5 December, 2020

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The Constitution Controversy: The Real Options

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

There are three types of separatists in the context of Sri Lankan politics and society:

Firstly, those who openly advocate or support the project of a separate state carved out of this island. These elements exist in the Diaspora, in Tamil Nadu and also in the North and East.

Secondly those who advocate ethno-federalism, the re-merger and self-determination, while knowing or not knowing but not caring, or simply not realizing, that given the geopolitics and history, such federalism will almost certainly be a halfway-house or escalator to Tamil Eelam. 

Thirdly, those who reject any form of provincial autonomy and devolution of power/power-sharing including the 13th amendment. These last named  do not understand that nowhere on this planet outside of a purely Sinhala Buddhist conclave (and a predominantly middle aged male one, I might add), is it possible to persuade anyone with a narrative that says there will no territorial provincial autonomy whatsoever granted as a reformist addressing of the Tamil question. Such an unreasonable, eccentric, isolationist narrative only makes the case for separatism and activates it as a default option. 

The anti-13A camp fought a civil war against it in the late 1980s and lost quite as decisively as the LTTE did two decades later. This defeat in the civil war was followed up by a double political defeat, with the opponents of 13A contesting the provincial Councils and no administration since 1989, be it UNP or SLFP-led attempting to reverse 13A. This included Premadasa who sent the IPKF away, and Mahinda after the 2009 victory–and nobody can doubt their courageous patriotism.

Though both these Presidents preferred and toyed with the district as the primary unit of devolution, their abandonment of that fleeting thought and continued retention of 13A was for a very simple set of reasons: the massive geopolitical reality of India, the Tamil Nadu factor’s salience in Delhi’s calculus, the probability of unaffordable blowback and the absence as in 1987 of any international allies to offset Indian pressure on Sri Lanka on this issue–the Tamil question.

Both the separatist LTTE and the xenophobic DJV-JVP fought civil wars against the PC system, but still it stands. Today those who still share these ideologies in the North and South are continuing to try to dismantle that structure. Over the decades 13A took root in the Sri Lankan polity, developing a support base in and around the system of Provincial Councils. 13A is a durable structural reality.

It is old news that those who regard themselves as Sinhala nationalists always preferred the district to the province as the primary unit of the devolution of power. What is amazing though is that they do not recognize that this is no longer an issue in the real world of politics; only in their individual or collective imagination. Thus the debate on the district vs. province is a non-debate. It takes place only in a mono-ethnic echo chamber.

Why is it no longer a legitimate subject for debate? Because Sri Lanka as a society and the Sri Lankan political class as an elite have realized at very considerable cost, that which is obvious. Namely that whenever there are more than one entity in any unit, in politics or in life, the name of the game is a relationship, not a unipolar, unilateral decision. Relationships are usually negotiated; they require consensus, agreement. Any relationship which is a one-sided imposition is doomed to fail and when it does, most others outside the relationship tend to take the side of the person who suffered the imposition rather than the one who imposed it.   

What this means is that on an island in which there are more than one community, the shape of the structure within which they all live cannot be decided and imposed by any one community upon the other. It has to be the result of mutual agreement. That agreement may not be to the complete satisfaction of all parties concerned but it has to be one that all parties can live with. Of course, not all parties have an equal share in the outcome because not all parties are of the same size, just as in a corporate entity there are majority and minority shareholders. But all have to be consulted and compromises negotiated.

It is not for nothing that Gautama the Buddha preached the Middle Path and Aristotle, the Golden Mean.  What is the middle path in Sri Lanka? The Sinhala nationalists want the district as the safest unit of devolution. The Tamil nationalists feel safest in a permanently merged North and East, i.e. the Northeast as a single unit; a region. President JR Jayewardene put it best in an interview given in the mid-1980s to the Editor of the Lanka Guardian when he said: “The Tamils say Regional Councils and no less; the Sinhalese say District Councils and no more. I say Provincial Councils.”

The district as the primary unit of devolution is a non-starter. This is because it has never found and will never find a single Tamil taker—a Tamil political party with any support base that would agree to it—and therefore would have no Tamil partner for any government that tried to implement it. It would therefore be a unilateral mono-ethnic (Sinhalese) measure in a multi-ethnic (if not ‘multinational’, as the JVP leader puts it) country.

As our post-Independence political history shows, no unilateral measure taken by the South is sustainable, just as no unilateral decision taken by the North is sustainable. What is feasible is a settlement that at least some of the Tamils and most of the Sinhalese are willing to live with. That settlement is (real) provincial autonomy within a (really) unitary state.

From the perspective of the delivery of development, the district is arguably much better than the province–though the Chinese, with their conspicuous economic success with regional autonomy, may disagree. But the North-South issue in Sri Lanka is not primarily about development. It is about identity–collective identity, or more correctly, about collective political identities. The Tamils perceive themselves as a nation or nationality belonging to and located in a distinct geographic area, the North and East, two contiguous provinces which they call a linguistic region. The problem was never identifiable within or confined to a district, nor can it be atomized into districts. One does not have to subscribe to the Tamil self-image to realize that a solution must correspond to some degree to the problem, its scale and scope and geopolitical proportions—and the province is an approximation, while the district simply is not.

