25 September, 2018

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Need Of The Hour: A ‘National’ Provincial Council For The North

By Rajasingham Narendran

Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

Elections for the Northern Provincial Council are scheduled for September’2013, although the date has not been announced.  Although the Provincial Councils are institutions established under the 13th amendment to the constitution (November’1987), they have not served the function they were expected to, for various reasons that have been highlighted, analyzed, discussed and debated over the past twenty five years.  There are also recent calls for abrogation of the 13th amendment and amendments to the 13th amendment to negate police and land powers granted to the Provincial Councils, despite the impending Northern Provincial Council elections. The preludes to the on-coming elections have already commenced and indicate that the campaign itself is bound to be quite bitter, violent and divisive.  It is also likely the results would favour the TNA overwhelmingly.

This prospect has aroused fears as to how the TNA would conduct itself in office, in terms of questions relating to full implementation of the 13th amendment as originally envisaged, improvements to the Provincial Council system and the perennial question relating to the so-called internal self-determination.   The potential for conflict between the Northern Provincial Council and the Sri Lankan government, and the adverse outcome are also of concern to many. These fears cannot be dismissed as baseless and unwarranted, given our history and the nature of prevailing sentiments. These fears assume critical significance as the war-torn north is yet in the early stages of the recovery process, with a multitude of problems confronting the war-affected.

The question now is how to make the best out of a potentially hopeless situation, while furthering the cause of the war-affected, national healing and establishing a Provincial Council for the north.  It appears that the time is ripe to break out of the deadly embrace of conventional thinking and conceive an ‘out of the box’ solution. The 13th amendment as it is now and the impending elections are a reality. While the 13th amendment with the problems in its design  and having been further undermined, is not what the Tamils expect, it is also unacceptable to the Sinhala polity at large. There is not a only a structural deficit in the Provincial Council system, but also national trust deficit pertaining to operating the system in the north

What can be done to operate the Provincial Council system as it is, optimally in the north, considering that the elections will be held and a Council will be constituted? This is the reality that demands that demands serious thought.

I suggest the TNA take the lead in contesting the election in partnership with the UPFA – a coalition of many parties of a diverse nature, the UNP and the JVP.  While the TNA should be the majority partner, it should strive towards bringing in a ‘National’ perspective into the first Northern Provincial Council, considering the present circumstances.  The best possible candidates should be nominated by all parties. The TNA should name its Chief Ministerial candidate and make sure that the person is the right person for the times. It would be advisable to leave out politicians of the old mould and ex-militants of all hues. Persons of standing, education, experience and ability should be painstakingly sought.  They should also be a mix of the middle-aged and the old.  A Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) should be signed between the constituent parties  on issues such as sharing seats, the composition of the Council of Ministers, the nominee for the position of Governor and the envisaged program of action. The Provincial Council and the Council of Ministers should have also Sinhalese and Muslim members, probably in a larger proportion than their numbers in various electorates warrant (at least in the Council).

Mr.Sambanthan should take the lead in opening discussions with the President and Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe on this possibility immediately.  The public should be kept informed of progress. If there is an agreement in the form of an MOU, it should be made public.  I can only hope and pray that wisdom will come to the fore.

If this option is exercised and taken forward in good faith, it would ensure the following:

  1. Pave the way for the non-adversarial operation of the Northern Provincial Council for at least one term.
  2.  Help take forward the recovery of the war-affected people and areas in an enlightened, consultative  and non-partisan manner.
  3. Pave the way for trust to be established that the Northern Provincial Council is not the first step towards separation.
  4. Pave the way for a new political culture in the country.
  5. Identify objectively the problems with the present Provincial Council system, and pave the way for a national consensus to improve it or replace it with something better.
  6. Promote national reconciliation by setting an example that the different communities and political formations can co-operate in the provincial and national interest.
  7. Dissipate the distrust between the largely Sinhala South and the largely Tamil North, on the question of insipient separatism among the Tamils.
  8. Enable the entry of quality persons into the political arena.
  9. Forestall political issue that would potentially arise in the operation of the Northern Provincial Council, igniting divisive passions anew.
  10. Pave the way for the other eight provincial councils to learn from the experiment in the north.

Will Mr. Sambanthan, The President and Mr.Wickremasinghe rise up to the occasion and act in unison with wisdom?

