23 October, 2017

The Way Forward For The TNA For Peaceful Resolution Of The Political Problems Of Tamils

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

There was a storm created during the election campaign by the TNA Manifesto which referred to their demand for federalism. This was interpreted or misinterpreted to the Sinhalese masses as a revival of the demand for a separate State. Such interpretation no doubt was useful to mobilize the support of the Sinhalese voters in the NWP and the CP elections. The TNA denied that they wanted a separate state.

But even a sober politician like the National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who earlier forged an alliance along with other leftist members in the government to oppose any move to amend the 13th Amendment has said that the TNA’s election manifesto was an attempt to divide the country. He has also added that the Northern Provincial Council would be assigned the same powers as the other provincial councils and would not be given any powers that have not been vested with the other councils. So the TNA has to take note of these fears among the Sinhalese. Whether the demand for self determination in the form of federalism can be outlawed is now before the Supreme Court.

But the 13th Amendment is not federalism. The best option for the TNA is to put this demand on the back burner and instead seek to make the Provincial Council work. Otherwise it would expose itself to the charge that it wrecked any chance of working together under the 13th Amendment. There are several gaps and overlaps in the division of powers in the Law which requires patience and understanding to iron out.  The Government should show understanding and allow the TNA to run an administration exercising the powers devolved. The TNA should cultivate the goodwill and understanding of the President and make a genuine attempt to make the Provincial Council work. So the first step is to build a dialogue with the President to resolve the administrative obstacles and bottlenecks rather than to demand expansion of the powers and functions of the PC. The Governor is the President’s representative and despite the bad relationship with the present holder of the post the TNA must display maturity and repair the estranged relationship.

It is good that Justice Wigneswaran will be the Chief Minister. The TNA will have to separate the functioning of the PC from its political
activity. It will have to operate at two levels leaving those in the PC to deal positively and amicably with the permanent politico administrative Establishment of the Central Government. Those in charge of the PC should seek to have a dialogue on ironing out administrative problems and avoid the political demands. This includes the Tamil grievances relating to lands and military occupation. If the Government is wise it would extend its co-operation to make the PC work. This will enable the Government to win the goodwill of the UN.

The Government should activate the Finance Commission and see that the funds to the Provincial Council are allocated by the Commission as per the Constitution rather than through a particular Minister or Ministers. In short it must conform to the provisions in the 13th Amendment which have been hitherto ignored in dealing with the PCs of the South. The working relationship with the Central Government as visualized in the 13th Amendment should be put into practice and this is the responsibility of the TNA as well as the Government. The Government will have to acknowledge and respect the rights of the Tamil people to exercise the limited self governance provided for in the 13th Amendment. The Government should be guided by the UN Charter. It does not recognize any “people” to secede or have a separate State. It does not recognize a right to armed struggle for independence just as undertaken by the LTTE? But it seems to be illegal under International Law to deprive a people of their rights by using force or violence against them.

The TNA has to acknowledge that its PC members do not have politico-administrative experience. Their experience is political and in agitational politics at that. So the Members of the Provincial Council will have to learn the subtle relationship between the politician and the administrator. This relationship broke down after 1956 and SLFP politicians of the National Parliament interfered in the administrative decisions of the bureaucracy. This has led to the total collapse of the district administration in the South. Since the politicians of the North were out of power, the district administration of the north had less challenge on this score. No man
can serve two masters and the officials require clear lines of authority and unity of command. These principles of public administration have collapsed in the South. The TNA has an opportunity not to politicize the administration and instead run a proper administration through the established bureaucracy without appointing political stooges or interfering in day to day administrative decision making. The Tamil public from my little experience in the north show the same tendency to take unfair advantage over others and do not hesitate to exercise political influence. They know that without political contacts they cannot get a child to a job or even to a good school. But such clientalism is the bane of our democracy in the South. The TNA must shun special favors for their supporters. They must bring back the type of good governance we had under the British and which existed up to 1956 under Independence

