21 June, 2024

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Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution & The 13th Amendment – Part VI

By Lionel Bopage

Dr. Lionel Bopage

Global experiences

International experience shows that devolution of power to the periphery has successfully curtailed demands for secession in a number of countries. Yet, many chauvinist political parties, groups and individuals in Sri Lanka spread misinformation and disinformation about the devolution of power. They state that it would lead to the formation of a separate state for the Tamils in the North and East.

Likewise, there are many police forces in the world, where a central police force co-exists with local police forces in each province, state or territory without controversy. In Australia, France, India, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the USA, there are state, territory, provincial, and central police forces operating under authorities of various political shades and hues. For example, “There are 48 civilian police forces in the UK: 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales, a national police force in both Scotland and Northern Ireland and three specialist police forces (the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police)” [UK Parliament 2023, Policing in the UK, House of Commons Research Briefing, Published 29 September, 2021].

There are significant differences in the level of devolutionary powers offered by each country. In Sri Lanka, devolution of land powers is substantially restricted. Canada has a federal system of governance, with a clear division of powers between the centre and periphery. The Provinces are vested with full powers for dealing with Provincial Crown land using specific laws enacted by provincial legislatures. The Commonwealth of Australia is a federation with a constitution that has a list of powers vested in the centre and the rest with the periphery. Land powers are effectively vested in the States.

Intrinsic nature of the state

The level of devolution of police powers in any specific country has not contributed to toning down their attitude towards non-majoritarian communities in their own country. One could easily witness discriminatory bias and attitudes against minority communities, for example, the treatment of Black communities in the USA. This is despite many black people occupying VIP positions and other high positions of authority in the security apparatus at federal and state level administrations in the country. In Australia, such attitudes are in common display against the Indigenous population as well as the other non-majoritarian communities such as black people from the African continent, brown and yellow people from South Asia, and even the Britishers (Poms) and New Zealanders (Kiwis) etc. Most visible in India are the anti-Islamic attitudes towards Muslim people and discriminatory practices against the so-called untouchables in the country.

So, it is difficult to assume that the extent of devolution of police powers alone would address such biases and attitudes. I have no doubt that a Tamil dominated separate state would have treated the Muslims, Sinhalese and the so-called low-caste Tamils in their area the same way the Tamil people are being treated in the Sinhala dominated areas. Police forces are omnipresent in the modern world; at the same time, their role has become increasingly controversial with their direct/indirect, overt/covert involvement in corruption, brutality, and enforcement of authoritarian rules.

We should note that the police in Sri Lanka under any regime has been an instrument of dominance and suppression. It has remained a body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law that the ruling elite desired. On the other hand, they are also responsible for ensuring the safety of citizens and their property, resolving disputes, and preventing crime and civil disorder. Yet, enforcement of the law is only one part of policing, as they are engaged in many activities under different circumstances, predominantly when tasked with the preservation of order within the context of maintaining the class system and protection of private property by the ruling elite. In all societies, irrespective of the hue of the ruling regime, the police theoretically hold the monopoly on using violence.

Police are usually kept separate from the military and other security organizations involved in defending the state, particularly against foreign aggressions. However, in countries like Sri Lanka, this distinction is becoming increasingly blurred.

Inherent bias

Police at all levels of devolution need to focus on consistently updating their knowledge about non-majority communities resident in the local area. Awareness training should apply to all implicit or explicit personal and group biases. The currents working toward compartmentalisation and fragmentation of society rather than nation-building have established monolithic cultural units most visible in the armed forces who aspire to maintain their social, cultural, and economic superiority over the others. This would be evident even by looking at the nomenclature used in identifying certain units of the armed forces. The fundamental flaw in this system, which any mode of devolution will not address is the low level professional ethic of suppressing the other on the basis of their background, whether it is caste, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, or differently abled.

If we look at the socio-economic developmental process in Sri Lanka under capitalism, such barriers become increasingly weaker due to social interactions caused by the processes of urbanisation and the resultant socialisation. During the period of the pre-1950s, such social interaction between most communities in the fields of education, health and employment within the Sri Lankan society was more acceptable. However, in the post 1950s period, with the onset of linguistic, religious and ethnic compartmentalisation of society, many such socialisations came to an end despite continuing urbanisation.

It is imperative to notice that the extent and diversity of the social mix, and the type and frequency of interactions are essential to breaking down biases, negative attitudes and categorisations. Through social and community activities in Australia, I have experienced this by bringing diverse communities together regardless of the politics that create bias in the first place.

