4 February, 2023

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Two Saraths & The Issue Of Power Sharing

By C.V. Wigneswaran

Justice C.V. Wigneswaran MP

A Journalist asked me; Sarath Weerasekara opposes the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Sarath Fonseka has said power sharing would lead to the rise of Terrorism. How do you see their statements?

My response was; Hon’ Weerasekara and Hon’ Fonseka have been conditioned to believe certain erroneous matters and they very passionately advocate those matters without investigating or thinking. Let me enumerate some of them;

1. Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist Country and it belongs to the Sinhalese.

2. Since Buddhist remains are there in the North and East those areas were originally Sinhalese occupied, later taken over by the Tamils who were recent immigrants.

3. The Thirteenth Amendment was enacted to divide the Country.If implemented it would divide the Country.     

4. Sri Lanka is a small Country and nine provincial divisions are unnecessary.

5. The Thirteenth Amendment was enacted for the benefit of India. We do not need it.

6. Land rights should never be given to the Provinces.The Executive President must have full control over all lands . 

7. So too Police functions. If given, the Country’s Defence would be endangered. 

8. The Tamil youth were Terrorists not freedom fighters.

9. Centralisation of powers is healthy. Power sharing is unhealthy.

I am sure they suffer from many other erroneous presumptions.But let me deal with the above errors.

1. Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist Country and it belongs to the Sinhalese. 

Sri Lanka is not a Sinhala Buddhist Country and does not belong to the Sinhalese. May be it belongs to every citizen of this Country – Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Sindhi, Malay, Chinese  – whoever is a Citizen.

The Sinhalese are no doubt majority when the Country is taken as a whole. But the Tamils are the majority in the North and East from time immemorial. But being a majority community does not qualify that Community to claim possessory rights. None dispute the possessory right of the Sinhalese in areas where they have continued to live for a long time undisturbed and uninterrupted. The Tamils of Sri Lanka have a proven history in Sri Lanka extending from before 3000 years ago. They occupied the North and East right throughout these 3000 and more years, though their residence extended throughout this Island in early times. The five Shivalingams (Lord Shiva’s portrayal) were established in all four directions to protect this Island. Naguleswaram in the North (in Keerimalai), Thiruketheeswaram in the North West (in Manthottam), Munneswaram in the  West (Chilaw), Thondeeswaram in the South (Dondra) and Thirukoneswaram in the East (in Trincomalee) have existed from pre historic times.Successive Sinhala Governments have avoided investigating and ascertaining the age of the Shivalingam lying at the bottom of the sea below the present Temple at Thirukoneswaram for fear of evidence of the existence of Saivaism and Tamil long before the so called coming of Vijaya which is in fact a fiction believed by the Sinhalese. The Sinhalese can safely accept the long undisturbed and uninterrupted residence of the Tamils in the North and East. But the Sinhalese cannot claim overlordship over areas which have never been under their prolonged occupancy.

The Sinhala Language is very recent having come into usage in or about the 6th or 7th Century AD.The intellectuals among the Sinhalese have conveniently referred to Pali or Tamil or other  words found in inscriptions prior to the birth of the Sinhala language as old Sinhala words. This is not correct. The languages which gave rise to the Sinhala language cannot be identified as Sinhala language. I used to wonder why during my student days the study of Sinhala language always went hand in hand with the study of Pali. Later I realised the anxiety of the Sinhalese intellectuals to claim the existence of Pali as existence of Sinhalese in those times. The Mahawansa was not written in the Sinhala language because there was no Sinhala language at the time it was written in the 5th Century AD.It was written in Pali. The first Grammar book in Sinhala, Sidath Sangarawa, was written in the 13th Century AD. The first Sinhala inscription is dated around the 7th Century AD.  

The Honourable Saraths must learn their history before claiming the North and East as part of their Sinhala Country.

2. Since Buddhist remains are there in the North and East those areas were originally Sinhalese occupied, later taken over by the Tamils who were recent immigrants.

The Buddhist remains in the North and East only prove the existence of Buddhism among the Tamils long before the Sinhala language came into existence. Professor Sunil Ariaratne has written a book in Sinhala about Demala Baudhayos. Both Saraths are advised to read it to know something about Tamil Buddhists of yore.

3. The Thirteenth Amendment was enacted to divide the Country.If implemented it would divide the Country. 

This is not true. The Thirteenth Amendment was enacted not to divide the Country but to keep it inviolate. JR had no alternative but to seek Indian intervention. The Thirteenth Amendment stopped the division of the Country.The Hon’Saraths must both realise this fact.

Would the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment allow the Southern Province to divide from the rest of the Country? Why do they say only the North and East would divide? Is it not because they are Tamil speaking areas? If they want to keep the Tamil speaking areas within an inviolated Sri Lanka the recognition of the Tamils’ right of Self Determination must indeed be recognised. Recognising such an Internationally accepted right in a multi ethnic country does not mean it would lead to division of the Country. Not recognising only would lead to division. It is the non recognition of the Tamils’ rights in their traditional homelands that has impelled the Country towards bankruptcy. Did not the war and its expensive conduction lead to our present economic impasse?

