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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2344

Federal solution to ethnic conflict proposed by the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka

Colombo, 01 February, (Asiantribune.com): The Liberal Party of Sri Lanka has urged Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka to consider a Federalist proposal for constitutional reforms for a political solution to the ethnic conflict in the country. They have also underlined that name of the island be changed to Eksath Lanka.Map of Sri Lanka showing the proposed federal divisionsMap of Sri Lanka showing the proposed federal divisions

In a letter addressed to the President Liberal Party has lamented over the government not considering appointing any member of their registered political party to participate in the Expert Committee to look into the possibilities of finding a reasonable and acceptable solution to the ‘Ethnic Issues.’

Liberal Party in its memorandum to Sri Lanka President has pointed out that ethnic crisis could be solved only through dialogue and not by war. They added that the proposals should be based on the following to satisfy all communities of Sri Lanka.

1. Equal opportunity to each and every community or adopting the policies of Mr Lee Quan Yew – Ex Prime Minister of Singapore in order to bring about love, interest and faith on Sri Lanka from all communities of the Country.

2. Mutual understanding of the feelings, culture attitude and the contribution of all communities

3. Offering of autonomy to all communities to live in peace and harmony

4. Creating infrastructure and other basic needs to all communities equally

5. Re-demarcating the existing provincial boundaries according to the life style, culture, nature, environment and attitude with devolution of power and autonomy in order to satisfy all communities

6. New names given to all provinces or states to satisfy the communities

They have also proposed that the country has to be designed to have five Provinces or States based on the above.

1. Amalgamating the Districts of Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha, and Puttalam together and this could be named as KOTTE or Seethawake province or State

2. Amalgamating the districts of Kandy, Matale, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya, and Badulla which could be named as UDARATA as well as MAZAYAGAM in Tamil province or State

3. Amalgamating the districts of Galle, Matara, Hambantota and Moneragala and this could be named as RUHUNA Province or State

4. Amalgamating the districts of Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, and Pollonnaruwa and this could be named as RAJARATA Province or State.

5. Amalgamating the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Tincomalee, Batticola and Digamadula and this could be named as TAMIL EELAM/EELAM State or Province.

Given below is the full text of the memorandum addressed to the President of Sri Lanka by the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka:

Mahinda Rajapakse
His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Janathipathi Mawatha
COLOMBO 01

28 January 2007

Your Excellency

Federalist Proposal for Constitutional Reforms for a political solution to the ethnic conflict

The Election Campaign of the Presidential Election held in the year 2005 is fully aware that the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka have unanimously decided to support the Presidential Candidate of the P A Government (Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse).

Accordingly, the Organizing Committee of the Nuwara Eliya District of Liberal Party had direct linkage with the Election Campaign Team consisting of M/s. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Amal Senalankadikari, Basil Rajapakse and Sena Gamage and exchanged views, Survey & Statistical Information, Strategy Plan, and accurate prediction with a view to guide the Election Campaign Team for unprecedented victory for your candidature. You are well aware that our prediction was well proved beyond doubt at the conclusion of the Presidential Election. Also, our effort was well appreciated by the above Campaign Team. We also met the above Gentlemen personally and exchanged views in this regard.

Subsequently, the Organizing Committee of the Liberal Party of Nuwara Eliya District had the freedom to analyze and present several Political and Economic Development Proposals without detriment to the reputation of the Party and some of these proposals have been accepted and responded to by the Government favourably. For example, the proposal submitted by us with regard to the FUTURE OF THE PLANTATION INDUSTRY, we have received letters of appreciation and some of our proposals are being implemented and we are very proud of the same.

However, with regret we have to mention here that after having known about our expertise, efforts, resources, capabilities and international linkage, your Excellency has not recognized us and we have not been invited for the Expert Committee appointed to look into the possibilities of finding a reasonable and acceptable solution to the Ethnic Issues.

However, it is the duty of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka to submit its proposals on the Ethnic Conflict which erupted two decades ago still continues without meaningful remedy. It is causing immense damage to human lives, growth of the economy and reputation of the Country at the international level. The international communities including United Nations are on line to intervene and solve this conflict.

