Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.
JS Tissainayagam is a visionary and a day dreamer. He is wearing blinkers after emigrating to US. He is totally ignorant of the ground situation, especially after the defeat of the LTTE in May, 2009. Even the LTTE was prepared to compromise on its demand for Eelam. In fact, the Norway brokered peace talks between the government and the LTTE was on condition the latter abandons its quest for Tamil Eelam. This is why at the OSLO Declaration in December 2002, the LTTE asked for maximum autonomy. The LTTE agreed to explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in Areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a UNITED SRI LANKA. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all communities. This is exactly what the TNA is demanding.
I don’t know how proficient JS Tissainayagam is in Tamil language. Thiruvalluvar in his magnum opus Thirukkural says in chapter 48 – Kural 471 that “Let a (king) weigh the strength of his own strength, the strength of his enemy and the strength of his allies (of both) and then act.”
The Sinhalese have their own chauvinists like Wimal Weerawansa who vows to stop the constitutional process come what may. His clones among the Tamils are also swearing that there is nothing in the Steering Committee’s Interim report and it deserves to be rejected. It is a complete sell out and Sampanthan and Sumanthiran have capitulated to UNP-SLFP machinations and manipulations.
My humble request to him is please read the press release issued by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that appeared in the media and received wide publicity. (http://www.omlanka.net/news/9238-abandon-destructive-proposal-for-new-constitution-mahinda-tells-govt.html)
Briefly Mahinda Rajapaksa makes the following assertions:
(1) It has been proposed to devolve to the provinces all powers and functions that can be carried out at the level of the province on the basis of the principle of ‘subsidiarity’. It is on the basis of a similar conceptual framework that the separatists have been agitating for an independent state in the northern and eastern provinces since 1972.
(2) Once powers are devolved to the provinces on the basis of ‘subsidiarity’, it has been proposed that Parliament should not have the power (even with a two thirds majority) to make any changes to that arrangement without the consent of each and every provincial unit. It has also been proposed that Parliament should not have the power to legislate into law, national standards and national policies without the consent of the proposed second chamber of parliament which would consist mostly of representatives of the provincial units.
(3) It has been proposed that the list of concurrent powers which confers a certain leadership role on the central government be abolished and those powers also be transferred to the provinces. In addition to all that, the implementation of certain matters coming under the central government is to be assigned to the provinces, thus greatly reducing the role of the central government as befits a federal system.
(4) The executive powers of the provincial Governors are to be transferred to the provincial boards of ministers and the Governors are to carry out their duties on the advice of the former to the extent where the Governor will not have the authority even to inform the central government of an emergency situation that has arisen in a province without instructions from the chief minister. Furthermore the time given to the Governors and thereafter to the President to either assent to a provincial statute or refer it to the Supreme Court for a determination on its constitutionality is to be fixed at two weeks and upon the expiry of this period, the statute would automatically be considered to have received executive assent.
It is true that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s observations are based on proposals, recommendations and suggestions contained the interim report. Yet he makes some valid points on the basis of the Interim Report.
Some may like to dismiss Mahinda Rajapaksa’s condemnation of the Interim Report as political gimmicks. Such people must read the press statement by BASL that appeared in the media (http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=173819 today. BASL express its grave concern about the proposed amendments to Articles 1 and 2 of the present Constitution.
The Bar Council also noted that proposed amendments in the Interim of the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka had the effect of converting the Unitary character of the State to a FEDERAL structure.
In the past Tamils lost a few opportunities to secure political emancipation. One example is the demise of the Interim Council proposed by JR Jayewardene in 1987. Nitpicking by LTTE over the chairmanship of the Interim Council. Secondly the boycott of the parliamentary elections held in 1994 and the unofficial boycott of the presidential elections held in 2005. More can be cited.
So let us not rock the boat. If the Sinhalese politicians reject the proposal to offer Tamils maximum autonomy in areas of their traditional habitat, let them do so at their peril.