Thursday, 16 July 2009

Implementation of the 13 Amendment - Is it really necessary ?.

Signing of the India Sri Lanka Pact

Sri Lanka Media is being stormed with articles on the implementation of the 13 Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution. There are one or two in favour and many against . I am sure the President is following the controversies to reflect on them before he takes a final decision.

We understand his predicament, as a Head of State, having to follow a difficult middle path satisfying the powerful neighbour and the International Community on the one hand, and the local political interests on the other. If India’s demand for the full implementation of the 13 Amendment is to be given consideration, it is pertinent to ask whether it is right to sacrifice the aspirations of our own people for the political convenience of India ?

Speaking about aspirations of the people , one wonders whether on the issue of the devolution of power, the parties concerned are aware of the real aspirations of the people-the Sinhala, the Tamil and the Muslim. The APRC had been deliberating on the question of devolution of power for some time, with political leaders representing different political parties. But these deliberations are centred around the views of these politicians who “aspire” for the people, without knowing fully well the “aspirations” of the ordinary people.

The controversy in the media is lead by some on a highly intellectual level bandying the names of Harold Lasky, Nietzsche, Marx, Yossi Beilin, Maslow, Robert Thurman and a host of others, and even coming down to the level of questioning who fathered and mothered the parties to the controversy. All that is very “ enlightening” , but they seem far from the understanding of the very concerned simple men and women in the Tamil or the Sinhala villages.

The poor Tamil people whose voices are not heard may not even know the 13 Amendment and what is involved in it. But that is how democracy seems to function. However, it is important that we should discuss the advantage or the disadvantage of the implementation of the 13 Amendment in simple terms, to relate it to the common people.

There is no doubt that 22 years after its formulation and hurried insertion in the Constitution the 13 Amendment has no relevance to-day. After the elimination of terrorism -the reason for which the 13 Amendment had been proposed and hurriedly adopted, there should be a re-thinking on the ways and means of bringing the principle parties to the conflict together in to a binding union, so that the cause itself for the conflict will be removed.

The cause, as far as the Tamil community is concerned, is the feeling that the Sinhala as the majority community had discriminated against the Tamils being the minority community. In that situation will the implementation of the 13 Amendment firstly help to remove the “cause” of the conflict ?. And secondly, will its implementation fulfil the needs of the ordinary people of the country, apart from the politicians ?

The greater need of the ordinary man is to be heard and understood by those who “decide” for him in the language he speaks. He also wants his children to be educated in any school of his choice, and let them enter government or private employment without being discriminated for his what ever communal origin.

He wants to live in peace without being interfered into his belief system, or his political appurtenance, apart from having a satisfactory standard of living provided with the primary needs of life such as shelter, food, clothing and medical facilities.

Those are in fact what we all want to whatever community we belong. After 30 years of suffering under a cruel terrorism, it is time that we rise from our divided apathy, to reach out to those around us as friends and partners to trace a path together for a new way of life. In that effort there should be neither majority rights, nor minority rights. We should thus unite into one Nation as we have no unsurmountable differences. Will the implementation of the 13 Amendment fulfil these common aspirations or perpetuate the differences ?

As a community the Sinhala for generations had always shown a willingness to share, and make sacrifices, even if the politicians had now and then built barriers that seemed unacceptable. The politicians like SWRD Bandaranaike cannot be blamed for the language problem. He was one of the most remarkable political leaders of the post Independent Sri Lanka.

He was determined to make the independence from the colonial rule more meaningful . In his move to make an Independent Nation of Sri Lankans, he made Sinhala the official language going on the universal principal of “ one Nation one language “. It was the high caste Tamil politicians who made it an opportunity to divide the Nation by making the language an issue of discrimination against the Tamils.

Would it then be right to say that it was the high caste Tamil politicians of the time who brought about terrorism, and the July,1983 was of their making ?

The sense of Tamils being a minority is a problem of their own making. Because the successive socialist governments of Sri Lanka after independence, beginning from that of SWRD Bandaranaike, had tried to give back to the Sinhala people their rightful place in society, restore to their religion the respect it deserves, and revitalise their mutilated culture, all of which had been vandalised by the British colonial rule of 133 years.

But these Socialist Governments did not at any time wanted to make the Tamil people suffer for the damage done to the Sinhala people by the British Colonial Rulers. In the desire to put right the wrongs committed against the Sinhala by the British, these governments may have unwittingly given to the Tamil people the feeling, or the impression that they are being discriminated against in favour of the Sinhala. That could have been the sprouting of the seeds of “ethnic” problem.

But now we have again another remarkable political leader who has given back to the country and its people a new pride to exist as a nation, driven away fear of being swayed by ruthless terrorism, and given the assurance for all communities to Unite as a Nation, by announcing that Sri Lanka has no “minorities”.

But yet some sections of the Tamil people continue to propagate the idea that the Tamil minority community is being discriminated against by the Sinhala majority Government. This sense of difference as a minority, in a majority Sinhala country has been accentuated to such an extent that the Tamil people do not seem, still ready to make any concessions to accept the Sinhala Community as a mutual partner in the making of a Sri Lankan Nation.

Even Anandasangaree the man who won a UNESCO award for tolerance and non-violence has not made a move to bring the Tamil and Sinhala communities together. He likes to project himself as the defender of the Tamils without any “tolerance” towards the Sinhala Government. If he wanted to make a significant contribution to Tamil- Sinhala Unity in Sri Lanka, he had the opportunity to have joined a National political party for the forthcoming Provincial Council Elections, without seeking elections separately on a Communal platform.

