28 January, 2023


Northern Provincial Council: The Devolution Debate

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

I approach this subject as a political scientist, a former diplomat and briefly a Minister in the Cabinet of the North East Provincial Council. At the overlap of these experiences and roles is what is classifiable as a Realist perspective.

As a Realist, I reject outright three myths about devolution which have been around for a long time but have been resuscitated in the post-war period. Firstly, that devolution in our context is primarily to do with empowerment of the people and ‘the people’ considered without any ethnic connotation. Secondly, that it was to do with the Tigers and now that the Tigers are no more, there is no case for devolution. Thirdly, that it has to do originally and primarily with India.

If I were to put it simply, this is primarily to do with the Tamils and the Sinhalese, or the Sinhalese and the Tamils. In Sri Lanka, there are relatively compact ethnic groups approximately corresponding to certain regions (a point not vitiated by the fact that you have many Tamils outside of the Northern Province); there is an ethno-regional distribution, there is a domestic geopolitics in this country and it’s been recognized throughout at least the 20th century.

Whatever the history, the formation, this is where we are. This is why S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, in 1926, writing a set of six articles in the Ceylon Morning Leader, made the point that he knows of no country which is non-homogenous, which is heterogeneous, that can succeed with a centralized form of administration. That is the basis of the case for devolution. If I may fall back briefly on my old Marxist lexicon, there is a contradiction between the demographic base or substructure, and the political superstructure.

So this is the first reason: It’s about the Sinhalese and the Tamils and how we can peacefully coexist on this island. It is about coexistence and co-habitation. It is an existential question. What are the terms of the political equation that will enable us to coexist politically on this island? So it is not primarily about administration, or anything other than the ethno-national or nationalities question.

The second erroneous argument is that this had to do with the Tigers. Again this is not true because if it were, you would not have had the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact of ’57 or the Dudley-Chelvanayakam Pact in ’66. Furthermore, JR Jayewardene would not have seen fit to include in his massively popular election manifesto of 1977, a substantive section about the Tamil people, recognizing that the Tamil people have been driven to the point of “even asking for a separate State”, which was of course a reference to the Vattukottai resolution of 1976. The election manifesto was in 1977 and the Tigers were a tiny outfit at that time. Thus the issue was not primarily about the Tigers and by logical consequence the military defeat of the Tigers does not take away the need for a political settlement.

Thirdly, the argument is that devolution had primarily to do with India. Well, if that is the case, the last time I looked India is still there and political climate is getting even more fraught with the elections coming up in 2014. But if you set that point aside for a moment, the province was publicly agreed upon as the main unit of devolution in the documents of the Political Parties Conference of June 1986, held in Colombo. That conference was under the chairpersonship of President Jayewardene and summoned at the written request of Vijaya Kumaratunga. There were no Indians present. If the detailed blueprint arrived at on this occasion had been implemented at the time, with a five-sixths parliamentary majority in hand, there would not have been an opening for the coercive interventionist diplomacy by India one year later!

So these three myths have to be set aside. Then what is provincial devolution really about? It is very simple. If you want the family, the extended family, to stay under one roof, often you have to build an annex. Otherwise, it just would not work. Now, even when it comes to a nuclear family with children, when you have teenagers, the smart thing is to give them a room of their own and not mess with their mail, their music and stuff like this. Because if there is no recognition of the irreducible minimum space that is required for the individuality of that member of the family, or of that branch of the extended family to grow, then there cannot be a shared overarching space. In short, they cannot live under one roof. This is still more so, when one branch of the extended family has a large number of close relatives just next door, across the wall or the lane. That is the basic, existential case for devolution.

As a realist, I really do not wish to spend time on the old debate of the primary unit of devolution. I think there is a case for subsidiarity but that must necessarily pertain to what is known as sub-unit devolution. However, the primary unit has to remain the province for a very simple reason. As President Jayewardene once said in an interview with my father, Mervyn de Silva, editor of the Lanka Guardian, “The Sinhalese say district councils and no more, the Tamils say a regional council and no less; I say provincial councils.” He said that a little bit late in the day, but that is the point of intersection; the saddle point.

Dismantling the provincial unit can in fact be done in this parliament, but there will be no Tamil takers; not one, not even Cabinet Minister Mr. Devananda. There is not a single Tamil political entity that will agree to the abolition of the province as the main unit of devolution. So it will be unadulterated unilateralism on the part of this or whichever administration that does it. We have had such unilateralism before, with the promulgation of the new Constitution in 1972 and this country and its citizens have suffered the harsh consequences. Whoever attempts it now –and there are loud voices calling for this– have to know that there would be a chain of consequences of such a unilateralism. Therefore, as a realist, I commend that the province remain the primary unit of devolution.

Speaking not only as a political scientist but even more so as a former diplomat, I would say the 13th Amendment is the only cross-cutting point we have. The Tamil political parties were rather unhappy with the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. They have yet to grasp and live with the reality that the 13th Amendment was the best that could be obtained even at a time more favorable for devolution, when India had forcefully intervened, J.R. Jayewardene had a 5/6th majority in the Parliament (albeit a parliament delegitimized by the coercive and rather fraudulent Referendum of Dec ’82), and there was a strong pro-devolution Left, a Left which made the supreme sacrifice in defense of provincial devolution as a solution to the Tamil question. 170 cadres of Vijaya Kumaratunga’s Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP), the party of which I was an Asst Secretary and the only party of which I’ve been a member, were killed by the JVP in the civil war in the South.

