26 May, 2019

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Mutiny In The Ranks Over Dilution Of 13A

By Dharisha Bastians 

Dharisha Bastians

“It is necessary that we give to these people the freedoms that are the right of people in all others parts of our country. Similarly, it is necessary that the political solutions they need should be brought to closer to them faster than any country or government in the world would bring. However, it cannot be an imported solution” – President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a statement to the Parliament of Sri Lanka on 19 May 2009

The one-week cooling-off period offered to members of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Cabinet of Ministers to review an urgent bill to dilute the powers of the provincial councils ends today. And yet, in a bizarre twist, a Government that looked well on its way to amending the Constitution of Sri Lanka for the second time in three years appears to have been stopped in its tracks by strong opposition from within its own ranks.

The Rajapaksa regime has long since grown accustomed to getting its way on matters of governance, irrespective of the views of its constituent allies. But the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the country’s supreme law means that if it wants to revise the 13th Amendment and dilute the powers of the councils ahead of a promised Northern Provincial Council election this September, it has no choice but to win over its coalition partners in order to make the necessary numbers.

A stormy Cabinet

The Urgent Bill was proposed to Cabinet signed by the hand of External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, who just weeks ago assured his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid that the Government would not dilute the provisions of the 13th Amendment in a highly-publicised telephone call, created heated debate at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

The stiffest resistance to the move to alter the powers of the provincial councils came from Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem, who reportedly openly disagreed with the President on the need to reform the 13th Amendment ahead of the Northern Provincial Council polls in September.

The UPFA’s hardline nationalist constituents, the Jathika Hela Urumaya and the Wimal Weerawansa-led National Freedom Front (NFF), were adamant that the amendments be broader to include the removal of the land and police powers granted to the province before a poll was held in north.

Realising consensus would be impossible at the meeting, President Rajapaksa did what he so often does – he deferred a decision for a week, until the Cabinet meets once again, this time having read and reviewed the amendments being proposed by the Government.
Along with the announcement of the amendments proposed to the Cabinet was the President’s decision to go ahead and establish the Parliamentary Select Committee that he has tasked with reaching consensus on a final political settlement to the country’s ethnic conflict, irrespective of the Tamil National Alliance’s conditional refusal to join the process.

Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, announcing the Government’s proposals to amend the powers of the councils, claimed that the time had come to make tough decisions. He said President Rajapaksa had given the TNA enough time to take part in the process to formulate devolution plans. This was what the Government believed it had to do now, Rambukwella claimed.

In the week that followed, reforming the 13th Amendment has been the Government’s primary focus, with the exception of the inter-agency warfare over the death of 47 fishermen off the southern coast due to severe weather conditions and lapses in the early warning system. During the ‘cool off and review’ period, events have unfolded at a hectic pace and the issue of amending the Constitution for the 19th time, this time to clip the wings of the provincial authorities, is beginning to get messy.

A divided coalition

By the weekend, the UPFA constituent parties were making decisions to oppose the regime’s latest move. The parties of the old Left have consistently maintained a pro-devolution position. While their impact on the day-to-day running of the Government remains marginal at best, in the recent past, the old Left has chosen to set themselves apart from some of the regime’s misadventures. Both the Communist Party and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) led by Prof. Tissa Vitarana made party level decisions to abstain from voting to impeach the country’s 43rd Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake in January this year.

Last Saturday (7), the Central Committee of the Communist Party headed by Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera decided to oppose the Government’s proposals to dilute the 13th Amendment. The next day, the Central Committee of the Vitarana-led LSSP reached a similar decision. Each of the parties has two seats in Parliament.
But the true blow was yet to come.

SLMC throws down the gauntlet

At a parliamentary group meeting held at the residence of Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem in Colpetty on Monday (10), the eight MPs of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress unanimously decided to oppose moves to dilute the powers of the provincial councils as set out in the 13th Amendment. According to the SLMC High Command, the MPs were compelled to act according to decisions reached at a party convention in December 2012, which expressly resolved that the main Muslim party would refrain from acting to derail devolution or dilute the powers of the provincial councils.

It will be recalled that the SLMC councillors supporting the Government in the Eastern Provincial Council voted in favour of the Divi Neguma legislation that also allowed the Central Government take back some powers devolved to the provinces back to the Central Government. According to senior columnist D.B.S. Jeyaraj, Muslim Congress General Secretary Hasan Ali has claimed that the party had initiated disciplinary proceedings against those councillors for endorsing the controversial Divi Neguma law.

