3 July, 2022


Parliamentary Election: The Real Stakes

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

How should I say it? ‘The proverbial cat is out the bag’ or ‘the cat is out of the proverbial bag’ or ‘the proverbial cat is out of the proverbial bag’? Whichever it is, the cat is well and truly out. “Sri Lanka must have a new Constitution-Expert” says the headline in The Hindu of the news story filed by T. Ramakrishnan.

The opening paragraph reads as follows: “Jayampathy Wickramaratne, the leader of a three-member team that prepared the 19th Constitutional Amendment in Sri Lanka, called for a new Constitution which will include a fresh Bill of Rights and address the issues of devolution of powers to provincial councils and power sharing at the Centre.”

So, despite the long painful negotiations to push the 19th amendment through by near-unanimity, the plan is to waste time on a new constitution. To what end? For one, a fresh Bill of Rights– but why would that need a new constitution? It could have been included in the voluminous 19th amendment. What could be included in a fresh Bill of Rights that requires a new Constitution instead of simply an amendment in the form of a fresh Bill of Rights? Could it perhaps be the so-called right of Internal Self-Determination which Anton Balasingham advocated during the dark days of Thimpu and the CFA?

Much more important and far more explicit is the second reason adduced by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne for the promulgation of a new Constitution: to “address the issues devolution of powers to provincial councils and power sharing at the Centre”.

The report goes on to say: “Pointing out that the 19th Amendment did not cover the issues of devolution and power sharing, the expert told The Hindu on Monday that “ideally speaking, we should have a brand new Constitution. We cannot go on with this Constitution. It has been amended so many times.”

True the 19th amendment “did not cover the issues of devolution and power sharing” but the existing 13th amendment does. If the new government is dissatisfied with this why did it not introduce improvements to the devolution scheme in the 19th amendment itself? Furthermore, what is the cut-off point for amendments and why does Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne think that 19 amendments in almost four decades are too many for a Constitution?

What are the issues of devolution of power to provincial councils that require something other than the 13th amendment? What are the devolutionary measures envisaged that require something more than amendments to the 13th amendment of a sort which would need only a two thirds majority? What is the quantum of devolution that would require a whole new constitution?

The 13th amendment is perfectly capable of being streamlined and if need be, stretched, through further amendment. This was envisaged by President Jayewardene and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s team and was referred to as “residual issues”. President Jayewardene did not at any time envisage going beyond the 13th amendment as such, and even the 13th amendment was permissible because of the plenitude of Presidential powers which acted as a safeguard. Any improvements could be made by renegotiating the concurrent list and trading off the powers contained therein.

The resultant would be definable as 13Plus or ‘building on the 13th amendment’ –and would require only a two thirds majority in parliament. However, it is only a move that is qualitatively “beyond the 13th amendment” that would need a brand new constitution.

What the UNP-CBK crew has in mind is perfectly illustrated by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne: “Arguing for stronger Provincial Councils and power sharing at the Centre, Dr. Wickramaratne said Provinces and various communities should share power at the Centre…”

Why should there be stronger Provincial Councils than the 13th amendment permits and how much stronger should they be? Why should stronger provincial councils be supplemented by ‘various communities’ sharing power at the center? How would this differ from the current situation in which any ethnic or regional party may share power at the center by joining a coalition government? What kind of share of power and indeed what kind of power should the “various communities” have at the center, which goes beyond the standard measure of being a coalition partner?

So the UNP-CBK project is of Provincial Councils which are stronger than permitted by even an amended 13th amendment, combined with greater power at the center, going beyond participation in cabinet, for “various communities”.

Jayampathy Wickramaratne spills the beans about his main objection to the 13th amendment: “It permits the Centre to take back powers. Every comma and full stop in the 13th Amendment has been used by those who are against devolution to take back powers.”

So the plan is to have instead of even an improved, streamlined 13th amendment, a new Constitutional arrangement in which the center cannot take back powers, whatever the dangers and circumstances; whatever the behavior of the Councils. This would be federalism of a very loose sort indeed.

This ties in perfectly with President Kumaratunga’s open advocacy of a “federal constitution” in her SJV Chelvanayakam memorial lecture on April 25th this year. It also ties in with Prime Minister Modi’s suggestion that Sri Lanka go beyond the 13th amendment, and his signaling of federalism.