So, that’s the best deal that the devolution project could and would get, but from ’87 or more accurately from the excruciatingly difficult passage of the 13th amendment through the courts and the legislature in 1988, the Tamil nationalists, including the non-Tiger or anti-Tiger ones, were not satisfied. The TNA still says that it never accepted the 13th Amendment in 1987 and the EPRLF even before it took office had already denounced the 13th Amendment as being insufficient in terms of power. Now, how could they know that until they sat there? How could they know it a priori?  This attitude is why I resigned after four months as a Minister in the cabinet of the Northeast provincial Council, writing an Open Letter to the Chief Minister, which was published in the Sunday Times (Colombo), the Sunday Divaina, etc.

It is of course true that the UNP under Ranil Wickremesinghe set fire to the August 2000 Constitution. But whether it was Mangala Moonesinghe’s Parliamentary Select committee report and the deal of Indian model quasi-federalism in exchange for de-merger that was on the table, or Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s political packages of 1995, 1997, or August 2000, the TNA or those who comprised the TNA today (at the time the TULF) was just not interested or engaged as a peace partner. Even those political offers and opportunities that went, perhaps over-generously and imprudently, beyond the 13th amendment were just was not enough for mainstream Tamil nationalism. Well, those chances having been forfeited, now the challenge is to defend what is left of the 13th Amendment. That is what happens when you ‘price yourself out of the market’, which is what has happened to the TNA.

While most of the Tamils would like to go beyond the 13th amendment, most of the Sinhalese would like the 13th Amendment to go away. As a realist, my point is that we cannot go beyond the 13th Amendment at this stage of history even if it were desirable (which it isn’t) because the only way to go qualitatively beyond it is to do something that would require a referendum. If you go for a referendum, that amendment will come down in flames, probably taking provincial devolution down with it.

There are very strident Southern voices arguing that we should abolish the 13th Amendment and we should not have the elections that have been promised in September 2013. Of course that can be done. If, however, I could put words into the mouths and minds of the Tamil separatists in the Diaspora it would be “go ahead, make our day” because the only thing that turned India away from -pivoted it from- support of the separatist Tamil movement was the Indo-Lanka Accord and its inevitable corollary the 13th Amendment. That is what turned around Indian policy from its posture of 1983-1987 and put the IPKF against the LTTE. That is what kept India on our side during the concluding stage of the war in 2009, despite the agitation and imminence of elections in Tamil Nadu. The 13th amendment –both presence and promise– made the difference between the interruption of Operation Liberation in 1987 and the successful termination of the war by Sri Lanka in 2009. Unplug it and the process may go into reverse.

For those who say that they “are not going to give the TNA what they refused to give the Tigers”, well they seem to forget or deliberately obfuscate the fact that the LTTE fought against the 13th Amendment, it fought the EPRLF, it fought against the Northern provincial council and above all it fought the IPKF because it knew that the 13th Amendment is not a stepping stone to – still less tantamount to — separatism. Prabhakaran knew that there is no equation between the 13th Amendment and Tamil separatism; that these are two different things; that the 13th amendment is devolution within a unitary framework.

The TNA is not happy about devolution within a unitary state, but that’s what we have. That’s the only deal in town and it’ll be a ‘small miracle’ if it can be made to stick. For the Tamils, the challenge is this: either you make this work or you take a walk on the wild side, hope for external assistance to set up something much bigger. That is a dangerous gamble.

As far as the Sinhalese hawks go, I would say OK you can do away with the 13th amendment, the Northern provincial council, and the election –but are you ready to face the consequences of the morning after? Those consequences involve the remote possibility of Mrs. Jayalalitha as a Prime Minister next year or the far less remote possibility of an administration that is more susceptible to Tamil Nadu influence; the push factor of a Tamil Nadu that is hostile to Sri Lanka than it has been in 1987 when Mr. M.G. Ramachandran was Chief Minister. Is that a risk that Sri Lanka wants to take? Because I repeat, it was only the 13th Amendment that broke the nexus between the Tamil militant movement based in Tamil Nadu, the use of that as a rear base and patronage from New Delhi. If we remove that, are we willing to risk the reversal of everything that the 13th Amendment obtained for us in strategic terms? Do we want Tamil Nadu turned once again into the rear base of separatism? Do we want a convergence between the separatist elements of the Tamil Diaspora, the hardcore separatists of Tamil Nadu and a vacillatory administration at the Centre, together with the chill winds we now experience from the most powerful quarters of the West? Is that what we want to do? I mean, can you think of something that is strategically more moronic, more dangerous to our national security, than that?

While I am not a nationalist and would like to consider myself as, among other things, an enlightened patriot with a sense of Sri Lanka’s national interest, I recognize the reality of nationalism, of nationalisms, and I think they have to be accommodated partially if they have to be contained, pre-empting inevitable or renewed collision. The 13th Amendment is the only framework I see which can do that because if you undo it the whole deal is going to break down. The gap is too wide between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and the North and the South. So the only deal that I think can be done is what I call the 13th Amendment with swaps i.e. with mutually agreed upon tradeoffs.

I am aghast about the whole discussion of taking out from the 13th amendment the powers relating to land. That’s probably the crux of the issue and has been fairly carefully worked out. The one man who has the most intimate knowledge of the Indo-Lanka Accord and specifically the working out of the segment of land, the man who knows most about Indo-Sri Lanka relations and the loop it goes through the Tamil question and devolution, is a member of the Government and amazingly, shockingly, he has not been brought in to this equation at all. I refer to Dr. Sarath Amunugama in whose ministry and with whose active input –when he was Secretary to Mr. Gamini Dissanayake– the section on land powers was very carefully deliberated upon. I urge the administration to bring Dr. Amunugama front and center into helping manage our relations with India and handle the issues of 13th Amendment and land, because if you take away the powers of land through unilateral legislation, I do not think again there will be any Tamil takers and the whole deal may fall through, with the Tamils falling back on their old tradition of non-violent civic protest and the huge population of Tamil Nadu backing it up.

