1 December, 2020

Blog

The Mangala-Chandrika-TNA Constitution

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The UNP leadership and Chandrika Kumaratunga are trying perpetrate an unnecessary but quite drastic, risky surgery on the Sri Lankan body politic. They seek to effect such change to the Constitution that cannot be limited to reform through the procedure of amendments. But what could such change be?

There is no Sri Lankan commitment to a new Constitution made to the Human Rights Council. Thanks to our neighboring friends, the only reference to a political solution is to the implementation of the 13th amendment, which is far more modest than that which is envisaged by a new Constitution. So it perfectly possible to leapfrog accountability/transitional justice and move directly to the political resolution item of the Geneva resolution, by implementing the 13 amendment, with necessary modifications and improvements.

The government’s contention that there is no reason for the Joint Opposition to oppose the government’s Constitutional project, is another example of the Constitutional bond scam now in play. Firstly the Rajapaksa administration’s joint communiques of May 21st and May 23rd 2009 with the Government of India and the UN SG Ban Ki Moon, and reproduced in the UNHRC resolution of May 27th 2009, did not promise to implement “13 Plus” still less “go beyond 13A”. Of the two communiques only the one with India mentioned 13A and that too was only to “implement the 13th amendment”.

President Rajapaksa promised 13 Plus and to go beyond the 13th amendment, and therefore new Constitution. But as anyone who has had a 13th birthday knows, if anyone asks your age six months after that, you reply “13 plus”—which in no way means you have gone “beyond 13”. You are “beyond 13” only on your next birthday, i.e. when you hit 14.

The question is why not go that painless route? The answer logically is that the government seeks a change that goes beyond a reform. Why would the government do so?

Indeed this is the point that Gamini Jayawickrama Perera has recently made when he reminded an audience of the vast strides the North Western Province made during his tenure as chief minister, and pointed out what was possible within the present system, asking pointedly “If I could do it why can’t you?” However, that pragmatic place doesn’t seem to be where the UNP leadership is coming from. Equally obviously the government does not intend to go in for a new amendment of a scope and scale which could be passed by only a two thirds in parliament without recourse to a referendum.

Just when you thought things couldn’t be morally worse , you learn that Mangala Samaraweera does not intend the new Constitution to be trade-off for getting us off the ‘war crimes’ accountability hook. When asked by the foreign correspondents whether the US and UK leaderships may no longer insist on the implementation of the Geneva 2015 UNHRC resolution, the Foreign Minister replies disgustingly that “ even if they don’t insist, we insist” on implementation. This means that the government’s agenda is not ‘quasi-federalism OR Special Courts on war crimes’, but ‘quasi-federalism AND Special Courts’, except that the sequence has changed and its federalization first, Special Courts second.

What this means is that there is a deal between the Ranil-Mangala-CBK troika (which has a pathetically few ‘official’ SLFP loyalists), the TNA’s Sumanthiran-Sampanthan duo, the Global Tamil Forum/the British Tamil Forum, and a handful of Western states with important Tamil Diaspora vote banks (and colonial hang-ups). What’s in it for Ranil and Mangala are (a) the prospect of permanent electoral support (and perhaps funding) for the UNP from the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and overseas, and (b) a transfer of power from the President to the PM and the UNP which would remove the roadblocks to and facilitate the smooth implementation of their re-colonization project of the transferring the ownership of the geo-strategically vital island of Sri Lanka from us, the people, the citizens, to them, the foreigners.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Readers should absorb the following answers from SLFP stalwart, Minister Susil Premjayanth in this morning’s Daily Mirror, and bear in mind that without the ‘official’ SLFP’s support , the ‘new constitution’ or even amendments cannot secure a two thirds majority in parliament, let alone succeed at a referendum. The Constitutional coat must be cut according to the parliamentary cloth.

    “Q With reference to this Constitution making process, there is this allegation that the current stalemate is due to the SLFP not submitting its proposals. What is your response to them?

