23 October, 2017

Ways To Move Forward In Negotiation

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I was pleased that Laksiri Fernando had picked up on my publication of documentation with regard to the negotiations between the government and the TNA way back in 2011. I suspect he is right in saying that some might think this is betrayal, given that even my efforts to defend the Secretary of Defence against Sarath Fonseka’s allegations in 2009 were described as betrayal. But this was by those such as Wimal Weerawans who wanted to take political advantage of those allegations and therefore did not mind insinuating that they were true.

However I trust that those concerned with political reconciliation and long term peace, as Prof Fernando is, will realize that these notes are meant to make clear how easy it would be to reach a consensus with the TNA. But this needs negotiations to be conducted in good faith, and systematically, with appreciation of what the other side might fear. It is also important to move swiftly on whatever is agreed, as Nimal Siripala de Silva tried to do in 2011 with regard to the Concurrent List, only to be rebuffed by G L Pieris., even though we had obtained the President’s agreement to proceed.

To illustrate what I mean, I will look at the question of a Senate, which seems to have been a priority only for the President and me on the government side. To go into the history of that proposal, when I was appointed to head the Peace Secretariat in 2007, I should perhaps have participated actively in the discussions of the All Party Representatives Conference, which SCOPP hosted. But the Chairman, Prof Tissa Vitharna, thought that someone new should not be involved, so I stayed away. My main contribution was to cut down on the food bill, which had been enormous when I took over, largely because the practice previously had been to stuff up the delegates while waiting for the proceedings to start. This took for ever given prevailing standards of punctuality, and with the orders being placed beforehand, much went to waste when hardly anyone turned up.

But apart from tactfully getting Prof Vitharna’s agreement to cut down on the food, I did have one serious discussion with him, which was to suggest that he introduce the idea of a Second Chamber. This was not entirely to his liking, given the animosity of the Old Left to the Senate that they had abolished in the seventies, but I managed in time to convince him that Senate based on Provinces (rather than being a rubber stamp similar in constitution to the main House of Parliament) could play a useful role.

I discussed the matter at length with many parties – seeing the now respectable radicals of the eighties such as Somawansa Amerasinghe and Mr Sidharthan, and meeting Rauff Hakeem early one morning in what I remembered as an ice cream parlour – and there was general consensus on the matter. But though I think it figured in the APRC Report, unfortunately that generally constructive report was hijacked by those who thought its main points were the abolition of the Executive Presidency and the restoration of the 17th Amendment. Unfortunately the Old Left still thinks the former a priority, which is one reason why the other ideas they have, which are sensible, have no traction. So they do not pursue what has been agreed by all, which if implemented could promote confidence and lead to other positive measures on an incremental basis, but rather indulge their desire and pursuit of the whole, with similar results to Frederick Rolfe.

The person who did not need convincing at all about the Senate was the President, who understood at once how such a body would contribute to the unity of the country while strengthening consultation mechanisms. He actually included it in his next Presidential manifesto, where it lay forgotten until I resurrected the idea in 2011. Before that I had been told by the Ambassador of a country that has been very positive about us throughout that it was difficult for him to argue on our behalf when we had done nothing positive in the political sphere since the war ended. He suggested that we should move on the Senate, and when I mentioned this to the President, he asked his Secretary why nothing had been done about it. We had a short discussion then on the most effective composition of such a body, and I left with the distinct impression that the President had asked Mr Weeratunge to proceed with the matter – this was long before the negotiations with the TNA began – but I fear that nothing further was done on that front.

When the matter came up at the negotiations, the reason it was agreed that I should send the draft to the TNA – through Sumanthiran who was in effect their Secretary – was that I already had the draft which had been looked at by the APRC as well as the President. That draft is not accessible now, but I will find it and send it in for dissemination as soon as I am back in Colombo.

In fact the draft had also been looked at by a group of Parliamentarians and Civil Society activists which I had set up with the assistance of a range of diplomats, who hosted us at various venues. The Senate had been the main topic at a discussion hosted by the American Ambassador, who indeed became the most helpful supporter of this initiative –  until I had to refuse her hospitality when she wanted Dilan Perera blacklisted, but that is another story.