It is true that a measure of autonomous power to a unit as large as a province does constitute a temptation to secede. But the principle involved in finding a solution is rather similar to that of child-rearing. The two extremes of laissez-faire (and uncaring neglect) on the one hand, and overly constrictive and suffocating overprotection are both guaranteed to drive the alienated teenager to drift away or escape. The district is far too constrictive for the Tamils, while merged provinces constituting a single ethnic or linguistic region is far too inviting for the neighbor, Tamil Nadu, and threatening to the Sinhalese. Flexibility and a middle path or golden mean are always the best.

The province as unit of devolution does not date back to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 and derive from it. At the Delhi talks in 1985, HW Jayewardene, the special envoy of the President and signed the note which agreed upon the province as the main unit of devolution.

Sinhala nationalists may concede this and exclaim that it proves that the province became the unit of devolution because of India, but that would contravene the facts.

In early 1986, President Jayewardene received a letter from Vijaya Kumaratunga calling upon him to convene a roundtable conference to arrive at a solution to the ethnic problem. That conference, known as the Political Parties Conference (PPC) was summoned in July1986. All the left parties outside of the JVP participated. Apart from the UNP government, notable and active participants involved Dr. Colvin de Silva, Pieter Keuneman, Vijaya Kumaratunga, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and DEW Gunasekara. In his address at the close of the Conference, President Jayewardene pledged to implement the agreement arrived at. The parties of Right and Left had arrived at a substantive agreement which was published as a document by the Government printer. The document contained details of devolution of power to the provinces (not the districts), but correctly made no mention of the merger which it had rejected during deliberations. Here was a domestic consensus between the UNP government and anti-government parties of the democratic left, based on the concept of autonomous provinces, not districts or regions.   

When the Indo-Lanka accord was signed in 1987, it was not only welcomed by Moscow (preceded by Washington) but also in the pages of the Granma, the official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, which condemned the JVP uprising against the accord. Fidel Castro told Gamini Dissanayake in Havana (the photograph was in the late Minister’s study) that Sri Lanka should support and implement it because in his experience a country with an unresolved ethnic/nationalities problem was like a person with an unattended wound which would always bleed and chronically debilitate. Fidel emphasized that no sustained economic or social development would be possible in Sri Lanka or any country, with the ethnic problem unresolved. On a visit to Ethiopia in 1977, Fidel had urged a two-pronged solution in which Ethiopia would grant regional autonomy to secessionist Eritrea while Ethiopia, autonomous Eritrea and Somalia would form a Red Sea Federation. None of the parties agreed and are much the worse for it (Somalia hardly exists), while Fidel has, as usual, been vindicated by history. 

The idea of autonomy beyond the district and the unitary state, goes way beyond the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987. In 1925, the brilliant young SWRD Bandaranaike observed in the Ceylon Morning Leader that he knew of no successful case of a unitary state in a multi-communal society, and made the case for federalism. In 1957 he signed a pact with SJV Chelvanayakam which made for the joinder of two or more Regional (i.e. District) Councils in a non-federal arrangement.

In 1944-1947, the Ceylon Communist Party submitted to the Soulbury Commission a proposal that independent Ceylon should either be federal or ensure regional autonomy for the Tamils. Of course Dr. Colvin R de Silva was more correct when he argued against the federalist demand of the Tamil United Front in 1972, explaining that as a historian and a Marxist, he firmly believes that Sri Lanka requires a unitary state form and cannot afford to countenance federalism, given the internal fissures and fractures that permitted repeated external intervention and occupation. 

While eschewing the young SWRD’s idealistic federalism, what is needed is a middle path between the realism of SWRD who understood that a unitary state cannot keep a multiethnic polity together over time, and the contending realism of Dr. Colvin R de Silva who argued that the island of Ceylon, located where it was, imperatively required a unitary state rather than a federal one. Obviously, the middle path/golden mean between the conventionally unitary and the federal is that of a reformed unitary state; a unitary state with suitable structural modifications; a unitary state with autonomy through the devolution of power. This precisely was the B-C pact of 1957 was. And using the same yardstick of the middle path, we may identify the province rather than either the district or the linguistic region (merged provinces) as the only feasible unit of devolution.

Finally, to the elephant in the room—an elephant we cannot export–India. Not only is this island a multiethnic one in which no community can sustain a political order which unilaterally imposes the will of one upon the other, this island is also so located and the regional environment  so constituted demographically, that the will of the majority cannot be unilaterally imposed upon the minorities. The Sri Lankan Tamil question has been externalized in the 1980s and will never be purely internalized again. (Even if it were a purely internal issue it will not be one subject to a purely Sinhala decision.) Since the 1980s it has become an intermestic question, to use Kissinger’s term applied to the Sri Lankan issue firstly by Mervyn de Silva. An intermestic issue is an internal issue which interfaces with the international, and vice versa.

In politics as in real life and in international politics in particular, what counts is not what you may think of yourself and of others, but whether you can take the consequences of your actions when others react to them.

In the case of Sri Lanka, one cannot undo the existing devolution arrangements, including that of the unit of devolution, without running up against Delhi, which even if it wanted to, could not turn away because the Sri Lankan Tamil reaction would trigger agitation in Tamil Nadu. The best one can hope for is to stick to the existing system of devolution which was agreed upon with India, and use that defensively to prevent moves in the direction of federalism and self-determination. Federalism and self-determination cannot be forestalled by undoing the agreement with India and trying to revert to the district or cutting back the powers of the 13th amendment in the face of protest and rejection from all Sri Lankan Tamil political parties without exception. Any unilateral (Sinhala only) attempt to undo the 13th amendment which is inextricably intertwined with the Indo-Lanka accord will meet with a response from India. Not even the most cursory glance at the strategic balance—the balance of forces–will permit any rational and realistic mind to think we can get away with it.