The TNA should do their best to work with the District Administration of the Central Government in the Kachcheris without allowing their mistrust of the military Governor to affect their relations with the District Administration of the Central Government. Through the war years there was the fascist administration of the LTTE and the military administration of the Army. The people of the present generation are not familiar with a normal civilian administration and it is up to the TNA to show them just that. The TNA must realize that the administration is in transition mode. The Government must also realize that the Armed Forces will have to withdraw into the background and allow a normal civilian administration to function. The armed forces should not interfere in the daily lives of the civilian population or local politics. The future of the country depends a lot on the working of the Northern P.C. Federalism is a matter of
Constitutional Law but the working of a federal system depends as much on the working relationship between the Central Government and the Provincial Councils. So a good relationship with the Central Government is a sine qua non for both the Sinhalese and the Tamil
people. Let us give the Northern Provincial Council a chance.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    The stage can now be reset for genuine reconcilliation and dialogue. In the past it was claimed that TNA was not the representative of the Tamil people. This myth has now been shattered and the Govt should reach out to the NPC and help to re-develop the province.

    What is required from the TNA is cooperation and consulation with the center, not one upmanship and trying to go it alone. On its part the Govt should resist the urge to hold the TNA to ransom by withholding developmental aid and extend its whole hearted support.

    High on the agenda should be a solution to militarisation and the disbanding of armed groups. The other contentious issue to be solved is of land and high security zones. It would help considerably if the Governor of the NCP be replaced by a non-military figure, preferably a Tamil.

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    Dear Mr RMBS,

    “TNA must display maturity and repair the estranged relationship”

    “The TNA will have to separate the functioning of the PC from its political activity.”

    “The TNA must shun special favors for their supporters. They must bring back the type of good governance we had under the British and which existed up to 1956 under Independence”

    “The TNA has to acknowledge that its PC members do not have politico-administrative experience.”

    “The TNA has an opportunity not to politicize the administration and instead run a proper administration through the established bureaucracy without appointing political stooges or interfering in day to day administrative decision making”

    In all the above – What about changing TNA with SLFP (Sri Lanka Family Party)

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    Vasudeva Nanayakkara has always been a monkey on the wall jumping from side to side! He is still in the pocket books of the ruling regime. So this is not a shock to most of us. Federalism is not a separate state request. But any hint of supporting Prabaharan’s view or LTTE is a call for a separate state, Justice Wigneswaran should be cautious not to make this mistake again. Just because TNA has asked for a Federal solution in their manifesto they are not going to get it at the beginning. They have to fist get the full powers under the 13th amendment and then they have to work towards a federal solution. The mere fact of mentioning something in the manifesto does not mean they truly want it. Similarly Rajapakse in the Mahinda Chinthana indicated he wanted to abolish the Presidential system but he only increased the number of time a person can contest the Presidential election. Northern PC should clearly understand they are only a part of united, undivided Sri Lanka and not a state of its own. I hope and pray Justice Wigneswaran is smart enough to understand this.

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      It is not understood about the full powers under the 13th amendment. There are no powers of entity for the Chief Minister and the members of the council. They are only a figure heads with names of positions attached to them and fat salaries. The full powers are with the Governor of Northern Province.Every proposalby the council have to go to the governor for his signature and seal. The 13th amendment under the peace accord was drafted without the knowledge and approval of the Tamil people. The Tamils are a different sect with different culture like the Sinhalese. They are predominently settled in the North and East. There should be a referendum for the Tamil people to decide their destiny suggested by the Leader of the DMK in Tamil Nadu.It is freedom of choice.The Indian Centre supported Sri lanka in the defeat of the LTTE. The Tamils should get the support of the Tamils in Tamil Nadu unlike Mr.Wigneswaran who had made contradictory remarks. The Tamil youths made a mistake in going to war and killing most of the Tamil politicans and acadamics. They have not gained anything and that should be a lesson for the Tamil people. The attitude of the Sinhalese is to subjugate the Tamil population and that attitude will not go away. The Tamils have waited 70 years and have to wait another 10 years to see what the present Tamil leaders are going to do.

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    People in the North have voted for TNA with the wish that TNA would make their life better. But if TNA is unable to deliver what they have been promising the people in the North, then this would be also the end of TNA. This in short may be the beginning or the end of TNA. People like Justice Wigneswaran, Sumanthiran etc are smart people and should act accordingly and not fall into the whims and fancies of the Tamil Diaspora who are frozen in time.