The eight members of the SLMC will therefore oppose the Government’s proposed revisions to the 13th Amendment. Together with the MPs from the Communist Party and the LSSP, the number of ruling party parliamentarians unlikely to support the Urgent Bill – bar conviction, intimidation or coercion – had now climbed to 12.

The Government, which has 161 MPs in the 225-seat Legislature, needs 150 votes to pass a constitutional amendment.
The regime has maintained a tight rein on the Muslim Congress and Justice Minister Hakeem, the latter coming in for strong criticism over his backing of the impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake and his party’s support to the UPFA to form the Government in the Eastern Provincial Council.  Since it joined the Government, after having contested elections under the UNF banner in 2010, the SLMC has played meek and mild within the UPFA coalition, even going so far as to back the blatantly autocratic 18th Amendment to the Constitution that repealed the 17th Amendment, which established independent commissions and removed presidential term limits. Needless to say the SLMC decision to oppose revisions to the 13th Amendment did not go down well with President Rajapaksa and his inner circle.

 

Coalition headaches

In fact, President Rajapaksa’s coalition headaches were set to intensify.On Monday, the President also held meetings with the JHU and the Douglas Devananda-led EPDP. The Buddhist party wanted broader revisions of the 13th Amendment and put forward five conditions to be met by the Government ahead of an election in the north. Devananda, who holds a further three seats in the UPFA coalition, believes that dilution of the 13th Amendment is not in the interest of the Tamil people.

Devananda has long been an advocate of the 13th Amendment. Last December, when the regime was sowing the seeds for the war against the 13th Amendment, Devananda together with seven other parties – many of them coalition partners in Government – convened a meeting in Parliament to protect the 13th Amendment and attempt to persuade the TNA to join the Select Committee proposed by the President for consensus on power sharing.

The CWC, the SLMC, the Athaullah faction, Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s Democratic Left Front and the Mano Ganesan-led Democratic People’s Front also participated in the meetings and pledged to work to retain the 13th Amendment. The Arumugam Thondaman-led CWC has four seats in Parliament but it is not clear what position the party would take on the Government’s latest moves to dilute the 13th Amendment. Whether the CWC will in this regard take its instructions from New Delhi or Temple Trees will be a crucial deciding factor.

With potential increasing for its plans to be thwarted, the regime characteristically switched to high gear and waged a campaign by proxy in support of its proposed amendments.  The first salvo was launched against the SLMC. The very next day, Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion and Sri Lanka Freedom Party Central Committee Member Faiszer Mustapha joined SLFP Batticaloa District Organiser Arun Thambimuttu at a media briefing on the 25th floor of West Tower of the World Trade Centre in Colombo Fort to express the viewpoints of the ‘other minorities’ about the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Thambimuttu, who is the son of EPRLF MP for the Batticaloa District Sam Thambimuttu who was assassinated outside the Canadian High Commission in Colombo in 1990, charged that the Tamil National Alliance which was likely to win any poll held in the Northern Province was yet to renounce separatism and warned that the party was not to be trusted with police powers granted to the provincial councils by the 13th Amendment.

Thambimuttu led the charge against the bona fides of the TNA, saying the party had openly touted the provincial councils as a stepping stone to achieving its true aspiration of internal self-determination. Harking back to history, the SLFP Organiser said the last time the North East Council had been constituted, the Chief Minister of the then merged provinces Vartharajah Perumal had declared Eelam and set up a civil voluntary force that later became the Tamil National Army.

Rauff’s critics

Mustapha meanwhile criticised the Muslim Congress for refusing to back the Government’s proposed amendments to the Provincial Councils Act, saying it was the Muslims who would suffer worst under a Tamil political leadership with separatist aspirations with police powers and the authority to merge provinces.

In remarks laced with thinly-veiled mistrust of the Tamil populace of the north, the Deputy Minister claimed the amendments to land and police powers and the merger clauses were crucial ahead of the northern poll because the north was the ‘birthplace of terrorism’ and the “ethnic composition” was different in the north than in other parts of the island in which provincial governments had been set up, including the Eastern Province.