This may not be the morally correct way for the world to work, but it is the way the (real) world (really) works. If one were familiar with one of the foundational texts of the Realist school, the famous (or infamous) Melian dialogue, the dialogue between the inhabitants of the island of Melos and the representatives of Athens as recounted in Thucydides’ ‘History of the Peloponnesian Wars’, one would not fantasize about unilateral measures in a matter with bilateral and indeed international ramifications involving hugely unequal players.

At the heart of the Constitutional Question is the crux of the continuing Sri Lankan crisis. And that is what may be variously called the Tamil Question, the Tamil issue, the Tamil problem, the Tamil national question, the Tamil nationalities question, the Tamil ethnic issue etc. I tend to see it as Sri Lanka’s North-South Question.

What is the Tamil Question? It is the problem of accommodating the identity and aspirations for irreducible political space of a community with a justifiable sense of pride and achievement, and doing so while not impinging upon the identity and aspirations for a secure space, of the unique community that forms the majority on this small island placed on a strategic sea-lane and in close proximity to a massive landmass with a huge population.

Who controls the destiny of this island? Who should control it? Who can sustainably control it? Is it the majority community? The outside world? The minority or a coalition of minorities? The minorities together with the outside world? Or all those who have chosen to live on it as citizens and consider it their home? Obviously the last named category. The problem is that this is not a homogenous category but a segmented one. Therefore the challenge is to formulate the basis on which this island should be shared.

Since the constituent, component communities are not willing to adopt the melting pot model (Vijaya Kumaratunga said in a 1986 lecture at Fr. Tissa Balasuriya’s Center for Society and Religion that “inter-communal marriage is the only real solution”), which we approximated as Ceylon, the only solution is a Realist one of ‘spheres of influence’. The question then is how much autonomous power each sphere should have. That in turn leads to the question of whether such power should include sovereignty or a measure of it and if so how much.

None of these question can be posed or exist in a vacuum or as an abstraction. We are talking about autonomous spheres on a relatively small island located where it is, with the neighbors it has, and populated by the specific communities it is peopled with. Each of these communities have their distinctive identity, histories or imagined histories, myths and legends and collective consciousness—or in the words of that most unromantic and coldly realist of authorities on the National Question, Joseph Stalin, each collective has “a common psychological makeup manifested in a common culture”.

How then to accommodate politically, the Sinhalese and Tamils, not to mention the Muslims, as collectives i.e. as communities? By means of what political structures and sub-structures? Given the history and demography of the island, the respective autonomous spheres of influence cannot be equal or as act as counterweights to each other. There cannot be a bi-polar model on a small island next to a hostile landmass which was a jumping off point for invasions. Thus the autonomous spheres of influence must be uneven and hierarchical with the sphere located at the vulnerable, porous periphery firmly located within and under a strong overarching structure—a unitary state, de jure and de facto.

Here again, it is not a question of abstract model building, but that of historical time. What is suitable at one stage of history is not suitable at another. What is feasible at one stage of history is not feasible at another.

Today, with a government that does not enjoy an organic two thirds majority but has stitched the numbers together in parliament in a fraught and fragile coalition, only a certain type or size of reform is possible without plunging the polity into instability. Tamil politics has arrived at a crucial crossroads. If it takes one path it will lose even if it wins.  If it takes the other it will win even if it appears to lose. Which path will it take?

The Tamil politicians should strike the right balance between collective self-image and sustainability within the reality of the island they inhabit. One of the choices they face is between opting for the maximum and the optimum; the present and the future. The other choice is either to go for a Big Bang; to risk everything on one throw of the dice, or to adopt an incremental, gradualist and more organic option. Opting for the maximum means the maximum autonomy they can obtain given their present alliance with the UNP and the SLFP’s CBK wing. The optimum is securing the degree of autonomy that can be undergirded by the broadest consensus in the south and can thereby prove sustainable over the long term.

Right now the UNP-TNA-CBK bloc assumes that it can return to the arithmetic of January 2015 and prevail at a referendum by means of a combination of the majority of the minorities and a minority of the majority. A recent projection by Yahapalana intellectual Prof Kumar David argues that the ‘YES’ camp has only to secure 35% of the Sinhala Buddhist majority to win. Though it is likely that a protest vote combined with significant UNP (and Sirisena SLFP) voter abstention will depress this baseline figure to below 30% and therefore the ‘NO’ vote will prevail, let us, for the purpose of this article, assume that Prof David’s assumption is correct. If the TNA goes by that calculation it will lose even if it wins.

This is because a Constitution that secures only 35% of 70% of the island’s populace, i.e. the minority of the majority community, will suffer a crisis of legitimacy and almost certainly be a one-term constitution. We have a history of Constitutions perceived as partisan—recall that the 1972 Republican Constitution lasted only through the term of office of the government that introduced it. Since the pendulum swing against the incumbent government is likeliest prospect at the next national election, it is probable that a Constitution which lacks the endorsement of the majority of the Sinhala majority, will be replaced. Indeed that will be a key campaign pledge.

Of course it could be posited that if a new Constitution were overturned by the next government, then the long awaited separation could be triggered. Well, that project of “rejectionism”, external intervention was tried after the 1972 Constitution was promulgated and it didn’t work, culminating in Nandikadal in 2009. It may work this time around but then again it may not; so why risk it?

