Is Sri Lanka setting aside Buddhism from its Constitution?

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(February 11, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) This is in response to the valuable response by Mr. Basil Fernando who has respected me enough to keep responding where others including Tamils have walked away.

In essence, I feel that Mr. Fernando ‘sees’ us as lacking the will. Mr. Fernando says ‘Lacking the will to put of a fight together, each one suffers separately.’ I am able to identify with this conclusion.

Mr. Fernando says also ‘Lands are grabbed from lawful owners by unscrupulous persons and the law is unable to protect the innocent parties.’

I would state that as ‘Lands are grabbed from legal owners and the custodians of legal powers have failed to protect the legal owners.’

The stated legislation is mere body of the law until it is given life /Truth. In terms of the legal system, Parliament gives it life when it approves the legislation through genuine work and sacrifices. The rest of the legislation not backed by genuine work and sacrifice goes towards obesity of the legislation.

We the People give it life when we connect our experience to that legislation. When purchaser of land uses the Administrative system with all its Due Processes, the purchaser is giving it more life to the extent the purchase including the registration process is on the basis of genuine work and sacrifice. To that extent that legislation is law for that person. To one who does not do that work – as was demonstrated through Mr. Piyadasa in my personal example – that legislation is still legislation and not law. At that point in time, the purchaser using Due Administrative process is owed return at least to that extent by the legal system, whilst Mr. Piyadasa is owed nothing by the legal system at that point in time. Mr. Piyadasa is not a law abiding citizen if he occupies the land without having gone through this Administrative Process that was easily available to him. But if Mr. Piyadasa was ignorant of the legislative and administrative requirements and he ‘saw’ no one using that land and therefore uses it to earn a living and thus adds some ‘life’ to that land through his work there is natural ownership for him to the extent of the work he did. At this point in time, it is highly likely that the ‘life’ he gave to this land through his work, is far less than the work by the Purchaser who used the Administrative process and paid money at least some of which would have been earned through genuine work and saved through sacrifice. At this point in time, the Purchaser is also the Natural / Truer owner between the two. There comes a point when this border is crossed and the work of Mr. Piyadasa to give life to this land becomes greater than the value of ‘life’ given by the Purchaser. That is when prescriptive rights happen to uphold Natural Justice above the word of the Legislation. This period, as per my understanding is 10 years in Sri Lanka.

I call the purchaser legal owner whereas Mr. Fernando is calling the purchasers lawful owners.

Let’s apply this to Northern or Eastern Sri Lanka. When I was helping the People of Batticaloa, during Tsunami Reconstruction, I came across many victims who had not ever owned title deeds. Likewise, in our Northern area of Thunaivi around our temple area where majority residents are Toddy Tappers – there are blocks which are occupied by the residents without title deeds. Some of them were on lease – but in many instances the lease payments were not made to the Land owners – in this instance A Temple Association called Addaikalam Thottam Kanthasamy Temple in more affluent part of Vattukkottai. They were in effect illegal occupants to the extent they did not pay the lease rent. During one of the community meetings a village elder said “I have the expertise to ‘take over ‘ land. I have been developing it since GG Ponnambalam’s time” Similarly, the folks in Batticaloa’s coast – many of whom are descendants of Veddhas.

Ask yourself whether you would be ready to spend a few nights with them – all on your own – without any visible legal or official protection? I did and hence I feel with them and I intuitively know their Truth. That is the only Security Officer protecting me in those environments. If you did, that would be like Mr. Howard, our former Prime Minister, living alone by himself in Aboriginal Arnhem Land. Mr. Paul Keating, also a former Prime Minister of ours, contributed more to Aboriginal Rights through passage of Mabo Legislation. Hence as per my calculations, Mr. Keating would feel less fearful of going alone into Aboriginal territory than Mr. Howard. Likewise, any Sinhalese leader coming into Indigenous Tamil territories and the groups such as the LTTE they produced.

