Letters to the Editor


Solution 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 self respect.

A better 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.

The 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.

The 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 electoral division.

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.

There 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.

All 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.

But 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 concerned.

If 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 become law.
Thus within the country, all citizens will have equal rights and will be able to live with self respect.

Sinhala, 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.

The above is a basic plan which can be discussed, dissented, amended and accepted. This will allay the fears of the minorities that they are discriminated.
Any violation of the laws passed by Parliament, the Tamil Council or the Muslim Council will be subject to prosecution.

The 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.

Thus power is delegated at the centre and not at the periphery so that all divisive tendencies will cease.

Dr. Neville Fernando
Former MP
Kalutara District

We 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.

A 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.

For 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.

With 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?

Elephants 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.

Didn’t 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?

Prema Ranawaka-Das

Why 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.

Now 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.

Finally, 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.

Lionel Caldera

'Letters 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.
Or e-mail to
editor@sundaytimes.wnl.lk or
Please note that letters cannot be acknowledged or returned.
Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.