A far more viable strategy is that of the Good Friday agreement and the South African Constitutional negotiations: that is to obtain all parties consensus. It is an approach which eschews either unilateralism or simple bilateralism but strives for political multilateralism. Political multilateralism would recognize that the Tamils need a settlement that can carry the Southern majority with it, and this means the majority of the majority, not merely a minority of the majority.   

In short the Tamils need to combine ‘idealism’ and ‘realism’. Idealism means pushing for the highest possible level of autonomy. Realism means conceding the heights of autonomy in favor of a broader base of support in the Southern heartland, thereby rendering the political formula more rooted and stable.

The current liberal mood of the Supreme Court which is accommodating to federalism, is far less important than the geopolitical realities, including the domestic geopolitical realities. Just as the Sinhala majority has to reconcile itself to the durable geopolitical realities of the region, the Tamils have to reconcile themselves to the no less durable geopolitical realities of the island. The challenge is to find the saddle-point.

That saddle-point does not remain static. Someday it may slide towards greater federalization, but that’s not where it is right now. Right now, the saddle-point remains the 13th amendment and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s postwar promise to implement it. That promise took place within the Presidential system, assuming its continuity, and with no intention of its removal or reduction.

The current tightening of the political gridlock over the Provincial Council elections could harden into a deep freeze– an Ice Age—until national elections in 2019/2020, which will surely yield a patriotic-populist rather than a cosmopolitan-liberal outcome.

Led in the Steering Committee by the former chief negotiator of the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration in the postwar talks with the TNA, Nimal Siripala de Silva, a moderate who has been seriously engaged with the ethnic question since at least 1990, the SLFP (MS wing) has proposed a Constitutional adjustment, not a change of Constitution. Specifically it has proposed a renovation of the 13th amendment. That is, and as the repeated, sustained failure of Chandrika’s “Package” of 1995, 1997 and 2000 shows, perhaps has always been, the structural or parametric limits of feasible reform.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Here we go again.. DJ prating on useless constitutional reform..
    Lanka has had too many Constitutions since independence, while political culture of corruption has spread through the body politic like a virus rotting the country. Writing new constitutions while continuing the political culture of corruption is like putting the cart before the horse, and only benefits corrupt lawyers and politicians who are the source of the problem in the Miracle of Modayas.

    1. Fact is, until the UNP-SLFP bi-partisan political culture of MONEY POLITICS, corruption and rent seeking is ended, through forced retirement of the current corrupt generation of politicians, there is no point in having a new constitution. Because the same old shit will happen regardless of the post perfect Constitution being drafted!.
    2. There should be a retirement age limit for politicians of 60. The United Nations and TeD x and loves to talk about YOUTH and need for youth leadership. Well something concrete should be done, since the current generation is living far longer than previous generations in the world and Lanka due to medical advances etc. and denying the youth of access to leadership.

    • 6
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      Yawn…………. go to sleep, wake up in 100 years, Lankans will be fighting the same battles …….. can join the same battles/arguments without missing a beat.

  • 2
    3

    DIVIDE and DISTRACT the people from their CORRUPTION, and RULE is the and was the Motto of the UNP-SLFP elite.

    This Constitutional change debate is to Distract the masses from the day light robbery and CORRUPTION and culture of impunity enjoyed by the clowns in the Diyawenna Parliament of Corrupt morons – the so-called leaders of the nation! Ha ha!
    Of course the New Constitution song-and-dance distraction, is also being pushed by external parties and Superpowers who are trying to covertyly sign security agreements now with Jarapalanaya Govt., while drafting the Vision 2025 for deregulation and privatization of land and marine resources and to undermine the few remaining national oversight and regulatory bodies

  • 12
    1

    Dayan the war monger

    All through the island’s last hundred years of history we have witnessed only one kind of smart ass patriots, the paranoid Sinhala/Buddhist fascists. They come in all shapes and sizes, pseudo intellectuals, war criminals, war crime deniers, so called war heroes, saffron clad thugs, …………………….. petty crooks, robber barons, ………………..

    • 0
      4

      NV mate, you should stop your hate speech against Sinhalese, it sounds cheap, not worthy of the old school and all, try replacing the words Sinhala/Buddhist with Tamil, Hindu, Aborigines, Native Indians, Italians, Jews etc and hear how it sounds..not so nice no?

      • 4
        0

        wannihami

        “you should stop your hate speech against Sinhalese”

        I have nothing against Sinhalese because they are stupid. However the entire country has problem with the Sinhala/Buddhist fascists, a noisy minority. The Sinhalese are scared of them hence won’t challenge the fascists. Muslims and Tamils do not want one more riots hence keep a deafening silence.

        I am the only one who is qualified to take on the bigoted Sinhala/Buddhist fascists. My purpose in life is to liberate Buddhism from Sinhala/Buddhist fascism and Sinhalese from Sinhala/Buddhist fascists.

        If you are happy to remain a Sinhala/Buddhist fascist please feel free to do so. If you are not then teach the rude/arrogant/lazy/brutal/inhumane/ Sinhala/Buddhist fascists some manners, intellectual honesty, truth, compassion, what is right and wrong, . …………………

    • 1
      0

      NV – Please permit me to endorse your comment to our war monger. It appears you are the best of all the rest! Please keep it up.

