| by Sri Lanka Support Group, Canberra
( February 11, Canberra, Sri Lanka Guardian) News emanating from Sri Lanka shows that there is the tendency to give land and Police powers to the Provincial Governments including the Northern and Eastern provincial governments. The Sri Lankan Government is under tremendous pressure both from India and some powerful western nations, it is quite probable that the ultimate political package can contain giving these powers to the Provinces.
Note that the forthcoming CHOGM to be held in Sri Lanka in 2013 will give enemies of Sri Lanka to put enormous pressure on Sri Lanka to give wider powers to Northern and Eastern provincial governments, including threats to boycott the summit. For example, the Canadian Prime Minister has already stated he will not attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka unless Sri Lanka gives more benefits to the minority Tamils. Such stance can be anticipated from the British, Australian, New Zealand and even South African leaders.
We note that most of the positive social cultural activities conducted by the Sri Lankan Army in the Northern province, including running of cafes etc, are under threat to be stopped or have already been stopped. The Army does not now hold most of the land in the Jaffna HSZ zone. The Government is under enormous pressure to reduce the troop numbers in the north, if this is carried out, it will be a major threat to the country’s sovereignty.
Why is giving Land and Police powers to the Provinces too dangerous?
This means they will have the sole power to legislate in relation to land and Police. Then, basically the provincial governments can sell, transfer, lease, mortgage, donate, and acquire land anyway they like within the province. This is exactly what the LTTE fought for. Now the TNA has taken over the cause that the LTTE left (when the LTTE was alive, they were their political proxy); they demand they will not talk to the Government unless land and Police powers are part of the political package.
Note Sri Lanka is very small and currently jam-packed with its ever-growing population. There is hardly any space left in the South for human expansion. The only areas available for future human habitation/expansion is in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Once the central government loses entire control of these areas, there is absolutely no way that people from other provinces can live in these areas. This will be a grossly unfair situation for the rest of the people.
Once they have land power, these provincial governments can effectively (legally) block the southerners from not only buying land but also visiting those areas.
Once these two powers are given, if the two provincial governments want (they will be hostile to Sri Lanka anyway), they can give land to their counterparts in India, bypassing the central Government. It will be easy for such enemies of Sri Lanka like Vaiko, Nedumaran, and Seeman et al to set up even para military style camps in Sri Lanka on the invitation of the Chief Ministers of the two provinces. Given the vesting of Police powers on the Northern and Eastern provincial governments, boatloads of illegal immigrants can freely sail from India to Sri Lanka. Some can come in the guise of fishermen. The illegal migration of Tamils into Sri Lanka is not an old phenomenon, it has happened since time immemorial. This activity can flourish under the new powers given to the future Northern and Eastern provincial governments.
The Police positions – IGP downwards in the provinces will be appointed by the Chief Ministers of the provincial governments. With time, these two Police forces will exclusively have Tamil speaking people only serving them, with a Tamil speaking Muslim component in the Eastern Police force (note the Muslims are also demanding the two powers, with the TNA). The two Chief Ministers will have the power to disallow the Sinhalese from joining their Police forces. We see how Piliyan et al are even now trying to remove Sinhalese people who live in the marginal villages of the Eastern province. Once the full Police powers are given to him (it will be like his own para-military force), he can do what he now does illegally legally.
Once these two powers are granted, it is possible for them to re-merge and then make a claim to secede from Sri Lanka. They may then have the key ingredients for claiming a separate nation of their own. The international law is so developed now, we live in an era where new nations are constantly created. Kosovo is a creation entirely by the international world – it was created despite the severe opposition by its former ‘owner’ Serbia. They had the support of Russia and China, but still failed. Other examples of the creation of new countries are –South Sudan, East Timor, Eritrea, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Ingushetia, Then, all the new nations that emerged from the old Soviet Union.
Under enormous pressure from India, in 1987, JR Jayawardane, introduced the provisional government system in Sri Lanka. This has caused untold problems in Sri Lanka, and the problems continue. The system has made Sri Lanka poorer. Previously the people had to put up with corruption by the centralised government only. After 1987, it spread like a cancer to the provincial level. The country’s bureaucracy increased tremendously, it cannot sustain such an array of legislatures and bureaucrats, most of who are unsuitable for the jobs and cause so much problems to the country.