In that sense Karuna Amman or Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, is far more worthy for an award by the UNESCO for his unique example of courage and contribution to Sinhala Tamil Unity. He had been a terrorist and took greater risks than any of the Tamil expatriates or Anandasangaree himself, in braking away from terrorism, thereby “weakening “ the terrorists. He then followed the democratic path, and joined hands with his former enemies the Sri Lanka Government. We will have to wait and see whether UNESCO will rise to the occasion and recognise a man who risked his life to show that democracy is preferable to terrorism !

Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, has not stopped at breaking away from terrorism to follow a democratic path by joining the government. But he also gave up his Political Party to become a member of a National Political Party, putting aside a Sinhala Tamil difference. His move brings together for the first time in a more significant way, the Tamils, Sinhala, and Muslims as members of a national political party.

If all the Tamil political leaders were to follow his example, not necessarily joining the SLFP, but even other National Parties such as the UNP, NFF, or JVP we will never face the situation of suffering under another ruthless terrorism in the future. That will also auger well for the future prosperity and the progressive development of our country and its people.

The APRC had not approached the subject of devolution of power in the perspective of building a single Nation by bringing together the divided communities. APRC should have made itself a Forum to discuss this necessary surrender of Communal difference in the greater interest of a Nation of Sri Lankans. If this sense of a nationhood is deeply and sincerely accepted to call one Sinhala or Tamil would be considered a racial reference.

If we can bury our communal difference to that extent there is no necessity for the implementation of the 13 th Amendment. The APRC should have discussed with different political leaders the ways and means to re define the political party system to come to an understanding to set up political parties devoid of communal reference. So that there would be two political parties the SLFP and the UNP into which all other parties would be merged. After all there are two political systems, one socialist and the other capitalist, all the rest fall into one or the other political system..

It may sound idealist. But with an effort we could overcome what ever barrier to achieve that objective. We should denounce being referred to by our ethnicity instead of being referred to by our Nationality. The Provincial Council system should be reorganised to make it more manageable .

Of all the contributors on the implementation of the 13 Amendment, it was Neville Ladduwahetty writing to the Island who had made pertinent and pragmatic proposals on the 13 Amendment. It would be instructive even to the President Mahinda Rajapakse to consider his views on the subject. He proposes going back to District system of administration, which is better as it is a far smaller unit of administration which is much more manageable than a Province as an administrative unit. Further more it guarantees security against a possible danger of break away Provinces claiming independence.

A Province includes a larger territorial space, than a District. Two provinces merged together would easily be at least one third of Sri Lanka, where as two Districts merged together would not be more than the territorial space of a Province. Hence the District Administrative Unit would be a safety net against any adventurous elements proposing to claim a “homeland”.

The International Community with the all time meddlers like the Human Rights Watch, the Amnesty International and NGOs etc., are out to break Sri Lanka between Communities if they can, or enter their “white agents” into Tamil areas to make themselves privileged visitors who are a sort of “angels” capable of bringing succour to the suffering humanity.
Refugee Camps in Chad

This is what is happening in Chad with the seemingly eternally suffering people in refugee camps. The NGOs , Foreign Armies, missionaries minister to the needy providing them with food, and medical assistance. Now and then a “ white angel” descends oozing with sympathy and kindness to touch the suffering black children with a word of sympathy.
Refugee Camps in Chad
The scenes are video taped and shown in a prime time television show calling the spectators to contribute to the welfare of the poorest of the poor.

The UK Times and other Western media publishing blatant lies about IDP camps in Sri Lanka project white Western displeasure, that the same situation as in Chad is not being enacted in Sri Lanka with the 300,000 IDPs in camps. What an audience capturing situation has been left out of reach for the Western “ do gooders “, “the meddlers”, “paid good time vacation seekers”.
Refugees in Chad
Hence the UK Times is doing its best writing whole lot of “humbug” to get the International Community interested so that it would demand the posting of Western NGOs in the IDP camps to make them not concentration camps but refugee camps where the “white angels” administer to the needs of the suffering human mass, discriminated against by a racist Sinhala government committing genocide against a "poorestof the poor " ethnic group in the country.

Children in IDPs Camps in Sri Lanka

Children in IDPs Camps in Sri Lanka

This is why it is necessary to find some other means of attending to the needs of our people of all communities , rather than waste our time wandering how to put into effect the 13 Amendment.

We should train our own people to take care of the needy, without having to depend on NGO’s. The International Community if generous should contribute for the welfare of the developing nations. They should give the necessary funds .
IDPs Camps in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is not a “Chad” . Sri Lanka can look after itself, without aid-workers from abroad. If the West is unable to do that then we should turn to other nations and manage with what we get from them, without being interfered into our affairs by the Western media and human rights activists.

The 13 Amendment should not be made another means for the International Community including India to meddle into our affairs giving us instructions as to what we should do and should not do. It had been included into the Constitutions for reasons that existed then. But those reasons do not exist now. Therefore, the 13 Amendment to the Constitution has no relevance to-day. Hence, it is time to question whether the implementation of the 13 Amendment is really necessary ?

1 comment:

kumudini silva said...

Dear Charles ,

There are rumours to the effect that Dayan has very close links with the SL guardian . Some say that he owns it. . I have no idea whether this is the truth.Worth investigating .

Regards , Anoma