  • 2
    4

    Political Elite…………Sounds right………..Gamaralage Sirisena is also in that now, with Sira empire spreading its wings across. Telecommunications, Media, Rice, and Five Star Hotels and Super Luxury Condominiums……….There is no issue at all between the Vellalas and the UNP as they both are Elite………..I don’t know what the Tamil problem is, …………… Dr Mahendran has made his Family super Rich in just 12 Months of UNP rule…………. With Media Interests, Breweries , Investment Banking and Bond Trading………. He didn’t have to have a Federal state of Tamil Eelaam in the North…………Did he ?……….Then we have Hoax Wagon Sivalingam who got the license and 250 Acres in Kuliyapitiya to manufacture German Wheels………….Now another dude from the same Clan is in the middle between UNP Kiriella and Japanese Taisi to collect big time………to the tune of LKR 15 to 20 Billion………. This Devolution and Evolution in Districts, Provinces or Regions is not an issue for the the Elite and their politicians………. The issue is, what is going to happen to the Dalits who are the great majority of the Inhabitant Community…. when these Elite and their Politicians evolve and multiply even in Districts, Regions and Provinces, which are carved out along Ethnic Lines?………………………..

  • 10
    1

    Dayan has given his classification on three types of separatists.He knows that he belongs to the first type,namely (quote )those who openly advocate or support the project of a separate state carved out of this island(unquote)

    Dayan will be remembered for his support for Varatharaja Perumal’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) for the Nort-Eastern Province in the 1980s.Dayan supported VP’s call not just as a an ordinary citizen but as a senior Minister of EP Provincial Council

    Having failed in the UDI project,he next systematically ruined Sri Lanka’image in Geneva while pretending to be a patriot.Dayan was ably assisted in Geneva by other “patriots”Rajeeva Wijesinghe and Tamara Kunanayagam,before former President Rajapaksa dismissed the man.By then it was too late anyway.

    With “patriots ” such as Dayan,Rajeeva and Tamara ruining Sri Lanka who needs the LTTE or the TGTE?Our President Sirisena has wisely kept these people out while wisely appointing officials like Prasad Kariyawasam.

  • 2
    4

    What Cuba said is irrelevant. 13A was shoved on us by Indians. Merger of NE cannot happen. Now the Americans are forcing a new constitution and puppet RW is bending over.

  • 2
    6

    Thanks Dayan for a well written article!
    .
    I always enjoy reading your article, but often disagree!
    .
    Whenever I see your article among others, I prefer reading yours first.!

    Supporting Rajapakse, is your prerogative, I have no problem, but yet I question your integrity in quoting celebrities out of context!

    If only you could be an independent political analyst?

  • 3
    12

    From the time South Indian Tamils started invading Sri Lanka more than 2000 years ago, Sinhalese could not live in peace. Tamil invasions are the main cause for the collapse of Raja Rata Sinhala civilization. Tamils managed to have a foothold in Sri Lanka because of the arrival of western invaders. DJ suggests that the majority should agree to devolution to Provincial level mainly because of pressure that is likely to exert by India and Tamil Nadu for any other solution. Who can give a guarantee that Tamils will live in peace with Sinhalese if power is devolved to Provinces? Modi is not going to be there for ever. Therefore, I think it is better to give a separate state for Tamil speaking people but not on the basis of Provincial boundaries that were drawn by British for administrative purposes. There are about 20% Tamil speaking people in the country. Let us be generous and give 25% of land in the North to Tamil speaking people and draw the boundary as a straight line from East to West and ask ALL the Tamil speaking people to move to that area. Then they can manage their own affairs. That would solve the ethnic problem and Sinhalese will be able to live peacefully. Otherwise Tamils will never allow Sinhalese to live in peace.

    • 4
      2

      Eagle Eye,

      “That would solve the ethnic problem and Sinhalese will be able to live peacefully. Otherwise Tamils will never allow Sinhalese to live in peace.”

      The Sinhalese will never be at peace. You know why because they are chronically insecure. After sorting out the Tamils, you will start on the Muslims and then on the Christians! You have no idea as to the real psyche of your people! Stop blaming others and look within mate!

    • 5
      2

      Dear blind Eagle,
      “From the time South Indian Tamils started invading Sri Lanka more than 2000 years ago, Sinhalese could not live in peace. T”
      Were there any Sinhalese more than 2000 years ago? They were all still North Indian Bengalis, were they not?
      What do you think the Veddas thought about it?
      Why don’t you check out your family tree, Eagle?

      • 0
        2

        Yes. There were Sinhalese in the island more than 2000 years ago. The skeletal remains of the ancient people who had lived in caves dated to more than 30000 years testify for that.

        No. They are not North Indian Bengalis. If they were Bengalis, they would have called “Bengalis” not Sinhalese. The more important question is if Sinhalese came from India, then what happened to the Sinhalese who had lived in India? Riddle me that.

        Veddahs were the offshoots of Sinhalese people who decided to remain in the jungles rather than developing a civilization of their own.

        • 2
          0

          Shenal,
          Don’t you believe your own Holy Book, the Mahavamsa? If you are a Sinhala Buddhist and DON’T believe it , all bets are off.
          You Sinhala Buddhists can’t say different things at different times.
          As to the Veddahs, you need to read up about South Indian Anthropology. There are tribals (Australoids) who are closely related to the Veddahs. There is an even older group called Negritos, who were probably wiped out in Sri Lanka by the Australoid Veddahs. The Dravidians arrived AFTER these groups.
          “Veddahs were the offshoots of Sinhalese people “
          Really? How come they have different DNA?
          The other thing you should know is that 30,000 years (or even 3000 years) ago this country was very firmly a part of South India. Anybody could walk across the connection, and of course they did.
          People like you should read up on our neighbours before waving your tribal flags in public.

