SOURCE :- here

The constitutional reform debate in Sri Lanka is in a particularly enervated state as we approach the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, with a government in power that displays that bizarre concoction of procrustean infantilism that so characterised the Jayewardene and Premadasa attitudes to constitutional government and democracy: its thinking juvenile, its methods menacing. This has, in turn, lent a degree of respectability to secessionism it would not otherwise enjoy in world opinion. In fact, the supremacist ethno-nationalism which is at the ideological core of this government, and the simple-minded and unreflective obstinacy with which its dictates are pursued, raises a question that is at the heart of the liberal theory on self-determination and secession, but which Sri Lankan liberals, like the good federalists many of them are, have been reluctant to engage.

Elsewhere, much scholarly debate has been generated on the underlying tension between the normative bases of liberalism and nationalism on the question of self-determination and secession, and some have even attempted to reconcile these at least at the level of theoretical principles. But in the Sri Lankan context, liberals have in general (with some courageous exceptions) closed their minds to the option of secession as a viable alternative to the majoritarian unitary State. There are several discernible reasons for this, which can broadly be categorised into two as normative and practical objections to secession. On the normative level, while liberals would readily reject the majoritarian unitary State as fundamentally unfair, anomalous with social and political pluralism, authoritarian, and inefficient, they would also have principled reasons for not associating themselves with challenges to that State that are themselves born of ethno-nationalism. This is not least for the reason that ethno-nationalist dynamics of group identity are profoundly antithetical to liberal notions individual liberty, integrity and autonomy. On the practical level are the arguments broadly from political stability and economic viability, which hold that reform of the State is better than dismemberment because fragmentation, particularly in violent circumstances and under acrimonious terms, is no guarantee of the peace, stability and thereby prosperity of either the seceding entity or the rump left behind. Without wishing to label his ideological dispositions or analytical perspectives, many of these principled objections to secessionist claims have been articulately defended by Professor Michael Roberts elsewhere in these pages recently.

Yet, the intransigence of the majority community in Sri Lanka and the behaviour of the State it dominates during the sixty years since independence makes the theoretical exploration of secession a difficult question for liberals to avoid. But that must not be for the want of trying to reform the State and constitutional order to see if unity in diversity is still possible. The impatient retort of Tamil nationalists (with regurgitations of the evolution of the Federal Party and recitations of the litany of discrimination) to what might seem the relentlessly naïve optimism of liberals is to be anticipated, and sincerely acknowledged. But the liberal response to this must be that constitution-making exercises in this country have failed precisely because of the rejection of liberal constitutional options, and more particularly, the failure to adequately formulate a constitutional theory embodying the condition of diversity and pluralism, which can animate governmental institutions and procedures in a manner that delivers inter-community justice through the sharing of power. In short, the Sri Lankan experience is one of constitutions without constitutionalism, constitutional law without constitutional theory. In the chaos of the fratricidal violence that we are now embroiled in, it is far too easy to lose sight of these matters, so much as to rob us of the very ideas that can be our salvation.

Making this point in criticism, however, necessitates the articulation in outline of the conceptual framework of what is meant by ‘power-sharing’. What then are the liberal analytical perspectives in (a) conceiving the socio-political, linguistic-cultural, and historical (and historiographical) nature of the polity; and (b) the theoretical frameworks liberals engage in rationalising those conditions, and in devising or articulating both political values and institutional structures that must inform and underpin the constitutional form of the Sri Lankan State?

The socio-political and historical nature of the Sri Lankan polity is one characterised by rich diversity and cross-cutting cleavages. The multiple facets of pluralism in Sri Lanka include those based on ethnicity, language, religion, caste, culture, geographical region, socio-economic class and historiography (or, some would say, hagiography). While these categories are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive (in isolation or in selective combination), their acknowledgement in the analytical understanding of the nature of a society is politically salient, because that acknowledgement informs conceptions of political self-interest as well as normative perspectives and ideological choices. It must moreover be added that liberals regard diversity and pluralism as a source of social vitality and strength, indeed something to be celebrated, and not as a condition that necessarily generates division and conflict.

In this respect, however, an important qualification is that the present conflict-ridden condition of the Sri Lankan polity is what in the theoretical discourses of many disciplines is known as a ‘deeply divided society’. This is an analytical category by now well-known to both political and constitutional theory, in which the existence of diversity has been mismanaged to such an extent that identity-based claims form the (often exclusive) basis of routine public policy debates, political mobilisation, the articulation of self-interest central to the conduct of politics, and critically, in the processes and substance of constitution-making. Thus identity-based group claims rooted in such factors as ethnicity become synonymous with political identity, and in the absence of appropriate institutional channelling or accommodative normative framework, can easily degenerate into violent conflict. Quite clearly, Sri Lanka presently falls into this category, where the pouvoir constitué in the form of the constitutional order of the State is grossly incongruent with the pluralistic pouvoir constituant in a way that has generated ethnic antagonism and violent conflict.

