By Dinesh D. Dodamgoda –
Although the draft of the proposed constitution is not yet available, comments made by ‘authors’ indicates its fundamentals. It will be again the same old wine poured into new wineskins, especially in terms building peace sustainably.
It is clear from remarks made by the Prime Minister and the M.P. Mr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, a member of the Steering Committee drafting the new constitution that the new constitution will also adhere to philosophical principles of Majoritarianism, the main cause of the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka, in a context where the Committee should adopt Pluralism.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently stated that Buddhism would be given the foremost place in Sri Lanka’s new Constitution, a statement that upholds Majoritarianism. Interestingly, it was reported in the government run Daily News that the Prime Minister said all political parties and religious leaders across faiths had “no issue in giving priority to protect Buddhism in the country.” The Prime Minister added the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main political grouping here representing Sri Lanka’s northern Tamils, agreed to retain those articles protecting Buddhism in the existing Constitution unchanged.
What does the Prime Minister tries to say in his statement? It is again Majoritarianism in the new constitution as well and even the minority religious leaders and the TNA, groups that should propose pluralism as the guiding principle for the new constitution, are also pleased carry on with Majoritarianism. What a world we live in!
It doesn’t matter what the minority or majority leaders want to believe. Yet, their beliefs matter to citizens as they are the segment that severely would suffer from another round of violent conflict. If we are not to aim at building sustainable peace with the proposed structures in the new constitution on the basis of pluralism, it will take Sri Lanka into another round of violence.
Bankruptcy in finding a solution
It is evident from the minority and the majority leaders’ satisfactory stances that they believe that the Majoritarianism would bring sustainable peace. This shows that their pundits are ideologically bankrupt in finding an out of the box solution. May Triple Gem and the God bless Sri Lankans!
The problem in Sri Lanka is a problem of identity! The Sinhalese think as the Sinhalese or even Sinhala-Buddhists, the Tamils think as the Tamils, the Muslims think as the Muslims, the Catholics / Christians think as the Catholics / Christians etc. Furthermore, where their cultural and group demands are not met democratically, they fight and challenge the State’s monopoly on violence. The Majority wins most of the times where the minority veto that creates ‘super minorities’ is not recognised. The causes for all the problems again go back to Majoritarianism.
Such Majoritarianism is the principle that the country’s majority and the minority leaders want to uphold again in the new constitution as well. Why? Their pundits and those leaders think that they cannot adopt pluralism in Sri Lanka without neglecting the majority. What an ideological bankruptcy?
Therefore, apart from the statement made by the Prime Minister regarding Buddhism, M.P. Mr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne even afraid of taking the ethnic issue into the forefront of the Agenda of the Constitution. In a statement given to Daily News he leaves the issue in the periphery. In my opinion this cowardly tactics can be welcomed at the initial phase of drafting the constitution in attracting minority groups and requesting their assistance. Yet, the same tactic that cannot be changed later will be counterproductive at the consolidation phase where the country should establish peace into a sustainable mechanism.
It is a pity that these pundits and the minority and the majority leaders will take us on a ride to another round of conflict by embracing the main cause of the ethnic issue, Majoritarianism. Therefore, it is certain that the proposed constitution will worsen the ethnic problem, this time with the assistance of the minority leaders!