          • 0
            2

            The most important question is do YOU believe in Mahavamsa?

            There are no proper DNA test conducted on the gene pool of Sri Lankan people.

            Other than that do you suggest that just because Sri Lanka was once connected to the Indian mainland (it wasn’t connected to India 3000 years ago) every human being in this island become Tamils? That is a lame theory.

            The land bridge connection was there in the last ice age around 10,000 years ago. When the ice melted the land bridge got flooded. There are no records to indicate that Tamils came to this island populated it. It’s just your fairy tale.

            Come with proper evidence. Don’t bring your fairy tales to the argument.

            • 2
              0

              Shenal,
              It is very difficult to argue with people who believe only what they want to believe.
              I have not said anywhere that Tamils populated this island.
              First, where is YOUR evidence that the Adam’s bridge was impassable after the ice age? Here is a claim that it was passable until the 15th century.:
              http://ianchadwick.com/blog/debunking-the-adam-bridge/

              There are more sources if you care to look.
              This would neatly explain all these “invasions ” in the Mahavamsa. They had to only walk across.
              Excavations at Mannar have shown almost identical pre-Buddhist cultures on both sides of the Palk Strait.
              Therefore, the prehistoric people on both sides were the same. They could not possibly have been different, whatever you choose to believe. In South India Dravidians were the last wave, and logically they would be here too because there was a land link.
              Here is data on DNA:
              http://www.sundaytimes.lk/…/race-in-sri-lanka-what-genetic-evidence-tells-us-80911.html
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Sinhalese

              “They are not North Indian Bengalis. If they were Bengalis, they would have called “Bengalis” not Sinhalese”
              Perhaps you don’t know that even the Mahavamsa calls Vijaya’s lot “Vangas” not Bengalis.
              Shenal, you need to do your homework before you rush to your keyboard.

              • 0
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                Thank you for the links. BTW even in the first link the author says that it was reported to have been. But, if that was the case there was no need for any of the invading armies to use any ships. But, we know that was not the case. Not even Ptolemy had drawn it in his famed map.

                How can you simple assume just because the some elements of the pre-Buddhist cultures of the both shore are similar that they belong to Tamils? It is not a valid argument.

                Mahavamsa is correct to call Vijaya and the clan Vangas. Does that make Sinhalese also Vangas? Do Sinhalese comes from Vijaya’s Linage?

                • 1
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                  Shenal,
                  “BTW even in the first link the author says that it was reported to have been.” Wikipedia mentions temple records in Dhanushkodi.

                  Read the DNA links. There is a lot of Bengali DNA among Sinhalese.
                  Actually, there is no such thing as a pure Sinhalese. In case you don’t know, most of the Sinhalese along the West coast are descendants of recent South Indian arrivals. All the Fernandos/ Silvas/ Soysas are in this category. Names like Singappuli are still in use in Kerala.
                  If you want more evidence, look at the online Tombos
                  (landowners index) kept from the 16th century onwards by the Dutch and Portuguese. Here is a sample from Maggona:
                  http://www.archives.gov.lk/web/index.php?koralname=Kalutara&pattuname=District&villagename=Maggona&keyword=&task=search&option=com_thombu&Itemid=194

                  You cannot accuse me of fabricating this. This is the National Archives. Where are all these Tamil and Muslim names now?
                  “Not even Ptolemy had drawn it in his famed map. “
                  Yes, Ptolemy’s map is famous, but not for geographical accuracy. It shows the island almost as big as India. However, maybe you would care to explain why Anuradhapura is shown (in the wrong place) as “Anourogram”. Quite Tamil-sounding.

        • 5
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          Shenali

          “There were Sinhalese in the island more than 2000 years ago. The skeletal remains of the ancient people who had lived in caves dated to more than 30000 years testify for that.”

          Who says so?

          “They are not North Indian Bengalis. “

          The 30,000 years old skeletons did not belong to Bengalis nor to Sinhalese.

          “Veddahs were the offshoots of Sinhalese people who decided to remain in the jungles rather than developing a civilization of their own.”

          Who says so? The most unhappy women Shenali Waduge?

    • 5
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      Before 2000 years there was not a single Sinhala in this world. Vijaya ( Indian) + Kuveni (Tamil) is the Sinhala outcome.

      • 0
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        How come Kuveni be Tamil? Did she speak with you in Tamil? Please back up your argument. Unless we have to declare it as mere gibberish.

        • 0
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          “According to the genesis myth of the Sinhala people, recorded in the Mahavansa, the Veddas – Sri Lanka aboriginal population are descended from Kuveni’s children. Kuveni, on the other hand, is regarded as a descendant of the Rakshas of the Ramayana and of Ravana, who also dwelled in Lanka.”
          Wikepedia
          Note: Ravanan was a Tamil.

    • 7
      1

      Eagle Eye – hahahahahahahaha, what a hoot. Did you get this information in your comic book called Mahawamsa?