It is in these senses that the liberal conception of the nature of the Sri Lankan polity leads to the adoption of certain normative values and theoretical frameworks in thinking and talking about ideal-type constitutional forms for the peaceful and orderly organisation of that polity. We must be mindful of the scholarly debate – and in the Sri Lankan context the fundamental question of politics – between ‘accomodationists’ and ‘assimilationists’ in which the former believe the recognition of difference and the accommodation of diversity are essential for the public goods of peace, order and good government, whereas the latter argue that the institutionalisation of difference leads precisely to the opposite results of conflict and division. However, as comparative constitutional practice demonstrates, dichotomising ‘accommodation’ and ‘assimilation’ for purposes of theoretical purity is of limited practical value, and the exigencies of constitution-making in Sri Lanka are no different from other comparable experiences in which a just and peaceful constitutional order derives sustenance from the judicious amalgamation of both sets of values in ways ensuring that ‘accommodation’ does not yield polarisation and ‘assimilation’ hegemony.

It is for this reason that liberals believe that socio-political diversity in constitutional form means the fair sharing of power. This means both the division and distribution of political power so as to ensure autonomy where autonomy is desired, as well as sharing such power where collaborative decision-making is necessary. The overriding concern is to lay a coherent normative foundation upon which principled choices can be made between various policy and design options in constitutional reform.

Understood this way, power-sharing is a normative value as well as a principle of constitutional organisation (and for some, may also represent an ideological disposition or philosophical statement). The point, however, that the empirical fact of diversity is not represented in an appropriate constitutional form of power-sharing in Sri Lanka is both the rationale, and entry point into the debate, for the liberal discourse.

The conceptual framework of ‘power-sharing’ outlined here is thus a broad one that encompasses a multitude of options in the choice of institutional form(s). Perhaps the analogy of a ‘corridor’ within which are found more than one track or path illustrates the approach best. The choice of options available in this conceptual corridor of power-sharing, including forms of devolution, federalism and confederation as well as consociational mechanisms, are very broad; and must include, should power-sharing predicated upon unity fail, the option of peaceful secession subject to the ‘principled negotiations’ that the Canadian Supreme Court had in contemplation in its celebrated advisory opinion on the constitutionality and legality of a putative secession of Quebec.

Within the conceptual parameters of power-sharing delineated above, it is possible to point to certain critical constitutional issues that would have to be addressed inevitably if a peace in Sri Lanka with democratic legitimacy is to be built underpinned by a new constitutional order along power-sharing lines and liberal values. Power-sharing in this context involves two fundamental elements: (a) power-sharing through the intra-statal territorial and functional diffusion of power; (b) modalities of sharing power over those functions and decisions that involve the citizenry of the State as a whole.

The intra-statal diffusion of power is aimed at various ends according to the needs of particular societies, and may involve considerations of greater democratisation such as enhancing citizen participation through localising decision-making; improved transparency and accountability; greater efficiency and economy. In addition to these general democratic and administrative rationales, are the needs of those societies in which (usually) territorially concentrated groups exist which demand governmental autonomy for purposes of the preservation or the expression of ethno-cultural or religio-cultural aspirations. While both sets of considerations apply for sub-statal power-sharing in Sri Lanka, without doubt the overriding concern is that of the accommodation of Tamil claims to autonomy in the North and East in a way that addresses those aspirations without necessarily endangering the unity of the country from the outset. Indeed, liberals would strenuously argue that without addressing Tamil ethno-territorial aspirations to autonomy through meaningful power-sharing, the legitimacy gap that characterises the Sri Lankan State and makes us a deeply and violently divided society cannot be bridged. Adding a further element of complexity to this issue are the identity-based claims to territorial autonomy increasingly being made by Muslims of the East, and more recently by Tamils of Indian Origin.

However, the strategy of some Tamil nationalists of negotiating a confederal-type power-sharing settlement as the first step towards a pre-determined goal of secession, as revealed for example by Professor Sornarajah with extraordinary candour, is unhelpful for the meaningful sharing of power, and in any case would be a self-fulfilling prophesy through the inflammation of the worst kind of paranoid bigotry in the South.

At the level of constitutional design, the sub-statal dimension of power-sharing calls attention to such matters as the division and sharing of governmental functions and competences between multiple (shared/national, regional, local) orders of government; the allocation of revenue raising and public expenditure responsibilities; allocation of natural resources; mechanisms for centre-regional and inter-regional co-operation and dispute resolution; and for institutional arrangements for dealing with exceptional circumstances of natural or man-made emergencies in which central and regional interests and spheres of autonomy are balanced and respected.

In the liberal vision of power-sharing, however, the constitutional accommodation of sub-statal claims to territorial autonomy must be countervailed by institutional arrangements that administer those governmental functions involving the shared concerns of persons and communities that constitute the citizenry of Sri Lanka. While this arises from a conception of citizenship that respects diversity as well as unity, it is central to the identificatory role of the Sri Lankan State that even those ethno-territorial groups desiring a high degree of autonomy be represented, involved and encouraged in decision-making about shared concerns. Typically, this kind of power-sharing is achieved through a second chamber of regional representation in the central legislative process; through consociational arrangements for regional or group representation in the central political executive, the civil service, police services and the armed forces; representative composition of the judicial body charged with the responsibility of interpreting the constitution; and arrangements for fiscal equalisation and the equitable distribution of national wealth and resources.