Mustapha’s assertion was that the police powers in the hands of the TNA could result in a resurgence of terrorism and a subjugation of the Muslim community in the north and the east, while the merger clause in the 13th Amendment could tilt the ethnic balance in the North-Eastern Province if it was re-merged, creating Tamil hegemony. For these reasons, Mustapha asserted, the SLMC should back the Government’s proposals to dilute 13A.

Also on Tuesday, a Collective for the Abolition of the Provincial Council System was launched raising the decibel level in war against the 13th Amendment. Interestingly, the collective comprised the usual suspects, the Bodu Bala Sena and the Sinhala Ravaya – both organisations that have displayed certain affiliations to sections of the ruling regime, particularly those sections virulently opposed to the 13th Amendment and devolution – and the Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya and civil activists including Attorney-at-Law S.L. Gunesekera and Prof. Nalin De Silva. The collective is calling for the complete repeal of the 13th Amendment and an end to the provincial council system.

BBS steps into the fray

Speaking for the Tamil people at the collective’s first press conference, BBS General Secretary and outspoken monk Galabodaththe Gnanasara said the Tamil people were “least bothered about the provincial council system and only want to live happily in their areas”. The monk claimed that the BBS that preached ‘Halal’ sermons would not begin to preach about provincial councils at every opportunity.
As the debate heats up locally, the Government’s sudden moves has also caused serious concern across the Palk Straits, with no less than the Prime Minister of India reportedly expressing irritation with Colombo’s double-speak on the issue of the 13th Amendment.
Over the last four years, Indian officials, including its Premier have been assured by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister Peiris that the Government in Colombo was committed to the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. The last such commitment came just three weeks ago when, alarmed by reports about the Rajapaksa administration’s plans to curtail the powers of the provincial councils, Indian External Affairs Minister Khurshid telephoned his counterpart in Colombo to obtain an assurance that the Government would not move to revise the 13th Amendment ahead of the promised poll in the north in September. The high-level telephone call that was widely publicised in the Indian media was an indication of how seriously New Delhi took Colombo’s threats to dilute the powers granted to the provinces through the 13th Amendment.

Following last Thursday’s official announcement, the Indian Government has issued an urgent summons on the TNA. The TNA has been invited to New Delhi next week for high-level talks with Indian officials about the Government’s latest move. TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and at least four other TNA members are expected to fly to India next week for discussions. It is widely expected that Indian officials will strongly advise the TNA to opt into the PSC process in order to ensure the Government is prevented from taking any further unilateral action on the devolution issue. The TNA which has repeatedly questioned the Rajapaksa Government’s bona fides in granting genuine devolution and reaching a credible political solution to the Tamil problem will no doubt cite the regime’s unabashed U-turn on 13A as being proof of these claims.

Delhi’s conundrums

In light of Colombo’s trail of broken promises to New Delhi since the end of the war in 2009, analysts say Indian officials could be realising discussions with and assurances from Colombo are empty shells and President Rajapaksa will in the end pander to his ultra-nationalist support base and his own ideological compulsions regardless of New Delhi’s views on the issues.

Concerned by Beijing’s growing influence in Sri Lanka, New Delhi cannot afford to overly ruffle Rajapaksa feathers, but it is likely Indian experts say that the South Asian power may no longer offer Colombo even covert support in the international arena, if it continues to renege on its international commitments and its post war promises to the Tamil people. Closely entwined with New Delhi’s concerns are those of Washington and the rest of the Western lobby pushing for reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, whose diplomats in Colombo are reportedly carefully studying the proposed legislation and watching its debate closely in Parliament.

US officials in Washington are more forthright. In New York on Tuesday, US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Stephen J. Rapp said the US was looking for Sri Lanka to proceed with accountability and genuine reconciliation and will be watching “very carefully” to decide what steps may be necessary to be taken again at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Rapp said that the US has spoken “loud and clear” on the Sri Lankan issue by its sponsorship of the resolutions, which he says had expressed disappointment that the provisions of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had not been implemented. The US-sponsored resolution in March this year was also ‘loud and clear’ on the issue of a political settlement to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and holds President Rajapaksa to his commitment to hold elections in the North by September 2013.