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    The Governor should be replaced by this author. I think a lot of Tamils have great respect for his magnanimity and it will profit the Tamils to have a well-meaning Sinhalese to ”bring down” the ultra-Sinhala nationalism if TNA also can set out to show the South how real democracy works. Sinhalese have a good chance to turn over a new leaf for the Tamils are back in the square they were in the 50s.

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      I agree with Mr. Panabokke. There are several good Sinhala gentleman-senior administrative officers with whom Tamils can work. I also have in mind men like Somapala Gunadeera (?) Godfrey Gunatilake, Bradman Weerakoon, Sivathasan (not necessarily in that order) But for this the gentlemen concerned should agree and the Govt. must be able to overcome the parochial nature of party politics.

      Senguttuvan

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    Totally agreeing with Anpu’s comments.Militarization of North East,changing the demography of NE,planting Budha statues overnight in these areas,white van abductions,killing of anti govt. personals- who is doing all these. The political will should come from ruling elite.If you have the political will to solve the tamil issue, making Sri Lanka a paradise is much easier than what the Govt. is doing in the NE now. To do that you need a PATRIOT.Sorry not a single person in Sri Lanka. People like Vasu are a disgrace for the left movement.Even the international community appreciated the way the LTTE controlled area was administered.So,give the funds and leave us free lance, we will show you how to develop through a PC.

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    It is a political misadventure creating enmity between the Sinhalese and Tamils. I lived in Galle for about 15 good years. I had no enemies there at all. They are a friendly and cooperative people. Whenever there was a political anti Tamil agitation usually during election times, my colleagues gave me all the support and they do all the shopping for me not allowing me to get exposed to bad elements. We Tamils got mis educated by bad politicians on both sides of the ethnic divide that Sinhalese are our enemies. It is very wrong for the Northerners most of them without exposure to Sinhalese hospitality to get mis educated. It is the power craze that made politicians find short cut ways to come to power. This is because the Administration neglected anti ethnic bashing or even anti ethnic violence. All Administrators must enforce strong Laws to punish those taking advantage of ethnic bashing and violence in all provinces. It is for the sake of the whole nation and all ethnicity a politician must contest elections. The parliament at the center must constitute all the elected members from all provinces. The most efficient member who loves the Country must be made the Head of Government. Those who divide the Country should be left out. There is also mistake done by politicians after getting power using ethnicity to advocate majority rule and forgetting what is good for the Nation. It will be good for TNA to start administering the old fashioned way and not the ethnic way.

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    Mr.SEnenayake,

    13th Amendment is only a starting point and it doesnt meet the Tamil Aspirations. It was an agreement between India & GOSL so it is up to India to make it work and I am sure you can see that India has finally started to flex its muscles and it is bearing fruits.

    1) Eelection to the Northern Assembly has already taken place.

    Now we get in to nitty gritty of implementing the provisions of the Amendment.

    The immediate task is get the Army off the street and introduce a Tamil Police Force with a Tamil Commisioner of Police who is directly under the control of the elected CM.
    The Tamils do not have to bow down or beg MR for anything and he is duty bound to work with the CM and devolve power.
    It is up to India to Guaranteee that the 13th Amendement is impelemented in full. With the election in India fast approaching we may have to wait until after the elections and hopefully with a BJP administration in place things should all fall into place. As I have said many times the Nation that holds the key to Tamil fortunes is India as India has total jurisdiction over India as it was made clear
    when MR was forced to hold elections to the Northern Assembly.
    We cannot and will not trust a Sinhala Government to decide our destiny
    and it is a new begining. The Sinhalese dogs have stopped barking except for a few who are wagging thier tails.

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    President Rajapaksa does not know why some countries interfering in the internal affairs of developing nations under the guise of security and human rights. Because of leaders like him. He is wearing a national dress, but he doesn’t mind to kill thousands of fellow countrymen, or chase them out from their motherland to the Western Countries. This world is too good for some, that is why the UN has allowed a war criminal to address the United Nations General Assembly.
    “The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today set a deadline for the govt to address human rights concerns by March 2014 or in the absence of which she believes the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms”.
    The Rajapaksa brothers’ lucky days are numbered. The days are not far away to ask a question to Gota, “Who is really smart, the Rajapaksa regime or well educated Tamil Diaspora?” I will ask that question to Gota in due time.

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