Increasingly in modern constitution-making practice, certain types of state service provision are entrusted to politically independent institutions, and these services are regarded as entitlements arising out of common citizenship. Falling into this category are independent bodies for the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights; oversight of the civil service, police and judicial services; the electoral administration; ombudspersons; public financial integrity and accountability institutions; and bodies responsible for allocating resources among multiple orders of government.

In addition, liberals would emphasise that the requirements of constitutional democracy such as the limitation of governmental authority as well as in terms of special protection for individuals within communities in a constitutional context that accommodates ethno-cultural and/or religio-cultural specificity, a comprehensive constitutional bill of rights susceptible to robust judicial enforcement is essential. This may or may not contain certain types of group rights (especially for those communities that are not entitled to or do not demand territorial autonomy), but its principal role is as a mechanism for the protection of individual rights so that government is limited and the liberty and security of the individual and private property are guaranteed.

This vision of power-sharing is underpinned by two final elements: (a) the element of a co-operative and values-based culture of government; and (b) the covenant or social contract – in other words, the constitution – that enshrines and guarantees the precise power-sharing arrangements agreed between multiple orders of government. The culture of government that is premised on this notion of power-sharing is one of negotiation, consensus and co-operation, but which is disciplined by the rule of law and an independent judiciary, general democratic values of universal application and respect for human rights, as well as by the specific principles of power-sharing as are enshrined in the power-sharing and autonomy covenant that is the constitution. The constitutional instrument itself therefore assumes pivotal significance in the liberal conception of a power-sharing constitutional order. The letter and spirit of the constitution must be supreme, all institutions and persons subject to its dictates, and all law, decisions, acts, conduct and omissions inconsistent with it must be void, where necessary through judicial enforcement.

A new constitutional order that can deliver the promises of democracy for all the people of Sri Lanka such as freedom, justice, peace and prosperity, can only be realised through the conceptual framework of power-sharing outlined here. In our experiences of majoritarian constitution-making and resulting minoritarian resistance, we have embraced the passions of nationalism and rejected the deeply moral rationality of liberal constitutionalism, and as we continue to see, with the most distressing of consequences. It is time for a new constitutional conversation, the agenda of which must neither foreclose the possibility of secession, nor the rigorous and sustained exploration of liberal power-sharing, which may enable us to salvage what we can from this country’s thoroughly misspent youth.


4 Responses

  1. Respected Sir,

    Please accept my Salutations, Greetings and best wishes for the dawn of a bright future to everyone.

    In my humble opinion, Peace is neither elusive nor evading us, but on the contrary we are evading Peace by not viewing the problems sincerely in the correct perspective and with the correct attitude that will automatically take us on the correct track to reach Peace.

    Please consider the view, attitude and the track pointed out in the extract given below – not thought earlier by any of us as being available – for its ability to lead us on to the correct track to peace. I am sure we will be able to meet peace in double-quick time since no sooner we get on the correct track towards Peace; Peace too would automatically start traveling towards us on this track.

    An unprecedented concept in
    Modifying the System of Governance

    It is not the impossible which gives cause for despair
    but the failure to achieve the possible

    The conflict arose, in my humble opinion, due to the turmoil in the country. This conflict is often portrayed as a bi-polar conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority by-passing the substantial minorities like Upcountry Tamil and Muslim. This sad state of affairs has to be changed. This mindset of ‘dividing’ the people as “Majorities” and “Minorities” has to be changed not by words but by deeds. It is a well-known fact that all these “majorities” and “minorities” are living together in many parts of the country as kith and kin, helping each other in times of need. So it is the duty of every right thinking citizen to concentrate and converge this idea and integrate the nation if we are to forge ahead as a nation and end the turmoil in the country.

    Everyone agrees that the ongoing turmoil and its byproduct, the conflict, must be brought to an end by sharing power. But they differ in deciding the way. The various opinions centre on a system with a central government and other governments under it, with the centre holding wide powers.

    It is to be noted that we have diverse and mixed people living together in many parts pf the country with excellent rapport among them. These people should be empowered at gramasevaka area level so that even a small area will be able to project its needs without going through others. It is to this extent that we should go, if sustainable peace, solidarity and development with a pleasant living to all inhabitants, is our goal.

    Therefore, a suitable system of democratic governance that is acceptable to all rationale minded people (or one that cannot be rejected by these people), must replace the present system of governance.

    “My notion of democracy is that under it, the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest” so said Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela for his part said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”

    With the above in view, a democratic system of governance that is rationale and based on equality of all has been developed on the basis that all powers flow from the sovereignty of the people. The concept in this system is an unprecedented mode of sharing power –horizontal and not vertical – developed in the true sprit of democracy. This system would unite all the divided communities and resurrect the “Paradise Isle” that existed some time back.

    @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @

    In the present system, one set of representatives are elected and empowered to govern the country. The proposed system enables the people to elect and empower different sets of representatives
    from different extent of areas (village and villages grouped) to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of the same parliament through different segments of that parliament like the different organs of our body – brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ears etc – performing different functions to keep us alive. To be more explicit the concept is as follows:

    1. Segment A – a group entrusted to enact laws for – good governance, collection of revenue and other connected affairs – with the concurrence of all the groups in Segment C, but excluding implementation (at National level and consisting of 10 members elected from each district area, 100 members elected nationally on trade basis and 50 members elected nationally on ideological basis).

