By S.Sivathasan –
I would have wished to see a Manifesto along the following lines.
The Northern Provincial Council will hold as sacred and inviolable, the rights and entitlements of all ethnicities in the Province. This enduring principle shall guide and direct the Council’s policies and approaches. The ideal, that the people of the Northern Province shall have no less freedom than the rest of the country, will be deemed the fount for national harmony. The Council shall strive to foster it.
Sovereignty lies with you the people and we seek your mandate for the governance we envisage in the Northern Province. We set out our proposals in the Manifesto, with total transparency and commit ourselves to realizing them with your endorsement and support.
You have made enormous sacrifices for freedom with a view to providing a good life for generations to come. They have sustained our spirit and strengthened the resolve to build on your collective contribution.
The Tamil leadership was unrelenting in its labors for an elected Provincial Council. It was reinforced by the resurgence of Tamil Nationalism in Tamil Nadu and the strong support of the Indian Government. The time has come for the Provincial Council to be elected by you in September.
With a decisive mandate from you the Tamil National Alliance will seize the opportunity to make the Provincial Council an effective instrument of devolution. We shall work towards welding the Tamil community here and abroad and make all efforts for substantial power and finances to be vested in it. The need for an impressive victory will be clear to you for realizing such a target.
Scope of the Provincial Council
“Legislation without Representation” aptly describes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. “Taxation without Representation” was revolting to the American Colonies, more than two centuries ago. Lack of parliamentary representation for four years preceding the Amendment to confer devolution was equally revolting to all Tamils.
With the mandate we obtain from you, our principal task will be to widen the scope of devolution and to make the Provincial Council really powerful.
Our commitment is to restore:
- Civilian Authority in Governance
- Rule of Law
- Efficient Administration
- Probity in Financial Management
Civilian Authority in Governance
We hold it as self-evident that a people feel a sense of freedom only when they see civilian governance as the symbol of such freedom. To secure that sense, we pledge to assert your right to:
See the military presence in the Province drastically reduced, the remaining strength confined to barracks and policing to be done by a Provincial Police Force, which we see as our paramount duty to establish.
Have a Governor appointed, who is oriented to civilian culture of governance and administration. The Governor should be well versed in the nuances of the constitutional position of the office, enjoying your confidence and in whom the Chief Minister and the Provincial Council place implicit Trust.
Rule of law
- The laws enacted by the National legislature, seen as promoting law, order and good governance in the Northern Province, will be dutifully enforced.
- The enforcement machinery, strengthened with the authority of the Provincial Government shall curb in full the incursions of the para-militaries. It shall make a reality of the recommendations and reiterations of the LLRC and dismantle groups of ‘over mighty’ subjects.When the writ of the Provincial Government runs without interdiction, the Council shall have enabled peace and repose for the people.
- The Council will mobilise all its power to get the National legislature to repeal laws considered by the Provincial Council to be iniquitous on society and inimical to progress. They are:Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, Prevention of Terrorism Act. Perpetual invocation of Emergency Laws.
- In matters within the purview of the Provincial Council, appropriate Statutes will be enacted by the Council.
- To meet your aspirations, we pledge to tone up the administration whereby all paid officers serving the Council, will work for your betterment with an orientation to service.
- Current staff inadequacy has been precisely assessed and for specifically identified shortages, Central Government funds will be sought for immediate recruitment.
- Meritocracy is considered the sheet anchor for delivering an efficient, streamlined administration. Recruitment and promotions will be on merit and merit only. The Council will be unyielding to external influences.
Probity in Financial Management
- What causes frustration among the people, draws antagonism towards governance and creates a situation of hopelessness is lack of honesty in financial dealings.
- When established, the Provincial Council will veer from this malaise and endeavor to banish corruption whatever time it takes.
- We realize that there is no instant remedy. But we will be always conscious of the sacrifices people have made and when they repose faith in us by giving their mandate, we shall live up to their trust. A culture of probity will be valued most by all instruments of the Council.
