14 April, 2024

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What Stands Between A Federal & Unitary State In Sri Lanka

By C.V. Wigneswaran

Justice C. V. Wigneswaran MP

A journalist asked me; Why are you collaborating with the Government to implement the Thirteenth Amendment which has been rejected by the Tamil Parties? Would you not be adversely commented upon by other Tamil National Parties?

My response was;No! Not at all! All Tamil National Parties have at one stage or the other approved the immediate implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment.  Only the Tamil Congress (TNPF) has rejected the Thirteenth Amendment in toto. There are Thirteen Registered Tamil Parties in the North and East including Tamil Congress. Out of the Twelve barring the Congress, seven Parties have signed and informed the President that they want the immediate implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment though it may not be a permanent solution to the Tamils’ problem. The eighth Party has consented to the request of the seven Parties, though not signed the document. The balance four Parties ITAK, TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF, though they have declined to sign the letter to the President for the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment, they had earlier signed a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Hon’ Modi, making the same request and sought the intervention of the Indian PM in the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Therefore the desire to implement the constitutionally presently available Thirteenth Amendment immediately is universal among the twelve Parties.

All Tamil National Parties have some form of federalism as their final goal for a permanent settlement. Our Party TMK has asked for confederation as in Switzerland. None of the Parties, not even the Tamil Congress has asked for separation.

Therefore collaborating with the Government to implement an already available legal provision in our Constitution need not be looked upon unfavourably by the Tamil Parties.

Our Tamil politicians have somehow got into the habit of identifying those who think differently from them as traitors or fellow travellers in the band wagon of the Government. It takes patience and comprehension to understand what the other person says even if that person’s views are different from ours. Categorizing those views as traitorous shows weakness on our part. We do not want to meet their arguments but prefer to detract the audience by calling our criticizers traitors or madmen.

It would help our people if our Tamil intellectuals, both inland and abroad, start debates and discussions earnestly among our people to find out as to what our political goals should be.

Those who prefer federalism have plausible grounds to support their views. But with a Sinhalese dominated Government conditioned to believe federalism is separation, we need to educate them patiently. Implementing the Thirteenth Amendment could be a preliminary step in this direction.

What stands between a federal and unitary State in Sri Lanka is the lack of comprehension about the Tamils and their needs among the Sinhala masses. Once the truth about the Tamils of Sri Lanka dawns on the Sinhalese they would appreciate the need for a Federal State. 

When the nine Chief Ministers before dissolution of the Provincial Councils met in Anuradhapura under the Chairmanship of the former President Sirisena and agitated for more powers to the Provincial Councils, Hon’ Peshala Jayaratne the CM for the NCP said in Sinhala words to this effect – “WE want all powers but not Federalism”. He was scared of the word Federalism! In other words he wanted all powers for the Provincial Councils under a Unitary Constitution. Of course there are provisions in law, which could make the granting of powers under a Unitary Constitution to the periphery, permanent. 

The Provincial Councils’ system has been tried by other Provinces and have been found to lack adequate powers. 

The exercise we are involved with the Government is to resuscitate the Thirteenth Amendment and make it available for the Provinces in time for the Provincial Councils’ elections, due to take place soon.

*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran M.P.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    10

    Kallathoni!

    • 2
      1

      Familiarity of Kallathonis’, 1595 and 1948!!!???

      • 2
        1

        Dear Wigneswaran, stop hoodwinking Tamil people. Your memorandum to form interim provincial councils to implement the 13th amendment, has given Ranil time to delay, saying he needs to appoint a committee to look into it and that judicial process is necessary to formulate it. What you have done is nothing other than one upmanship over other Tamil parties, for self promotion. In the process you have demonstrated that you are nothing but an educated fool. No Sinhala party that comes to power will ever implement 13th amendment in full.

    • 5
      1

      Tony

      “Kallathoni!”

      Is it your own identity?

      If I am not mistaken after 1988 those who were considered stateless had been granted Sri Lankan citizenship. How did you miss the registration process?
      Our Surgeon General Shavendra has discovered an island somewhere in the North where he wants to detain all the “Kallathonies” from South India. It turned out none arrived in the last few years although many went to Tamilnadu as Economic Refugees.

      So don’t get caught.

    • 8
      0

      Did you mean Kalla Tony?

      • 1
        0

        Paul
        Interesting that the same thought crossed our minds.

      • 3
        0

        Paul

        “Did you mean Kalla Tony?”

        Ha, Ha … good one.

    • 4
      1

      T
      Will the spelling be ‘Kalla Tony’ by any chance?