As President Obama said about peace between Israel and Palestine, everyone knows what the solution is: the solution is the 1967 borders with swaps. He also warned Israel that with the Arab Spring and the uncorking of popular nationalism, demography is moving against it. Similarly, everybody should know that whatever each actor’s notion of the best solution, the only feasible solution to Sri Lanka’s Tamil question is here: it is the 13th Amendment with mutually agreed upon tradeoffs i.e. the redistribution of the concurrent list. What you need is mutuality, where the concurrent list can be redistributed and some powers can be handed over to the province in exchange for the retention or taking back of certain others.

If we do not electorally reactivate the 13th amendment in September as promised, Sri Lanka will find that time and space are moving against us; that demography is moving against us and the political dynamics of our large and sole neighbor are moving in a direction that is adversarial towards us. I hope that nobody tries to unplug the 13th Amendment and not hold the elections this September. We are running out of time.

*Presentation at discussion series on Constitutional Reform organized by The Liberal Party

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Latest comments

  • 0

    There is a lacuna in this argument. If Tamil nadu can pressure the Indian government to take steps if the thirteenth amendment is not implemented, what is to prevent it from insisting on 13+? India’s involvement in creating the 13th amendment is no guarantee of India supporting more devolution.

    What DJ seems to ignore is that this agitation against the 13th amendment is an artificial one created by the regime. It will go away if the powers that be don’t want it. This is a ruse to magnanimously agree to the 13th. There are of course fringe extremist elements that may disagree but the cacophony prevalent today is unmistakably orchestrated by the king.

    If you want lasting peace it needs to address people’s grievances. Otherwise w will have a resurgence.


    • 0

      As far as I understand, peoples grievances, politicians’ grievances are two different things.

      Which people in the world are fighting for political solutions while they stay hungry and future-less.

      But such people with out any future were asked to fight for a future they would fight. Because, that is their last resort.

      • 0

        I’m sorry Jim, but it’s not clear what you are asking. If you are trying to say that economic grievances are the main issue here, I think you are right to an extent. The fact that Tamil Speakers were denied equal opportunity and consequently were marginalised economically due to issues like Sinhala only and standardisation is definitely true. Add to that the several pogroms culminating in 83 certainly made things worse. What you have to realise is the fact that the TNA is elected (and the fact that the present regime is (or was) trying to get Daya Master to run as CM) shows that the people’s grievances are more or less accurately reflected by the TNA. While there could be divergence of interests between the body politic and the elected representatives, in the context of the TNA and the Tamils there seems to be significant congruence. On the other hand between the Muslims and the Muslim Congress, the representatives have given preference to their interests to the detriment of their constituents.

  • 0

    “As a realist, I really do not wish to spend time ….”

    Oh really? That’s why you joined the cabinet of Mr Varatharaja Perumal?

    • 0

      What was wrong in joining the Cabinet of Vardarajaperumal, when I had supported and advocated the provincial council system as did Vijaya Kumaratunga and the entire democratic left?

      I had strongly urged the EPRLF and the Indians not to appoint him as chief minister. When I saw that Perumal was headed in the wrong direction and that could do nothing about it, I resigned in a few months, having accepted only a single months salary.

      • 0

        Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        “What was wrong in joining the Cabinet of Vardarajaperumal, when I had supported and advocated the provincial council system as did Vijaya Kumaratunga and the entire democratic left?”

        You are not Vijaya Kumaratunga.

        The problem is not joining the cabinet, with whom you ally yourself.

        Under Pathmanaba, Premachandran, Vardarajaperumal the then axis of evil blatant violations of human rights were committed with the protection and active support of the IPKF.

    • 0

      He is a down right opportunist with blood on his hands be it Sinhalese or Tamils.

  • 0

    Even a Bucket shop Bookie wuldn’t entertain any bets on Tamil Nadu calling the shots at the Center, let alone Ms JJ becoming the PM.

    Young Packer is not going to plough 400 Million Aussie Dollars in to our Colombo real eastate ,if Naduans had so much clout as what Dayan wants us to believe.

    The great majority of Indians who are from the North do not have much regard for Ms JJ or her subjects,

    All you got to do is talk to a few from Bombay or Calcutta.

    Back to the main game,

    Tamils in Colombo and rest of the South live better than most of the majority inhabitant population.

    If the TNA with this 13 under the belt is going to improve the lives of the ex capitives of the LLTE to the same standard as the Colombo Tamils. the great majority inhabitants will not only encourage but help them in which ever way they can.

    Is it their Mission?.

    Based on their past and present form..can the great majority of the inhabitant population trust the TNA to be ” civil” administrators especially if they hold the titles to the land bank?.

    Can the Govt eastablish or expand security posts and military camps to fight any intrusions from Ms JJ or the ever growing Tiger Army there, without fighting the TNA first?.

    Can the great majority inhabitants enjoy the same freedom that they enjoy now and travel freely to their sacred places in the North?.

    Can the keen travellers establish a holiday home or a permenent abode without facing the wrath of the TNA administration?.

    These may appear simple queries.

    The great majority are no Polnitical Scientists.

    They like simple answers to clear their doubts.

    And these answers must come from the TNA, before they agree to given the 13 with the Title to the Land Bank..

    They are glad that Dayan didn’t mention Police Powers at this stage.

    • 0

      K.A Sumanasekera

      How are you?

    • 0

      The great majority of Indians in the North does not know where really is the south, including their undies. You talk very proud of the Northern minds what’s your affinity to prop them Sumana?

    • 0

      Do you think India will dash their people (Tamil nadu) and try to help you (Sri Lanka) out of the way? Northern Indian states will do poo poo on Tamil nadu and push India to help SriLanka? Will India help you to kill the baby coceived in their laboratory ?