Sadly, instead of allowing for discussion of that draft, Prof Pieris produced a paper that included different ways of setting up a Senate including on a District basis. This was ridiculous, since obviously the TNA was not going to accept such a Unit for a political body. But still, their positive reaction – whilst stressing that this could not be a substitute for the 13th Amendent – augured well. It was a great pity then that the idea was not taken any further, and that Prof Pieris at the next meeting came out with details regarding local government, another subject I had suggested, only to be told – by Sajin if I recollect aright, not GL himself – that nothing new should be introduced at this stage.

Finally, I should note – as my trusting missives to Sajin indicate – that there was no bad blood between us at that stage. I had no idea then of Prof Pieris’ fear of me, which only became clear when the President told me that when he saw another Professor he got frightened. In 2011 I took him at face value, and my understanding of how he destructive he is only came with the American Ambassador’s sad response when I told her she should rely on what he (and Mohan Pieris) said rather than crediting Wimal Weerawansa and those opposed to the LLRC recommendations with authority. They had, she said, lost all credibility. That is not another story, since it is relevant to how discussions should proceed, and clearly discussions are imperative now. But that element cannot be pursued here, though I hope Prof Fernando and others like him will explore in detail how best we can proceed.

Though I did not credit her entirely, and indeed upbraided her for having upset follow up on the LLRC through the excessively critical American reaction, what she said was food for thought.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    End of the political career of Rajiva Wijesinha.

    No wonder no one takes you seriously! Enjoy the last 10 months as a MP.

    • 0
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      Negotions are what Rajapakshes seem to have no idea. People should see it clearly, since they are in power… no open discussions with any of the communities. Nor have it with the cabinet ministers, but only with hand picked ones may be that have all illegal handlings. Mervin De Silva was the one of the front men of MR regime from the beginning on. What kind of qualities Mervin brought with are known to any 10 year old of the island nation, but incumbent president did not even recognize it until very recently.
      He tied own citizens to tree posts, he let people went missing, he involved in abductions of unknown or still unknown kind, he even directly involved in killings of PS MPs (waragoda kelaniya). Nothing like justice was given to any of them. That is MR. But he can fool gulliable nation with his palatalble sinhala gonthadi rhetorics.
      This is the reason why all diplomatic ties got chaotic since they are in power.

  • 4
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    Whenever the Sinhalese feel like having a go at political solution there seems to be some publications and discussions!

    Rajiva, why didn’t you publish in 2011 what you found out in 2011?
    You’re 3yrs too late and do you realise the damage the occupation army has already done in the last three years?
    Isn’t the damage done in the last five years as bad as the last fifty five years, if not more?

    Is there going to be an investigation into the postwar crimes? If so, when?

    First of all shouldn’t the Government/army/Sinhalese stop committing crimes against the Tamils (and Muslims) ??

    Rajiva, are you trying to write up an academic research paper or so or are you talking about finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict?

    • 5
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      Rajiva
      Pastime in Rajapkse rule (= pastime of previous governments plus)??
      1.APRC report unpublished
      2.LLRC recommendations unimplemented
      3.Retired military officer as Governor to squash EPC
      4.GoSL-TNA talks to counter IC pressure to implement 13A
      4.Retired military officer as Governor to squash NPC
      5.PSC to counter IC pressure to implement 13A
      6. 19A to squash 13A ?

  • 4
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    Rajiva,

    All talk and big talk.

    Tell me one good that has come about as a result of your intervention.

    I tell you, you achieved nothing. All that you are good at is name dropping. You never influenced nothing.

    Go back Rajiva, achieve something and then write an article and then we will applaud you.

    So far you have done nothing worth an applause.

  • 3
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    Rajiva,

    Thanks for your further explanations and particularly for your expressed intention to publish your communication with Mr. Sumanthiran and your proposed draft for a Senate. I wouldn’t have asked you to do so unless you had already taken the first step in that direction. As a (former) colleague, permit me to say that I understand your literary style, more suitable to Memoirs, but for political discussions it is best we leave out personal impressions or matters, however correct they may be. I tried to pass a similar message to a more closer colleague sometime back but unfortunately he got offended. I hope you wouldn’t do that.