With regard to the ethnic issues, we have carried out a careful and accurate research and analysis on the following matters:-

1. History of the Country before invasion by Colonialists (Portuguese, Dutch and Great Britain)

2. History of the Country after invasion of the above Colonialists.

3. History of the Pre-Independence period

4. History of the Post-Independence period

5. The new PR (Proportionate Representation) and Executive Presidential system introduced in the year 1978..

After having studied the above, we find the following

1. Before Western Invaders came to Sri Lanka it was a federal state of several sub States under a dominant King

2. At last, after invasion of the British, the country has become a Unitary State

3. Before Independence the Kandyan Communities proposed to the Dhonoughmore Commission a Federalist System for the Country

4. Caste system was playing a major role from the inception and the Kandyan Communities have requested a federal system since they did not like to associate with the majority Low Country Sinhalese. This caste system is even now playing a major role in the Politics of the Country.

5. Mr. S W R D Bandaranaike had a vision for the future of the country and proposed the Federal System. But the Low Country Sinhalese and Northern Tamils had objected to this system. The Low Country Sinhalese had been continuously protesting against this system.

6. After Independence, the Country was governed by the high caste Sinhalese and Jaffna Tamils and in the meantime the low caste Sinhalese and low caste Jaffna Tamils of the Country were neglected. The Rulers of the Country have failed to understand the feelings of the neglected people with regard to their talent, culture, attitude, and their contributions towards the Country’s Economy.

7. In the meantime, the introduction of the Sinhalese Language as the Official Language and the refusal of giving equal rights to the Tamil Language resulted in the communal violence of 1958.

8. We believe that the caste problem had played a major role in the Sri Lankan politics and finally it had lead to the formation of the Sinhalese militant groups in the name of Che Guevara Movement and this was later transformed to the Janata Vimukthi Perumuna, and subsequently the insurgency erupted in the year 1971 and again in 1989. At the same time neglected Tamils in the North and Eastern Province too formed several militant groups among themselves and finally the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eealm has become the dominant militant group.

9. The Asgiriya Chapter has been supporting the Federal System right from the beginning,

10. The Black July of 1983 erupted consequent to the killing of 13 Sri Lanka’s Army soldiers in Jaffna which was a severe setback to ethnic harmony and the country is still unable to recover from it.

11. Successive Governments with a parochial mind sets were unable to find a solution to the ethnic issue since 1983. Although several talks were held on numerous occasions in and out of Sri Lanka, due to the fact that there was a problem of prestige among the Parties that ruled the country from time to time and the fear and suspicion of each other and selfishness of all past Governments played a major role in aggravating the situation. Also some politicians educated abroad gave unsound and negative advice to the Government without thinking positively.

We have also studied the global history on ethnic issue and militant / terrorist activities in order to analyze this problem

1. The Fascist Dictator – Adolph Hitler had massacred many thousands of people and destroyed Jews. Finally, it was a total failure for him and today the Jews have become the most talented community in the world. Some of the major countries such as USA, India are having close relationships with Israel and seek military advises from them. Israel is now capable of handling militants single handed.

2. During the World War II, U S A was aiming to destroy Japan and as a result Hiroshima and Nagasaki was bombed with nuclear bombs, however nobody was able to stop the progress of Japan and that Country has become a super economic power in a very short period of time.

3. In Sri Lanka, the past Governments were trying to destroy the Che Guevara Movement in the year 1971 and again in 1989 when this movement had come out in the name of JVP. But nobody was able to stop their growth and they are now playing a major role in today’s politics and dictating terms to the ruling party.

4. Similarly, the LTTE movement started with a few cadres and has now become one of the most powerful and disciplined militant organization in the world and they have come up to a position where they are able to bring the international community to intervene in solving this problem.

5. The Super Power of the world – USA, along with UK launched a major strike against Al Qaeda Movement, but they have now become a severe threat to Western countries and no body could guess what might happen at any moment.

6. Israel had launched a similar strike against Al Jihad Movement and Palestine but they were unable to bring them under control and the time has now for them to give an independent state to Palestine.

Based on the above mentioned facts and information, it clearly indicates that the ethnic crisis could be solved only through dialogue and not by war. The proposals should be based on the following to satisfy all communities of Sri Lanka.

1. Equal opportunity to each and every community or adopting the policies of Mr Lee Quan Yew – Ex Prime Minister of Singapore in order to bring about love, interest and faith on Sri Lanka from all communities of the Country.

2. Mutual understanding of the feelings, culture attitude and the contribution of all communities

3. Offering of autonomy to all communities to live in peace and harmony

4. Creating infrastructure and other basic needs to all communities equally

5. Re-demarcating the existing provincial boundaries according to the life style, culture, nature, environment and attitude with devolution of power and autonomy in order to satisfy all communities

6. New names given to all provinces or states to satisfy the communities

Accordingly, we have designed five Provinces or States based on the above.