Those in the security forces including the police, ought to understand and accept the pluralist nature of our society. The type of social interaction they experience with diverse people of Sri Lanka and its frequency will have a significant impact on creating awareness about the feelings of non-majoritarian communities, particularly at provincial levels. To achieve this, the top levels of politicians, bureaucrats and communities need the dedication and resources to undertake such events with courage and conviction. The most significant factor, however, is the diversification of the forces within each unit, including recruiting candidates from varying social and cultural backgrounds to fill higher positions in the police and other security agencies.

Diversification

This will certainly help diversify the police force, which is more or less a mono-cultural force comprising the majority ethnic and religious population. It will enable police forces to engage in complex problem solving exercises while keeping social order by applying the rule of law, rather than rule by law. Bending legislation to suit political circumstances, as being done currently, starting from the President to the lowest level bureaucrat in the country, does not help the cause.

In Australia, when situations become tense due to various internal and external influences, diverse groups work together to mitigate the tension quickly. For example, when tensions were high against the Sudanese and other African migrants and refugees in the State of Victoria, which was caused by some opportunistic politicians who sought to gain power, multi-cultural community leaders were able to bring together the Sudanese community and other multi-cultural communities, the police, the bureaucrats and business communities over a meal at several cultural functions. This helped to lower the social and political temperature and resolve the issue in a civilised manner.

Ongoing diversity awareness training should include building partnerships and collaborations between non-majoritarian community groups and law enforcement agencies. Combining such objectives may enhance awareness about the aspirations of non-majoritarian communities and diminish preconceived negative biases towards them. Such processes can result in less misconduct and unprofessional behaviour on the part of police in decisive situations.

To be continued..

Related stories:

Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution & The 13th Amendment

Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution and the 13th Amendment – Part II

Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution & The 13th Amendment – Part III

Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution & The 13th Amendment – Part IV

Sri Lanka – Nation Building, Devolution & The 13th Amendment – Part V

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Look at the very first sentence.
    ‘International experience shows that devolution of power to the periphery has successfully curtailed demands for secession in a number of countries’.
    Are you hearing it for the first time? How many readers on CT had said the same thing?
    This is all on deaf ear!

    • 8
      0

      Is it the eternally insecure SB majority who are deaf to this rather indisputable finding?

      The insecurity that’s rooted in SB chauvinism has facilitated SB fascism throughout SL’s history and trapped the entire nation in a state of chronic regression.

    • 2
      1

      THIS IS THE DISPLAY OF PIRIVENA EDUCATION, PERPETUATED OVER THE YEARS!!! BIGGEST FOLLY!!!
      What for the Telling!!!??? So did another ENLIGHTENED LUMINARY, calling for ADOLF HITLER type as RULER, ABSOLUTELY no pre-dominant, KNOWLEDGE OF 20TH CENTRUY HISTORY!!!???
      Folly of Bad education started by our Luminaries, even prior to Independance such greats Anagarika Dharmapala and emancipated Ministers such as Buddy, making HISTORY, A NON-SUBJECT IN CURRICULUM – TO save his “Mathiniya” from contempt in future post 1971 insurgency and genocide!!!???
      CLASSICAL SINHALA BUDDHISM DISPLAYED!!!??? IF NOT, THEN WHAT IS!!!??? SIRI LAKAN BEGOTRY!!!

  • 0
    7

    Again with the racial segregation nonsense.

    You want to ‘diversify’ the police force but you/ltte-diaspora don’t want Lankans to live side by side across the island?

    “International experience shows that devolution of power to the periphery has successfully curtailed demands for secession in a number of countries.” What on Earth are you on about? What countries are you using as an example considering you ignore listing countries that are now suffering immensely owing to policies of racial segregation that your paymasters advocate for knowing FULL well that they are trying to salami-slice their way to secession? Read Chelva’s ‘a little now, more later’ and enlighten yourself. Or even Sumanthiran’s ‘federalism is a first step’.

    Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bosnia, Spain are just some examples of racially segregated countries that constantly have to deal with sepratist elements. Heck, even India is dealing with a resurgent Dravidistan/Khalistan movement.

    Lanka and her people have always maintained her unitary characted whilst embracing migrants from North/South India and as far away as Malaya and Java. Learn your history! You might forget, but we do not!

    • 8
      0

      13A is not about racial segregation at all. It is not going to racially segregate the country more than it ever was and has been. No one will have to leave wherever they are living now except of course (hopefully) the illegal squatters encroaching and colonizing.

      Seems your real concern is that the Tamils of North and East will be empowered and the Sinhalization of the North and East will be halted to a great extent!

