for North-East crisis: power-sharing at the centre
A raging debate is now going on in the country as to whether Sri
Lanka needs a unitary or federal government to solve the problem
in the North and the East.
No one so far has expressed a view that will meet the aspirations
of all the Sri Lankans within a framework of an undivided Sri Lanka
where all citizens of whatever ethnicity or religion can live in
any part of the country without fear, let or hindrance and with
way is to consider Sri Lanka as a whole where all its citizens have
equal rights and privileges. I suggest the following solution for
consideration by the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
form of government should be a republic with an elected President
and there should also be three Vice Presidents according to ethnicity
and a parliament.
President shall be elected by the people or better still by Parliament.
Today the presidential candidate has to travel by helicopter from
one end of the country to the other at considerable cost and risk.
The elected President is under tremendous pressure from various
groups who supported him financially or otherwise during elections.
If the President is elected by Parliament it would be less costly
both to the candidates and the country.
Election of MPs and Pradeshiya Sabha members
The smallest unit of devolution is the Pradeshiya Sabha. The electorate
for a Pradeshiya Sabha will be the AGA's division. Each Pradeshiya
Sabha will elect a certain number of members by voting. At the first
meeting of the PS, the members will elect a chairman. Such an elected
Chairman automatically becomes the Member of Parliament for that
Election of three Vice Presidents
At its first meeting, the members of Parliament will elect three
Vice Presidents in such a manner that the Sinhala MPs will vote
for the Sinhala Vice President, the Tamil MPs will vote for the
Tamil Vice President and the Muslim MPs for the Muslim Vice President.
shall be a Council for Tamil Affairs presided by the Tamil Vice
President and a Council for Muslim Affairs presided over by the
Muslim Vice President.
While the whole Parliament will vote as one in matters concerning
the whole country, the Tamil Council and the Muslim Council will
legislate for the good of their communities.
motions passed by the two councils will be tabled in the House,
debated and passed as it is with amendments, after discussion and
agreement with the particular council. Such resolutions passed will
be the law of the whole country.
Up to now all suggested means of devolution of power is at the periphery.
Such devolution can eventually lead to UDI and separation.
if power can be shared at the centre, the force will be centripetal
and strengthen the country. Parliament will not have the power to
reject enactments brought to the House by the Tamil Council or the
Muslim Council, unless it does so with the consent of the council
the motions are not passed in the first attempt, the same legislation
should be taken up after one month and debated after which it will
Thus within the country, all citizens will have equal rights and
will be able to live with self respect.
Tamil and English will be the official languages of Sri Lanka.
Any vacancy in the post of President will be filled by the Vice
President who will command the majority of the votes of the Members
of Parliament at that time.
He/she will continue as the President for the balance period of
the elected President.
above is a basic plan which can be discussed, dissented, amended
and accepted. This will allay the fears of the minorities that they
Any violation of the laws passed by Parliament, the Tamil Council
or the Muslim Council will be subject to prosecution.
power of the Pradeshiya Sabhas, the Tamil Council and the Muslim
Council should be formulated by a constituent assembly. The two
councils will have legislative powers.
power is delegated at the centre and not at the periphery so that
all divisive tendencies will cease.
are not their owners
In the Maligawa grounds, the other day, we saw four men surrounding
a chained elephant and barking out orders. The animal, suppressing
its anger, was obediently trying to lift the long chain over itself.
spectator told us that a couple of days before the elephant had
dashed a man to death and it had meted out the same treatment to
two others at Pinnawela.
a creature so murderously inclined, it seemed so docile that moment,
trying to obey the command to lift the chain. We asked why the mahouts
were tempting providence by venturing so close to the elephant and
were told that it was alright, so long as they did not go in front.
the clamour to save our elephants, there is a total disregard for
their well-being. Our trains, hardly able to puff up the Kadugannawa
Pass, keep mowing them down! Can the reports that tusk hunters are
lurking behind the bushes on either side of the rail track with
fire crackers be ignored?
in captivity are constantly overworked, made to carry loads too
heavy for them to bear, taught impossible tricks and tasks, squeezed
into fancy dress to lend glamour to peraheras, etc. Their only recourse
against injustice — short of killing the 'hendu'-and-chain-wielding
mahout — is to run amok, when they are mercilessly punished.
the Arahant Prince Mahinda advise King Devanampiyatissa that he
was not the owner of the land and its beings, but only the protector?
For starters, by insisting that untamable animals, like the one
we saw being tormented, should forthwith be released into the wild.
What else is Uda Walawe for?
prosperity is eluding Lanka
I hold no brief for any party or candidate but I feel Sri Lanka
will never be a prosperous state. The politicians who vouch for
benevolence before they assume power are the biggest culprits and
the gullible voters too should be held responsible for this pathetic
state of affairs. Besides unbridled corruption, no effort has been
made by any leader to check this social ill.
it is up to the new President to show statesmanship and act prudently
when making far reaching decisions. He must prove that he is an
exemplary leader capable of guiding the country to prosperity.
a little bit of totalitarianism is necessary — as Felix R.
Dias Bandaranaike advocated several years ago — when taking
decisions for the betterment of the country.
to the Editor' should be brief and to the point.
Address them to:
'Letters to the Editor,
The Sunday Times,
P.O.Box 1136, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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