    I do come from the Left strand of thinking, as you know, with some bag and baggage from the past. I do consider the abolition of the Presidential system as crucially important but not necessarily as a solution to the ethnic conflict. As a student of politics, along with my beloved Guru, Prof AJ Wilson, we all were critical of the (Soulbury) Senate until it was abolished! However, then its merits appeared to emerge positive in the evolving political scenarios. Particularly after the introduction of the PC system in 1987 it is more logical and rational to have a second chamber. During my further studies on even the past Senate, I was impressed by its positive role on ethnic and human rights issues. Debates after 1958 riots are one example. A future Senate in general also can be important in good governance and anti-corruption checks if it is constituted properly. I don’t think we have any disagreement that its main unit of representation should be the Province. The appointed members should preferably be by a Constitutional Council. I often watch the proceedings of the Australian Senate and the role of the Senate Committees are exemplary in public accounts, corruption issues and mismanagement.

    As I have stated in my main article, I might not consider the Senate is such important in political negotiations or reconciliation. The TNA will agree for a Senate of rational composition, I would think. But it should not be a distraction from the main issues. Now you have expressed the view that the President has been such a keen and an understanding person on the Senate issue. Why not then he initiates a Bill for a Senate in Parliament and get it through? Then we can see in practical terms how far that could go in terms of reconciliation in the country. He should have done it before.

    • 0
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      Laksiri gets dragged into this deeper & deeper with someone still apologising for this President??????

  • 0
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    CT readers will be interested to read this: Baby elephant crisis in Sri Lanka – An open letter to President –
    Baby elephant crisis in Sri Lanka – An open letter to President

    (Lanka-e-News- 04.June.2014, 8.00PM)

    Hon. President,

    The fast of wild baby elephants, a valuable national treasure and a state property in a sorry state today. The reason for this according to ore view is the illegal business of selling baby elephant in the country. Selling of baby elephants possible only it’s there are buyers who have sufficient wealth and have interest in baying. Historical book knowledge shows that such buyers were there possessed by members of royal families and noble people. Those days elephants and tuskers have been the symbol of power and wealth.

    It cannot be said why baby elephant are rared today despite elephants and tuskers, by people develop with him themselves mentalities that associate with royalty that is more than 300 years old. Only such people will develop affinity of hunters to keep baby elephants within their possession. Such crude mentalities have vested a pathetic destiny with the baby elephants in the wild. I believe that the president will perceive this aspect by reading the news of cruelties infected on the playful baby elephants in the recent past.

    You are present caretaker who protect the country and her state property. Therefore, the prime responsibility of the protection of state property, the baby elephants is vestal in you as the President of the country.

    We have a list of people who possess baby elephants with us. In that list the name of the current owner of the baby elephant and how it was received by that person is stated briefly. I believe that you will not act following the theory that “the elephant inside the room” was not seen, in this respect.

    1. Parliament MP. Mr. Namal Rajapaksha – Two baby tuskers donation by elephant Roshan and Dewramvehera
    2. Defense secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, one baby elephant.
    3. Chief Minister of Uva province, Mr. Sashindra Rajapaksa, one baby elephant – captured by Elephant Roshan.
    4. President’s sister’s husband, Mr. Thusitha Ranawaka of Deniyaya – one baby elephant.
    5. Pannipitiya, Dewramvehara, Ven. Kolonnawe Sumanagala (Ex Parliament MP of Jatika Hela Urumaya) Three baby elephants – many baby elephants who lived in this vihara premises have been sold earning millions of rupees also providing illegal licenses.
    6. Gangarama Vihara, Colombo, one baby elephant (Female) sold by Elephant Roshan & Dewramvehara.
    7. Ex. Chairman of cement corporation, Mr Sisira Paranagama one baby elephant – sold by elephant Roshan.
    8. Fort chief magistrate Mr. Thilina Gamage one baby elephant – sold by elephant Roshan
    9. Alen Methiniyarama, Colombo Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Ex. MP. Jathika Hela Urumaya – one baby Elephant
    10. Mr. Ajith Gallege of Hokandara, Four baby Elephants one baby elephant is dead. These animals have been captured by him close to Mattala Air Port.
    11. Parliament MP. Mr. Sachin vas Gunawardana – One baby elephant – Sold by elephant Roshan
    12. Colombo, Sambodhi Vihara, 3 baby elephants – Sold by Dewramvehera and elephant Roshan at the rate of 20 Million per animal.
    13. Diyawadana Nilame Mr. Nilanga Dela – One female baby elephant – Mr. Suneth Weerasinghe of Allawa keep the animal in his custody.
    14. One baby elephant at Tissamaharamaya kept secretly in the Temple – President legalized the possession
    15. Mr. J.P.I. Kamal of Kottawa – one baby elehant selling by Dewramvehara and elephant Roshan
    16. Maharagama, Erewwala, Ali Roshan 3 baby elephants