      The 13A addresses essential practicalities. E.g. The Tamil speaking areas of the country need Tamil speaking police force for policing to be effective – This doesn’t mean police forces across the country cannot be connected and work concertedly to curtail crimes. A current critical predicament in the North East – Overwhelmingly the police force in the North East is not proficient in the local language.

      Do you realize that it’s folk like you who want to advance their own ethnicity against the welfare of other ethnicities are the root of ethnic conflicts? Do you really think that one form of governance over the other can quell your ethnic hatred?

      Will the implementation of 13A stop the capture of private lands in the NE under the pretence of SB archaeology and the similar use of state lands for SB machinations?

      • 0
        8

        Gaslighting is not going to get you anywhere.
        As I mentioned previously to your boy Native Matta, Lankans enjoy full and equal civic rights – 13A serves to disenfranchise anti-eelamists; it is you who will have to deal with the essential practicalities of learning to live amongst empowered Lankans (Moor, Tamil, Sinhala) once 13a is removed.
        We have seen what happens when the notion of a ‘Tamil-only’ North and East is pushed forward……Lankans do not believe that 13a is going to make things any better.
        Do you realize that it’s folk like you who want to advance their own ethnicity against the welfare of other ethnicities are the root of ethnic conflicts? Why not ensure that numbers of Moors and Sinhala match the numbers of Tamils in the North and East so Lanka’s peoples live in harmony with one another? Why this need to display a ‘Tamil-only’ brand for the North and East?

        • 7
          0

          It’s not the right of a democratic government to decide the ethnic distribution of the country.

          Neither is it the right of the majority in a democracy to decide the ethnic distribution of the country.

          Start with equitable individual rights and privileges. Cleanse the country’s constitution of special treatment for any one ethnicity/religion. Then maybe the minorities in this country will consider not pushing for regional autonomy.

          But it doesn’t look like you’re interested in a true democracy.

          You want a country where the Sinhala Buddhists rule every inch of the land where all neighbourhoods will be Sinhala Buddhist dotted with moors and Tamils for your peace and harmony. A Sinhala Buddhist religious state, perhaps?

          Your vision for this country is very typical of the chronically insecure majority of Sri Lanka.

        • 5
          0

          Liger,
          “Do you realize that it’s folk like you who want to advance their own ethnicity against the welfare of other ethnicities are the root of ethnic conflicts? Why not ensure that numbers of Moors and Sinhala match the numbers of Tamils in the North and East so Lanka’s peoples live in harmony with one another? Why this need to display a ‘Tamil-only’ brand for the North and East?”
          WHY ARE YOU SO BLIND!!! DEAF!!! DUMB!!!
          Your above statement embodies the underlying racist mentality set hard in your diminutive Mind, without emancipation of worldly affairs!!! You want to SL follow the decadent Chinese practice used for the Uyghurs in China!!!???
          DEMOCRACY or PORTRAYING D E M O’CRAZY DUMBO!!!???

    • 5
      0

      Liger,
      “You want to ‘diversify’ the police force but you/ltte-diaspora don’t want Lankans to live side by side across the island?”
      Who is asking you not to, except that you may require a temple/shrine under, every BO Sapling, shooting up POST the Kaputa excreta containing the suitable SEED, finding some earth to propagate and rain to foster the growth to be Venerated by ‘Passers-By’, irrespective of their choice of religion and become Mobile Daya kaya!!!??? Then the tree cannot be felled, even for community development!!??? “Kaaka” Democratic religious Piety??? What a convoluted country and citizens based on FALSE propaganda to fool the uneducated poor masses!!!???

  • 0
    8

    It’s Lankans’ right to live anywhere they want on the island and not have to deal with ethno-terrorists screeching for ‘ReGionAL Autonuhmy’ (as if it isn’t racial-segregation) after ltte-led ethnic cleansing of the north and east of non-tamils as well as moderate-tamils (Google it).
    Why is it the right of the ltte-diaspora to decide the ethnic distribution of the north and east? Why are you trying to take this right away from Lankans? Why do you insist on a group that funded suicide-bombers and a harvesting of child soldiers for thirty years to have this right? Oh. Because you are one of them? Which cold climate are you based in?
    Lankans enjoy full and equal civic rights – we ALEADY HAVE equitable individual rights and privileges. Is the ltte-diaspora in Malaysia wanting to remove the Islamic and Malay identity of that nation as well?
    I want a country where all Lankans live side by side (true democracy); it’s clear that you do not.