Until therefore, majority living in the Land of Sri Lanka, use legal forms to their work, we would continue to rely heavily on cultural laws for there to be Peace especially at the village level. If you would therefore go into a Tamil Village – say Valvettithurai without any actual official protection and feel peaceful – then you are already on your way to developing a common social law. Mr. Benedict from whom I bought that Keera Kottu land – which was not Keera Kottu when I bought it, and Mr. Visvanathan – from whom Ms Ramachandran – sister of DIG of Police Mr. Suntharalingam – bought the land – did not choose to live in that land. Mr. Visvanathan did live close to that area and was likely to visited the lands but he also did not live there. I was planning on building a home there until I left Sri Lanka to collect enough money towards this and other facilities as per our social status which at that time was not as high as other professionals in my family. That to me is the parallel of Mr. Keating going to live in Redfern - the Sydney suburb of Aborigines.

Mr. Fernando states ‘This affects all Sri Lankans, irrespective of race, colour,caste gender, religion or age. The problem of the system of justice is a problem common to all.’

Total Justice, like God is realized ultimately at personal level. Vehicles may take us to the entrance of the temple; our legs may take us to the entrance of the altar; but beyond that it is left to us – our inner-selves. To my mind Justice is realized as follows:

Bi lateral – between two people – as per Common Observations and experiences. In this, if there is a natural difference such as color, age or gender and one is taking a higher position than the other at zero base – before the start of a relationship – then discrimination has already happened. It’s when the two are on level playing field that there has been no discrimination but both are taken as Equal. This is the path of friends. Then merit builds up as per common experiences and values produced without any other structure. De facto relationships would work very well under these arrangements which are based on actual rather than plans and legislations. Those in this group would not be conscious of higher level groupings such as family and community.

Family – through common family values and principles. Families with strong commitment to common values and principles function well naturally with least supervision from outside. They are Peaceful families who take the net effect to the next level of grouping.

Community – through cultural principles and values. Examples of this are race, caste, religion based groups. If the families within these groups have been strong families committed to common family values and principles – these communities will naturally function through them. These then flow through to Society level which is the Ocean.

Society - Once in the Ocean of Truth they lose the identity given by the path they traveled through. The path that they follow from then onwards, becomes the law for that Society – in this instance the Nation of Sri Lanka. Some are legislated by those in government.

If those in government ‘copy’ from other societies, they are likely to ignore the life of those who reached their Ocean.

Taking the world as our ultimate society – all those who merged with society / realized Justice through a combination of the above paths – would naturally communicate with each other – however distant they may be in terms of time and space. Hence a villager from Hambantota would naturally connect to a villager from Valvettithurai if they had both realized Justice through provision of defence / security through genuine work, using various combinations of the above paths. Any breaches of legislation in this process is mere burning of the body. It’s only when the genuine work of a person, through those legislations is damaged that actual laws have been breached. Hence killings by those in uniform without actual damage to work by the person being killed is criminal offence. Hence the outrage over civilian deaths. In war one needs a high degree of commitment to work, to protect oneself from such charges.

If you are referring to the legal system (much of which may be just legislation due to lack of support from genuine work), as the Justice system needing serious repair, I see many gaps in the fundamentals. Take for example race related discrimination. Sri Lankans, to my knowledge do not have any legislation to identify race related discrimination and yet the wider world has acknowledged that we did go to war due to racial discrimination. To the extent other nations legislated it they have legal authority to make that statement in legal circles. All those who actually worked and / or sacrificed for racial equality – have the natural authority to conclude on that basis. Where lives, status and property are lost by one group through the actions of the other group over whom the former group had no influence or control in regards to those actions – those losses also have the same value as sacrifices. Sacrifice is foregoing benefits of past work and earned future opportunities.

Where a group is thus damaged – they are victims and they as a group have the sovereign right to call the pain they believe any name they saw it through. Others may not see that as the reason. But to outsiders – only their angles would be visible. They do not have the right to say to the victims that is is another form - except through processes common to both. This common basis is usually covered by merit. Some of us are believers as well as merit based assessors.

If you believe that LTTE were terrorists, you are right for your group – the community in which you were born. But you confirm it is belief only when that surfaces ahead of your knowledge and/or observation based conclusion. If you know by observing yourself that this was not the case when you called my work personal and not national – or global – then you would appreciate that I recognized it because mine came from within – bottom up from heart to head to structure form and moved my hands to express through that form.