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Latest comments

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    Utter nonsense blabbering of a Tamil Poodle of Sinhalese. This guy thinks that all Tamils love to crawl under Sinhalese feet like him. :))

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      Casey,

      Look at my name- Rajasingham, meaning King of Lions and Narendran, meaning King of men! I will never become a poodle to anyone or any ideology, in honour of the father who passed on his name and also named me in honour of a great man ( Swami Vivekananda). Even, if I am a beggar, I will not cringe in fear of anything that I perceive as wrong, including abuse such as your ‘ s and those of your likes. I will say and do what my conscience dictates. This is the least I can do for two men who have made a lasting impression and mark on me.

      Dr.RN

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        A Repeat from Me on the Great Conscience of the King of Humans & Animals

        There is no such thing as an absolute human conscience it is a very relative to the cultures and sub-cultures of our relative upbringings. To illustrate this with an example on this in bygone days in India some untouchable’s caste people who were not allowed to be seen during the day time could operate only in the nights. One may have murdered someone for little cash or some goody and would be proudly seated in the front row brimming with joy when the spoils are shared before dawn. Yet another not having committed murder would be ashamed of himself that he was not able to contribute that night.

        There are much lesser examples of beef eating, pork eating on a particular day etc that does not leave any bad conscience depending on one’s religion etc. Mr A T Kovoor once told me that it was considered disrespectful for women to cover their breasts in the presence of a higher caste man in Kerala during his boyhood.

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          Spencer,

          Conscience is a concept that is unique to each individual. It is a condition by his/ her inherent nature ( Swabhava) and his/ her acquired conditioning / value systems( Swadharma). Family, group , community and national cultural habits, education and world exposure dictate the Swadharma. The Swabhava is dictated largely by genetics. The interactions of both can be in many permutations and combinations, that can as varied and numerous as we are. No two persons can have the same type of conscience.

          Hence my conscience is different from your’s and is dictated by the meaning I found in my names early on in my life and the environment I was exposed to. This makes me unique, as each one of us is. The quality of each individuals conscience however, manifests through his/her behaviour, words and actions.

          Further, all women in Sri Lanka were bare breasted at one time. With the advent of colonialism and the accompanying Christianity, the breasts become symbols of sexuality and were something to be hidden. The covering up process started with the higher castes and percolated downwards. Those who started covering up first and could afford it, starting flaunting it as a symbol of their hierarchical superiority.

          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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            In a similar vein to you my grand uncle one Shanmugam gave me the names Mahulchandran and Chelvaraj because I am said to have been born on a wesak full moon day and he wished for me to be like the great one to be joyful and happy and make others as wise and joyful as well. Yet in this relativistic world and commos I never could do that and I know my limitations that I will not venture to write a whole article or feature or piece and subject myself to ridicule from some Re these burning questions as I am very well aware that I don’t have the answers in this world in which “there is nothing new under the sun” where human and/or animal nature is concerned.

            I suspect believe that I like most living and in-between the living and dead like viruses are merely unfolding as nature with all its evolutionary adaptive design, developmental – gestational flaws both intended and unintended for us to be at varying degrees of autonomy much like robots.

            If I may add in this context, without exception all religions have acted as temporary internal and external scaffoldings for numerous civilisations to rise and fall whilst injuring, maiming, and destroying their fellow beings partly due to the basic necessities of life and most mostly due to their beliefs which other animals don’t do.

            I am not sure as to which is the more damaging, viruses, bacteria, protozoa and/or pathogens? There too they cannot help it as it is an ingrained and inherent phenomena in Life that all Life survives, thrives and lives on, off and through various forms of other life through the webs and webbed chain of life where man is but a passing sometimes pleasant f***t through it.

            In conclusion you have missed or conveniently ignored my main concern and point of my response namely on the extent, validity and reliability of one’s conscience for one’s self righteous outlook. You are not unlike those in power and authority in the GOSL and continue elaborating on what I have already stated and simply reinforced it. Please try to address the main issue and not the peripherals to side track and for you to continue in yourself glorified and self congratulatory and self righteous ways as presumed pre-ordained king of all Humans and Animals.

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    [Edited out] He thinks the people of Jaffna have made him a leader. He is now a champion of Sinhalese and Muslims. He has lost his balance as some readers wrote he is good to be a Minister or even more. Such innocent readers don’t know this opportunist man. But many Jaffna people know him and his family.
    [Edited out]
    Many readers know the man and where he stands. When Jaffna students are recently attacked he supported the army and govt and criticised the many boys and girls badly assaulted. [Edited out] He has a deep hate for TNA people and is under orders to upset all TNA plans. TNA know his backgroud where his family members steal from Temple tills. Not only in London but other places also. No Tamil should suppor such a man at this time.

