we see defects. Justice is not only about the past, but about the present and more importantly about the future.

                    We have to admit that the democratic process and independent institutions became largely disrupted and partly destroyed by the terrorist war. Even before, the things were defective and lopsided as a developing country. Taking up arms in the North or the South was not the answer. In a terrorist war, it does happen that armed forces using terror activities/atrocities. These should be investigated. However, if some people try to see only one side, and come to sweeping conclusions, as you do, and ask ‘what sort of justice do you expect,’ I don’t think it is going to help sorting out matters.

                    There is a clear difference between you and me.

                    You don’t trust the democratic system in Sri Lanka. I do trust whatever the present defects and try to rectify the defects within and not without.

                    I renounce violence and extra democratic means. I am not sure whether you do or not. Please clarify.

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                      Dr Laksiri Fernando

                      “We have to admit that the democratic process and independent institutions became largely disrupted and partly destroyed by the terrorist war.”

                      Actually the subversion of democratic process and destruction of independent institutions began in the early 1970s. Acceleration of the destruction started with 1977 elections and advent of the UNP.

                      SLFP opened up the new political system with its 2/3 majority, job s were given to the party supporters, party organizers and MPs sold jobs for a price, nationalised buildings/properties belonging to UMP supporters,gave impunity to killers, political transfers were another weapon used against “enemies”, import and other licenses were being issued to cronies, ……………… shortage of goods made many rich, …

                      The perversion started well before VP started wearing his designer jungle fatigue and almost complete by 1983. In case if you missed that period (1977 to 1983) please refer to “The Origins and Institutionalisation of Poltical Violence – by eminent Prof Gananath Obeysekere published in Sri Lanka in Change Crisis Edited by James Manor 1984. I did have many bitter experiences with Jathika Sevaka Sangama, the UMP arm of the thugs in state institutions.

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                      Dr Laksiri Fernando

                      Was it because of terrorism the UNP thugs burned Jaffna Library in 1981? It took Ranil the prime minister 36 years to appologise for the state terror none of the perpetrators punished nor the looted books returned.

                      Terrorism as an excuse was only an incidental part of corrupt practices of the politicians, state and people.

                      The idea of nation building process was already perverted even before this island was granted independence. If you really want to make an honest comment you may have to revisit the racist past of this island.

                      “There is a clear difference between you and me.”

                      Of course there are many.

                      Though you write well I suspect deep down you are a Sinhala nationalist. Therefore it is very difficult to have an honest and open discussion with a nationalist. Generally the nationalists have their own petty agenda and find it difficult to see beyond their own Agenda.

                      “Taking up arms in the North or the South was not the answer.”

                      Terrorism does not thrive in vacuum. I never supported terrorism however state sponsored terrorism since April 1971 did/does not seem to get much air time and many “intellectuals” tend to duck and dive the issue as if state never uses its own terror on innocent people.

                      Now we have two smart ass politicians Ranil and Maithiri who are trying their very best to appease the war criminals and crooks by issuing contradictory statements. In the case of war crime investigations the process is going nowhere, an attempt by the state to deceive the victims once again. The investigation into various fraud cases seems a Circus has arrived in town.

                      “I renounce violence and extra democratic means. I am not sure whether you do or not. Please clarify.”.

                      All my life I have renounced terrorism and said so in many forums, including DBS jeyaraj, Tamil Canadian, Federal Ideas,…..

                      You say you renounce violence,
                      Is it before the end of the war or after the end of war?

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                    Native Vedda,

                    Even if all what you trace before 1983 are correct (I agree largely although not in those words) that is not a reason to take up arms or denounce democracy.

                    As you say, referring to me personally, “it is very difficult to have an honest and open discussion with a [Sinhala] nationalist,” I don’t see any point in continuing this discussion at present. Therefore, on my part this is closed.

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                      Dr Laksiri Fernando

                      “I don’t see any point in continuing this discussion at present. Therefore, on my part this is closed”

                      Thank you for closing the discussion if ever there was one.

                      You have not answered my last question which is “You say you renounce violence, Is it before the end of the war or after the end of war? “

                      You can run but you cannot hide from your moral responsibilities.

                      I still wonder as to why a learned professor would propose a motion at the Colombo University to confer honorary doctorates to Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksaon on 29th of May 2009 immediately after the end of war in which numerous innocent people had been killed.

                      The urgency with which the honours were bestowed on these two war criminals should say more about the senate and it members than the two recipients. Wasn’t it being part of the Sinhala Nationalist glory?

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                      Dr. Laksiri,
                      You ought not to make sweeping statements like:’Even if all what you trace before 1983 are correct (I agree largely although not in those words) that is not a reason to take up arms or denounce democracy. “
                      In the first place, did we have a fully functioning democracy after the 50’s? Did not the state itself organise pogroms secretly against minorities? Perhaps you may remember that Cyril Mathew was not locked up in 1983, but Wijeweera and some other leftists were?
                      If the pogroms were organized against the Sinhalese, would you still say it was no reason to take up arms?

                    • 1
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                      old codger

                      Please don’t raise honest straight forward questions, our liberal intellectuals rather than dealing with points raised in an honest straight forward way, they tend to runaway citing flimsy excuses.

                      Do you believe there is anything they could contribute to this island? None of these intellectuals ready to deal with difficult questions, rather they differ it if possible, fudge the issues with cute words, hoping people either don’t notice them or understand them.

                      Until the intellectuals come to grips with fundamental issues the country is going nowhere.

                      By the way is Sinnamah enjoying her holiday in Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara central prison?

