| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(June 23, 2013 London Sri Lanka Guardian) What exactly is the 13th amendment? It is basically a puerile attempt to appease Tamils in the North and East that finally the government is to recognise their inalienable right to govern themselves.
Or so it seemed. But then Varatharajaperumal, the first governor of North and East, a former para-military group leader, had to make a hasty exit and decamp himself to India due to lack of public support as was envisaged by the old fox JRJ who introduced the 13the amendment to the constitution in 1987 following Indo-Lanka Peace Accord.
But Provincial councils with its bloated number of ministers continue to this very day and only serve to drain the coffers of the treasury. While 13 A was in place, not much happened to the rights of Tamils in the North and East.
Land grab of Tamils who are now abroad continue and in fact is escalating with the government colonising the North and East with Sinhalese and shifting their businesses to the North and East. This they call rebuilding the North and East.
The thrust of the 13th amendment
Section 2. Article 18 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the "Constitution") is hereby amended as follows:-
(a) by the renumbering of that Article as paragraph (1) of that Article;
(b) by the addition immediately after paragraph (1) of that Article of the following paragraphs: -
(2) Tamil shall also be an official language.
(3) English shall be the link language.
(4) Parliament shall by law provide for the implementation of the provisions of this Chapter."
154A (Establishment of Provincial Councils)
(1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, a Provincial Council shall be established for every Province specified in the Eighth Schedule with effect from such date or dates as the President may appoint by Order published in the Gazette. Different dates may be appointed in respect of different Provinces.
(2) Every Provincial Council established under paragraph (1) shall be constituted upon the election of the members of such Council in accordance with the law relating to Provincial Council elections.
(3) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding provisions of this Article, Parliament may by, or under, any law provide for two or three adjoining Provinces to form one administrative unit with one elected Provincial Council, one Governor, one Chief Minister and one Board of Ministers and for the manner of determining whether such Provinces should continue to be administered as one administrative unit or whether each such Province should constitute a separate administrative unit with its own Provincial Council, and a separate Governor,
Funnily enough, four years after the implementation of this 13th amendment, Prof. G.L.Peiris, then constitutional affairs minister under President Kumaratunga, announced at a press conference that henceforth all official documents including birth and death certificates would be issued in Tamil as well. The press releases were only in English and Sinhala and the announcement was also in English and Sinhala!!! The lack of will to implement its own rules of the government could not have been more transparent than in this instance.
Setting up provincial councils has a very useful outcome. They serve as litmus test to predict the outcome of a pending presidential election.
Dayan Jayetilleka can pat himself on his back since he was some kind of advisor to the illiterate Varatharajaperumal when he was governor of North and East. So much for his sage advice that the poor governor was booted out of his position post-haste. Not unlike the advisor who finds himself an ambassador first and then a retired writer of memoirs regurgitating his experience during the hey-days when he was somebody. Then there is his sidekick Rajiva Wijesingha, actor who spent more time at the arts council than at Sabaragamuwa University where he was made a VC.
These haw haw political scientists are so out of touch with reality they are only welcome to address foreign diplomats and minor politicians visiting the island during winter to take part in political discourse while getting a bit of sun tan.
The dilemma now facing the Tamils post war is not the 13th amendment or its further dilution. It is a serious need to address war crimes, atonement and rehabilitation and redress of the Tamils before the international community decides to do this instead of the government.
(The writer has been a journalist for 24 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal during work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK, she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005; 200 members from 40 countries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)