    • 0

      Is that so stupid Sumane?
      Let you know few things;

      Which is national language of India? Answer me. I give you Answer : None Reason: Whole Naudan’s stood against India for recognizing Hindi as national langauge and Nehru had to drop making Hindi as national language. Finally TN made all 18 languages as national language, and all 18 languages have been appearing in rupee note. So we dont need to have PM from us to do, even the current student community is good enough.

    • 0

      If Narendra Mody becomes the PM of India, Jayalalitha who has a very close relationship with NM will become powerful. Jayalalitha need not be the Prime Minister to get things done. She can get things done definitely after the next election as she is going to be strong politically in Tamil Nadu. Any party that comes to govern India will have to have the support of Jayalalitha. So she will be strong. The question is how strong Jayalalitha’s stand on Sri Lankan Tamil issue going to be after the election? If Jayalalitha follows the same path she is following now post election era is going to be a very difficult time period for Sri Lanka.

    • 0

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Tamils in Colombo and rest of the South live better than most of the majority inhabitant population.”

      So time to start another communal riots to commemorate 30 years of July 1983.

      If you are in short supply you can always import a few from the “Rent a Mob” entrepreneurs of Northern India, places such as Bihar, Gujrat, Delhi, Bengal ………and permanently station them in the South in case if you frequently needed to level the playing field.

      • 0

        Dear Native,

        Interesting point,

        Even killing thirty two Samaneras ( Baby Buddhist Monks- BBM) in Arantalawa couldn’t provoke the BBS to attack the Tamil brethren who live among them.

        They havn’t had even a tiff with the Muslim brethren for one hundred years to date,unlike the unlucky “Converts” who chose to live among their supposed to be own people.

        Until of course M-TNA joined hands with the TNA.

        What bothers the Southerners however is the possibility that Madrasi Piraparans and the Diaspora funded Rent a Crowd Mobs from Vaiko territory landing on our Northern beaches, when the coast is patrolled by the TNA activists , sorry Police, when the Vellalas get hold of the Province.

        • 0

          K.A Sumanasekera

          You are indeed a Tamil Saivaite disguised in a Sinhala attire, probably a secret admirer of Prabaharan.

          “Rent a Crowd Mobs from Vaiko territory”

          Oh stupid Sumana it has always been the practice of the Sinhalese kings to import “rent a mercenaries” Vellaikkara Padai from South India. Mahan brought 20,000 vellaikkarar from South India kicked your people for a considerable time.

          You* always ask for trouble and eventually get hammered.

          * You = Tamils + Sinhalese.

          By the way, Vaiko is a descendant of Telungan like your MR.

  • 0

    At present 13A is what is available that can give some measure of devolution within a unitary state. It has been implemented in all other provinces so why not in the North. Those who speak against 13A do so without any alternative in hand. Consulting and obtaining consensus for any alternative is years from now.

    Government should take steps to fully implement 13A in the spirit of devolution. This would include down sizing of the Central Govt apparatus. Reducing the size of the cabinet and removing any overlapping responsibilities. Reducing the number of MP’s as they will become redundant. Central Govt can take on the role of policy making, planning and supervising the implementation of development activities through the PC’s.

    • 0


      You are asking the elephant to enter the house through the front door! The elephant that is the central government has grown and become a large , marauding presence since 1987 and the 13th amendment.

      The executive presidency is the dominant institution and IS the government and the state. It is rampaging and trampling everything obstructing its path. What the Executive President gives is what we take! This is the reality at present, however unpleasant and unacceptable it may be. Unless, the issue threatens his electoral base as does the electricity price issue at the moment, he will not yield. The other side is expected to yield or be ready to be trampled. This is the unfortunate reality.

      This is the unfortunate reality we have to live in the short term and probably in the medium term. It is a moral dilemma of immense proportions, where the ideal has to be conciously and reluctantly sacrificed for the expedient. The Northern PC elections are to be held in September this year, which is short term on my scale. Can the marauding elephant be tamed before this? Can it even be downsized? Can the political equation be changed that fast? All impossibilities! This is the stalk reality.

      The reality is to accept what is being offered as is, because it is being offered. There should be a mechanism to tranquilize the elephant and even ride it. What is best tranquilzer, who will administer it ,at what dose and what cost? This is the reality. This is the only way to deal with a bleak reality. How can we make the best out of a bad situation in the interests of a battered Tamil people?

      Do we need political turmoil and further political polarisation in the north? Do the people in the north need this at this juncture of their history? Will the Northern PC be a boon or the bane for these unfortunate people? This is ‘ real’ reality that has to be addressed.

      The TNA has to do much soul searching, in view of the above realities and make its choices. History will be its unforgiving and unrelenting judge.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0

    Dr. Dayan,

    You have made a case for the 13th amendment as a political scientist and diplomat. You have also been a member of a political party and briefly a politician. Now wear your politician hat ( as a practitioner of politics as an art and science of governance), to tell us what we should do as the date for the Northern PC elections are set for September’ 2013, four months from now? What should the TNA , UPFA and the UNP do, given the current circumstances? We need your prescription, even if it is bitter, to make a bad situation better or at least to prevent a bad situation becoming worse. You can be quite blunt and I would like you to be as blunt as you can.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0

    What is at stake is the credibility of the Rajapakse regime and the Sri Lankan state. Civilian death – in very large numbers, was always going to be an inevitable consequence of the Vanni war. I knew this in my bones even before the final assault. Yet, I am one of the very few Tamils who supported the war efforts, as it was something that had to be done…..as was the case at the “Kurushestra”. I even attended the “Ape Wenuwen Api” function held in Liverpool to express my views loud and clear. Mr President (and Mr Gotabaya Rajapakse) please……or please, do not make me regret my decision by giving into the “Jathika Chintanites”, “Bala Senas” and the “Nidahas Peramunas” at this stage. You both have the opportunity to go down the history books as the brothers who truly united the country by doing the right thing. You also have the opportunity to go down the history books as the brothers who squandered the best opportunity and thereby coverting the historic victory achieved at Nandikadal into a huge crime against humanity. The choice is yours and only yours.