    2. Segment B – a group entrusted with coordinating the activities of all the groups in Segment C, the fiscal management of the country including collection and disbursement of revenue, foreign affairs, national planning (in consultation and with the concurrence of the concerned groups in Segment F) and the like and implementing through concerned groups in Segment D by directly providing the necessary funds (at National level and consisting of 15 members elected from each regional area).

    3. Segment C – Groups entrusted to administer different regions of the country based on the laws enacted by Segment A with its concurrence, maintain law and order, approve project proposals submitted by the concerned groups in Segment D and to obtain the necessary funds for expenditure from Segment B (at Regional area level and consisting of 04 members elected from each divisional area within that regional area).

    4. Segment D – Groups entrusted to implement all project proposals approved by Segment B or by concerned group in Segment C and with funds provided by them (at District area level and consisting of 03 members elected from each sub-divisional area within that district area).

    5. Segment E – Groups entrusted to coordinate and confirm project proposals submitted by concerned groups in Segment F and forward them for approval to concerned group in Segment C (at Sub-divisional area level and consisting of 03 members elected from each village area within that sub-divisional area).

    6. Segment F – Groups entrusted to prepare project proposals for their area and approving concerned proposals submitted by Segment B and submit all proposals to concerned Segment E for confirmation. They would naturally oversee the implementation of their proposals. (at Village level and consisting of 05 members elected from within that village area).

    7. Segment G – Groups entrusted to monitor the functions of all the Segments for transparency, accountability, and take necessary action to curtail irregularities with an eye on the elimination of corruption (at Divisional level and consisting of 02 members elected from each village area within that divisional area)

    (Presently all the above functions are performed by one group of party representatives –not people’s representatives – without sufficient checks, the cause for the present turmoil in the country.)

    In these proposals, gramasevaka (G.S.) area is the smallest unit and G.S. areas are grouped to form sub-divisions, sub-divisions are grouped to form divisions, divisions are grouped to form districts, districts are grouped to form regions and the regions grouped to form the country.

    There would be only one institution – the Parliament with seven segments –that would satisfactorily govern the entire country. Presently we have the presidential secretariat, a central government, 9 provincial governments and a large number of local governments, in attending to matters of governing the country with their functions overlapping. In the proposed system there is only one establishment attending to matters of governing the country thus reducing the financial burden and cumbersome bureaucracy, while increasing all round efficiency coupled with streamlined speedy development, resulting in the reawakening of the country as a Paradise Isle for a pleasant living to all its inhabitants.

    Other details connected to the above unique concept

    01 Functions of the above Segments: The functions of the various Segments shall not overlap but linked in a chain by well defined regulations with the limits specified. Broad outlines of the functions of these Segments include amongst others:

    Segment A would enact Legislations and lay down policies (foreign and internal) and all connected there-with in the interest of good governance and forward these to all the groups in Segment C for their concurrence, so as to evolve a just and fair administration with transparency and accountability to maintain a clean and democratic society in this country where law and order with natural justice would prevail.

    Segment B would be responsible for the proper execution of the functions conferred on it by the Segment A adhering to the legislations enacted and policies approved by Segment A. But the implementation of these functions must be through the administrative set-up that is functioning in the regions concerned and through Segment D of that Region without a different administrative set-up of its own. The prior approval of Segment F concerned has to be obtained directly before taking action for the implementation of any proposal within the area concerned of that Segment F.

    The Head with the concurrence of the Deputy Head would appoint the National Council of Ministers from among its members. All actions of the Head would be in consultation with the Deputy. The National Ministers – in equal numbers for each Region and not exceeding five for a Region – shall be fairly distributed among the Regions. The Ministers for the different ministries shall be changed every year and be filled by members of another Region, in rotation. The Head and in his/her absence the Deputy would preside at all meetings of the Segment B and the Council of National Ministers.

    The responsibilities, function and duties of Segment B would be defined as those that cannot be properly distributed exclusively to any particular region such as Postal, Railway, Currency, National Budget, Import, Export, Immigration and Emigration, Foreign, Affairs etc, etc,. The administration of all other functions such as education, police, land, ports of entry etc., etc., shall be entrusted to the groups in Segment C. In addition, Segment B would act as a coordinator and help the groups in Segment C in the formulation of a uniform policy wherever possible.

    Segment C groups would be responsible for the proper administration and development of the region, lay down the policies specific and special to the region, such as preparing the regional budget, making byelaws and such other matters and directing the groups in Segment D within that region for the proper execution of all works within the district for which funds have been allocated by it or provided for by Segment B. In addition its most important duty would be to evaluate and where necessary suggest amendments and on acceptance, convey its concurrence of the legislative enactments forwarded to it by the Legislative Council.

    The Head in consultation with the Deputy Head and Assistant Head would appoint the Regional Council of Ministers – minimum of one and a maximum of two from a district area – from among its members of that Region. All actions of the Head would be in consultation with the Deputy Head and Assistant Head.

    Any group in this Segment shall not be permitted to obtain loans except from Segment B, but be permitted to negotiate directly with internal and external institutions to obtain aids and grants for the development of their Regions.

