15 October, 2019

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Way Forward Can Be Through Revamped PSC

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The outcome of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a let down to the Sri Lankan government.  There was a general expectation in Sri Lanka, fueled by the optimism of government leaders that a new era of relations would open up when the President of Sri Lanka met the new Prime Minister of India.  In particular there was the hope that the vexatious international pressure on the government to proceed with a political solution on the basis of the devolution of power to the Tamil-majority areas of the country would subside. But this did not happen.  On the contrary, Prime Minister Modi was uncommonly blunt and precise in calling on his Sri Lankan counterpart to begin delivering on his oft-repeated promise to the international community of a political solution that goes beyond the 13th Amendment.

It was believed that because both President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi come from nationalist traditions, there would be a meeting of hearts and minds and that they would understand and empathise with each other as they were thought to be on the same wavelength.  The Sri Lankan government was hoping that Prime Minister Modi’s nationalist inclinations would make him focus on economic ties with Sri Lanka rather than on minority rights.  This might have been possible if the two leaders were not from neighbouring countries, where the actions of one spilled over into the other country.  For instance there could be a meeting of minds between the leaders of Sri Lanka and Russia where it concerns dealing with separatist insurgencies.  Both countries ended up dealing with their separatists with military force and finally succeeded in crushing them.

Inasmuch as President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s nationalism is in relation to Sri Lanka, so would the Indian Prime Minister’s nationalism be in relation to India’s national interest.

Inasmuch as President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s nationalism is in relation to Sri Lanka, so would the Indian Prime Minister’s nationalism be in relation to India’s national interest.

However, there is less reason to believe that two nationalisms that are next door to each other could cooperate.   Those who are nationalists tend to look at issues from the perspective of their own countries and the interests of those they deem to be their own.  It is generally universalists or liberals who think of the larger picture and the wellbeing of all that transcends their own nationality. The boycott of the swearing in ceremony by the main political leaders of Tamil Nadu state and the emotional reaction in Tamil Nadu over the invitation extended to the Sri Lankan president would have sent a message to the Indian policymakers that the issue of Sri Lanka has to be handled carefully.  Inasmuch as President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s nationalism is in relation to Sri Lanka, so would the Indian Prime Minister’s nationalism be in relation to India’s national interest.

Reiterating Policy

It is unlikely that Prime Minister was actually ever considering a new type of relationship with neigbouring Sri Lanka.  His interests have not been with the south of India but rather with issues in the north, where his government won most of its seats and also faces the most serious challenges to its national security.  Now the new government needs to consolidate itself in the south of India where it did not fare well at the general elections. The primary need would be to restore relations with Tamil Nadu. The Indian government would not wish to antagonize one of its largest states.   Simply because his government has an absolute majority in Parliament by itself, Prime Minster Modi will not wish to disregard those states in which the opposition parties have done well.  He would also not wish to disregard the advice of the civil service that outlives governments and forms the backbone of long term Indian policy making.

Sri Lanka itself provides an example of a very strong government, enjoying a 2/3 majority in Parliament, faces problems in governance due to its inability to win the confidence and support of its Northern Province. Having a majority in Parliament does not eliminate the need to have good relations with the constituent units of the country.  It would be unwise for any government to jeopardize its internal relations for the sake of external ones. Accordingly, it is not surprising that Prime Minister Modi has reiterated what his predecessor in office has insisted was the way forward.  In his meeting with President Rajapaka after being sworn in, he had asked the President to take the reconciliation process forward without delay.  He had said that the full implementation of the 13th Amendment and, even more, going beyond it would contribute to the reconciliation process.

There is a danger in the current situation that delay in addressing Indian concerns could aggravate Indo-Sri Lankan problems.  As a nationalist, Prime Minister Modi’s interests are Indian.  He has also been projected as an efficient leader who is in a hurry to get things done. This makes it likely that he will show impatience if he sees nothing but delays and excuses coming from the Sri Lankan side.  It was after four years of delay that the UN Human Rights Council finally decided to appoint international investigators into war crimes in Sri Lanka, as the Sri Lankan side dragged its feet on addressing the issue. The government must not repeat with India what it has ended up with the UNHRC through its delays and denials, which is an internationally sanction investigation.  The people of India voted for Prime Minister Modi to be their strong leader, and Sri Lanka should not seek to become a test case for a show of his strength.