  • 0

    Unless the citizens of the north and east can live peacefully as equals in every sense of the word,without harassment and oppression and unless all IDPs are allowed to return to their homes, there will not be peace and contentment.
    Functioning of the northern and eastern provincial councils is quite a diferent matter.
    The writ of the Military Governers override all decisions of the councils.
    Ignoring this and arguing about the future is pointless.

  • 0

    The problem with Sri Lanka is the inability and unwillingness of the Southern Provincial Councils to force the government of Sri Lanka to implement the rights given to the PCs under the constitution. The sad state of affairs is that the PCs in the south think that PC rights are only for the north and east. This is mainly because the PC politicians are not educated and know the laws of the country.

  • 0

    DJ is saying “… the political dynamics of our large and sole neighbour are moving in a direction that is adversarial towards us”. Divested of its flourishes, he sees the likelihood of a BJP coalition at the centre responding favourably to Tamil Nadu militancy. Perception is correct.

    He therefore makes an early and urgent warning to the government to catch time by the forelock and to work out a minimal arrangement for the Tamil side. There lies the advantage in his judgement – which is also correct- of the Congress joining the SL government and thrusting it on the Tamils. Once the Tamil leadership accepts it, it can be touted to the successor Indian government that the problem is settled, so do not be a spoiler. This explains his fixation with 13A and for imminent action.

    There is advice to the Tamil leadership as well. The minimal is good enough, accept or you will lose even that. TNA is too hard boiled to swallow it. DJ and Sir Oliver are prone to the same weakness. Once Colvin said in Parliament “There is a brain at Queen’s House, but it does not accept the truism that there are other brains in this country”.

  • 0

    Dr Dayan Jayathilake had come out with his stand fairly and forthrightly,

    “the only feasible solution to Sri Lanka’s Tamil question is here: it is the 13th Amendment with mutually agreed upon tradeoffs i.e. the redistribution of the concurrent list. What you need is mutuality, where the concurrent list can be redistributed and some powers can be handed over to the province in exchange for the retention or taking back of certain others”

    but it is not the concurrent issue that is in dispute, but the police and land powers and also 154G where some veto powers is given to the Provincial Councils regarding Provincial Council List when the government does not enjoy 2/3 majority.

    It was widely believed that under the present constitution no party will gain 2/3 majority.

    But the Rajapakse Government had fraudulently obtained 2/3 majority.

    It is only an aberation and the government should not be allowed to meddle with the constitution like what they did with the 18 amendment.

    But much more important issue is whether the government is ready to reestablish law and order and establishment of independent commission or whether the government is willing to conduct a free and fair election in terms of best democratic principles?

    Dr Dayan 13 A is not at all a solution to the Tamil question, but as you rightly said it is primarily(no solely) to do with empowerment of the people at grass root level and it could enhance if properly handled real participatory democracy

  • 0

    One of the major problem with DJ is that he cannot come out of his Sinhala Nationalistic background. As Sulaiman pointed out in his comment that “this agitation against the 13th amendment is an artificial one created by the regime”. The reality is Sinhala masseses are not really against the devolution but it is the Sinhala leadership that is not prepared to accept the devolution. For example, when President Rajapakse told the India that he will not go beyond 13+, Sinhala people gave him full support. The extremist groups like BBS, Sinhala Urumaya, Champika or Wijewanse did not have any support from the sinhala masses. It is myth that Sinhalese will turn against Rajapakse or Ranil if they do the propaganda for proper devolution of power to resolve the issue. One of the major problem with the 13th amendment is that the centre having the power to dissolve the provincial council body at any time without any reason. Sinhalese have more than two-third majority and the constitution can be easily amended if they want. It is necessary that two-third of the provincial council or regional council people should opt for any change in the devolved units and its power. Let Give a chance to Northern and Eastern province people to show how they run their administration in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment respecting the rule of law.

    People like Dayan Jeyatilake should not follow the same fear mongering politics about Tamils. I am 100% sure that Tamils will provide a better administrtion than the Sinhala leadership for all if there is no intimidation from Centre.

  • 0

    If Mahinda Rajapakse forget all these crappy political theories and IF he develop the economy in a way that it is intertwined with other factors that would solve the problem.

    Even that will be short lived as Tamils think as the majority and not as the minority.

    Southern govt should not expect any thing from tamils as they are inherently racist.

    • 0

      “Southern govt should not expect any thing from tamils as they are inherently racist.” Southern sinhalese with an IQ below 40 are racist too. There is no question of doubt that sinhalese have always been jelous of the nothern tamil taking a train from Jaffna on a weekend to colombo to attend CA classes etc and obtaining the gold medal or the Z score.Not forgetting that the sinhalese have been jelous of the thriftyness of the Jaffanese.
      Mokada baan raate bedapan ko. You are unable to divide because you will end up like the palestanians with the BBS begging bowl.

  • 0

    Who says the Sinhala masses are for devolution. Yes, they were at one point but CERTAINLY NOT NOW.

    What was offered then was not taken or accepted.
    Now the situation has chaged. Ground rules are different.

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      J muththa

      If necessary, ground rules can be changed once again but the misery will continue.

      The changes not necessarily will come from within but without.

      One should do what is right for the people not what ground rules dictate.

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    When did you become a realist?

    Were you a realist in 1988 when you joined the cabinet of Vardarajaperumal?

    (The Provincial Councils does not have a Cabinet. It is called the Board of Ministers according to 13A)

    Have you ever gone through the 13 A or the Provincial Council Act No 42 of 1987?

    I am sure you didn’t?

