20 September, 2019

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It Is Customary To Bury The Dead

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

A form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development.  That’s the description of a particular form of drama called ‘Theater of the Absurd’.  In the 21st Century where confusion has been globalized courtesy finely orchestrated media campaigns whose sole objective is to justify crimes against humanity and manufacture public consent for the same, the description is valid for any number of things and processes.  In Sri Lanka, perhaps there’s nothing more deserving of that description as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

It was, to recap, thrust down Sri Lankan’s throat by Rajiv Gandhi determined to ‘Bhutanize’ the island, as a logical ‘next step’ to a process of destabilization started by his mother Indira Gandhi in 1982, when the first batch of Tamil militants were trained in India.  It was illegal.  Its legality was obtained by reiteration via elections.  It was rejected quickly enough by the ‘sole representatives of the Tamils’ (self-appointed) and their one-time mouthpieces, the TNA which recovered voice and franchise, paradoxically, courtesy the Sri Lankan security forces in May 2009.  Even today, the Tiger rump which clubs internationally rejects the 13th Amendment.  No one wants it.  It has benefitted only politicians and only because it serves the political teething necessary to take bigger bites out of the body politic at the national level.

Those who reject the 13th do not subscribe to the same political ideology of course.  For some, the 13th is ‘too much’ while for others it is ‘not enough’.  Either way, it is neither here nor there; not an ‘interim’ option, not a working document for a better text.  It has only served political theatrics of the absurd kind.

Although the Supreme Court de-merged the North and East, the potential for re-merging remained intact.  The clause for merging of provinces has no logic except to serve India’s purposes, i.e. destabilizing Sri Lanka in the event of a Government that is not as India-friendly as India would like comes to power.  The 13th is then essentially a Bankanization script awaiting enactment.

The drama over the ‘Divi Neguma’ Bill demonstrated how a spoiler can scuttle national development initiatives.  It is in this context that a re-visit is called for.  The Cabinet is currently deliberating on the matter.  Those who have traditionally been ‘Pro-13th’ have asked for time to offer views.  Time has been given and that’s good.  The issue of land and police powers has been raised and remains ‘up in the air’ with both the Opposition (touching but not touching the issue in its much trumpeted recommendations for constitutional reform) and the Government (we’ve only seen the smaller elements of the coalition coming up with strong views) being cagey about definitive statements.

Meanwhile, an ill-conceived and deformed political entity that has done nothing for the people continues to distract from the core issues of good governance and institutional reform which, rightfully, ought to take center stage in the matter of constitutional changes.  It is for all intents and purposes a dead object whose stench is a nauseating political reality that unsettles post-conflict processes of reconciliation and development.

Indeed, it robs devolution from whatever logical worth it may have.  The 13th, after all, is not coterminous with ‘devolution’.  There can be other models.  For example, if taken to its logical conclusion, we would have to leave provinces behind and go straight to the Village Councils.  Alternately, the Eelam-map-fixing 13th can be done away with to make way for a more logical and scientific re-drawing of provincial boundaries that make for a more equitable distribution of resources and more efficient planning.  The 13th stops all that.

If the Government feels charitable in letting the likes of DEW Gunasekera, Rauff Hakeem, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and others to offer views on proposed amendments to the 13th, it can go the whole hog and put the question to the voting public.  End of story.

The bottom line is, Sri Lanka’s unity and integrity are not negotiable.  Want another ‘PS’?  ‘We cannot import a solution, and it cannot be a Rajapaksa – Sampanthan agreement.’  It’s a people’s thing and that is exactly what the 13th Amendment is not!

The 13th is a political corpse that has being carted from forum to forum, election to election; it is a filthy rug that is posited as banner of conflict resolution.  It was India’s baby.  It is a cadaver that Sri Lanka is saddled with.  It is customary, need we say, to bury the dead.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Very straight forward honest opinion. We, as general public, do not need provincial councils at all.

  • 0
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    Mahinda, wonderful choice of words – you are gifted. However your infectious cynicism notwithstanding, you are still a believer in political processes, and waste your precious time amazingly on Sri Lankan politics. When so many big wrongs have to be resolved the nation is wound up on this pathetic 13th amendment. ‘Theater of the Absurd’ hehe, good one, you said it.

  • 0
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    What about 18A and Divineguma? Whose rag was that?

  • 0
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    Yep, bury the Provincial Councils together with all those filthy parasites feeding off it!

    The sooner, the better.

    I agree with MS for a change!!

  • 0
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    I vividly remember a story appearing in the “sevilla” magazine published by MD Gunasena & Company in 1965.

    “A wolf wanted to build a house and found a suitable pace in the jungle. He cleaned the pace and went with the hope of finding material on the following day. A tiger in search of a suitable place to build a house found the same place and thought that the god had already cleared the site for him. He collected the material and went withe hope of putting up the structure on the following day.