Anti-devolution agenda

With the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting now secured for Colombo in November, the regime is likely able to cast aside the concerns raised by India and the international community on the issue of the 13th Amendment. But if its coalition partners prove difficult and it cannot muster the support it needs to pass a constitutional amendment, the contingency plan may come in the form of a Parliamentary Select Committee to study devolution proposals and recommend the elusive final solution. That process could take months and the likely victim in the time buying manoeuvre is the Northern Provincial Council election that must be declared before the end of this month, according to an Elections Department deadline.

But President Rajapaksa will insist upon the process running its course for the sake of reaching consensus on the issue of devolution. It must be noted that consensus has been reached before, in 2007 under the Rajapaksa regime, when the Tissa Vitarana-led All Party Representative Committee put forward progressive recommendations on devolution. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission established by President Rajapaksa in 2010 also recommended the full implementation of the provisions of the 13th Amendment as a path to reconciling the ethnic question. The LLRC report was also accepted by the Government, although it balked at some of its recommendations as time wore on.

Undoubtedly, any ‘consensus’ reached by the freshly-constituted Select Committee will be cast aside in due course because, plainly put, devolution is simply not on the Rajapaksa post-war agenda.

The ruling regime believes the ethnic problem was a creation of Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The problem therefore ended with his death on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon on 18 May 2009. It believes that any perceived and residual discrimination by the Tamils will be eliminated in the glow of economic prosperity that will surely come to the people of the north and east under the Government’s hyper-development drive.

The regime’s persistent denial of the historic roots of the country’s ethnic struggle defines its rhetoric. It will put development ahead of devolution, reconstruction over reconciliation and collective good and national security over individual freedoms and democracy.

Courtesy Daily FT

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Latest comments

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    Ms. Bastians.

    Police completely politicized – Sobitha Thero

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdZW_gk8fYI

    MADULUWAWE SOBHITHA THERO

    The above reason is why 13A is Needed.

    The current police is apolitical police. It is police of the Govt not the people.

    So, need police of the people.

    Will 13A give that to the people?

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      IF the 13th Amendment is further diluted India will take back Kachativu island and Rajapassa can go to war with India to get it back!

      The Clown Manmohan and his geriatric govt. need to wake up and give Rajapassa a mighty kick up the ass!

      Lets see what Rajapassa’s great friend China would do – turn a blind eye – because in the final analysis there is no question that Sri Lanka is India’s baby – geography trumps all else! History is geography in this case!

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        “and Rajapassa can go to war with India to get it back!”

        i fancy Lanka’s chances on this sticky wicket. Remember SL have the strategic mastermind and military genius Gotabhaya (and who led the world’ greatest humanitarian rescue mission). This latter-day Napoleon can easily brush away the pathetic israeli-made high-tech arsenal that the Indians possess whilst maintaining respect for the human rights and sanctity of the mainly Tamil populace likely to become collateral in such a conflict. On the domestic front, the patriotic mood will be responsibly whipped-up by the Bodu Sena whilst a few journalists and opposition Tamil MPs may have to be mysteriously shot-dead by masked gunman in residential Colombo districts during the main fighting period but media blackout imposed due to new emergency legislation cooked up by the multi-facted Gotabhaya in 10 minutes and his Chinese-build laserjet printer (as well as new travel documents for Col Karuna to claim asylum abroad with the LTTE rump)

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    “It is necessary that we give to THESE PEOPLE the freedoms that are the right of people in all others parts of our country. Similarly, it is necessary that the political solutions they need should be brought closer to them FASTER THAN ANY COUNTRY OR GOVT IN THE WORLD WOULD BRING. However, it cannot be an IMPORTED SOLUTION” are words spoken by President Mahinda Rajapakse in Parliament which the Tamil people took note of – for different reasons. The emphasis is mine. If one analyses this statement carefully, one finds the different ingredients that make up the Rajapakses mind-set and what goes as their brand of governance. If the Tamil people thought the reference “these people” was calculated to express the contempt Rajapakse feels for the Tamil people, they certainly will take note of it. And as to “faster than any other country or Govt..” this exposes the notorious mendacity of the regime who had over 4 years to get their act together but kept mum doling meek excuse after excuse. As to the present dislike of the “imported solution” was it not the same Mahinda Rajapakse – and his two brothers – who kept misleading the Indian Govt they will soon give effect to the 13th Amendment agreed to between 2 sovereign governments? The President himself was on the tapes of NDTV when he told Shekar Gupta, while millions in both countries watched “I will give 13th ++”

    The bad faith in the whole issue is further exacerbated when the President gave Rauf Hakeem, the SLMC and others just a week to fall in line. This is in the same logic of asking former CJ Shiranee Bandaranaike a few days time to respond to over 1,000 pages of charges.