Above all it fits in with the prescription publicly communicated last year by the new US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Athul Keshap. In a superb piece of reportage, former US embassy employee Daya Gamage excerpts the US official and diplomat’s articulation of US policy on Sri Lanka:

‘When Mr. Atul Keshap, not once but several occasions in the same interview with a Sri Lankan newspaper – Daily Mirror –spoke about establishing a federal structure in Sri Lanka, he was obviously pronouncing a policy plank of the United States Government already determined at some high level. At this June 20, 2014 interview Mr. Keshap told what the United States believed in saying: “the U.S. believes in a very bright future for this country …A country that has created a meaningful formula for devolution of power and federalism, to ensure coherence among the various regions … It’s been five years since the war ended and I haven’t seen any meaningful discussion or movement along the lines of a meaningful negotiation of the very tricky political issues related to federalism…we care about meaningful devolution of powers to ensure that a true federal compact can be forged to really cement the peace and put the country on a good track”. ’ (‘Atul Keshap: New US Envoy to Sri Lanka for ‘Federal Structure’, May 1, 2015, Daya Gamage, Asian Tribune)

So, it was not only because of his perceived tilt to US rival China that Mahinda Rajapaksa had to go. It was because “five years since the war ended” the US and India “haven’t seen any meaningful discussion or movement along the lines of a meaningful negotiation of the very tricky political issues related to federalism”.

Mahinda Rajapaksa had to be electorally de-stabilized not only because he wouldn’t dump the Chinese and Russians and reduce his country to a pawn of the US pivot to Asia but also because he wouldn’t convert to the Gospel of Federalism as preached by the US political evangelists.

The dismantling of Sinhala power and the ushering in a federal system has been outsourced to the UNP and Chandrika Kumaratunga. “End Sinhala Monopoly, Says Kumaratunga” is the caption of the report on CBK’s Chelvanayakam lecture by veteran correspondent P K Balachandran. He sums up Chandrika Chinthana as follows:

“Former Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga said here on Saturday, that the dismantling of Sinhala majoritarian politics, government structures and laws, is essential for the establishment of durable peace in the island nation. In her SJV Chelvanayakam oration on “Winning the war is not establishing peace” held under the auspices of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi, Kumaratunga said the root cause of the unending ethnic conflict in Lanka is the monopolization of the political, economic and social resources of the country by the majority Sinhala community to the exclusion of the minority communities.” (The New Indian Express 26th April 2015)

Federalism in the North and East of this small island adjacent to Tamil Nadu will enable a base for Tamil Nadu expansionism, global pan–Tamilism and the Tamil Diaspora. It will be a dual use base, the trade-off being that it will also serve as a beachhead for US and India on our soil. It will be the embryo of a Tamil Kosovo, a Tamil Kurdistan or Tamil Israel.

In a relatively small island with no defense in depth, a de facto federal unit in the North and East will leave us in the same situation as the boy Prince Gemunu, scrunched up in bed with no strategic space–a Tamil Kingdom, an extension of Tamil Nadu, in the North, and the Indian Ocean at his back.

Ranil-Mangala-CBK are planning to cross the ‘red line’ of federalism, egged on by the TNA, the Tamil Diaspora, the US, UK and India. We, the people, must not permit them to do so. It is geopolitical existentialism, if I may call it that, which makes me insist with all the urgency at my command, that we must reject the Ranil-Mangala-CBK federalist project at the upcoming elections, building the broadest possible anti-federalist, anti-secessionist, anti-external hegemonist People’s National United Front so as to win this historic battle. It is the politico-electoral equivalent and corollary of the war we finally won in 2009. It is the victory we need, so as not to lose in the political and constitutional realm, that which our soldiers won on the battlefield. We cannot and must not let down those who gave their lives.

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Latest comments

  • 12

    Jay Chambers how can Sinhales become a minority when as per full census years it has increase from 65% to 75% don’t lie to promote racism when you figures on children what is your source

  • 2

    This chap [Edited out]

  • 6

    If Dhayan wants he can have the 13A free. No Charge. He can become again a minister in the NPC. It doesn’t matter, whatever he writes about the Old King, he will not be allowed to enter any Sinhala Intellectuals camps (SLFP-UNP). He has to come back to Tamils for a minster post. NPC is worth enough to appoint the jobless person Dhayan as the minister. Not good for anything more. It is elephantiasis leg on the Tamils. It does not help them to get up and walk likes a normal leg. It is a big drag for them. It is crippling them and drawing lot of energy from them to move and maintain it.

    No time was allocated to CM Wigneswarn to talk to Secretary Kerry about the NPC. So, he submitted a report about the status of The PC. Secretary joked about the report. It is not sure if he is going to take serious anything appearing on the report.
    It seems, like in the Robert Blake Period, America is starting to go after the beautiful woman, Lanka the hooker. When sleep with the west, she always pass secret messages to Leftist counties. When the lefts pumping the money for her ostensible makeups,, then she invites the west to sleep. Like the bich on the road, she always tackle they both all the times. The Kathirgamar period is germinating again. Sumanthiran and UNP are new actors of the new Drama
    NPC was formed with promise to Tamil that the Internal Self Determination will be obtained. America and India pressed TNA to drop down the NPC election promise and start to support the New Royals. If that has not happened, there is no way Tamils wanted to vote for the New King, who is clearly an accused war criminal. If America had not pressed TNA to vote for Fonseka, never ever any Tamils would have voted for him. That is what happened for his nominees in the NPC election. It is not just Fonseka ‘s party(DP) did not get back the depots, they got only votes. New Royals dodged it.