Prior to 1978, Sri Lanka was served under the ‘Saulbury Constitution’ which was slightly amended by the Sirima Bandaranaike Government in 1972. Under the old Constitution, Sri Lanka had a strong centralised government, which served the country remarkably well. Parliamentary democracy flourished where Independent MPs were elected to the parliament defeating candidates from the two dominant parties (this can never happen under the current electoral system).
Sri Lanka is simply too small and too poor to be governed by provincial governments (9) with a central government in the Centre, then an Executive President.
We must not forget that the country’s armed forces made supreme sacrifices to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity. If land and Police powers are given to the two provinces, the supreme sacrifices that they made may become in vain.
We must understand there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Only there was a terrorism problem which was resolved in 2009. Now the country’s two main communities are living in harmony like brothers. This should be encouraged. Land, Police powers, creating a Senate will not build the unity between the two peoples, but division. Like what they are doing now, the Government must try to uplift the standard of living of all the peoples including those in the Northern and Eastern provinces. But, the development must not happen at the expense of the environment and wildlife.
True, the Government is under enormous pressure from India and some western states to create a federal system (giving these two powers will solidify the federal system), let us hope that the country’s leaders will have the courage not to succumb to this enormous pressure. All peoples of the country must support the Government in its endeavour to keep its unitary nature, including the opposition. Currently this is not happening. Even the JVP now seems to favour giving of the land and Police powers. This is for their sheer political advantage. There is hardly any opposition in the country against the proposal of giving land and Police powers, albeit a handful of Government ministers, who may change their stand in time to come. Once they too approve the proposal, it will be very difficult for the masses to oppose.
Creating a Senate is not going to serve any purpose for Sri Lanka. It will be another layer of government (Sri Lanka is one of the most highly governed countries of the world). This will be an opportunity to create more and more politicians and bureaucrats, who will thrive on the limited resources available to the whole country, where large amount of the people still live in utmost poverty.
The most important thing is to show to the entire world including India that Sri Lanka is looking after its Tamil minority well (which is a fact), Tamils are happy and they are economically progressing; it is impractical to create such a federal system in Sri Lanka as demanded by India and some western nations. In relation to the 13th Amendment, it is functioning, the country has not dismantled the provisional government system, although it is an unworkable system for the country. There is nothing in the 1987 India – Sri Lanka pact that states that land and Police powers must be given to the two provinces. It is up to the Sri Lankan Government, in accordance with the Constitution, to determine what powers should be given to the two provinces, and what powers should be suppressed. This is an internal issue for Sri Lanka. If the Government now states that the land powers were always given but were suppressed, there is no need to lift the supersession now. In this Media Release we have shown the dangers of giving such powers to the two (2) Provincial Councils.
What India is asking is that Sri Lanka should enforce the 13th amendment. The country has not dismantled the provisional government system, despite the fact that it is a costly, unworkable system for the country. India and Sri Lanka are two different countries. Federal system may work in India, which is huge and had been comprised of separate states in the past, whereas Sri Lanka has always been one nation.
The most important thing is for Sri Lanka to show the entire world, including India, that Sri Lanka is looking after its Tamil minority well (which is a fact), Tamils are happy and they are economically progressing; it is impractical to create such a federal system in Sri Lanka as demanded by India and some western nations.
In relation to the war crimes allegations made against Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan now correctly states that it will investigate each and every credible allegation of war crimes as put to them and will prosecute those who have allegedly offended. It is up to the those who make the allegations to provide particulars of them. Sri Lanka cannot conduct an investigation based on a TV documentary, parts of which are fabricated anyway.
Overall, Sri Lanka is an independent sovereign nation; other nations have no right to poke into her affairs, unless very serious human rights violations have taken place, when there have been none. Again, the allegations waged by Channel 4 are fabrications. It is not to be forgotten that very serious human rights violations have taken place, and takes place in the so called do-gooder countries of the west. They do not want others poking their finger into their affairs, but continue to pick on small Sri Lanka. Such conduct amounts to bullying. There is an obligation on Sri Lankan Patriotic organisations operating in western countries to explain the western Governments and agencies about the hidden agenda of the Tamil Diaspora organisations – ie, to create a separate state, ‘Tamil Ealam’ in Sri Lanka.