    You tried to get close to Doglass. There also you were chased out.
    Now you try to talk like a learned leader of Tamil people.

    So “Dr” your mask is out now. You feel happy the Boys are not there now. Otherwise you will be in a lamppost long ago.

    Real Jaffna Man

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      ‘ Lamp Posting’ , the ultimate solution of cowards! No wonder we ended up in Nanthikadal!

      Dr.RN

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    Dr. RN,

    The East has been colonized by Sinhalese, and Tamils became a manageable minority with the help of other Tamil poodles. Now you want the same thing to happen in the North as well. It seems like that’s why you want the Sinhala memebers in the Northern Provincial council, that also why you want them in “a larger proportion than their numbers in various electorates warrant”. I think only a Tamil poodle of Sinhalese can come up with that kind of a brilliant idea. Why don’t you just ask the Tamils to give up the entire Northern provincial government and let the Sinhala military rule, and be happy with the bones thrown at them by crawling under their feet. You never miss any forum to show your Sinhala loyalty but I wonder, as a Tamil, did you ever say anything against the State sponsored Sinhala colonization or at least the land grabbing by the Sinhalese under Sinhala military occupation in the North – East? no, I don’t think so. :)

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    Casey,

    Let us come to specifics:

    1. Are aware of what has happened to the large land holdings in the north- mainland and the Vanni , acquired by prominent Tamil polticians of yesteryear. Adangaathamilan Sundaralingham’s acres in Vavuniya were donated by his eldest daughter to the Sri Lankan Airforce! The large extents of land the ‘ Panchalinghams’ acquired in Mullativu have been abandoned by their progeny. The same is true for the lands they owned in the a peninsula. What is happening to these lands?

    2. The Ramanathan Trust owned large extents of land in Kilinochchi. What is happening to these lands and what is this trust doing?

    3. What is happening to the lands of Tamils who have migrated abroad, as Whole extended family units? What have these families done to secure these lands or donate them to landless Tamils?

    4. I know of many Diaspora Tamils who visit the peninsula to sell their lands, creating a situation, where there are more wanting to sell than those wanting to buy. These lands are lying neglected and fallow. Incidentally, there are Taxes on inherited tor previosly owned lands for ex- Sri Lankans, to the best of my knowledge, as some have implied.

    5. What are the plans Tamil political formations have to use the vast empty lands in the Vanni and where will the people to develop these lands come from? Can valuable agricultural land lie fallow in a country with limited land resources?

    6. Where are the ideas and arrangements to deal with the problems Jaffna farmers face today ? Has the TNA at least talked about these issues?

    Let us think in concrete terms on every issue concerning the Tamils here. The fight for the land – real-estate- at the expense of the people, led to the LTTE demise. Where are the thoughts even now of the people who have too populate the lands and make them productive and profitable? Where are the plans for this in the Tamil political formations? Where are the institutional arrangements to take forward such objectives?

    Further, there are no significant and organised colonisation schemes in the heart of the peninsula or the Vanni, though there are attempts to increase the Sinhala populations in the border areas of Vavuniya and Mullaitivu, where there is already a significant Sinhala presence. There are of course permanent army camps being established, consolidating the military presence in specific strategic locations. Mini- camps are being shut down gradually.

    Further, I was told today by one war-victim from Mullangavil ( mullaitivu) that four parappus of land has been allocated to him in the area and the funds to build a house of a particular siize and design assigned. Many other persons have been given this boon. The funds are being provided by the state. Such positive developments are also taking place.

    It is also important to remember that colonization schemes designed to change demographics was not an SLFP mission, though it committed many other sins. It is the UNP that created all such colonization schemes and the Palaly HSZ.

    These issues cannot be addressed by assuming a permanent adversarial stance. Such a stance has not helped in the past and will not in the future. Accommodation must be made with the Sinhala political forces, to solve these problems. Accommodation and cooperation are not surrender. They are other means to solve our problems, especially after almost three decades of war.
    Dr. RN

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      Collections:

      Point 1: Are you…

      Point 4: Incidentally, there are no taxes—

      Dr.RN

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