Pragmatic Calculation

During the war President Rajapaksa promised Indian leaders to implement the 13th Amendment and even go beyond it to an undefined “13 Plus”.  President Rajapaksa made this promise to induce India and the Western countries to support his government’s efforts to militarily defeat the LTTE.   The understanding was that after the LTTE was eliminated there would be nothing that could stand in the way of a just political solution and implementation of the provincial council system in an exemplary manner.  It would be judicious if the Sri Lankan government proceeds to expeditiously implement its promise regarding the system of devolution of power.  Instead of dragging its feet on the implementation of the 13th Amendment, it would be in Sri Lanka’s national interest to set about improving on the workings of this arrangement so that it meets the interests of all concerned.

The Sri Lankan government’s immediate response to Prime Minister Modi’s statement on the 13th Amendment is to refer to the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by President Rajapaksa for the purpose of finding a political solution.  However, so far the PSC has been a non-starter.  None of the opposition parties have agreed to join it. None of them appear to believe in the government’s sincerity and see in it a time-buying exercise.  In these circumstances it is not reasonable for the government to expect the TNA, which represents the majority of Tamil people, to join the PSC.  The government needs to build the confidence of the opposition parties, and especially the TNA, in the value of the PSC process.  The special concern of the TNA is that the PSC will reproduce the same ethnic majoritarian decision making formula that led to the separatist war in the first place.

The ethnic conflict arose because the ethnic minorities disagreed with the ethnic majority having the numerical majority to always outvote them when it came to matters that involved their interests.  The government needs to give an answer to his problem by re-shaping the method of decision making within the PSC.  It has to find ways to ensure that decision making within the PSC is by consensus rather than by simple majority vote, whereby the ethnic minorities will once again be outvoted as they always have been in the past.  One solution would be to adopt the method of “sufficient consensus” adopted by the South African parties when they were negotiating a political solution to their own civil conflict.  This simply meant that all the important parties should agree to the solutions that were presented.  In practice it meant that the main governing party and the ANC had to agree.  With South Africa’s good offices, which it has offered, a similar arrangement can be developed for Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Jehan Perera,

    As usual you are talking bull crap, the PSC is dead as a dodo, it can’t fly again.

    Let Mahinda take the cue from Modi.

    • 0
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      Jehan Perera –

      “The outcome of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a let down to the Sri Lankan government.”

      Why?

      Hon. Mr. Modi will not take the SL, Para-Sinhala Bull Shit any more?

      Remember, the Cow and Bull are Holy to the Hindus, even though it may not be Holy to the Para-Sinhala “Buddhists”.

      You can fool some of the Indian some of the time, but not All the Indians, All the Time.

      Deja Vu Have seen it before…

  • 2
    1

    ‘The Monroe Doctrine was articulated in President James Monroe’s seventh annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The European powers, according to Monroe, were obligated to respect the Western Hemisphere as the United States’ sphere of interest. Reference: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=23

    Modi is reported to have said that if the US can have Monroe doctrine why can’t India have one.

    Let’s see the Modi doctrine unfold for the Indian Ocean, and its effect on Sri Lanka.

    That may be the way forward, in light of a new state of Telungana created in India.

  • 3
    1

    What is there to discuss in the PSC? The 13A is there in the constitution, as a part of the basic law of the country. Why cannot the government first implement in full measure and then extend an invitation to the TNA to discuss how best to proceed from there? What stops the government from replacing the present ex-military Governor with a civilian? What prevents the government from reducing the intimidatory and overwhelming presence of the military and thereby winning the goodwill of the people of the North? There are so many other measures the government can take without any discussion!

    Sengodan. M

  • 0
    1

    Jehan:

    You have certainly grasped the gravity of the problem but the PSC should never be the option to find a solution because the regime’s way to delay and deny a solution is by way of the PSC. To think of it, APRC and Tissa Vitharana’s reports are all there and in fact MR set-up these committees. When the regime talks of the PSC, what it really means is that there is really no solution or devolution to be given. Look at the pathetic way it treats the elected reps of the NPC. Remember, the grand lord declared immediately after the war that there are no minorities. Looks like there has to be a war to pack off the Rajapakses.