    • 6
      0

      Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s suggestion of provincial councils as a solution to the ethnic problem is based on the MYTH that the regional council or N-E merger will tempt ‘far too inviting for the neighbor’, or even provincial unit of power devolution will lead to ‘temptation to secede’. No Tamil will ever consider merging with Tamil Nadu for, 1. Sri Lankan living standards is much better and 2. the quasi-federal Tamilnadu cannot decide its fate as the Central Ragiya Saba decides its boarders and 3. it will lead to a bloody separation like that happened between West and East Pakistans (Bangladesh) if the impossible ever became possible.
      Tamils’ fear is genuine as government sponsored settlements of people from far away south have altered the electoral map of ethnic ratios of majority to minorities in many cities in N-E. Tamil speaking minorities genuinely fear that it will lead marginalisation of their communities and eliminate their existence.
      Tamil speaking people always wanted to co-exist with the majority as 1. this is a small island to divide and other examples of Federalism in countries like Switzerland help all communities to prosper whereas separation result in animosity and destruction as in the division of India to create Pakistan.
      Tamil speaking people dislike encroachment or enslavement of one community by the other.

      • 1
        3

        What Tamils would do is to accede into India as a Union Territory. By doing so they will retain their political leverage over their subjects and obtain the protection of Indian armed forces. India will be very happy to station their servicemen in North and East of Sri Lanka.

        Many Tamils live in Colombo but they don’t complain about their identity is being robbed by Sinhala people. In fact if you want complain about government sponsored settlements in the N-E then first tell us about your thoughts on Indian Tamils in Central highlands.

        Switzerland has become federal state to protect itself from foreign invasions. What will be Tamils achieved when federal style government is granted for them?

        • 2
          1

          Shenal,
          “What Tamils would do is to accede into India as a Union Territory. By doing so they will retain their political leverage over their subjects and obtain the protection of Indian armed forces. India will be very happy to station their servicemen in North and East of Sri Lanka. “
          Aha! Shenal, you are a genius!!!! This is the solution to all our problems. We would have :
          An independent judiciary.
          A constitution which is not a periodical
          A Rupee which is worth twice as much
          Any amount of cheap labour
          A passport which is respected.
          No more female slaves for Arabs
          Marutis for 2 lakhs
          And many more
          Let’s do it NOW!!!!

    • 2
      0

      Eagle Eye,

      ” Let us be generous and give 25% of land in the North to Tamil speaking people and draw the boundary as a straight line from East to West and ask ALL the Tamil speaking people to move to that area. Then they can manage their own affairs”.

      I turn your question back to you, Who can give a guarantee that Sinhalese will live in peace with Tamils if the small country is divided into 25% north and 75% south??’

      It won’t work for 1. most B-S won’t agree to it and 2. it will lead to a blood bath on a scale similar to what happened what happened when India was divided into Hindus and Muslims Pakistan.

      It’s a generous offer, yes. You have better persuade the majority community to agree to a Federal system as in Switzerland or confederal as in Canada. They have been so for long and still remain united. If a few Tamils still wanted separation the majority can resist it as they have effectively denied any solution hitherto.

      We must avoid blood letting at any cost.

  • 3
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    Smart Patriot Dr.DJ has come out with few good proposals. But he has conveniently left out the “prereqisite ” that is essential for his proposals to become a reality.
    What is that prerequiste ?

    DJ & the likes must force Rajapkse Clans & Cronies to retire from SL politics , if the latter do not do gracefully in the best interest of the future of the country.

  • 4
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    Dayan Jayatilleka’s ~ “The Constitution Controversy: The Real Options” carefully avoids the needs to debate the reasons for changes.
    The constitution has gotten undue attention because a group led by a Dayan ilk, another by a Dayan ilk and a third by a Dayan ilk.

  • 0
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    DJ: TNA politicians are not dumb. They know what is going on. Tamilnadu or the Indian Central govt understand everything. In such a context what is the point of fooling poor Tamils anymore. Sri lanka has nine provincial councils. All those councils are smaller than municiplaities of where I live. the whole country Sri lanka is just 270 miles and 170 miles wide. Why, even these so called political experts are this dumb. Why people can not propose a better solution. You know what India, Tamilnadu and TNA are looking for. There are many serious issues in the country. I think has given enough assuarances to India. Sri lanka bent to India and made China longer trusts Sri lanka. See how the same wars and propaganda go against buddhists in other countries. They are handling those wars better than sri lankan expert politicians who were politicians for most of their lives and against the predictions of those political experts. I think, you people are screwing up the country.

  • 0
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    It should be embarassing to this so called political expert, if he understands, when he still considers these usless problems, If you can not think about directions of the Tamil – politics, other ways to handle the tamils and the need of constitutional amendments etc., when the problems in the constitution are clear. Do you have any idea about in which direction the country should go ?

  • 2
    2

    Why is Dr Dayan so sacred of Hindians? …….. Is Modi going to Nuke our Mahavamsa Land like Trumpy threatened to do to N Korea…….It is Dr Ranil, Maithri Sira Strategy to use Hindian as the Body Guards to stay in power against the wishes of the great majority inhabitant population………Dr Ranil wants to go even further and castrate all Sinhala Buddhists who do not vote for his UNP Elite, Anglican , Vellala and Wahabi Alliance……….That is why Dr Ranil desperate to introduce ETCA… ….. And hand over all Chinese Govt funded major projects t o Indians and Japanese … At commercial rates of 12 to i4 percent , instead of 3 to 4 percent Chinese loans……… That works well for the big ass Commission Kakkass in the UNP lead by Kirra , Kabir and Mallika…………

    • 4
      1

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Why is Dr Dayan so sacred of Hindians?”

      Because your සහෝදරයෙනි brethren the psychopath VP and his LTTE no longer exist in this island to kick the Hindian IPKF (II) back to Delhi Sultanate.