    “You had strongly urged the EPRLF and the Indians not to appoint him as chief minister”

    Yet you had joined his administration and resigned in a few months1
    Were you a realist then ?

    When did you become a realist?

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    None doubt your versatility and the value you bring to political opponents when you switch sides – bringinf a lot of inside information which is your key value proposition. You did that effectively with Comrade Vardaraja Perumal of EPRLF. You advised Premadasa who armed the LTTE which destroyed the non racist leadership of EPRLF. Thanks to your good advise Preme had to exit. How sound was your Judgment ?

    You are stuck now, because there is no one you can take your inside information to. Hence you waste your time writing.

    Don’t credit your self. It was easy to swing the world against LTTE once they had proved to the world of their racist fascist behavior and by the same token it is very easy to swing the world against the current set up. Any monkey can do that – because it does not depend on any particular monkey. It depends on how well we disgust the world.

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      Kiri Yakka

      Dayan is also a professional war crime denier and a self confessed war monger.

      He is not a intellectually honest person to begin with who types and types and types………..volumes, and takes several positions all at the same time.

      Please refer to his typing before May 2009, after and now.

  • 0

    I reproduce an itemized history of Sri Lanka from the advet of the Portuguese to independence ( By Dagmar Hellman-Rajanayagam), published sometime back to not only remind us of key historical events, but also to point out that we are frozen in time on many matters. The communal representation introduced by the British, instead of territorial representation, has led to the communal polarization of politics in this country.

    “Chronology of events from the Arrival of the first Colonial Powers until 1948
    by: Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam,
    Unit for Strategic and Security Studies,
    National University of Malaysia Bangi,
    43600 Bangi/Selangor,

    1505: The Portuguese arrive in Ceylon

    1519: Cankili I comes to the throne of Jaffna
    1543: Cankili I orders 600 Christians in Mannar to be killed on suspicion of collaborating with the Portuguese.

    mid-16th century: The Vanniyar chieftains of Mullaitivu and Trincomalee allly with the Portuguese against Cankili and his attempts to subdue them. Cankili expels the Sinhalese from Jaffna because they support the Vanniyar.

    1560: The Portuguese narrowly defeat Cankili in a battle to avenge the ‘massacre of Mannar’ and demand concession. They retain Mannar and put puppet king Edirmanasingham on the throne.

    1564-65: Indian sources report a battle between the Nayak of Madurai and his Poligar army (on the order of the ruler of Vijayanagara) and the king of Kandy near Puttalam, in which the latter was defeated and killed.

    1591: Cankili II (Cankilikumaran) declared governor of Jaffna by the Portuguese on condition that he has no contact with the Karaiyar generals.

    1619/20: Cankili II allies with the Karaiyar general Mikkappillai (Migapulle) from Mannar; defeated after prolonged fighting with the Portuguese.

    1620-24: Karaiyar generals continue the resistance against the Portuguese with the help of the Nayak of Tanjavur. After the final defeat the Karaiyar plunge themselves into their own swords.
    1623: Cankilikumaran executed in Goa. The Portuguese destroy all big temples in Jaffna and Trincomalee.

    1658: The Dutch take the Maritime Provinces including Jaffna from the Portuguese. They misunderstand the Kutimai and Atimai system and treat them as slaves, thus changing the economic and social structure of Jaffna.

    1766: The Dutch force the King of Kandy to hand Batticaloa over to them in a treaty and cut off Kandy’s access to the sea.

    1795/96: The British take Ceylon from the Dutch.

    1796: J. Burnand, a Swiss soldier in the service of the Dutch and later the English, and governor of Batticaloa, composes a ‘memoir’ in Batticaloa and the Vanni and his administration there in 1794.

    1798: J. Burnand helps with the suppression of the revolt against the Indian amildars, administrators brought from Madras to Ceylon. He drafts another ‘memoir’ on the North and Northeast, in which he locates the origins of the Sinhalese in Siam and mentions that from time immemorial Sinhalese and Tamils had divided the rule of the island between the two of them.

    1799 The English translation of Burnand’s memoir of 1798 becomes known as the ‘Cleghorn minute’.

    1803: In the Treaty of Amiens the new possessions of the British and Dutch in Asia are confirmed. Holland retains Batavia, the British Ceylon. The British defeat the last Vanniya, Pantara Vanniyan, and execute him. A pension is paid to his widow, the Vannichi, until the late 19th century.

    1813: The American Mission founds the Batticotta Seminary (later Jaffna College).

    1815: The British defeat the last King of Kandy, Wikramasinha,and contract the Kandy Convention with the aristocrats.

    1818: In a last-ditch revolt against the British a Tamil crown pretender arises and flees to Jaffna after being defeated. He is eventually found and executed.

    1820: A Tamil press is established in Jaffna. A report on Trincomalee laments its sorry, poverty-stricken state and recommends ‘colonization with intelligent settlers’.

    1823: The American Mission establishes a girls’ school in Jaffna, the first in Asia.

    1827: The ‘Return of the Population 1824’ gives the population figures for Trincomalee as 19158, among them 317 Sinhalese. Batticaloa town had 9(!) inhabitants, the district 27483, in the Majority Mukkuvar, Moors and ‘Bellale’. The Vanni, counted under Mannar, has 22536 inhabitants, among them 517 Sinhalese.

    1829: Unrest between Protestants and Catholics in Jaffna.

    1833: Under the Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms Ceylon becomes administratively unified, English is the language of administration.

    1834: Simon Casie Chetty writes the ‘Ceylon Gazetteer’. He describes Batticaloa as a cool, healthy and fertile district. He is nominated as a member to the Executive Council.

    1847: Arumuka Navalar (1822-1879) leaves Jaffna Central School because of the admission of a low-caste (Nalavar) boy by Peter Percival. The Ceylon Observer laments the unhealthy climate and economic neglect of the the Eastern province.