    The Tamils were looking for answers to many questions from Secretary Kerry. He evaded to going to Tamils area. He knew the Tamils do not want the third pact, The India-Lanka accord, implemented. If no other ways offered, they may have asked him to implement on of the first two Pacts, those were made by SJV with the Sinhala Intellectuals governments. Not by Rajiv. Kerry would be the only international important person who went to Lankave, but did not visit north. Even Chinese visited there.

  • 4

    For the politically interested folks of Sri Lanka, I have found a direct link to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s CV with all his achivements and political participation. And there is also the possibility to post your comments directly to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka.
    Interestingly this network is defined as: Maaya — the World Network for Linguistic Diversity — is a multilateral network created to contribute to the enhancement and promotion of linguistic diversity in the world.

    Actually it is amusing to see our DJ is placing his CV in such a liberal network!


    • 2


      That info was not necessary. I cannot help laughing looking at it, but I still think that you should not stoop down to that level. Sad that this Dayan whoever has had several opportunities to contribute in a good way politically. But he has missed the opportunities in many instances. He definitely is not wanted in the political arena in Sri Lanka. Maybe India can hire him. India is messed up and he can create more waves there.

      Did you notice that the fields he has chosen and the work he has done is contradictory. Interracial unity, unity in linguistic diversity…. Good gracious, what a farce.

      So just let go of him guys. He seems to have committed a political suicide.

    • 4

      Reading through Dayan’s resume, it seem to me that Dayan has more credible education, training, exposure and knowledge on the subjects he writes on than all the Poortens, Jayasinghes and hundreds more who write on CT combined. Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on goes the saying. So please do not be disheartened Dayan and do keep. writing for our benefit.

  • 4

    “the plan is to waste time on a new constitution.”

    No Dayan. The plan is to waste NO time on (seeking) a new constitution. :-)

  • 2

    “We the people” or “I the Dayan” ?

    Does the “people” include the tratorous Tamil and Muslim minorities?

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3

    Dayan jayatilake is retired political scientist, Diplomat and was provincial council member.
    But recently he has became a political hackler than wimal weerawansa or worst than that.
    On recent political stage he was criticizing Ranil very badly and his personality. It is hard to believe that very smart political scientist , diplomat has come to the 3rd class politics behave on thee stage as a drunkan man.

    It is very shame on you dayan. now you can join with wimal weerwansa because he needs a partner like you.

  • 2

    Dayan the Racist[Edited out]

  • 6

    Guess what, DJ? I do not know if there are plans for the UNP-CBK-TNA to turn Sri Lanka into a real federal state with the North and the East enjoying true Federal powers, but if that is true it should be welcomed. The end of the cursed Sinhala majoritarianism that has caused so much misery to the island should be good news, should be seen as a permanent solution to the decades of conflict. But you, DJ continue supporting the majoritarian ideology that has wreaked havoc on the island, hopefully majority of the people will move on from this ideology.

  • 5

    Dayan must be a God sent in this hour of need to drill some sense in to the Sinhala Elite , the Sinhala Buddhist Elite in particular, who still have some love and affection for the Nation which survived in one piece since Lord Buddha’s time.

    Ranil is a cunning dude even on his own.

    With the cousin now, he has become the mother of all cunning , which Srilanka has ever given birth to.

    Ranil is using his FCID and the UNP Police to dig dirt on anyone and everyone who is associated with the ex President and his Family.

    This keeps the President and his minders busy 24/7 to protect the SLFP and keep it in one piece.

    If Rajapaksa and his loyalists contest under one banner against the SLFP, there wouldn’t be any SLFP MPs in the next Parliament.

    UNP will be the majority and the TNA has already pledged to be part of the next UNP Govt.

    TNA Abraham is not a dumb ass to mouth off internal party secrets, unlike most of our SLFP MPs… Right.

    Once the UNP forms Ranil’s alliance with the SLMC and the TNA plus JHU and give us the new Federal Constitution there won’t be a unitary Srilanka as we know it now.

    It will be something like Federal States of Tamils Muslims and Sinhalese.

    I don’t mind it as long as we don’t have to share our bit with the Elite.

    But unfortunately they will be ones who will run it for our great majority of the whole inhabitant population who will be crammed in to the Sinhala State.

  • 5

    NV, Thanks for the additions to the list. If we start listing all his atrocities since his rise to power, I am sure there will not be enough space in this forum.