      The war monger Dayan knows full well the Zeros in your war criminal armed forces could not match the Hindians.

      • 0
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        (:-) still they ahve not learnt I see after kicking rajapakshe arse by Hindhians.

  • 1
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    Why can’t the Northern Tamils move to Tamil Nadu where they can live like kings and queens among their own helped and aided by ever loving and lovely Modi Baappa? Problem solved.

    • 3
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      OMG,

      You need your head examined! Sri Lanka is Tamils’ home too. Why not, in keeping with mature democracies, empower the Tamils? The Sinhala need not feel insecure but be magnanimous; this is what is the need of the hour!

    • 3
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      OMG

      “Why can’t the Northern Tamils move to Tamil Nadu where they can live like kings and queens among their own helped and aided by ever loving and lovely Modi Baappa? “

      Its a brilliant idea. How did you manage to come up with such a brilliant idea? You must be Genius.

      You are rest assured when Sinhala/Buddhists go back to their ancestral homeland in South India I will make sure your Tamil brethren also moved back to their ancestral land.

      When are you leaving?

  • 1
    2

    Burning Issue
    Raman
    Ajith
    Tamil from the North,

    I suggested that Sinhalese should agree to give a separate state to Tamil speaking people (Tamils+Muslims). Tamil speaking people should be happy about my proposal. I am wondering why some have a problem with my proposal. If someone does not agree with my proposal, instead of writing BS, please give your reasons.

    • 2
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      Eagle Blind Eye

      “I suggested that Sinhalese should agree to give a separate state to Tamil speaking people (Tamils+Muslims).”

      Its not within your power to carve out land or create new states. Before doing so please just spend time with South Block Hindians in Sultanate of New Delhi and see if they are agreeable to your proposals. Neither Sinhalese nor Tamils decide on those matters. Also remember the case of East & West Pakistan.

  • 4
    0

    Dayan
    Your convoluted conclusions betray your Mahavansa mindset – though during “lucid intervals” you sound somewhat sensible. Overall, your presentation lacks integrity and intellectual honesty.

    “The current liberal mood of the Supreme Court which is accommodating to federalism……”

    In what context do you say that Dayan? Are you not alluding to the recent Supreme Court ruling that has held “Federalism is not Separatism”?. Are you not implying that Rajapakse’s (“captive”) judiciary would have- much to your glee- found Federalism amounted to Separatism. The sinister mindset is revealing – revolting !

    Stop your gratuitous advice to the Tamils. We know who you are and we know what our options are.

    Therefore, please M.Y.O.B.B.

  • 3
    0

    In my view the smart patriot DJ should be tried for contempt of court under common law for his statement
    ” The current liberal mood of the Supreme Court which is accommodating to federalism, is far less important than the geopolitical realities, including the domestic geopolitical realities. “
    If it happens, Hope Nagananda Kodituwakku and Laksri Fernando do not act as defence laywer for DJ.
    Let Namal or Wijeydasa Rajapkases do that .

  • 3
    0

    This bankrupt diplomat is a “loser”, to use Trump terminology. If we look back at the history how many times has Dayan changed his political view. Once upon a time he advised separation when he was with the Northern Provincial Council. Then when he was kicked out of UN by Mahinda, he attacked Mahinda. Subsequently he attacked Gota, now this. Its sad that we have such educated FOOLS in our midst who wear “elite diplomat clothing”. Sad state of affairs.

  • 3
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    DJ
    Remember Premadasa had honeymoon with LTTE to send the IPKF. After IPKF left EELAM war II erupted and Premadasa was killed.

    If the the 13th Amendment had succeeded in 87/89. The EElam warII and III would have been avoided.

  • 2
    0

    Shenal
    please read a book ‘ peoples and Cultures of Srilanka’ by Dr. s.Thiagarajah. This gives scientific evidence with DNA done in peoples of Sri lanka ,India and africa. Sinhalese should feel proud to be dravidians and that is the truth. Have you got trace of Sinhala language before 2000 – 2500 years. Have you heard of lemuria continent in which Srilanka, India and Australia were together. Please do some reading before commenting.
    V.J.Bose

    • 0
      2

      DNA claims cannot be taken seriously under this political clout. But it’s a no brainier that Sinhalese have Dravidian linage. No one is skeptical about that. It’s you people that should accept it rather than claiming Sinhalese came from Bengal. I don’t believe in Lemuria. But it is a well known fact that more than 60-70 million years ago India, Madagascar and Australia was part of a one super continent. It then got broken up and separated. This happened well before the apes even came down from trees. So, don’t believe any fairy tales nonsense.

  • 1
    0

    Finally, Dayan ‘sounding’ reasonable instead of beating the nationalist drum. He must have figured out that the outside forces that are no doubt prompting this sudden epiphany aren’t going away. Being the unapologetic nationalist that he is, it is obvious that he hopes for a Provincial Council style resolution, that can be tacitly eroded away once the world’s gaze turns elsewhere.

  • 0
    2

    provincial councils are the biggest white elephant as a deputy minister said
    recently
    as nevile and arjuna said devolution should be at district or pradeshiya sabhal level
    to make it meaningful to the masses
    provincial councils will only encourage secessionist demands
    once again dj has been caught flat footed ,the poor guy thinks he knows everything
    any way no new constituition will see the light of day in this set up
    it can only be done when a single party has a two third majority e.g jr and sirimavo

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