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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2587

Heart to Heart Chat with Somawansa - 4

By K T Rajasingham

JVP Will be Democratic and Support Public and Private Economic Development

Colombo, 10 February, (Asiantribune.com): The J V P Leader Somawansa Amerasinghe expressed the view that they will establish a democracy where everyone would have equal rights. He added “as I told you few days back we will have a political system that we are building at the moment. It is to establish an economy based on both state and private sector. And both sectors will be encouraged by the government and all the support will be given by the government. Somawansa Amerasinghe : "That our country needs to be  united  and have decentralization of administration and again a democratic country that guarantees everybody’s right and should give equal opportunities, and equality before the law. "Somawansa Amerasinghe : "That our country needs to be united and have decentralization of administration and again a democratic country that guarantees everybody’s right and should give equal opportunities, and equality before the law. "

That is our economic policy. Continuing the discussion JVP Leader Somawansa Amerasinghe stated that a number acts needed to be put together and done simultaneously.

What are those?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: No, no, I cannot say number one is this, number 2 is this, and number 3 is this, no, all these are to happen simultaneously. There are no wars. There are no great wars to say one and two, two and three, three and four and all that. So these must be done simultaneously. Since it is a big process, this is going to be an important process and that should not be stopped half way. OK? Demilitarization, rebuilding the two provinces can process and the government can supply the funds. If necessary, reduce the funds that are being used in the other provinces. So, we must, as soon as possible, bring the two provinces to the same standard that people in other provinces are in at the moment.And I must mention: this is the first time; a political party is going to have this opportunity. I have announced it yesterday, and if a member of a family is killed or injured or handicapped, whether they are Tamils, Sinhalese or Muslims, they must be compensated without any consideration about their ethnic origin or any other differences.

K.T.Rajasingham: Compensated for what? Any member of the family is killed or injured or handicapped in the conflict?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Any member of the family killed, or injured or handicapped in the conflict yes, exactly. We include in this case the families of members of the LTTE also. If the family members were not supporting the terrorist organization then they are also entitled for compensation. That condition is there.

K.T.Rajasingham: How can you know that some member of the family is killed?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:That can be checked and can be ascertained. No problem. There are ways to do that. Even when some people vote there are ways even to check to whom they have voted or whether they have not voted. There are ways.

K.T.Rajasingham: You know even today if someone is killed in the North, the death certificate is never given to the families. Stating that so and so had been shot and killed and he is killed. Death certificates were not given to those families or to their next of kin up to now. Government has not made any such arrangements. We don’t have a list of those innocent civilians who were killed in this protracted bloody conflict

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Mr. Rajasingham, can you remember in 1988-89 period?

K.T.Rajasingham:I know the same thing happened to your people also and not only during that period even earlier, during the JVP’s struggle for a change even in 1971.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:In this area and in other provinces also the same thing happened. What we say is that we should not repeat the same mistake. You must somehow; there are ways to find out what has happened. They must all be issued with the death certificates. When that is done, it is possible to find out which family members are killed and also property destroyed in this conflict and must be compensated.

Is there any reason not to compensate? No. We are going to not to find how to compensate them. We look into this and find a way to pay them. That must be the position.

Now the Government is looking for reason not to pay the people. That is the practice now. About this compensation, for the first time we have to announce the right way of doing it.

Then there must be a commission or organization as you said to defeat communalism in this country to address their grievances or any discrimination, to report about discrimination and to get it remedied.

Then, this is for the first time; we are reporting to hold a census not only of the people, but also of the properties. Because there are allegations now, the terrorist are occupying some of the land that belongs to the other communities.

K.T.Rajasingham:Yes, Muslims?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Muslims and vice versa. And they will be using Sinhalese and Tamil’s properties; otherwise we won’t be able to hear something like this. There are complaints. It is a problem so it must be solved. This can be done within one or two years and we should not take centuries. If a Government is determined to do all these things, it can do this within a very short period. Then we are going to reach that point where democracy is restored.

K.T.Rajasingham:And what about National Reconciliation?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:I am getting to it, of course.

K.T.Rajasingham: National reconciliation and National Integration to find out the root cause of all these problems.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Yes, national integration and reconciliation and we proposed something like a Truth Commission as well.

K.T.Rajasingham:That is what I said national reconciliation is like a Truth Commission.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Exactly, yes

K.T.Rajasingham:Then we can go into this and find the root cause of all these problems.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Exactly, exactly. Otherwise there will be repetition and then we can have elections.

K.T.Rajasingham: what about the changes of the constitution?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Wait..wait let us start a discussion, start the dialogue how to amend the constitution or to enact a new constitution. I have mentioned about demilitarization including handing over law and order problems, withdrawal of arm forces as I mentioned earlier. For us JVP, we will give our solution.

We need to decentralize the administration if needed up to the village level even go, may be by road by road.

K.T.Rajasingham: What form of Government you are proposing?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Just now I told you, our final aim is this, Sri Lanka must be a democratic country, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious society in which everybody has equal opportunity, equality before the law and all other needed factors. And our principles for devolution or centralization it will be based on a democratic bureaucracy not on autocracy.

K.T.Rajasingham: You have not told yet of the form of Government?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:The JVP will of course interested in abolishing the present system of executive presidency, interested in restoring parliamentary democracy. Parliament is supreme and maybe, soon there will be a dialogue or discussions on how to establish a more suitable parliament.

K.T.Rajasingham: The party should be having some idea about the form of Government and how to devolve power, and devolve power on village. But there should be..

Somawansa Amerasinghe:No…no it is not devolution of power it is decentralization of power.