    I. One animal wounded at his residence
    II. One animal at Millennium Elephant Foundation at Randeniya, Kegalle.
    III. The other baby elephant is with Mr. Upali Dassanayake at his safary, Randeniya, Kegalle.

    17. Mr. Suneth Weerasinghe at Alawwa has 2 female baby elephant with him. He has captured them in the forest. Three baby elephants have sucummed to wounds at his own house. He is a chief character in this elephant dealings of Nilanga Dela, the Diyawadana Nilame.
    18. Horana, proprietor of Wasana Bakers. Mr.Nandana perera – one female baby elephant sold by Dewramvehara and Elephant Rosaha for Rs. 16m
    19. Horana, Kanawila Mr. Waruna Kannangara, Two baby elephants – These baby elephants have been captured by him and Suneth Weerasinghe of Alawwa by killing their mother elephants.
    20. Weediyagoda, Mr. Sanath Hapuarachci – one baby elephant (Aselling by elephant Roshan)
    21. Mr. Pradeep Miyanapahawa the care taker of the elephant herd of the Temple of the Tooth Relic has captured a baby tusker with the help of elephant Roshan. This animal is a very rare species in the forest. He is a person who give treatments to wonded elephants captured illegally from the forest.
    22. Ruwanwella, Medagoda, Amithirigala, Mr. Samantha Wijemanna – one baby elephant (Sold by Elephant Roshant Roshan and Mr. Suenth Weerasinghe of Alawwa.
    23. Meegoda, Attorney at low Mr. Bharatha Amaratunga – one female baby elephant (He Sold one baby elephant to Dewramvehera before)
    24. Meerigama Ms. Nilanthi Bandara – one baby elephant – sold by elephant Roshan and Suneth of Alawwa.
    25. Mawanella, Ganethenna, Mr. Buddhika Mirihella – Two female baby elephants – sold by elephant Roshan
    26. Biyagama, Mr. Deepthi Kumara – one baby elephant – sold by elephant Roshan and suneth of Alawwa.
    27. Habarana, Mr. Premasiri Kaluarachchi –one female baby elephant. He and elephant Roshan have captured from Habarana.

    In addition to this, the number of baby elephant died in the hands of these exceed 25 in number. The mother elephants killed by them exceed 12 in number.

    Thanks to ‘Lanka’

  • 3
    1

    G.L. Peiris is the Rasputin in Tsar Mahinda Rajapakse’s government! No wonder MR avoids all academics and scholars and relies on the scum in society to perpetuate his misrule. They probably can be trusted more. I yet remember President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s disgusted face, when she had to swear him in as a member of Ranil’s government. G.L also resembles Rasputin- the scheming and hungry-looking monk.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 5
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      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      “G.L. Peiris is the Rasputin in Tsar Mahinda Rajapakse’s government!”

      Aleksandra, the last Tsarina was closer to Rasputin. Here are you implying some thing about GL P and MR’s family?

      GL P is just another professor who had forfeited his dignity and integrity a long time ago. He is not qualified to be a member of MR’s kitchen cabinet.