    The much-touted September deadline for the NP/PC polls is becoming dimmer with the Election Commissioner not being given his minimum of
    3 months to meet the schedule.

    GLP’s credentials and integrity is no better in terms of international reputation. If Indian FM Khurshid thought the matter was urgent enough to warrant an urgent telephone call, we must as well understand the seriousness of the matter. Khurshid could not have made the call without an OK from his PM and Cabinet.

    The Rajapakses final trick will be to tell the Sinhala people and the world, the whole problem is with the TNA insisting it is they who refuse to agree for discussions under a simple and honest PSC. That garrulous Rambukwella, in his crude language, says Sampanthan is “evading Parliament” Fortunately, not many in intelligent society pay any attention to this Minister – known more for his fumbling and contradictions.

    Faizer Mustapha causes much damage to current Tamil-Muslim relations by the infantile remarks he made at the Media Conference at a time when Muslims need the support of the Tamil people and their leaders.

    At a time when the regime turns to the BBS and the Sinhala supremacists to win the day for them, it is hoped Delhi will not use pressure on the TNA to the PSC unconditionally. As the Rajapakses sow the wind it follows they must be allowed to face the whirlwind – an inevitable consequence of mediocre governance and suspect diplomacy.

    Senguttuvan

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      “Paisa Mutthappa causes much damage to current Tamil-Muslim relations by the infantile remarks he made at the Media Conference at a time when Muslims need the support of the Tamil people and their leaders.”

      “Paisa Muttappah causes much damage to current Tamil-Muslim relations by the infantile remarks he made at the Media Conference at a time when Muslims need the support of the Tamil people and their leaders.”

      This is a complete distortion of ground realities and very unfairly casts the Muslims as an unreasonable and ungrateful lot. The Muslims never wanted a separation of the country and are happy living within a multi-communal environment and at peace with the majority Sinhalese from time immemorial. Never have they opted for any sort of support from the Tamils who they never trust and never did they resort to Goebblesian lies to the world about mistreatment by the majority .Even in the Eastern province, Muslim politicians have always stayed clear of the ulterior motives of Tamil politician The only exception in this case is the Paisa Muthappah who used Thondamans CWC clout to cut his teeth on the political front. Here too, everyone knows that he soon ditched Thondaman whose throat he cut at the very first opportunity as soon as he could stand on his own feet. So, this was the opportunism of one cunning man and should not be read as characteristic of the entire Muslim community. In reality, there is nothing called “Tamil-Muslim” relations.

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        If Taliban’s comments are in response to mine here, let me say Paisa Mustapah signed on the dotted lines of his “keen desire to serve the plantation Tamils” when he forced himself into the CWC against unanimous objection within. CWC men were right the move to bring the man into the Party was a disaster. Even with his known mediocrity, he would have known both Thondamans got along well with Northern Tamils and there was no such thing as a “mistrust – veiled or open” The reservations about the Separate State issue by the Senior Thondaman is now history as the latter felt that option should come in only after all others have been exhausted. Taliban will agree the notation “In remarks laced with thinly-veiled mistrust of the Tamil populace of the north” is clearly indicative of unprincipled and opportunistic politics.

        If Muslims mistrust Tamils how come Azath Salley is hell-bent on a Tamil-Muslim Alliance and Hakeem spares little time in referring to Sampanthan as Annan and Amirthalingsm as Aiyah. Clearly the Muslim community is split into several factions nationally and regionally.

        Senguttuvan

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    It is going to be an interesting week as to what India is going to do
    if 13th amendment is diluted.

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      Leon,

      The current leadership of India is NOT Indira Gandhi or even Rajiv Gandhi.

      They are lackey’s of the West.

      They have no Guts.

      So they will not do anything substantial, like invading the Northern Province, like what Turkey did in Cyprus.

      If, anything, it will be by Tamil Nadu.A few more Cattle, Harakas, will burn.