  • 2
    2

    The 13th Amendment is a bi-product of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord. The Police and Land powers should have been allocated to the Provinces, but the Sri Lankan government was reluctant to allocate adequate funds together with the Land & Police powers. However, 35 years have passed and nothing happened during which period many developments have taken place in Asia. China emerged as a powerful Nation and had close links with Pakistan and Sri Lanka, thus posing a threat to India. Being vigilant, the Indians began strengthening their Defence in all aspects. Meanwhile Sri Lanka & Pakistan fell into the trap of China’s Debt Trap Diplomacy. Majority Hindu Indians have been agitating for the unification of Pakistan, Bangaladesh and some neighbouring countries in order to accommodate those Hindus and called this concept as AKHAND BHARAT (undivided India). It is regretted to observe that Sri Lanka politicians still think that the 13th Amendment would lead to Federalism, while India has the glory of embracing Hinduism, Buddhism Zainism, Sikhism, together with Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam and other faiths and is called a country of diversity. Further India recognizes 22 major languages, and is home to 398 languages, including 387 living languages and 11 endangered languages. It recognizes multiculturalism.

    • 1
      0

      contd………
      As such It is utter shame for Sri Lanka with only two races of people in not implementing the 13th Amendment. Now India is on the verge of accommodating POK, Ladak and retrieving Kachchativu and setting its foot on the Northern Povince as a first step in establishing AKHAND BHARAT with the view to fulfill the dreams of every Indian citizen and which is in their agenda and is almost a reality within the next 10 years. At that time the 13th Amendment will be of no use as North-East Province will be an Independent Territory within the Union of India in accordance with the Indian Constitution. North-East Province will be under the direct rule of Indian Federal Government and will enjoy the rights like Pondicherry, Goa, etc. It is time for the Sinhalese politicians ad the Budhist monks to re-consider the implementation of the 13th Amendment.

      • 0
        1

        Repeated Tamilian invasions and resultant ethnic cleansing of Lankans created a sense amongst non-tamil Lankans that the North/Northeast were simply unsafe for them to live. This is why there is a false sense existing that the North and East only ever ‘belonged’ to one group. The illegal annexation of the North by the Pandyans led to the creation of the Jaffna Kingdom whose illegitimate existence was proven by its dismantling via the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The creation of the LTTE led to a further sense among Lankans that the flat lands of Lanka were simply unsafe. Whether Akhand Bharat is achieved or not, Lanka should be representative of the diversity of her peoples. It is time for centuries of attempted cleansing of non-Tamils from the North and East to be put to an and so that all THREE races of Lankas peoples can prosper on the island.

  • 6
    2

    The 13th Amendment to the constitution will not be implemented. These promises are just gimmicks by a man who was observing the burning of the Jaffna library from Jaffna Inn across the road, in the company of Gamini Dissanayake, Cyril Matthew and Sarath Amunugama, according to a researched book, evidence of which were concealed in the years after 1981 when these events occurred.

    • 4
      0

      Lasantha Pethiyagoda

      “according to a researched book, evidence of which were concealed in the years after 1981 when these events occurred.”

      Could we have the name of the book before the political thugs set fire to the book sellers who stock these books.

  • 4
    3

    Tamils have a problem.
    The approach adopted by Tamils has not borne fruit.
    Sinhalese are intransigent. I admit.
    Is there an alternative?
    Perhaps, there is.
    Leave out the politicians; Go direct to the Sinhalese people.
    It is not easy. I agree.
    Nothing is going to be easy at this stage.
    But not easy is no reason not to try.

    • 1
      3

      N
      You are right. But try persuading fellow Tamils writing here.
      There is hope, as the vast majority of them are not living here.

    • 5
      0

      Nathan

      “The approach adopted by Tamils has not borne fruit.
      Sinhalese are intransigent. I admit.”

      And both Tamils and Sinhalese are stupid.

    • 3
      1

      Anyone advocating to talk directly to Sinhala people is unaware of the situation, I was born and bred among the Sinhalese and is still associating with them. Except a few Sinhalese, the rest are not in favour of giving anything to Tamils. If you go to them, they are rich or poor or educated or not, the first question that they will ask is, what is that Tamils do not have which Sinhalese have. If you have any grievances which we do not have let us resolve it. Without that stop demanding to control part of the land. Where do you proceed from this position. Only way Tamils can get justice is by foreign intervention, and Tamil politicians must ask for it.

      • 0
        2

        Repeated Tamilian invasions and resultant ethnic cleansing of Lankans created a sense amongst non-tamil Lankans that the North/Northeast were simply unsafe for them to live. This is why there is a false sense existing that the North and East only ever ‘belonged’ to one group. The illegal annexation of the North by the Pandyans led to the creation of the Jaffna Kingdom whose illegitimate existence was proven by its dismantling via the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The creation of the LTTE led to a further sense among Lankans that the flat lands of Lanka were simply unsafe. Whether Akhand Bharat is achieved or not, Lanka should be representative of the diversity of her peoples. It is time for centuries of attempted cleansing of non-Tamils from the North and East to be put to an and so that all THREE races of Lankas peoples can prosper on the island.

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