  • 1
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    Jehan….
    The new beginnings are there only for brand new people …newly married couples…
    and for those who have transformed themselves of their old habits..
    Those are called ” BORN AGAIN ” …this very clearly stated in the Bible..
    do you think that the President of Sri Lanka has transformed himself
    to have a new beginning with the NEW INDIA…? Hik…hik..hik…What a idiot..
    Man….he is desperate for a new lifeline….that is all he wants from India.
    Only to save him & family and to hell with the Country..
    after that you know what he does…? He wipes with tissue
    and flush them in his latest Royal Doulten ( not Rocell )

    therefore ..don’t try to pull the wool over the eye …although you did not know
    the whole country knew that the 13+ was promised only after the Conflict was ended….
    He promised only a political solution during height of the conflict …see the deceit…
    it is not good for an elected Leader of a Country…
    he has let down the Country..

    You know why he did what he did was not because he loved us…but because he wanted
    to hold on to Power forever….after the conflict ended first thing he did was holding a
    Presidential Election…the parliamentary election….then 18 the amendment…remove 43rd CJ
    in a most heinous way..what crime did she commit..? all on false charges…incarcerated
    Gen Fonseka and jailed him. Therefore do not write bedtime stories….those who read are
    Intelligent and have common sense..

    BEING THE PRESIDENT OF A COUNTRY HE HAD A HUGE ACVIUNTABILITY ISSUE
    IN HIS HANDS AFTER THE CONFLICT ENDED THAT NEEDED DUE DILLIGENCE.
    YOU KNOW…HAD HE DONE THAT…HE WOULD HAVE BECOME AN ICON OF PEACE…
    .INSTEAD… HE ACTED AS A LEADER OF A TERRORIST MOVEMENT..!!….
    LIKE PRABAKARAN ….THE PRESIDENT TOO HAS AN ELUSIVE MIND…..
    HE GOT THE WORLD TO BACK HIM FOR SLAUGHTER OF HUMAN BEINGS…
    MAN ….THAT IS WHAT THE WORLD HATES…

    IT IS ONLY IN SRI LANKA THAT A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEADER BEHAVE /
    ACT LIKE TERRORISTS…SINCE INDEPENDENCE THE COUNTRY WITNESS THIS
    PHENOMINAL…NO ONE LEFT EASILY….

    JUST SEE THE NEW BEGINING IN INDIA UNDER MODI….
    A NEW STATE TELANGANA IS BORN…..
    THAT IS INDEED A NEW BEGINING…

  • 0
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    What is so sacrosanct about this much glorified PSC?
    We know how the PSC “examined” the previous lady Chief Justice.

    MPs are people who got themselves elected by the world’s most corrupt electoral system – so far we have never had a fully free and fair election,since independence.
    These guys cant judge anybody or any situation.
    A PSC like the one which “examined” the CJ,will have a majority of government’s repersentatives on it.
    They are not pundits on the constitution,the law,modes of governance
    and what suits us best.
    A referendum,administered and supervised by the UN will be best.
    JRJ had a referendum – so why cant Mahinda Rajapakse have one?

  • 0
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    “The people of India voted for Prime Minister Modi to be their strong leader, and Sri Lanka should not seek to become a test case for a show of his strength.”

    Kings reaction at Temple Tree House is striking panic through Jahans spine. I think when re-read this second time, he will not excuse him. When King Gemunu read this lines, he is going to bite a capsule.

    “It was believed that because both President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Modi come from nationalist traditions, there would be a meeting of hearts and minds and that they would understand and empathise with each other as they were thought to be on the same wavelength. The Sri Lankan government was hoping that Prime Minister Modi’s nationalist inclinations would make him focus on economic ties with Sri Lanka rather than on minority rights.”

    Jehan appears to have read the news on the [Edited out] That is why trying to justify the King. King announced a fake fishermen release before he go there. After he came back, much more fishermen has been arrested. This move so eloquently showing that King thought Modi is also a Mahavamsa Modaya and tried give him a election promise.

    [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Modi is aware that Rajapakse was exploiting the weakness of the Congress party. Sonia was bent on promoting her personal agenda not worried about her country. Corruption and greed drowned the foreign policy of India under the reign of uninformed Sonia. Modi is astute,sharp determined and strong.The puny Srilankan government will soon their lesson for ill-treating minority religious and ethnic groups.

  • 0
    0

    No way any one can save an ass with 75% burns. Mahinda Rajapaksa is a goner. He has made his bed with the pseudo Buddhists. If he deviates they will kill him. Like Buddharakkita did to poor Banda. Its time Jehan took an early retirement. Adios.

  • 0
    0

    The prophetic writing was there on the rock wall of Trincomalee. “Thaane vadugaai vidum”. I think we are fast approaching the realisation of the prophecy! What it means is “this part of the land will part of the Northern mass”

    Sengodan. M

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