    The groups in this Segment would be responsible for the submissions of proposals for the development of their Region to Segment B for approval and to obtain allocations or stating the source of funds available (allocations, internal and external aid and grants, and loans from Segment B as the case may be) through which the proposal is intended to be executed.

    Segment D groups would be responsible for initiating the necessary planning for the proper execution of all works within the district initiated either by Segment F or B and other functions allocated to it by Segment C concerned. The groups in this Segment would function as the executive wings of Segment C

    Segment E groups would be responsible for coordinating with the groups in Segment F within its area, in the preparation and evaluation of all proposals for the development of its area and for submission to Segment C concerned for approval and implementation.

    Segment F groups would be responsible for the preparation of proposals for the development of its area and evaluating any proposal submitted by any other body for the development of its area and submitting these to Segment E concerned for further scrutiny, acceptance and onward transmission for necessary action. All development proposals that have an impact in respect of its area must have its approval.

    Segment G groups would be responsible for the supervision and monitoring the administration and progress of all works being implemented within its area by Segment D and where necessary even outside its area and monitor the functions of all the Segments for transparency, accountability and take necessary action to curtail irregularities with an eye on the elimination of corruption and other connected functions.

    02 Election and Composition of members of the various Segments would be from among those residing within that area on “first passed the post” basis subject to gender and age group conditions being fulfilled and where necessary and possible trade, political ideologies and ethnicity being considered. The number of members elected from any one area shall have a minimum of 20% of any one gender or age group out of the total to be elected from that area and at least one member from an ethnic minority if they form more than 10% of the eligible voters. The members so elected would be considered as independents even if nominated or supported by a political party. The number of elected members in any group in a given Segment – other than in Segments A and B – would vary from Region to Region depending on the number of sub-administrative areas in that region.

    Segment A would consist of ten members elected from each district area, plus hundred members elected nationally on trade basis from among those who are in and practicing that trade. (one member for each trade or group of trades, to be defined) plus fifty members elected nationally on ideological basis making a total of four hundred members.

    Segment B would consist of not more than fifteen members from a Region (groups in Segment C) elected collectively by the members of the various Segments within that Regional area from among those residing within that area and not having stood for election to any Segments. (Assuming there are four Regions the total number of members to Segment B would be (4 x 15) sixty).

    Segment C groups would consist of four members elected from each divisional area within that Regional area.

    Segment D groups would consist of three members elected from each of the sub-divisional areas within that district area.

    Segment E groups would consist of three members elected from each Gramasevaka area within that sub-divisional area.

    Segment F groups would consist of five members elected from among those residing within its area.

    Segment G groups would consist of two members elected from each of the Gramasevaka areas within that divisional area.

    03 The Heads and Deputy Heads of the various groups in each Segment to be elected as described below. The Head and the Deputy Head shall not be of the same gender, age or ethnic group in any group of any Segment provided there are more than 10% of eligible voters of any one ethnic group within that area. The Deputy Head has to be assigned sufficient powers and duties to make that office meaningful and would act for the Head in his/her absence. They shall act with the prior approval of the respective groups.

    Segment A: by the members of the Segment from among themselves.

    Segment B: by the members of the Segment from among themselves.

    Segment C: collectively elected by the members of the various groups in all the Segments in that Region together with the members elected to Segment A and B from within that Region. An Assistant Head has to be elected to act for the Deputy Head in his/her absence and who shall not belong to the same ethnic group as that of the Deputy Head and where possible, different from the ethnicity of the Head as well.

    Segment D: collectively by the members elected directly to that group of the Segment and members elected to Segments A and C from that district area.

    Segment E: collectively by the members elected directly to that group and the members who have been elected to Segment D from that sub-divisional area.

    Segment F: directly by the voters of that Grama Sevaka area in addition to the members of that Council.

    Segment G: collectively by the members elected directly to that group of the Segment and members elected to Segment C from that divisional area.

    04 The Head of State: The Head of one Region will act as the Head of State with the Deputy Head of another Region as the Deputy Head of State for a period one year with the Head’s and Deputy/Assistant Head’s of the other Regions taking their turns in rotation. If the Deputy Head of one Region happens to belong to the same ethnic group as that of the Head of one Region who is acting as the Head of State then the Assistant Head of that Region would act as the Deputy Head of State. The Head of State and his/her Deputy would be guided by Segment B in their actions and would have the powers and responsibilities similar to that of a Head of State of a country where the Parliament is supreme. (India and Malaysia might be quoted as examples.). The Head of State is accountable to Segment B.