The Thirteenth Amendment under the Unitary Constitution was an innovation to prevent division and separation. Thirteenth Amendment could never lead to separation since it has been enacted under an Unitary Constitution. That is exactly the shortcoming of the Thirteenth Amendment as far as the Tamils are concerned.We wish to exercise the right of internal self determination recognised under International Law by carving out federal units which allow us to govern ourselves within our traditional homelands while still being part of the Island called Sri Lanka. But the Thirteenth Amendment under an Unitary Constitution does not allow us that right. At every stage the Central Government pokes its nose to prevent us progressing.By implementing the Thirteenth Amendment in full no division of the Country is possible.In fact it is in favour of concentrating power at the Centre. Thirteenth Amendment only devolves powers. It does not share power. What we want is sharing of powers.

The Country already is divided into Tamil speaking areas and Sinhala speaking areas. That fact must be kept in mind by the two Hon’ Saraths!

4. Sri Lanka is a small Country and nine provincial divisions are unnecessary.

Sri Lanka is much larger than Switzerland which has 20 Cantons recognizing the right of self determination of the people of each of their Cantons. All their Cantons are federal units. 

5. The Thirteenth Amendment was enacted for the benefit of India. We do not need it.

Are the two Hon’ Saraths saying Sri Lanka was  not a Party to the Indo Sri Lanka Accord of 1987? Was not Sri Lanka in danger of being overun by the LTTE at that time? Once India pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for Sri Lanka now their music is different. The two Saraths must go back to the time of enactment of the Accord to understand the urgency of Sri Lanka at that time which prompted the  signing of the Indo Sri Lanka accord. The Indo Sri Lanka Accord may have had provisions favourable to India for their consenting to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for Sri Lanka. But certainly the Thirteenth Amendment was not enacted for the benefit of India nor even the North Eastern Tamils.It was enacted for the benefit of the Sinhala majority Government of Sri Lanka.

6. Land rights should never be given to the Provinces.The Executive President must have full control over all lands.

I am sure the two Hon’ Saraths have their mulgederas (Parental Houses) in their respective villages. Suppose their respective fathers and/or mothers gave them portions of land in their mulgedera compound to them to build houses for their respective families and they do build them, would they like their respective parents to come and say “We gave land to you to build but the lands belong to us. We will do anything we want on the lands.We will enter your houses as we please but you must not object. Because the land belongs to us.You have no right to the lands?”That is why I ask “Why should the President have control over our lands?”

7. So too Police functions. If given, the Country’s Defence would be endangered. 

If the People of the area have no Police functions there would be more crime, more drug peddling, more illegal earth transportation,more illegal felling of valuable trees and their transportation, expropriation of valuable natural resources, more illegal transport of animals for slaughter, more illegal fishing by outsiders and so on. All these are happening today because the Police functions have not been given to the People of the area but to outsiders who do not know the language,customs and ways of life of the People of the area. They care tuppence for the areas or their People. They are interested in getting back to their home towns elsewhere. And if possible carry valuable mementos from the North and East! They are least interested in taking responsibility in the areas they Police but prefer that crimes do continue. The two Hon’ Saraths would know why!

8. The Tamil youth were Terrorists not freedom fighters.

Who categorises a person as a Terrorist? I say our Youths were not terrorists but freedom fighters. How is that the successive Sinhala Governments have identified Keppetipola Dissawe as a freedom fighter when the British had identified him as a common criminal and executed him? One of the Hon’ Saraths ignorantly says power sharing will lead to terrorism! It is the power sharing which will check the type of terorism that he speaks about. Why would there be violence and bloodshed if the areas traditionally belonging to the Tamils are returned to them? Is it not because the successive Sinhalese Governments have been holding on to other peoples’ lands that violence and bloodshed had become the order of the day in those areas? Historically the Sinhalese have no claim to the lands in the North and East. They have been Tamil speaking always. So is it not the thanha of the Sinhalese politicians that has produced violence in our areas?

There are no terrorists born. It is the Government in power or the ruling class which identify others as Terrorists when their secured position is endangered. Are the two Hon’ Saraths terrors at home in dealing with their children saying that they must not have freedom but only the parents should have all rights over their children even after they become majors? Similarly people with different language, culture and way of life must be given the freedom to blossom out as they want; not be subjected to repression and violence.

9. Centralisation of powers is healthy. Power sharing is unhealthy.

Centalisation leads to dictatorship and power sharing to democracy. 