    When the wolf returned he found that the material were already at site and thought the god was helping him. He put up the structure and went with the hope of thatching it on the next day. The tiger later found that the god had helped him again and completed thatching. He found comfort in the new dwelling.

    When the wolf returned he found the tiger enjoying the comfort of the house that he started building and there was confrontation and arguments. Finally both realized that both of them had laboured to put up the house and agreed to dwell in it with a partition separating space inside. Yet they were in fear of one attacking the other any moment.

    When they were fast asleep in the night two bats in the over hanging tree started fighting and fell on to the roof. Both the wolf and the tiger woke up thinking that the attack had already begun and fled.”

    Presently in Sri Lanka we have “lions”, “tigers” and “bats” doing the same thing and story tellers are telling the same story with different endings.

    • 0
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      India and China are the bats – everything will end-sooner.

  • 0
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    To my understanding the present debate is not about abolishing provincial councils but amending some of the clauses. In that sense Malinda Seneviratne’s article does not emphatically espouse abolishment. 13A is therefore not dead yet to be buried.

  • 0
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    In 1968 during the protest March of the opposition on the Dudley-Chelva Pack, dead body of the Monk shot and killed was paraded by the opposition. The dead bodies of thirteen soldiers were paraded by the JR Govt. in July 1982. There was a struggle between two Buddhist Monk groups to take-over the dead body of Indrarathne Thero also to do a parade with it. So when it has become a Sri Lanka culture to parade dead bodies for politics, does it matter a dead legislation is being used to do politics.

  • 0
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    If N/E Tamils could not enjoy the fruits of 13th Amendment abolish it completely as it is a white elephant its a training center for rogue politicians.

  • 0
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    Malinda;

    “It Is Customary To Bury The Dead”.
    Of course.

    No NEED TO SAY.
    OH YES.

    My side, I accepted.
    Goat also will accept.

    But, there is a problem you have to ask from your patrons.
    it is RELATED TO THE your ARTICLE’S HEADING.
    .
    IS IT CUSTOMARY TO BURY THE ABDUCTED, SHOT, BOMBED OR SHELLED AND KILLED.[ WITH OUT ANY ENQUIRY???????.

  • 0
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    Clearly,MS has niether a political nor logical reason to advocate jettisoning the 13 Amendment and resorts to developing desparate metaphors to carry the burden of his argument.And parading that he is familiar with the rather dated theories of European drama doesn’t do the trick either.The disjointed dialogue that characterized the theater of the absurd actually desribes his own writing against the amendment and very nicely illustrates MS’s disembling style of argument:I will use any and every trick to undermine Tamil interests,without actually saying so.
    Of course,he and Gunasekera, Silva and others of his ilk cannot come out openly and say,”We hate the Damilas and we do not want them to have any rights,in this land of the Sinhala Buddhists.If they are these rights,we wont be able to sleep”.

  • 0
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    All provincial councils except the nothern and eastern councils appear to be working well.
    Of course there are internal squabbles,but the governance goes on.
    This is because,in the north and east,complete control of governance has been taken over by the military governers,who “rule” with the assistance of the army and some paramilitaries.
    This reality is never commented upon.
    Hence total vilification of the 13th Amendment is hypocrisy.

  • 0
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    13th amendment will work for further destabilizing of Sri Lanka and won’t do anything else.

    • 0
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      JimSofty

      “13th amendment will work for further destabilizing of Sri Lanka and won’t do anything else.”

      How?
      Why?
      When?
      Where?

  • 0
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    Abolishing the 13th Amendment would result in the loss of employment for several – the CM, Provincial Ministers, the Chairman, the Opposition Leader, all PC Members and all the employees. Will there be alternate employment for them.

    • 0
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      Nope, bury these parasites too!

  • 0
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    oi ignorant fool, 13 amendment wasn’t thrust by india on sri lanka. it was a suggestion made by india and sri lanka accepted it as a way out of the looming crisis. what you saying now sinhala leaders were cowards who didn’t query the contents of 13 amendment. in my opinion sinhala race and sinhala leaders are cowards. take you for example for 30 years you never said a word about 13 amendment. it was prabhakaran’s rule okay. you were hiding inside the soiled knickers for 30 years. it applies to all sinhala bikku terrorists who were too scared to utter a word about 13 amendment or question tamil rights.
    even the rajapaksa clan was too fearful of prabha’s bomb. rajapaksa coward was saying all the time that he wanted 13 plus and not just 13.
    what a liar he is. david miliband once said that sinhala leaders are all liars who lie through their teeth. now that prabha is not here sinhala cowards appear to have generated lot of strength including malinda, a coward of all time.

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