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        “They are lackey’s of the West”

        So you are assuming that the West (i.e USA) will happily allow Percy and his tribe to be kings of the jungle whilst the Chinese continue investing in SL’s infrastructure thereby securing a client state in the important Indian Ocean shipping lanes? You do not think it beyond the West to use their Indian Congress stooges to be a cat’s paw to bring Percy to heal should he continue with his oriental fetish? After all the Americans are happily propping-up Taiwan which lies directly facing China, the job becomes much easier for them having friendly military giant India being located facing Percy’s kingdom ‘to do a job’ should it be required

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    The regime is in fact using all its puppets in government to confuse and confound the populace! They are all in this farcical drama playing along with the puppet-master.

    Once the smoke and mirrors drama settles we will simply see the continuation of the Sinhala Buddhist agenda, the most powerful vote-getter.

    Woe be unto the minorities.

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      “regime is in fact using all its puppets in government to confuse and confound the populace”

      who is this Arun Thambimuttu fellow? I’ve done some preliminary research and it seems he’s not even a SLFP MP like that other luminary from the minorities Col Karuna. Obviously the only way this Arun chap would win a seat from a Tamil district is if he got into a Kayts-style agreement with the SL military like Douglas Mama. But to be fair even I could get a puppet-style title if I agreed to perform some valuable public service for Percy’s govt like obtaining a HGV driver’s licence thus allowing me to become a chauffeur in Gota’s white van fleet. I would like my title to be R.Ramanan:SLFP Wellawatte District Organiser & military driver/murder for hire.

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    It looks like the policies of the country on political devolution, ethnic and religous harmony are being set by extremist groups like the BBS and JHU. This has been the contention of the other extreme as well which is now being proven the Rajapakse Govt. Lets see how this plays out into 2014.

  • 0
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    Are we making way for a new General Election to get a new manadate ?

  • 0
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    Darisha, You have written the plain truth.

  • 0
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    A fine analysis, Dharisha. MR is not interested in solving any national problem or re-establishing the rule of the law, but in winning the next Presidential election!

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    Faisa Mustaffa has along-standing personal battle against Hakeem and most of the Muslims are aware of this. Especially those in the legal circles. However, the problem is that they do not know which of the two to trust. Both are self-seeking fair-weather Charlies, although Hakeem is beleievd to be a little more principled than Mustaffa who is a downright crook and will sell his own father for a cup of Kahata. Remember how he tried to get the old feller to cajole the disgraced former CJ during the impeachment fearing that she may win the trial and still be CJ. Like a cat smelling rotten fish he has a sharp nose and can smell the slightest opportunity to make money at any cost.

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      Paisa F’s entry into politics itself was totally unprincipled. He was thrust into the CWC – a Tamil party – by Arumugam T for strange reasons. The entire CWC ExCo and party cadres were against the undemocratic move. Predictably, he lost no time in cutting AT’s throat and jumped ship. This went to reduce the standing of Thonda in the eyes of his members. On his own Paisa F has little to claim by way of leadership – poor speaker in all 3 languages (Tamil is virtually unknown), writer of unknown ability, unfamiliar with the recent and complex ethnic history of the country and virtual intruder into Muslim politics. Insiders say it is Wappa’s black money that keeps him afloat.

      Senguttuvan

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    Talking about the events leading to 13th Amendment, was Dharisha Bastians old enough to remember what Susantha Gunathilake has reminded us in his writing to lankaweb recently that in 1987 ‘The Wall Street Journal’ compared India as “A rogue elephant trampling upon its neighbors”. And ‘The British Guardian’ said, “India’s pact with Sri Lanka is the most infamous contract imposed on a small country – short of military occupation – since the Munich Agreement of 1938”. And ‘The London Evening Standard’ wrote, “India … is the colonial power in the region today”. And ‘The New York Times’ editorial had written, “Mr. Gandhi’s…. big-stick diplomacy in Sri Lanka”.

    But all those papers play a different tune today. They keep writing as if India dictated and un-democratically rammed through Indian incursion, 13A is a good omen for Sri Lanka. If we go by their prophesy we would be doomed without 13A.

    Wall street journal advises us, “devolution of powers to all provinces would be the right solution for the problems faced by the Tamils in Srilanka and added there was an aloof attitude in giving the due rights to the Tamils in lawful manner.” The British Guardian’ complained, “Instead of devolving power, the Sri Lankan government has relentlessly centralised.” It further said, “The Sri Lankan government has been masterly in defusing criticism by promising action but then failing to deliver. It should not be allowed to get away with it any longer.” ‘The New York Times’ accused President Rajapakse for having ‘no intention of building on the 13th Amendment and moves to repeal it.’