Thus both Hon’ Saraths are misinformed, misguided and misled. Hope they realise their folly. Thanks.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    Part I)
    CV,
    The nine (09 PC’s) Provincial councils solution was incarnation of JRJ in 1987, which was originally, for separate administrative regions Northern, Eastern and Central provinces and the REST of SL, on REGIONAL COUNCILS MOOTED IN, B-C PACT AND DISCARDED IN 1958!!!
    JRJ viewed the ill-famed B-C pact being re-incarnated memories of “Negative Factors” and outcomes in “SELLING THE IDEA” TO THE MAJORITY COMMUNITY TO ACCEPT, REVOLTING AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT!!!??? His ALTERNATIVE NINE PC’s!!!??
    THE THEME WAS INDO-LANKA ACCORD AND DEVOLUTION IS NOT FOR TAMILS BUT FOR ALL OF LANKA AT LARGE!!!??? This was the Preme, Lalith, Gamini, RW, and JRJ POLITY to overcome the 13th amendment to pass the act in parliament!!!?? The stoic exception were Gamini Jayasooriya (Homagama) and Cyril Mathew (Kelaniya) resignation from party, electorate and ending his illustrious political career by former and the latter symbolic, non-participation at voting time!!?? Significantly, the Prime Minister at the time, Ranasinghe
    So instead of 2 councils to solve the conundrum or issue, we ended up with 9 councils with provision for merger of North-East council after a referendum within a year in eastern province, which never eventuated!!!?? it was my understanding that police and Land distribution/dispersal/allocation powers
    (TBC)

  • 3
    1

    Part II)
    WHICH WERE THE UNDERLYING REASONS AND CAUSE FOR THE ORIGINAL AGITATION SINCE 1950’S, WAS STALLED UNTIL THE REFERENDUM OF NE MERGER IN 1988/89 and thus in limbo ever after!!?? Reasons adduced for postponement, were impending Presidential elections, General elections and Pradeshiya Sabha/local government elections and New Head of State and Government (HoS and HoG) and the architect and partner in advocating Indo-Lanka accord and 13th amendment to the constitution out of the “Kitchen or SUCHARITHA Cabinet”, devoid of Power!!!
    High-time Full implementation of 13th amendment which is part and parcel of our constitution be implemented as suggested by you, IN FULL AND THIS SCOURGE OF DISCRIMINATION IS ENDED FORTHWITH!!!???
    The standout solution for United nation of Sri Lanka – opposite would be unwanted and unbearable Strife, Starvation, Deprivation and economic Strangulation and being at the mercy of Foreign powers – Western, Eastern, Oriental, newly emerging forces or Dictatorships, devoid of Democracy – not that we have abundance of it now)!!!???
    My comments are designed to tickle the memory of our Sinhala Brethren in SL, as we have experienced far too often memory loss of,
    1. “What happened?
    2. Why?
    3. When? And
    4. Whom?”
    (TBC)

  • 3
    1

    (Part III)
    No disrespect to them, as this should not the prime objective and thought process of all our fellow citizens as much as it s the consideration and thought process of existential necessity of the victims!!!??
    Hence they are excused from any misdemeanour of not fully remembering the past occurrence in 1987 – 35 years ago – which is a long time!!!
    The secondary reason is that we have 2 new generation, of electorate conscious and eligible citizens in the country, of whom none had firsthand experience of the happenings!!!??? For instance, prominent among them is SLPP, “Budding Leader” who was only a lad, not exposed to political realities then (1987) – not even fully of his Fathers exploits of ‘Mothers’ Fronts’, being the darling of all Sri Lankan MOTHERS 35 years ago and SMUGGLING SECRET (OR CORRECTLY BANNED) AND INCRIMINATING DOCUMENTS OF “CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY” TO THE ‘NOW INFAMOUS’ AND MUCH DISCREDITED/DISPISED, United nations Human Rights council (UNHRC)!!??
    The clock has turned ‘FULL CYCLE’ FOR THIS ILLUSTRIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AND FIGHTER!!!??

  • 11
    3

    Thank you Vigneswaran for the accurate article with regard to the history of the island’s Tamils. Funny from their family names it is very obvious to everyone that both the Saraths, like the vast majority of the present-day Sinhalese are of recent Tamil/South Indian immigrant origin, yet beating the anti-Tamil drum against the native indigenous Tamils whose ancestors have lived on the island for 3000 years.

  • 7
    1

    Sarath Fonseka or Sarath Weerasekara belongs to Sinhala military who were part and partial of massacre of Sinhalese and Tamils. They do not understand humanity or human values and history of Sri Lanka. They belongs to Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalists who are also racists. All these fundamentalists and racists are responsible the bankgruptcy of this country and corruption. Tamils and Sinhalese lived peacefully before British Colony. Unfortunately Sinhalese people have fallen under the hands of these terrorists.

  • 7
    0

    “Hon’ Weerasekara and Hon’ Fonseka have been conditioned to believe certain erroneous matters and they very passionately advocate those matters without investigating or thinking.”
    Neither of the allegedly “Honourable ” Saraths were good at thinking. That’s why they joined an institution which expected them to follow orders, not think.
    Both are coarse braggards who are better at barking than discussion.

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