    So I mentioned only a few which I remembered.

    One thing is assured, our Dayan the D….., will hear no evil and see no evil of MARA, his latest Financier I guess, for the jobless Dayan the D…..

    • 3

      Ansar mate,

      How come you didn’t add Bathdeen’s deeds to your list and show our Native Vedda how you can do better?.

      UNP Muslims in Mannar even,say your mate Baththudeen took LKR 700,000 from each house which the poor Pakis donated to Prabakaran’s sand bags.

      It is in Native Vedda’s favourite publication the Tamil net.

      I mean that is only one..

      I can give you more if you like,

      Poor Johnston who perhaps pinched a few bags of Bombelli and Red Onions from the CWE is behind bars.
      So much gratitude from your mate Ranil to the Bible Belt.

      Like your mate NV the Vellala Elite , you must be an Elite Muslim to suck up to unelected Ranil & Cousin so much.

      • 3

        K.A Sumanasekera

        “Like your mate NV the Vellala Elite”

        Please don’t explain.

  • 3

    How should I say it? Dayan has

    ‘Let the out of the bag”

    ‘Dayan was asked to let the cat out of the bag”

    “In a relatively small island with no defense in depth, a de facto federal unit in the North and East will leave us in the same situation as the boy Prince Gemunu, scrunched up in bed with no strategic space–a Tamil Kingdom, an extension of Tamil Nadu, in the North, and the Indian Ocean at his back.”

    Johan Kerry should make a note of all these

  • 8

    This man is an absolute irrelevance. Pity he does not realize it. His master will not be able to get back into power to feed him crumbs any more. When the story of how his master alienated land that belongs to Sri Lanka to Chinese sovereignty fully breaks out, all this lofty talk of loyalty to the Sinhala nation will sound hollow. Rajapakses had loyalty only to themselves and kept their minions like this moron happy by feeding him a few morsels.

    It is good to talk of how the Tamils are close to India and Tamilnadu. The more you talk about it, it will become a reality. So, do us Tamils a favor and ensure that we are driven more into thinking that our safety lies with Tamilnadu. We did have that feeling from the days of our ancestors. How could it not be when the holiest places of Jaffna Saivaism are in Tamilnadu? But, politically, we did think differently until the Sinhala chauvinists changed this feeling. But, after all, the holiest places for the Rajapukkse is also in India. So, no harm has been done. But, moron, please go on saying that the Tamils feel safe with India and Tamilnadu. Eelam will become a reality faster.

  • 3

    After the initial pussyfooting around, DJ gives us some readable paragraphs, and just as we are sitting comfortably, and musing what an affable chap DJ must be (and he is at times, you know), with four paragraphs to go, the inevitable happens, a red mist descends, and our entertaining Dr switches to feral Dharmapala mode.

    In the last four paragraphs, the claws come out, the fangs are bared, and foaming at the mouth he issues his now familiar clarion call to all who would defend the blessed maubima.

    But Doctor, the times they are a’changing. Give unity, understanding, respect and peace a chance.

  • 3

    Dayan you are no more an Analyst but Mara Opportunist. Frontline too is a waste of time and people are no more fools (may be not all) you better get into to politics than calling yourself Dr. Dayan ……… – Political Analyst and former Diplomat as you now talk all rubish as your end result is all bulshit. Dr. Mervin Silva (even before last election) gave a better report than u.

  • 2

    Dr Dayan,
    We the majority Sinhalese are ready to reject the federalist project , or else lets go back to war!!! War is better than giving the minority the power!!!

  • 3

    I sincerely hope few of the young real patriotic Sinhalese Sri Lankans like Thisuri Wanniarachi and others who are interested in the future of Sri Lanka take DJ to task openly for his instigation of hatred among different races . Otherwise I envisage there is going to be organised violence during the forth coming elections or immediately after that.

    It is crystal clear DJ is promoting MR come back using race and religion card.

    I draw their attention to study not only the civil war era but also to the pre war era since independence in 1948. Then the youngsters will fully understand the venom DJ continue to spit.

    http://blackjuly.info/quotes text.html

    ” The evidence points clearly to the conclusion that the violence of the Sinhala rioters on the Tamils ammounted to Acts of Genocide ” – The Review, International Commission of Jurist, December 1983.

  • 1

    D.J. has made a fair point. However, even if we do go for a new constitution, what is critically important is the content. As long as the Sri lankan nation remains secure and unitary in character, I would not have a problem. And so, as a defender of the Sri Lankan nation, all I have to say is that if any of you Eelam termites so much as begin to fantasize about solutions outside of the Unitary Sri lankan state, then I will not hesitate to take you back to Mullivaikal.

    • 1

      May I join you??

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