    Are these new tunes to solve Tamil grievances or to fulfill the greed of the Westerners is my question.
    Leela

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      Leela:
      For people or nations to “fulfill their greed” there must be something to feed on. Are you suggesting that the skeleton that Sri Lanka has been reduced to by you and your mentors is something that anyone would be smacking their lips over? Get real!!
      Stop loosing red herrings on readers of this page and go back to what you do best – cheating people. But then what you’ve said could be considered part of that practice, too, right?

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      Leela writes: “hey keep writing as if India dictated and un-democratically rammed through Indian incursion, 13A is a good omen for Sri Lanka. If we go by their prophesy we would be doomed without 13A”

      Has the possibility entered your sparsely-populated thoughts that perhaps Percy helped cause ’13A’ to be ingrained in the thoughts of the international community by continuously harping on about it during the last days of Prabha, as the basis for solving the ethnic problem? Why don’t you go look up Senguttuvan’s link of the interview Percy gave to NDTV about ’13A +++’ (no doubt interspersed with mumbling about honouring the contribution of the IPFK etc). Whilst one can forgive Percy and the clan for discarding this promise for the sake of economic prosperity (i.e. further greed) it would be amiss indeed if the international govts like UK, USA, Canada also chose to renege on 13A (especially if they are asked difficult questions by their own substantial SL Tamil populace). These same western nations withstood huge LTTE-inspired protests by sections of the diaspora in May 2009 and are now being showed Gota’s home war crimes footage as evidence of the SL govt’s bad faith, so agreeing to Percy’s doing a lastminute.com u-turn is not exactly a realistic possibility for these govt.

      “to fulfill the greed of the Westerners is my question”

      You no doubt approve then of Percy’s vanity airport in Hambantota (to greet the hordes of mainly white commonwealth guests ready to greedily part with their currency into Percy’s coffers)

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    All right thinking people advised and exhorted Mahinda Rajapaksa to reconcile with the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and give them the same rights as the Sinhalese and make them feel that they legitimately belong in this land of ours. He was stubborn. He refused to listen to reason and went along with the racists amongst his kith and kin as well as the JHU, BBS,and Ravaya. In the interim he lied to India and the international community, including the U.N. Now he is face to face with the reality of the issue with no one willing to take him on his word. His authoritarian, dictatorial style of governance, his revengeful nature, and his manipulation of the media, courts of justice, and the parliament, for his own benefit, has now isolated him. He has lost his credibility. He still commands support and there is goodwill that he can harness provided he does the right thing by the Northern Provincial Council. I would advise him to go out on a limb and trust the Tamil people. After all he is not the President only for the Sinhalese, but also for the Tamils,the Muslims, and all the others.

  • 0
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    Is India being provoked?

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    ‘Mutiny In The Ranks Over Dilution Of 13A’ is good news for all those who want our 61 year old democracy to survive. 18th Amendment was passed because the constituent parties did not have the guts to vote against it.

    The indictment of the 43rd Chief Justice, because she did her duty is another instance of the abuse of power, because there were insufficient dissenting voices.

    This is the way coalitions work in democratic countries. I hope this will remain the pattern in the future.

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      “This is the way coalitions work in democratic countries. I hope this will remain the pattern in the future”

      As Sri Lanka is not a democratic country there’s no risk of it being the pattern of the future. What will happen is Percy will use a mixture of charm (i.e. bribe) and stick (i.e. removal of favour) in order to force his errant minority allies to heal. As such minority persons sitting in a cabinet of a suspected war criminal/new hereditary lankan ruler, they will not be swayed by morals but will eventually cave into Percy’s demands and thus will be punished by the own electorate (mainly the muslims on the SLMC because the EPDP rely on the SL military for their votes)

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    Nice article. The author has a beautiful heart too. May she live long & secure justice for the oppressed.

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      @kumaran
      How do you know she has a beautiful heart. You got Google glasses?

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    If they don’t vote for the bill to reduce PC powers, MR will call for a referendum to erase 13 amendment in full.

    So they have no option than to support the bill to reduce PC powers and keep the rest. Otherwise they lose all.

    I prefer the referendum option. The world can hear loud and clear what SLs want.

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