    • 7
      0

      Liger the incompetent liar,
      “Why is it the right of the ltte-diaspora to decide the ethnic distribution of the north and east? “
      Okay then who decides these ethnic distributions?
      1 The ethnic proportions in the armed forces.
      2 The ethnic proportions in the Police
      3 Ethnic distribution in state employment
      https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Recruitment-of-Sri-Lanka-Administrative-Service-grade-III-officers-with-reference-to_tbl1_304583836
      https://www.police.lk/?page_id=1085
      https://www.police.lk/?page_id=3370
      “Lankans enjoy full and equal civic rights “
      Why don’t you do your research before exhibiting your idiocy in public?
      Can you show me ONE non-Sinhala Buddhist DIG at least?
      Google is free. But you need a brain to use it.
      “I want a country where all Lankans live side by side”
      Unlike you, I live here.

      • 5
        1

        OC
        You should appreciate the effort needed by one not just to convince himself of the tales that he believes but also manufacture more to reinforce the belief.
        (I mean no personal offence to any bigoted liar.)

    • 4
      0

      Liger the Tiger from a Lion – Sinhabahu,
      ” It’s Lankans’ right to live anywhere they want on the island and not have to deal with ethno-terrorists screeching for ‘ReGionAL Autonuhmy’ (as if it isn’t racial-segregation) after ltte-led ethnic cleansing of the north and east of non-tamils as well as moderate-tamils (Google it).”
      Ill-informed, Ill-educated, devoid – worldly knowledge, on Payroll of “Indiscriminate Vultures” dispensing summary Justice – Journalists and ‘Crowing’ KAAKA HIT BOEING WENT DOWN!! Rants misleading, misinforming POOR masses, WIN NEXT ELECTIONS, the sole aim!!!???
      The 2 bosses, ONE EX-CITIZEN AND OTHER CONTINUES AS CITIZEN, COLLECTING AT TOLL GATES FOR us OR STATE OF CALIFORNIA would confirm what you are stating herein is a BLATANT LIE!!!???
      IF THEY HAVE ANY SELF RESPECT REMAINING, THEY WILL CONFIRM THEIR ABILITY TO TRANSLOCATE OR DOMICILE OR EVEN TRAVEL FRELY FROM ANY STATE TO THE OTHER by their own FREE choice, untrammeled by anything whatever stipulated in the US constitution or State of California Law in the statute!!! THE FREEDOM TO INTERMINGLE AND MIX OF CITIZENS – OF A FULLY FEDERATED State of United States of America EXHIBITED!!!???
      LIGER THE LIAR satiating, “NEEDS OF THIRST OF POWER” of PAYMASTERS!! YOUR LIE IS EXPOSED!!!
      QED!!!

  • 0
    5

    it’s a good day when the peelamist rats (no offense to rats!) can only come out screeching with superlatives against positions that are antithetical to the racial-segregation espoused by the ltte-diaspora and their keyboard-terrorists like MANIC MAHILA et al.

    The moment you implement 13a/Ethno-Federalism/Sumanthiranism/Chelvah*tthiganism then you are effectively disenfranchising Lankans from moving freely across the island. You dont like hearing it, but at the end of the day, tamil-speaking Lankans fled from the ltte (that you imbeciles cherish and celebrate) to areas inhabited by Sinhala and Moors. No one wants what you offer, similar to the LITERAL POISONOUS FLOWER that you choose to represent your sick and twisted ideology.

    Sinhala speakers learn Tamil/English to serve the nation. Why does ltte-diaspora/local keyboard-terrorists refuse to learn Sinhala? Why this expectation that all in the North and East should only be tamil-speakers?

    YOUR LIES HAVE ALREADY BEEN DEMONSTRABLY EXPOSED!!!

    • 4
      0

      Liger,
      Not every semi-retard who gets an expensive but futile Western education, a thesaurus and a menial Western job benefits from it.
      (No offence to other semi-retards and imbeciles)

      • 0
        5

        Old Buurus,

        Is that why you ended up in Lanka gorging on terror-funding from the ltte-diaspora or was that always your aspiration?

        • 3
          0

          Liger,
          Is that your best argument?
          Anyway I am so glad you understand enough English, AND have an adequate IQ to know that wasn’t a compliment.

          • 0
            6

            Argument? Just stating facts about you and the rest of your terroristic-rats, old boi.

            • 5
              0

              Liger,
              Get yourself a new dictionary. You could ask your kindergarten teacher.
              Hey, I hope the signs at your sewage plant are in large letters.

  • 0
    4

    Old Buurus,

    Is that why you ended up in Lanka gorging on terror-funding from the ltte-diaspora or was that always your aspiration?

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