1. Amalgamating the Districts of Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha, and Puttalam together and this could be named as KOTTE or Seethawake province or State

2. Amalgamating the districts of Kandy, Matale, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya, and Badulla which could be named as UDARATA as well as MAZAYAGAM in Tamil province or State

3. Amalgamating the districts of Galle, Matara, Hambantota and Moneragala and this could be named as RUHUNA Province or State

4. Amalgamating the districts of Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, and Pollonnaruwa and this could be named as RAJARATA Province or State.

5. Amalgamating the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Tincomalee, Batticola and Digamadula and this could be named as TAMIL EELAM/EELAM State or Province.

We give below the newly designed re-demarcated provinces or states as per the above.

We also give the population statistics, community wise, together with their land and the probable parliamentary representation if this is implemented.

 

Province                Districts                 Net Land                Total                                       Singhalese            Tamils    Moors    Other                      Present

/States                                   in sq kms              Population                                                                             Communities       Parliament

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Representation

Kotte      Colombo                  676                      2,234,289              1,711,133              270,821 205,078 47,257                   20

                Gampaha              1,341                      2,066,096              1,881,854                71,838   80,320 32,084                   18

                Kaluthara              1,576                      1,060,800                 923,893                42,296   92,775   1,836                    10

                Puthalam              2,882                         705,342                 520,330                50,860 131,864   2,288                    08

 

                Total                       6,475                      6,066,527              5,037,210              435,815 510,037 83,465                   56

                Probable Parliament Representation                                  45                           04           05           02                      56

                Ethnic Ratio                                              100                        83.05                       7.18        8.40        1.37   

                                               

Uda         Kandy                     1,917                      1,272,463              942,038                 155,546 169,029    5,850                   12

Rata/      Matale                    1,952                         442,427              354,985                   47,311   38,867    1,264                   05

Mazaya-                Nuwara Eliya        1,706                         700,083              280,236                 400,831   17,557      1,459                 07

gam        Badulla                  2,827                         774,555              558,218                 173,317   40,455    2,565                   08

                Ratnapura             3,236                      1,008,164              873,265                 112,916   20,871    1,112                   10

                Kegalle                  1,685                         779,774              667,536                   59,810   51,699       729                   09

 

                Total                       13,323                   4,977,466              3,676,278              949,731 338,478 12,979                  51

                Probable Parliament Representation                                  37                          10           04            -                          51          

                Ethnic Ratio                                              100                         73.85                      19.08      6.80       0.27

               

Ruhuna  Galle                      1,617                      990,539                 934,381                 20,149   35,346   663                         10

                Matara                    1,270                      761,236                 716,780                 21,774   22,378   304                         08

                Hambantota         2,496                      525,370                 510,063                   2,200      5,506    7601                       07

                Monaragala          5,508                      396,173                 374,553                 13,239     8,047    334                         05

 

                Total                       10,891                   2,673,318              2,535,777              57,362   71,277   8,902                      30

                Probable Parliament Representation                                  27                         01           02           -                            30

                Ethnic Ratio                                              100                          95.85                  2.14         2.66      0.65

 

Tamil      Jaffna                     929                         490,621                 -                               490621  -               -                               09

Elam       Mannar                  1,880                      151,577                 -                               112,167 39,410   -                              

                Vavaniya                1,861                      149,835                 25,623                   113,874 10,338   -                              

                Mullaitivu               2,415                      121,667                 -                               121,667 -               -                               06

                Kilinochchi            1,205                      127,263                 -                               127,263 -               -                              

                Baticloa                 2,610                      486,447                 16,541                   350,241 116,260 3,405                      05

                Trincomalee         2,529                      340,158                 113,612                 123,817 99,666   3,063                      04

                Digamadulla        4,222                      589,344                 231,771                 110,590 245,089 1,894                      07

 

                Total                       17,651                   2,456,912              387,547                 1550,240510,763                8,362                      31

                Probable Parliament Representation                                05                             20          06          -                            31

                Ethnic Ratio                                              100                       15.21                        63.09     20.78     0.92

 

 

 

Rajarata                Kurunagala           4,624                      1,452,369              1,332,426              19,723   97,778   2,442                      15

                Anuradhapura      6,664                      746,486                    677,667              5,581      61,503   1,735                      08

                Polonnaruwa        3,077                      359,197                    324,342              7,332      27,272   251                         05

 

                Total                       14,365                   2,558,052              2,334,435              32,636   186,553 4,428                      28

                Probable Parliament Representation                                  25                          01           02          -                            28                           Ethnic Ratio                                              100                        91.25                       1.27        7.29       0.17     

 

                Total Parliament Representation                                     139                         36           19           02                           196

                Bonus Seats                                                                          20                         05           02           -                               29

                Total                                                                                       159                         41           21           02                           225

                Percentage                                                                             70.9                      18.3        9.6          1.2                           100

 

 

The accurate ethnic wise population was not available in the Districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Tincomalee and Batticola except for Digamadulla as per the survey on the population undertaken in the year 2001 and therefore, we have given an estimated population figure based on the current situation in comparison with the survey of 1981.