  • 1
    1

    Professors and all
    Pl learn how to go about Peace Talks.
    (Soon there may not be any need for it as most of the North will be part of SriLankaArmy, SriLankaArmyVolunteerForce, etc:
    http://www.army.lk/detailed.php?NewsId=7939
    http://www.army.lk/detailed.php?NewsId=7938
    http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Army_recruits_Jaffna_youth_20140520_03
    http://www.army.lk/detailed.php?NewsId=6012
    http://www.army.lk/detailed.php?NewsId=5752

    • 0
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      Ward dont be fooled by Sri Lankan army recruiting Tamil women and men, they are recuited with a cunning agenda to revive the LTTE.

  • 1
    2

    Rajiva
    The President has been also been talking about 13+, APRC, LLRC, no-need-for-political-solution-only-economic-development, etc, etc, …… The last thing is PSC after the President’s recent trip to India.
    Why are you talking abt the ”talks with TNA” and not about ”PSC” ?
    What is the rationale you use to choose any of the several mechanisms the President has been trying to put down the throat of Sri Lankans in the last 8yrs?

  • 1
    0

    This [Edited out] is under the assumption that the Rajapakse’s want peace
    If they wanted peace what is there to stop the all powerful execurtive President with 2/3rds majority in paliament.
    Stop blaming a few bad advises and blame the decision maker

    Apperantly the Prof or the president don’t belive that the buck stops at the door of the president

    The president only takes credit for the good desicions he makes and blames his advisors for the mistakes
    What good leadership does this style have a name because i haven’t come across it in my studies thus far

    • 0
      0

      Yes, if the man in power is genuine about peace.. he has already 2/3 in parliament to go for that. Everyone with sanity would agree with you… no doubt about that. But ballige puthas have second thoughts… Rajapakshes would never be honest to them.. that they have in their blood.

  • 0
    0

    Dear DR Rajiva Wijesinha,

    Better late than never! Despite you and your party still remain with the government, I will be looking forward to reading your thoughts in the future; I take the view that one needs to in it to change things.

    What you have outlined so far have unequivocally manifest that TNA have always been ready to constructively engage with the government. This is a huge piece of information as far as I am concerned as many moderate Sinhala on these forums are of the opinion that TNA was the obstacle!

    Nevertheless, I do not share your view that MR is open to ideas and willing to listen and accommodate consensus. If anything, MR is the obstacle! In my view MR projects an affable façade for people like you and pulls strings using certain unscrupulous personalities who work closely with him. No matter how hard you or anyone can try to find a way forward in terms of reconciliation, it will not work under MR. MR has publicly and unambiguously stated that giving Tamils autonomy will be the certain for him or to this effect. Hence, MR will block any form agreement with TNA.

    I would also like you to outline as to what the TNA can do differently, without compromising on their aspirations that would expedite the reconciliation process.

  • 2
    0

    Prof:

    I am sure you will be the first to admit that from the GOSL side there was no genuine attempt to resolve the ethnic issue. MR has his own agenda and he was committed to working towards achieving that goal and he was not going to flinch from that.
    He is a master of deception and what he wanted above all was time and that is why he would promise little here little there to complete colonisation. He knew perfectly well that if he managed to put enough Sinhalese settlements just like Jewish Settlements on the west bank the process will become irreversible and he can justify the permanent presence of the Army.
    That is why he wont let go of the Police Powers but now he has a Struggle on his hand which he will not win under Modi as otherwise we will have another CRIMEA. But he is stuck between the Rock ( Modi) and a Hard Place ( His own Prejudice and that of his 20 million supporters) . Modi I am sure sussed MR out and knows him to be a Compulsive Liar and that is why he had to force MR to publish in full what was discussed.

    I am at a loss to understand how the Creation of a Senate ( upper house) will solve the Tamil Grievances without devolution of Power.

    Once we enjoy FREEDOM ,JUSTICE, EQUALITY and DIGNITY we can then pool our resources together for common good.

    I am convinced that we are FREE at last and NO MORE TAMIL BLOOD and for that matter I hope NO MORE SINHALESE BLOOD and hope common sense will prevail.

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