                    • 1
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                      Please watch:
                      Palutawa, How to Deal with Pain

                      https://drive.google.com/
                      file/d/1Qc6vAXut9wgLXAbR
                      -2dDbBslbM8SZZa5tg/view?ts=5714ec0f

                      Please read:
                      Justice Denied To Survivors Of The Kumarapuram Massacre Of ‘96

                      http://www.thesundayleader.lk/
                      2017/02/19/justice-denied-to-
                      survivors-of-the-kumarapuram-massacre-of-96/

                      Are there any differences between these two cruel and sad incidence of history?

                      As people and country if we refuse to see the other side of the war glory and men who supposed to have achieved it we are living a lie hiding our pain, suffering, and stupidity.

                      By the way I wonder why haven’t our clever intellectuals addressed issues related to war.

                      Abandoned soldiers of a forgotten war!
                      BY SHIVANTHI RANASINGHE

                      http://www.ceylontoday.lk/
                      print20170101CT20170331.php?id=16123

                      Irrespective of the consequences of the war, we won the war and we want a slice of the glory.

                      Therefore we want to forget the past short ugly political history of how pettiness of leaders and intellectuals was allowed to fester into large scale conflict.

                      We won the war we do not want to revisit our past. Again we will win another war, we don’t care how we are going to start another one.

                      Have you noticed as a country our elites have won 3 wars in 38 years, all against our own people.

  • 5
    1

    I congratulate you for the well crafted, reasoned and pragmatic writing in the approach towards a consensual constitution building. I have been reading all his articles in these columns and recently in one of his writings he has emphasized that it is the need of the hour that all stake holders should come out to resolve the most important National Problem and if we fail in that we will be doing a great injustice not only to ourselves but to the future generations as well.

    Thank you

  • 3
    2

    Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

    “Foremost place be given to Buddhism, but the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all religions alike

    The above would be adding more confusion to the problem. As you say, correctly, “the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources”. This should automatically disqualify religions getting any government resources, as it correctly should be in a SECULAR state. But when you add the “….and treat all religions alike” to the same sentence it add the confusion, is the state to give equal resources to all religions?

    So, without trying to re-define words and adding confusion, let us work towards a clear, unambiguous statement to define the SECULAR STATE in the Constitution.

    • 0
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      Well, that was not my formulation. I only commended it as an effort to sort out matters. Why don’t you ask the author. Then he might clarify.

      • 0
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        Dr. Laksiri Fernando,
        Your comment “I only commended it as an effort to sort out matters.” is a classic excuse of an unprincipled person. The Constitution is a document of principles, and to even to ‘commend’ (as you say you did in this case) of faulty logic, diminishes your credibility.

        • 0
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          A principle for one is not necessarily a principle for another. That is why compromises are necessary.

          • 0
            0

            If you are talking of ‘Principles’ of individuals/groups when formulating a Secular state, you have completely lost the plot.
            It is the Principles of Secularism that is paramount here and those are not negotiable. If you want to do that then don’t call the result Secular.

  • 2
    0

    Dear Jim Softy,

    Equally does not mean identically equal

    Equally means Qualitatively not Quantitatively

    naturally, the Buddhists take the major share.

    But i prefer, the state to be secular and not to spend on religion . but to allow the respective coreligionist to look after their religion

    • 4
      2

      It is a joke. What you are trying to prove 15 million is not equal 5 million but equal amount of bread for all. Why can’t you say everyone will get the same amount of bread? Who do you want to cheat? Are you going to cheat Sinhalese or Tamils or both?

  • 2
    0

    Dear Ajith,

    If each one of 15 million get one pound of bread, the 5 million also will get one pound of bread each.

    It is as simple as that

    • 3
      2

      Dear Krishnananthan,
      I know very well your logic.

      “Foremost place be given to Buddhism, but the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all religions alike.
      “The state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all religions equally”
      Can you explain why do you need the ” Foremost place be given to Buddhism” if there is no difference between the above two sentances. The first one is confusing second one is more clear and transparent and can be understood very well by ordinary citizen.
      Your statement is only valid for allocation of resources. What about the recognition of other religions in state affairs such as state functions. Can you explain the interpretation of “Foremost place to Buddhism”. When it comes to citizen ” Foremost place to be given to Sinhalese” but the state shall be secular in the allocation of resources and treat all ethnicities equally”

  • 0
    0

    State and religion must be separated if Sri Lanka is to step on to the future as a modern forward looking country.Religions based on firm philosophies will stand on their own and do not need state sponsorship.
    Even UK is beginning to think that very strongly and the next monarch will very likely delink the church and state.Sri Lanka has a golden opportunity to show it’s progressive thinking and let not the important issue of constitutional reform bog down with this petty issue.Where is the bill of rights? The constitutional guarantees of human rights ,freedom of speech being enshrined in the constitution etc
    Let us think big ,let us go wider on these concepts and leave the religion to the SANGA ,Curches,mosques ..Look at Hinduism ,it has survived for centuries ,withstanding many onslaughts and stil guiding people,because it is based on firm grounds backed by truth- Sanatha Dharma ,the people will look after sensible religious beliefs and constitutional backup is not necessary for them to continue guiding followers.Tgey were never meant to be part of the ‘State”

  • 0
    0

    It is only an insecure religion that needs state support
    Not Bhudism .Do not get bogged down with this petty ,relatively trivial issue.In a few years we should be proud to say the constitutional reforms took SriLanka to the future where basic human rights,freedom of speech,independenceof the judiciary etc were enshrined in it and the bill of rights was it’s basis ,not religious patronage!Think broad,act wisely and be proud that all SriLankan were made equal by this new constitution -that is his they were born!

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