To prove on merit basis – we need legislation and equal opportunity to access the legal system. Unless our investment in this merit system is stronger than our investment in Truth / Common belief through a combination of the above social structures – we need these social groupings for us to enjoy Peace Naturally.

Out of the merit system – we have the Administrative system headed by Ministers who are usually from within the group of elected members. In a good system elections would be through majority vote on the basis of common faith in their areas which usually is culture based in most parts of Sri Lanka. Then you have the judiciary which is based on faith in a common profession and then uses merit basis. In both instances discretionary powers are usually allowed beyond merit basis but within the limits set by the legislation/laws of the Administrative Unit.

The reason why Democracy stipulates that we need Separation of Powers is because of these ‘faith’ components – at the bottom for elections and at the top when using discretionary powers. If a politician were to make a decision and hand it over to the Judge to deliver, and there is no structure through merit shown in the making of the decision (transparency) the politician effectively dismisses the judge and therefore any faith based decision even when taken genuinely would work only his group that elected him and not the nation through the common legal profession.

A good minister would actually practice this within himself – between him as a politician and as an administrator.

Every time a Tamil strongly driven by Tamil culture makes a decision outside merit basis, but on faith basis – the only other basis allowed in any Justice system – that decision is likely to adversely affect a Sinhalese strongly driven by Sinhalese culture. Likewise, when a Sinhalese makes a decision in a matter concerning Tamils.

Mr. Fernando states ‘This has nothing to do with any Karma. Incapacity to be find unity in the struggles is a social problem.’

Karma is work. The system of karma is all about work. Unity in struggles is achieved each moment we live in Truth. Each moment you respond in the belief that you are Sri Lankan and that you are responding to other Sri Lankans – you have contributed to that Unity at National level. Towards this you may need to discard many legislations – including those relating to prescriptive rights in urban areas where lands are never abandoned and where quick access to legal and administrative facilities are available to even the least educated resident and worker. By keeping those legislations in force – you are inviting ‘invaders’ such as Mr. Piyadasa.

To me, this issue of Land Rights is closest to systems driven by faith more than objectively measurable merit. Whether we like it or not, remote villagers in all sides of Sri Lanka live largely through faith. Others tend to follow majority power until they realize Truth in their environment. The legal system when appropriately structured would lead us to this Truth.

It’s like distribution of property when a family member passes away without leaving a will. If you use the legal system you would divide it equally between the legal beneficiaries. The manner in which this takes place would show the allocation of status by the custodians of assets.

If you use cultural laws such as Thesa Vallamai – the distribution would favor males more than females. The manner in which this is done has less effect on status – which has already been stipulated by the cultural laws.

If there is a will – and the distribution has happened outside the above two bases – it is a personal bi lateral distribution with each member using legislation. All those who have failed to live close to the laws of the nation would show considerable differences in the amounts distributed to beneficiaries – some of whom may not be legal beneficiaries. This often happens when we fail to allocate positions through our family life.

Likewise, at community level where we fail to honor work through positions of faith. This is even more difficult at national level – especially where individual families and communities are showing large variations in distribution of wealth.

Until the likes of Mr. Fernando is able to come to remote part of Jaffna comfortably or until majority Sri Lankans practice common laws – we need cultural community faiths and laws that give form to that faith. In Sri Lanka, the constitution facilitates this on the basis of religion. Until this is removed, we need to honor that and practice the Doctrine of Separation of Powers between religions also.

In countries such as Australia, work usually keeps us living in harmony – even though we may mentally discriminate on the basis of race and other factors beyond our immediate control. All Tamils who accepted lower positions in majority Sinhala areas, despite having earned higher position as per their genuine merit based assessment also contributed to this discrimination. Likewise, majority Sri Lankans living in Western countries.

Separation of faith based powers helps us use global / objective merit base more actively. That to me is the solution and not general legislative systems which is not likely to become common in the near future – including here in Australia. Devolution as per real faith is the Political solution.

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