    1848: A rebellion in Kandy against corn taxes and rajakariya is put down by the British. Arumuka Navalar accompanies Peter Percival to Madras to present their translation of the bible. He founds his own school in Vannarponnai.

    1829-67: Van Dyke is Government Agent in Jaffna.

    1859: Simon Casie Chetty publishes his ‘Tamil Plutarch’.

    1865: Muttu Coomaraswamy is nominated as member of the Legislative Council.

    1866: In one of his famous sermons Arumuka Navalar reproaches his fellow Tamils with neglecting their religion and their language. The Report of the Education Commission emphasises the importance of English as medium of instruction over and against the ‘vernaculars’.

    1867-84: Twynam is Government Agent in Jaffna.

    1871: Caste clashes between Vellalar, dhobies and barbers in Mavittappuram, because the dhobies refuse to wash the barbers’ clothes. Vellalar are blamed for the conflagration. Arumuka Navalar founds the Caivap Pirapalanarc Capai.

    1872: An English medium school founded by Arumuka Navalar founders due to financial difficulties.

    1876: During a famine in Jaffna Arumuka Navalar helps with collecting and distributing food to starving Vellalar.

    1879: Sir P. Ramanathan is nominated for the Legislative Council with the strong support of the Jaffna elite against Christopher Brito. Brito publishes the English translation of the Yalppana Vaipava Malai.

    1890: Sir P. Ramanathan claims in a controversial article that the Tamil speaking Muslims are Tamils which is fiercely rejected.

    1895: P. Arunachalam is nominated for the Legislative Council. One Muslim member is nominated to the Legislative Council.

    1895-1905: Twynam is again Government Agent for Jaffna.

    1907: In an article for a British publication P. Arunachalam defends the caste system as benevolent and necesssary.

    1908/ 1910/ 1912: During ‘Durbars of Tamil Chiefs in Jaffna and Batticaloa’ the British governor is told that the inhabitants of the two districts are not interested in the ‘Settlement of the Vanni’, though the latter was of the opinion that the Tamils had the right of first refusal in this area. Tamils do not want to go into the Vanni because of the unhealthy climate, but they do not want to admit Sinhalese or Indians there either.

    1909: The Jaffna Association rejects group representation.

    1909/11: Under the Crewe-McCallum Reforms four non-officials and an ‘educated Ceylonese’ are to be elected to the Legislative Council by selected Ceylonese voters.

    1910: A memorial of the Jaffna Association requests voting rights also for Tamils educated in the vernacular.

    1912: Sir P. Ramanathan wins the elections for the ‘educated Ceylonese’ seat against the Sinhalese doctor Marcus Fernando. In a ‘History of Jaffna’ Muttutampippillai calls Elara a king of Jaffna and a Cola prince. The Education Commission debates the question of the advisability of instruction in the mother tongue in English language and Anglo-vernacular schools.

    1916: The Trincomalee Gazetteer reports that Tamils are the numerically strongest group on the East coast.

    1917: P. Arunachalam demands more political influence for the Ceylonese in a speech ‘On Our Political Needs’ at the establishment of the Ceylon National Association.

    1918: The Jaffna Association introduces the 50-50 representation formula for the Legislative Council in a memo.

    1919: The Ceylon National Congress is established with P. Arunachalam as one of its founder members.

    1920: As member of a delegation on constitutional reform in London P. Arunachalam assures Count Milner that all Ceylonese desire ‘territorial representation’ and none ‘group representation’. Founding of ‘Jaffna Historical Society’.

    1920/21: The Manning Reforms abolish group representation (2:1) and introduce territorial representation to the fierce protest of the Tamils and the minorities who lose their relative strength under an extended voting system (4% of the population).

    1921: P. Arunachalam leaves the CNC because of a controversy over the Western(Colombo) Seat for the Tamils.

    22nd Jan.: In a lecture in Jaffna entitled Tamilar Nakarikam (The Culture of the Tamils!) Marai Malai Atikal (1876-1951) names the Vellalar as the ‘cultured agricultural class among the Tamils’.

    15th Aug.: The Tamil Mahajana Sabhai is founded and takes up the call for 50-50: Balanced Representation.
    In a booklet on the East Canagaratnam calls Batticaloa hot and unhealthy without significant economic growth. Diseases like Malaria, Smallpox, and Choler and periodic famines are rampant, after the irrigation installations have fallen into decrepitude. The population percentages for the district in 1920: were: 55% Tamils, 39% Muslims, 3.75 Sinhalese.

    1922: S. Rasanayagam gives a paper on ‘Ancient Jaffna’ to the RAS(CB) which is heavily attacked by Sinhalese scholars.

    1922/23: The Manning Reforms are retracted and modified group representation is reintroduced.

    1923 (16th Sept.): P. Arunachalam founds the Ceylon Tamil League (Ilankai Tamil makkal cankam) to ssafeguard Tamil Culture in the Tamilakam (Arunachalam’s speech in the ‘Morning Leader’ of that date). In a caste revolt in Sutumalai Vellalar attack Paramba who had hired drummers for a funeral.
    During a historical conference Tamil New Year (13th/14th April) is declared Tamil National Day. A number of Tamil Literary and Cultural Associations are founded. During a second visit Marai Malai Atikal is warmly greeted in Jaffna. A CNC document calls the Eastsern province “…admittedly Tamil”.

    1924: First elections under the rules of the Manning Reforms.
    P. Arunachalam dies.

    1926: S. Rasanayagam’s ‘Ancient Jaffna’ is published.

    1928: Nanappirakacar publisheshis replique to Rasanayagam: ‘A Critical History of Jaffna’.

    1928/29: The Donoughmore Commission comes to Ceylon. It gives the population figures for the Eastern Province as 192821, of which 101880 are Tamils, 8600 Sinhalese, 75475 Muslims and 1371 Indians.