Other areas of concerted attention are:
Council as Guardian of Independence
- The Council will act as a shield to protect the instruments of the Council from any external intrusions to their authority or independence.
- Our policies and programmes will be set definitively to time lines and implementation will be against them.
- The vote you cast to secure our victory will be an overwhelming mandate to realize our ideals. We shall channel people’s power for: Activating democratic institutions which have gone into disuse, Exercising executive authority by people’s representatives at the local level.
Resettlement and Rehabilitation
We realize that in the whole Province, problems of resettlement of the displaced of all ethnicities demand our immediate attention.
In the name of justice to all, the displaced will be invited to return, with a pledge that the Council will endeavor to resolve their problems.
On proof of earlier residence as well as land ownership, Sinhalese and Muslims who migrated under duress, will have their claims attended to.
Those who migrated to South India too will have special attention on account of their three decade long stay there and their difficult economic circumstances.
Issues of land will be resolved individually in order to place the rightful owners in possession.
Restitution of property is essential to restore the pre-war scene. For this purpose, sources of funding will be prospected.
However protracted the process, the Council would commit itself to executing them.
The War Affected
Those affected by the war since 1983, are in several thousands and each one of them needs particular and personal attention to be meaningfully rehabilitated.
The principal categories are: Orphans, War Widows and the Incapacitated. They need medical attention, counseling and financial support.
Programmes for the reablement of the above groups is a matter of deep concern to the Council.
It is the social and moral obligation of the Council to resuscitate them. They cannot be consigned merely to the care of voluntary organisations, whose capacity and resources are strained.
The Council will seek Government funding and also mobilise contributions from international donor agencies.
The above strategy has become the sole option, since the economy of the Northern Province stands destroyed together with a tax base to yield revenue for redevelopment. It must be understood that the magnitude of work to be undertaken is incredibly huge and so is the quantum of finances required.
Financial Foundation for the Province
The steel frame for the rebuilding of the Province is finances, with a good and steady flow. A one off Grant in 2013-2014 – will be negotiated with the Central Government for an immediate programme to be launched:
- For building up the administrative apparatus for the Provincial Government.
- Coterminously a Needs Assessment Study will be initiated with institutional funding to work out a comprehensive redevelopment programme.
- It will be a Ten Year Plan to be implemented in the period 2015 – 2025. It will be similar to Marshall Plan, which helped greatly in the reconstruction of Europe after the war.
- As important would be a programme of Reparations modeled on the payment for Jews by Germany.
- The strategy is to source funds from: Central Government, International Institutions such as Asian Development Bank, World Bank and JBIC, Bi lateral and Multi-lateral donors like China, India, Japan and Australia, Friendly countries of the West too will be approached for liberal funding.
Building a self-reliant society demands premium attention in the Council’s scheme of things. The Council will take serious note of periodic employment freeze, which has depleted staff strength in the Province and also adversely affected the avenues of the educated employable. Remedial measures will be taken.
The Council will seek government financial support for employment in the state sector by an immediate filling up of vacancies in the approved cadre. For deficiencies, additional cadre will be created.
To the extent Council’s finances permit, vacancies in the Council cadre will be filled in order to render the service you look forward to.
Imparting of skills in several fields is seen as a means of providing high end employment to trainable youth.
Training will also be directed towards Foreign Employment, to enable selection in the more remunerative technical grades.
Employment generation is recognized as the surest way of income creation and an effective and equitable means of sharing it.
Support of Expatriate Tamils
The expatriate Tamils have through their valiant efforts kept alive the struggle of the Tamils for their rights and liberty. They have very successfully brought the issues to the attention of the International Community. Their contribution before the World Forums, particularly at the UNHRC has been laudable.
The Northern Provincial Council, with a clear mandate from the people and with their hands strengthened by a constant feel of the pulse will interact with the expatriate Tamils proactively. To the Council and those leading it, the resident Tamils and the expatriate Tamils are one, no less than the North and the East. We shall move together and act in unison, in the best interests of all Tamils.