    05 Salaries/ Allowances to the members elected to the various Councils

    From the above it would be seen that there would be

    01 No. group in Segment A with 250 + 100 + 50 = 400 Members
    01 No. group in Segment B with 4 × 15 = 60 Members
    04 Nos. groups in Segment C with 4 x 326 = 1304 Members
    25 Nos. groups in Segment D with about 7500+ members and in addition a further number of groups in Segments E, F and G – with a large number of members (168,000), the grand total of which would be a staggering figure (about 177,000+), which would naturally raise the question of the need of a large sum of money by way of salary, allowances etc. considering the present payments to M.PP. It is suggested that these members be not paid any salary since they had volunteered to serve the people. They may be reimbursed the actual expenditure incurred by them monthly, but the amount reimbursed shall not exceed the maximum salary drawn by a SLAS Class 1 officer for the National Minister, and the others lesser amounts. In the case of the Heads and Deputy Heads of the Segments, the amount reimbursed shall not exceed the salary of a Class 1 officer in the judicial service for the Head of Segment A, and others lesser amounts. No traveling allowances are payable except the actual ordinary bus-fares, if there are no train services available. Foreign trips, if it becomes absolutely necessary, only economy class airfare on the national carrier plus 50% of the most economical travel fare that might have been actually incurred within the foreign country, shall be provided. All other expenses including board and lodging shall be borne by the persons concerned. (With Video conferencing being available, the need for traveling would not be necessary)

    06 Eligibility: No person shall be eligible to contest or to become a member of a group in any Segment if he had been a member of that group within the last two years immediately preceding the date of election. However he shall be eligible to contest to any other Segment. This clause shall apply to all members of his/her immediate family and only one member of a family can seek election to any Segment at any one time.

    A person while holding a ‘post’ in the government or government controlled institutions or public limited liability companies quoted in the Colombo Stock Exchange shall not be eligible to seek election to any Segment.

    07 The term (period) of all Segments shall be four years and elections should be held only once in every four years with dates to be fixed in the constitution itself as in the U.S.A. It is suggested that nominations be called in the month of August and elections be held in the month of September, and the new members assuming office in the month of October as there are no significant religious events in these months. The period for transition of power to the newly elected persons shall be a minimum of seven days and a maximum of fourteen days. A line of succession shall be formulated as in the U.S.A. to fill in any vacancies in the offices of the Head and Deputy Head of State, Head’s or Deputy head’s of Segments or Assistant Head’s of Segment C that might occur in between election dates. The person who was next in line in the last election shall fill in the vacancies caused by persons directly elected by the voters.

    08 Any person or group of groups of persons violating the constitution shall be held personally responsible for same and dealt with suitably.

    09 To preserve the continuity of the Segments, a system of retiring by rotation, as is practiced in the Board of Directors of limited liability companies may be considered, as that system might be more beneficial to the country.

    Other suggestions for consideration

    10 Articles for the following purposes have to be incorporated into the Constitution (a) that the environment is the foundation of economic growth and poverty reduction, and that the government is legally responsible for providing a clean and healthy environment for its citizens, (b) provision for public interest litigations on the lines that is available in India against any institution or personally against any official of an institution for actions taken or not taken or delay in taking action that would adversely affect the interest of any individual or group of persons, during the course of his/her duty, even if done in good faith, if it could have been avoided had he/she taken an alternative course of action (c) a “Right to information Act” similar to what is available in India be enacted to enable the ordinary person to obtain any information that he/she wants which shall include photo copies of minute sheets or the like provided such information will not hamper the security of the country (d) discrimination on any grounds by anyone shall be made a punishable penal offence similar to what is available in Canada and a greater punishment if that person happens to be a public servant (e) for controlling the exploitation of our natural resources including fishing on the high seas within our boundary, by the multinational companies as is being done in China (f) devolving the decision-making powers over the use and management of natural resources to the local communities (to Segment F) – as it would create greater food security and more equal power relationship, (g) civil society organizations that represent public interest be given their due place in legislative and budget policy debates and where necessary in other matters as well.

    11 No Law shall be initiated, amended or repealed by Segment A until a 2/3 majority in each of the groups in Segment C have ratified it.

    No laws, motions, byelaws, regulations that affect its minority shall be deemed to have been accepted by any group in Segment C unless a three-fourth majority of the minority members in that group in Segment C supports it.

    No loan can be negotiated by Segment B for any purpose without the prior approval of all the groups in Segment C.

    12 Three months before the date fixed for election in the constitution, canvassing in any form shall be forbidden including the announcement of any beneficial programs and the incumbents in any Segment shall not in any way assist the contestants for any Segments or in the alternative if the date of election is not fixed in the constitution and the incumbents are permitted to contest, then a caretaker government shall be in office on the Pakistan and Bangladesh model – consisting of persons not directly involved in partisan politics, with the Chief Justice as the Head of the State and elections be concluded within a period of six months at the maximum

    13 Independent Commissions: shall be appointed for the proper administration and control of the various services that have to function independently according to laid down procedures. These commissions are accountable and answerable to the Head of State. No interference of any kind by anyone including the Head of State, Heads of Segments or any member of any Segment shall be permitted.

    14 Composition of the commissions shall be on the basis of one member from each of the Regions elected jointly by the members of all Segments within each Region. The members of Segments A and B shall jointly elect one member of any Commission, who shall be the Chairman.

    15 The administrative set-up would be region-wise in all matters save and except those that cannot be entrusted to regions due to their particular national character and are of concern to the entire country – e.g. postal, railway etc. and these would come under the control of Segment B but any development activity connected to these institutions should be entrusted to the concerned group in Segment D.

    16 Groups in all Segments would have the freedom to interact and formulate policies on matters assigned to the Segments or for any other purpose they deem necessary thus preserving the indivisible character of the country.

    17 When a voter becomes ineligible to contest an election by having been a member of a Segment during the preceding two years or for any other reason then that ineligibility shall also apply to his/her immediate family, his/her parents immediate family including their grand parents and grand children.