K.T.Rajasingham: What unit you are going for a decentralization? There should be a unit for decentralization; you can’t simply say that you are going to decentralize? Decentralization on what level?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:The thing is this; it can be at the level of village committee, maybe pradeshiya saba, maybe other administrative entities like that. We can’t come to the final decision now at this moment. It must be discussed later and it is the part of the dialogue process.

K.T.Rajasingham: And then the form of Government it can be unitary, it can federal all this things has to be discussed at that time?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: No, we stand for a Unitary State.

K.T.Rajasingham: Your stand is for a unitary form of Government?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: Exactly.

K.T.Rajasingham: One thing you need to understand is that, since 1948 up to 2008, even during the colonial days, the country is having a unitary form of Government. The unitary form of government has not solved any single problem that the country faces up till now. So why do you want to insist on unitary form of government again, and again and again?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: Please listen, when Japan was defeated, militarism was defeated and democracy restored there. It is a typical unitary state. I have been to their Ministry of Constitution in Japan and in fact met with all the top officials and when Mr. Yasushi Akashi came to Sri Lanka I showed him how his constitution is written and how it is being practiced. They have a very good system, very successful system since it was established without any problem from the very day their constitution was written and passed. It is working so why not here? So why not study from them? So why not learn from them?

K.T.Rajasingham: But only one thing, we have a problem; in Japan we have only one ethnic community, the Japanese? But Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country and the ground realities are different from that of Japan?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: Mr. Rajasingham, you must go to Japan.

K.T.Rajasingham: I have been there.

Somawansa Amerasinghe: You must go to Japan and see the differences they have. They have different islands and they have different provinces also and Federalism is not going to solve the differences between the communities.

K.T.Rajasingham: Why do you talk about federalism? I never said anything about it. Why can’t we devolve some other system that is suitable for our country?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: No..no we are not going to follow the same system. But we can learn from the unitary states and federal states also. We can learn quiet a lot. That is how the constitutions are being drafted based on the other constitutions and you gather what is positive and you reject what is negative.

K.T.Rajasingham: Why can you people sit down and draft a constitution that will serve the country’s need? Instead of giving names such as unitary and federal.

I still remember in 1971, when Dr. Colvin R. De Silva came up with the basic constitution proposal that belonged to the then ruling party, they were not prepared to accommodate any other proposal to their basic proposals proposed by the other political parties.

Dr. Colvin R. De Silva said his proposal was based on autonomy – based on indigenous values. The 1972 Constitution – the so called Republican Constitution was the only constitution which provided for its own repeal and replacement. This enabled J R Jayewardene to come with a new constitution of 1978.

Somawansa Amerasinghe: Ok, Mr.Rajasingham, now we have been saying to all the successive government that if you need to have a constitution and you say that you need to devolve power, and if you need to have a federal system, OK, then draft the constitution and go to the parliament and get a two third majority, go to the people and get it passed in the referendum. Then we will have to accept that if the majority is with the constitution.

K.T.Rajasingham: I am now talking about the JVP’s road map. We are not talking about anything else?

Somawansa Amerasinghe: No Mr. Rajasingham, just now you wanted me to comment on why JVP or and others sit together and draft a constitution.

K.T.Rajasingham: No I never said that.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Then what did you ask?

K.T.Rajasingham: You said that in Japan how the unitary form of government work successfully. I told you that in Japan they have only one Japanese ethnicity. In Sri Lanka it is not that. So in the last 60 years we are having a unitary form of government and for the last 60 years we have not sort out any problems.

Instead of that, over the last 20 years, we are having an armed conflict. That is the result of the unitary form of government. So I was asking why JVP can’t come up with a system of government that will suit our country. That is all I was asking. I did not say anything else, I was only asking this.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:The thing is that you can make your suggestions to the JVP but JVP as a party, as an organization, must respect its basic principles.

K.T.Rajasingham: I am not going to say anything but I was only asking why can’t you do that?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:We can’t do that because we don’t see that it is the solution for this problem.

K.T.Rajasingham: When you change or re-enact a constitution, you must come up with a form of government? That is most important. You should come up with a form of government, a democratic or unitary that should suit the country?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:That is your suggestion.

K.T.Rajasingham: No, I am only a journalist, I don’t give suggestion to anybody. I am supposed only to ask questions.

Somawansa Amerasinghe:You see that one thing as a solution for the problem. We see as a political party what we say is the only correct solution for the problem of Sri Lanka.

K.T.Rajasingham: Tell me your solution now.

Somawansa Amerasinghe: I have already told you the solution. That our country needs to be united and have decentralization of administration and again a democratic country that guarantees everybody’s right and should give equal opportunities, and equality before the law.

So our aim is, that the country, as a democratic country, in which anybody can reside anywhere within the country and live in any part of the country without any limit or restriction, so it must be a democratic country and it must have the characteristic of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual and we will create a society in which all the communities live in harmony in a democratic society.

K.T.Rajasingham: What is your economic policy? Because we always talk about the political side of it, but the country needs a basic economic agenda in the constitution?

Somawansa Amerasinghe:Now this is what I say, we are going to establish a democracy in the country and as I told you few days back about the political system that we are building at the moment. It is to establish an economy based on both state and private sector. And both sectors will be encouraged by the government and all the support will be given by the government so our economic policy will be that.

- To Be Continued -

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read

1. Heart to Heart With Somawansa Amerasinghe (1)

2. Heart to Heart With Somawansa Amerasinghe (2)

3 Heart to Heart With Somawansa Amerasinghe

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