From the above statistics and the proposed map of the provinces / states, it is clear that the following may be implemented.

1. Just and fair satisfaction on land occupation

2. Greater improvement on parliamentary representation of the minority community including Burghers and Malays subject to change in the Election Act where the Parliament or Provincial Council Member could do the election campaign throughout the District.

3. Apart from Kotte/Seethawake and Udarata/Mazayagam province or states, other provinces/states have less population and vast land area due to poor economic conditions which could be developed and new settlement of families could be done subject to the improvement of the infrastructure in these areas.

4. Also, there will be vast improvement under the above new provincial system in the representation of minority community and devolution of power.

5. Since provincial councils or states are reduced to 05 from 09 with devolution of power and autonomy and more representation, the representation in the Parliament could be reduced from 225 members to 160 by electing members to the Parliament one each from every Division of the District.

In order to implement the above proposals successfully and bring the present ethnic crisis to an end, we suggest the following:-

1. Establishment of District Council system to all the Districts in order to solve the problems of majority of the minority community of the Province / State i.e. a. Muslims in the Digamadulla District, b. Indian Tamil Communities in the Nuwara Eliya District, c. Minority of the Sinhalese community in the Digamadulla and Trincomale Districts could be considered.

2. Since according to our proposals, the number of members in the Parliament is to be reduced to160 and the number of Provinces /States is to be reduced to 05 from 09, a substantial expenditure could be .reduced and this money could be utilized for the administration of District Councils.

3. Greater Autonomy and power devolution to all the provinces / states

4. Allowing all the provinces / states to establish their own By-Laws in order to protect the local culture, environment, taxes and enforcement of law and order.

5. Decentralizing the Police, Health, Public Transport and Education according to the needs of the province / states in order to enforce the law and order in each province

6. The Railways could be centralized and it should be divided into four or five effective service units.

7. Centralizing the national security – The national security should be under the Central Government and we would suggest a change to the current regimental structure and name them as Colombo Regiments, Kandy Regiments, Galle Regiments, Jaffna Regiments and Batticaloa or Kotte/Seethawake Regiments, Udarata/Mazayagam Regiments, Rajarata Regiments and Tamil Elam/Elam Regiments. Priority should be given to the recruitment of servicemen/soldiers from the provinces or states.

8. The present political system should be abolished and the old Westminster system should be brought back because we presume that there is a chance for abuse of power in the PR system where we have seen on several occasions’ power being abused. There were occasions when the Supreme Court had to intervene. Also we believe that the ethnic crises went from bad to worse after the introduction of the present PR system. We believe that the Westminster system is the right system for countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Canada and United Kingdom, where there are multi racial communities living in peace and harmony. Under these circumstances, there is an opportunity to elect a Non-executive President and Vice President who can be from the Minorities subject to their qualifications, integrity, experience and service to the country.

9. The proposal by the Experts Committee to have a Senate is worthy of serious consideration. It can serve as moderator between the provinces and the parliament.

10. It is proposed that the name of the island be changed to EKSATH LANKA.

In conclusion, we believe that the above proposals would be ideal to solve the current ethnic issues and bring to an end the existing war for going on for the past 23 years destroying valuable lives in the thousands. We also trust the above proposals will satisfy all the communities without any discrimination.

Also this is an ideal opportunity since the two major political parties whom more than 90% of the total voters have voted for in the recently held local government elections have signed an MOU and are working together to find a solution for this crisis and therefore the present Government will be able to take a right decision without any hesitation.

If the above problem is not solved in time, there will be a disaster and the fate of the country will in lie the hands of the Almighty God and only time will solve the problem.

Thanking you

Yours faithfully
The Liberal Party of Sri Lanka

V Shanmuganathan
Nuwara Eliya District District Co--ordinator

S S Ramalingam
Nuwara Eliya District District Co—ordinator

- Asian Tribune -

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