    It is earnestly requested that the learned persons who are advising the government in drafting amendments to the constitution, take into consideration the basic suggestions contained herein and build on it in the wider interest of the country at large. It is accepted that many other important issues have not been given thought to or mentioned herein due to the length of these suggestions and my limited capacity.

    Due to the fratricidal violence that we are now embroiled in, it is far too easy to lose sight of these matters, so much to rob us of the very ideas that can be our salvation.

    For further details, clarifications, objections, comments, constructive criticisms of any short-comings or defects in these proposals, and where possible suggesting suitable remedies to overcome them, are most welcome and may please be addressed to:

    endingturmoil@yahoo.co.uk or sie.kathieravelu@gmail.co.uk

    @ @ @ @ @ @ @

    If your good self is of opinion that this system merits consideration, please be good enough to render moral assistance in promoting the idea among those interested in finding a solution to our problems.

    In promoting and discussing these ideas, it is my humble opinion that we use the email in addition to the print and electronic media in that it would save money, time, and the environment and reduce the workload on the postal department.

    Thanking your good self in advance in anticipation of an early response,

    Yours in Service,


    I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something.
    And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.
    What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the Grace of God, I will do.

    – Edward Everett Hale (1822 – 1909)

    You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

    – R. Buckminster Fuller


    “Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War.
    He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth
    in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only
    animal that for sordid wages will march out…and help to slaughter
    strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom
    he has no quarrel. ..And in the intervals between campaigns he washes
    the blood off his hands and works for “the universal brotherhood of
    man”–with his mouth.
    — Mark Twain, “What Is Man?”

  2. Let us move towards a solution rather than continue to to express or analyse the problem. An emphasis on personal responsibility moves the discussion away from finger pointing or naming enemies and towards constructive common action..

    Unite divided communities through a respectful, informed sharing of local racial history.

    Aim for a change of heart, not just a change of mind.

    Let us forget the causes that led to the present situation. We will have to concentrate on ways and means of finding a solution or atleast a formula that does not discriminate or cause injustice to any groups and so acceptable without any rationale objections.

    I have a formula – an unprecedented concept for sharing power. It is horizontal and not vertical.

    You are at liberty to contact me at the email address given.


  3. The 13th amendment implementation for the North and East is currently creating much turmoil and controversy both, in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora. Tamils in the diaspora consider the 13th amendment a waste of time since it falls short of fulfilling aspirations for a completely separate Tamil state, by contrast, opponents tf the amendment consider it to be too much of a concession to Tamil separatism. What, however, are the views of ordinary Tamils in the North who are actually bearing the brunt of the on-going conflict?
    Tamils in the homeland are having to face tragedies on an almost daily basis, dear ones killed, others abducted. The fit and able Tamils have fled the soil of their homeland. It is the poor, weak and vulnerable people that were left behind. Everywhere in Sri Lanka ordinary Sri Lankans want the war to stop. Ordinary Tamils in the North long for a normal life: to be able to send their children to school without fear of abduction, to have ordinary jobs and careers, to run businesses, go shopping and care for their families.
    Ordinary Tamils in the North want food, shelter, security and the freedom to move about. We all want peace, it’s the lasting solution.
    Every government promises something, but nothing ever happens. People have no trust in anyone.
    Tamil diaspora keep beating the war drum. They’ve created this situation and are continuing to do so, leading to the complete destruction of our society and traditions. Ordinary Tamils in the homeland do not like violence, nor do they seek violence. Those who take the sword will one day die from the sword. Innocent people are dying in the name of freedom. Peace does not create an enemy. We all need peace!.
    The implementation of the 13th amendment is a vital issue as it offers Tamils the chance to govern their region with a considerable degree of autonomy. The 13th amendment is born out of the Indian Accord with the UNP government in 1987, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force came to Sri Lanka to resolve the national conflict. It is roughly based on the Indian model regarding regional governance.