    1929: Catholics from Mannar complain to the Donoughmore Commission about caste repression and injustice and demand to be acknowledged as an ‘ethnic’ minority. Protestant Tamils denounce the move. In a preface to a new edition of his father’s historical study on Jaffna Daniel John names Cankili I as sthe king who by driving the Sinhalese from Jaffna made ‘Jaffna safe for the Tamils’. Fernao Queyroz’ report on the conquest of Ceylon is published in English translation. The Education Report (signed, among others, by P. Ramanathan) demands instruction in the mother tongue and compulsory religious education. E.V. Ramacami Naicker (Periyar) visits Jaffna.

    14th June/16th Aug. 1929: Start of the ‘Equal-seating’ controversy: After a directive by the administration that in grant-aided schools low-casste children have to be allowed to sit on benches instead on the floor or outside on the ground virulent protests erupt from the Vellalar. Low-caste children are assaulted and their houses burnt down. The low-caste parents are afraid to send their children to school.

    1930: Death of Sir P. Ramanathan.

    20th June: In a petition to the government Vellalar from Urelu, Vasavilan and Punalakkattavan demand to rescind the equal-seating directive.

    1931: The Donoughmore constitution introduces universal suffrage and territorial representation against the spirited protests of the Tamils. The Jaffna Youth Congress demands a boycott of the constitution and the elections, since they do not confer dominion status on Ceylon. Caste clashes in Canganai where Pallar are attacked by Vellalar for hiring drummers for a funeral. Nehru visits Jaffna and is warmly greeted by the Jaffna Youth Congress.

    1933: G.G. Ponnambalam denounces the boycott. In articles in Ilakecari the Jaffna Youth Congress now agrees to end the boycott. Several pamphlets denouncing democracy and voting rights for low castes and women demand a federation between India and Ceylon to safeguard group representation under the umbrella of the British Raj.

    1934: Bye-elections in Jaffna after the boycott is rescinded. G.G. Ponnambalam founds the All Ceylon Tamil Conference. A Tamil author, Singhan, residing in Malaya, demands the abolition of universal suffrage and the respect of caste rules and distinctions.
    S. Rasanayagam publishes his history of Jaffna under the British (in Tamil).

    1935: The Jaffna Association repeats its demand for 50-50 representation: 50% for the Sinhalese, 25% for the Tamils, 25% for the other minorities.

    1936: In the elections G.G. Ponnambalam wins for the first time against A. Mahadeva. Governor Stubbs recommends the abolition of territorial representation.

    1937: a ‘pan-Sinhalese’ Board of Ministers is established under Senanayake which does not contain a single Tamil in order to punish the Tamils for the election Boycott in 1931. Ponnambalam demands 50-50 representation for the first time.

    1938: Leonard Woolfe proposes a federation as the best solution for Ceylon in a memo to the Fabian Society. The Jaffna Youth Congress passes a resolution against the 50-50 formula. As souvenir in honour of Arumuka Navalar is published.

    1939: In his famous ‘nine-hour-speech’ Ponnambalam defends the concept of 50-50 representation: 50% for the Sinhalese, 50% for ALL minorities. Ilakecari praises the formerly vilified P. Ramanathan for his yeoman service for the Tamils and denounces G.G. Ponnambalam as a ‘Colombo Tamil’. Jaffna Youth Congress leader K. Balasingham calls for a federation with India to safeguard democratic principles.
    1940: The elections due in that year are postponed because of the outbreak of WWII. In a amemo to the CNC Jayewardene demands a federation between India and Ceylon.

    1941: In a preliminary draft constitution formulated by Jayewardene and others for the CNC Tamil and Sinhala are named as sthe official languages in their respective areas. But in a memo to the CNC J.R. Jayewardene rejects any concessions to the minorities in the political systam and says the Donoughmore Constitution tried to buy the loyalty of the Sinhalese, the ‘stronger group’.

    1942: The idea of a federation with India is repeated in a memo to the CNC by G. Perera.

    1943: The BoM is asked to draft a new constitution for an independent Ceylon after the end of the war. The Report of the Special Committee on Education recommends free education up to tertiary level in the mother tongues.

    1944: G.G. Ponnambalam founds the All Ceylon Tamil Congress. In a series of telegrams to the British Government and the Labour Party he demands the protection and granting of equal rights to the Indian Tamils. A resollution by Jayewardene in the State Council states that Sinhala and Tamil will be official languages and media of instruction after independence.

    15th Oct: The Communist Party of Ceylon proposes an All-Party Conference to discuss the right of self-determination and independence for the two nationalities of Ceylon, Sinhalese and Tamils.

    19th Dec.: The All-Party Conference is held in Colombo with nearly all parties participating, except Tamil Congress, Kandyan Assembly and European Association.

    1944/45: The Soulbury Commission visits Ceylon to get feedback on the draft constitution and is boycotted by the Sinhalese. The Commission accepts the BoM constitution draft with slight modifications as the ‘Soulbury Constitution’.

    1946: In an article in the Ceylon Daily News the Secretary General of the ACTC, S.C. Sivasubramaniam, denounces the Soulbury Constitution. Subsequently he pleads for cooperation between UNP and ACTC as the only chance for the Tamils in a letter to the editor of the Colombo Observer in March 1947. Dudley Senanayake demands Sinhala to be made the only national language and is fiercely attacked by the English language press.

    1947: The UNP wins the elections. In Jaffna, the ACTC wins a majority of votes.

    1948 (4th Feb.): Ceylon becomes independent under the UNP government. A. Mahadeva and G.G. Ponnambalam join Senanayake’s Cabinet.”


    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0

      Useful data. The readership owes Dr Narendran a tremendous debt for his careful record-keeping.


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