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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2704

Sri Lanka ruling party proposal failed to meet the concerns of the Tamils

By K.T.Rajasingham

The so-called proposals put forward by the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom party clearly shows that it has failed to grasp the reality by putting forward a Sinhalese solution to a national issue. This clearly indicates that those who drafted this proposal are not pragmatic in their approach to the subject. It amounts to a famous Tamil adage “The story of a donkey wearing away as an ant. “

Those who drafted this proposal have arrogantly divorced them from finding solution but have given room for creating more problems to the ruling party in general and the country in particular.

The proposals clearly indicate that they are not intended to create a solution but to create more fissures in the country.

Since 1975 the country was threatened with separation. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has come up with a single sentence program to solve the ethnic issues the country faces.

They have identified it with an emotive cry: “Thirst of Tigers is the Tamil Eela Motherland.”

Other Tamil groups have come up with the Indian model devolution. They have time and again said that this is the only panacea that could solve the problem.

Many of them have even rejected the solutions included in the 13th amendment to the present Sri Lanka constitution, which includes the Provincial Council system.

But SLFP which failed to grasp the reality has come up with the most outmoded and already rejected District Council system. This they say is the form of ‘Pancahayat system,’ a model said to be existence in Indian. This District Council system has already been rejected when it was introduced by the late President J.R.Jayawardene in the early 1980s.

It is generally believed that reintroducing District Council system as the form of devolution amounts to fooling the country. There is nothing new in these proposals. In fact it amounts a step back from the present unitary system which includes Provincial Council system.

It was unfortunate that the present government failed to sustain the merger of the North –East provincial Councils, when it was challenged in the Court of Law. Majority of the Tamils are of the view that Government failed to take steps to maintain the merger of the two provinces at least by introducing the referendum in the east. They say the present Government remained a silent spectator until such time the Supreme Court ruled the merger “unconstitutional.”

Once it was ruled unconstitutional, Government demerged the two provinces by appointing separate Provincial Councils and separate Governors. (The appointment of the Governor for the Northern Provincial Council is still awaited.)

When the international community including India urged the Sri Lanka Government to come up with a proposal to solve the political issues faced by the people of the country especially the Tamils and the Muslims, the minority communities, the ruling party of the Government has come up with a proposal which is not keeping with the expectations of the Tamils who opposes the terrorism unleashed by the LTTE.

It must be remembered because the ruling party has come up with a proposal; it does not mean that the international community would accept the same as something done to the Tamils. As long any proposals that meet the aspirations and dignity of the Tamils are not met the international community in no way would consider the proposals as something acceptable to them.

The other Tamil groups oppose the LTTE because of its terrorist agenda. They oppose the LTTE for its killing spree. That is why they voiced their concern that they wish to remain in a united country called Sri Lanka if they are given a suitable alternative proposal to the separate state of Tamil Eelam.

We must recall that during Chandrika Kumaratunga’s presidency, she came up with the devolution proposals in August 1995 and in January 1996.

These proposals were put forward as an alternative to the devolution proposals under the 13th amendment to the existing constitution created the Provincial Councils which has been rejected due to administrative inaction of the successive governments.

Following the rejection of the Provincial Council system Chndrika Kumaratunge came up with a proposal of “Indissoluble Union of Regions.” In other words it was a constitution for federal states of Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately even before this proposal was tested LTTE flatly rejected the proposal. Anton Balasingham who rejected the devolution proposal described it as another mirage in the political experiences with Sinhala political establishments over the past 40 years, but we are yet to distinguish between illusion and reality.

Subsequently LTTE came up with a temporary proposal of Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA.).

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga when making her comments about ISGA said that although she accepted devolution, she would not agree to any proposal to grant the LTTE an 'Eelam' or a separate state by any other name. She said the LTTE interim administration proposals went far beyond devolution. The President said that if the LTTE agrees to a power sharing solution it must be a model similar to the one in the Provincial Council system.

It should be placed on record that ‘Asian Tribune’ too rejected LTTE’s proposal - Not a means to an end, also not an end itself.

The last two proposals –

One that was put forward by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga -

“Indissoluble Union of Regions.”

Was rejected by the LTTE.

The proposal put forward by the LTTE

“Interim Self Governing Authority “

Was rejected by the then President and the Sri Lanka government.

Therefore the new proposal should have had something in between these two proposals.

Unfortunately, SLFP which is the ruling Party, has failed miserably to come to terms with the urgent need of the hour to defuse tension and stop the threat of separation that hangs like Damocles sword. Instead it has regrettably come up with something unacceptable in the name of unity and maintaining sovereignty of the country which might in no way help to clear the looming threat of separation.

The Government has to come up with a solution agreeable to Tamils but also acceptable to other minority community Muslims and the majority Sinhalese.

Those who prepared the SLFP proposals it seems are those who failed to discern the ground realities.

First and foremost, those who undertake to write a plan – a constitutional proposal -- should forget that it is not necessary that they should stick to a ‘unitary formula.’

It is highly unfortunate the Government and the Sinhala majority have failed to realize that the country is today facing the threat of separation because of this very unitary system of Government. This system of government is responsible for the death, destruction and misery in this country. Therefore it is important that the unitary form of government has to be changed to another suitable system which would be acceptable to all.

Tamils who do not support the LTTE still has the hope that the Government led by Mahinda Rajapakse would come up with proposals that would be acceptable to all sections of the communities in the country.

An autochthonous form of government proposals, in other words, the home grown constitutional draft has to be put together that would be acceptable to Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims living in the country.

Failure to come up with a proposal acceptable to all would amount to driving the ‘Other Tamils’ into the LTTE camp.

- Asian Tribune -

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