    A:The SLFP has clearly indicated that if the new Constitution making process leads to a referendum, it is not appropriate at this stage. Before a referendum, you have to settle other issues.  You find other social issues-economic crisis, unemployment issues etc.  One has to be mindful of what is happening in other countries. We are of the opinion that this is not the ideal time to go for a referendum.  At a referendum, people will not confine their decisions solely on constitutional matters. They would vent their anger against the government on other matters.  Therefore, we are of the opinion that we should do some amendments to the existing Constitutions without calling for a referendum. Later on, it could be considered. 
     

    Q How do you expect the parties like the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to fall in line with your stand? 

    A: fought a war for years. We were suffering from this issue for 65-70 years. You cannot give solutions at once. They are in a hurry. But, we are not. There should be a permanent solution. To do that, you have to convince the people. 
     

    Q Do you advocate power devolution?

    A: yes to a certain extent only. You cannot amend the Constitution or replace it with a new one leading to the partition of the country at any stage. You see what is happening in the north. NP Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran goes to the eastern province and canvasses for the amalgamation of the two provinces. There is a Supreme Court ruling here. The Chief Minister is also a retired Supreme Court Judge. First of all, he should read the relevant judgment. You cannot go there and utter certain things.” 
     
    – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Referendum-ill-advised-for-Govt-at-this-hour-Susil-123781.html#sthash.z3KgqqUP.dpuf

    • 1
      0

      DJ:

      “fought a war for years. We were suffering from this issue for 65-70 years. You cannot give solutions at once. They are in a hurry. But, we are not.”

      THis says it all. We are not in a hurry because we don’t want to ‘give’. We are only takers.

      Sorry, the modern world does not work that way.

      Susil P Jayanth is out of his time. A relic from the last century.

    • 0
      0

      Thank You Dayan

      I have to agree that this is not the time. It’s all a power play anyway.

      Were you there when the a popular news chanel online vote of ‘do we need a new constitution?’ was held?

      They never published the poll results, must have been on a phone call with RTI group.

  • 3
    1

    Lets also absorb a para by V.Anandasangaree on federalism and who supported it.

    “Another Ex President Hon. Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga was the next Sinhala leader who supported the Federal solution as the best for Sri Lanka. It was Ex. President Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was Prime Minister proposed a Federal solution at a convention of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.”

  • 2
    0

    “There is no Sri Lankan commitment to a new Constitution made to the Human Rights Council. Thanks to our neighboring friends, the only reference to a political solution is to the implementation of the 13th amendment, which is far more modest than that which is envisaged by a new Constitution. So it perfectly possible to leapfrog accountability/transitional justice and move directly to the political resolution item of the Geneva resolution, by implementing the 13 amendment, with necessary modifications and improvements”

    DJ First of all why promise a solution based on the 13th amendment ? You as well as I do that 13th amendment failed for the following reasons,
    (1) There was no sincerity from the start because it was foisted on Lanka by Rajiv.
    (2) Soon as it was foisted it was sabotaged by your hero Premadasa
    (3) The concurrent list was always interpreted by the SC in favour of the Central Govt.
    (4) Basil took away more powers
    (5) The Governor has more powers than CM
    (6) Power today gone tomorrow
    (7) Even Municipal Councils have more power
    (8) Tamils & muslims never asked for it
    (9) Discretionary fund is only 5%
    (10) Recently UDA has taken all planning powers.

    From the current experience one can see that the 13th amendment is simply eyewash and was only a joke played on the nation.Therefore it does not need any great philosophical argument for Land Powers or Law & Order Police powers.If the CM cant control even traffic and minor offences why call him a CM .? He should be called a Chief peon.
    On the issue of referendum UNP & TNA together with some political parties affiliated to UNP & Civil Society groups can simply muster 51%
    So why the hell are you DJ getting hot under the collar.

    The reason is clear because a new constitution implies the removal of the executive Presidency.Which means that your Sugar Daddy Mahinda putha will be very upset.
    I am sure the family of plunderers will find some way to spend their ill gotten gains by giving some to you.Ha Ha.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.