    In fact, the details of the 13th amendments are actually more favourable towards Tamils, than the Indian system would have been. For example, the official language in Mumbay is Marathi and the Tamils there are required to learn the Marathi language in Mumbay schools, whereas in Sri Lanka there are Tamil school for Tamil children everywhere in the country. Equal prominence is assured for the Tamil language alongside Sinhala, with English designated as the link language as is again the case in India.
    The opponents for the implementation of the 13th amendment argue that it doesn’t offer the Tamils enough. The 13th amendment is already in the constitution, chopping and changing it, is not appropriate. Also, there is no provision for a North and East merger in the present 13th Amendment. The government should govern the country based on the constitution and should do so without delay. The implementation process raised some questions too: why the need for an election or for an interim government?
    It is important to point out, that there is in fact a clause, which states that, if one or two provinces wanted to join they could do so with the presidential recommendations. So, why would one want to reject the proposal before having it tested and before seeing how it worked out in practice? Rome was not built in one day! Start with one step and make progress with time.
    13th amendment offers a framework for the future. The proposal is for a temporary merger between the North and East, with a referendum to be held in a year’s time to get the mandate from the people of the North and the East. The document includes plans for the development of the systems of health, education, agriculture, transport, rehabilitation,re- settlement, as well as the setting up of new industries. People opposing the plan, tend to ignore the fact that th 13th Amendment is already successfully implemented in eight out of nine provincial administrations in Sri Lanka. Most recently, as a result of the recent elections in the East, democratic processes and systems are being established there. The right of having a civil administration, is only denied to the Tamils in the North, because the LTTE is trying hopelessly to hold out for a completely separate state, their old dream of a Tamil Eelam.
    The JVP’s fear that giving provincial autonomy and power to the Tamils may open the path to separatism and Indian influence is also unfounded. The election in the East shows that there is no separatism developing and the provincial administration is fully accepted by the local population. The JVP is supposed to campaign for the poor and underprivileged. and yet it seems to be playing the tune sung by the arm dealers, who want to continue making a huge profit.
    For the Tamil people in North, assisting the government to implement the 13th amendment is the chance to be free from the autocratic control of LTTE, a chance to set up a democratic civil system, and to rebuild the Tamil community, the area’s infra-structure, the land, its towns and the country as a whole.
    LTTE depends on the financial and political support from the Tamil diaspora, people who hold British, American, Canadian, Australian, French, German, Swiss etc. passports guaranteeing them safety and freedom. It appears that some like to gain moments of fame and recognition through their vocal and financial support to the Tigers from a safe distance. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, the LTTE is on the run by all accounts. They are on the way out, their forces exhausted as there are no more Tamil teenagers left to be rounded up and abducted into the battle fields.
    We are spending more and more money on the war every year, which is delaying the development of our country. As elsewhere in the world, it would not be surprising to discover that the continuing chaos in our country is partly fuelled by those who gain most from it, i.e. the arm dealers and the opportunists. Foreign Arms dealers are getting rich, whilst the young people of our country are dying like flies in the heat of the battle fields. Some have escaped to foreign countries working as cleaners and other menial jobs, whereas youngsters in other South Asian countries, such as India, are working in IT, in businesses, administration, schools, etc..
    Our country is a small country and has surely had more than its share of being battered, bruised, tormented, during so many years of war and conflict The majority of Tamils in the diaspora community are peace loving and refuse to get involved with or support such separatist campaigns. Yet, it seems that the dream of a Tamil Eelam will remain alive among some members in the Tamil diaspora. Campaigning for separatism has become an integral part of their exiled life. Whether as part of peace, human rights or community organisations, they themselves of course, are able to live a comfortable life and send their children to colleges and universities. They do not have to live a life of constant fear and deprivation in Sri Lanka’s war zones.
    What moral right do people, who are free, safe and doing fairly well have to support a situation which means thousands of people in their homeland are killing and getting killed, maimed, tortured, and women and young girls getting raped. Would the diaspora community allow their own kids into the war zone? If not, why is it alright to ask others to suffer and sacrifice their lives?
    Why support the LTTE? The LTTE’s ideology and ‘working’ methods does not resemble anything found within other liberation movements and struggles in the world. How can threatening and killing your own people who are suspected of not towing the line be progressive or liberating? How can the expulsion of people purely because of their different beliefs be progressive? Is it not ironical, that the diaspora communities are enjoying the benefits of a diverse and multi-cultural society in their adopted countries, whilst accepting an organization that expelled around 100.000 Muslims from Jaffna and that continuously pours out hatred against Sinhalese Moreover, do those holding out for a Tamil Eelam really think it can practically be achieved? How does one draw a map separating the Muslim, Tamil and Sinhala communities in the East? Do those who campaign in the diaspora ever think about the Tamil people living in the south? They continue to live there peacefully among the Sinhalese community.
    How would a border fence be put up from Mannar to Pottuvil?
    Do they really think it is realistic for Tamils to claim for itself 35% of the island’s land and 65 % of its coastal area as shown in the Tamil Eelam map? How likely is it, that Regional Super Power India will support Eelam and the LTTE ?
    The dream for a Tamil Eelam for the Tamils will never happen. This dream began to evaporate when they killed Rajiv Gandhi in India, it dissipated when the LTTE wiped out the other Tamil organizations and went on a manhunt, it disappeared out of the window, when the conspirators split the East from the North and this dream of an independent state finally ended when the Eastern commanders walked out from the LTTE’s jungle.
    This amendment will be the catalyst for many changes to come for the nation as a whole. The country has the culture and is capable of building things even without importing many goods. Sri Lankans have a holistic approach to life. There are already towns and villages where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others are living side by side and are helping each other. It seems the poor know better the value of living together, than do the rich and privileged.
    Tamils should be entitled to their democratic and human right to rebuild their lives, their homes and their society. Whoever opposes the implementation of the 13th amendment, betray the hopes of the people who want to rebuild their future.
    Tamils and all ordinary Sri Lankans long for peace and an end to the armed conflict which has been raging for twenty five years or more.
    Being united will bring hope and prosperity to all communities. To fail to grasp this opportunity will certainly bring more wealth for the arm dealers and profiteers, but it will cause continued suffering among all Sri Lankans, especially the Tamils.

  4. A good article with rational thinking. the author is looking the other side of the coin as well. Glad to have such persons in society and being like-minded I would humbly request the author and the owner of the blog to give me an opportunity to contact them.
    My name and email address is available with the owner of the blog. He can give it to the author.

    And then let us contact each other.

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