| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( December 17, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘The Coming Confrontation’
by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka.
Dr. Jayatilleka describes to us how he and those whom he naturally represents would receive the Political Statements by the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. Dr. Jayatilleka summarizes his interpretation as follows:
‘Plainly the Chief Minister is calling for a plebiscite, a referendum of the Tamil people in the North and East, by means of “an international strategy”. This is an exit strategy; a roadmap for secession.’
Last night, during our discussions within the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney, one member stated that a few members had said to him in private that they did not know what the reconciliation was between. I then suggested that he become part of the Coordinating Committee to become the representative of these members who sought to send their message through him. I stated that they were like the opposition and if their form was to be included in government – this member needed to physically represent those interpretations. I see the primary duty of such representative to be to give form to the ongoing interpretations of those whom he represented.
Likewise, I expect the Chief Minister of Northern Province to represent the interpretations of his electorate to the rest of the nation and beyond. Others have the obligation to not disintegrate and scrutinize below that level. When they do – they are being disrespectful of the sovereignty of the people who elected the Chief Minister.
Dr. Jayatilleka confirms that this is exactly what the Chief Minister also stated :
[Justice Wigneswaran then goes on to disclose the real reason behind contesting the Northern Provincial Council election. It was certainly not to make the 13th amendment work; still less to work constructively in the interstices of the present structure and situation so as to consolidate and proceed at a measured pace.
He poses and answers the question as to the TNA’s motivation. “At this stage someone might pose the question as to why we decided to contest the Provincial Council Election if the Thirteenth Amendment lacked teeth and was insufficient. There were two important reasons. Only if we stood for election could we bring out to the notice of the world the feelings and aspirations of the people of the Northern Province and show that the Government was portraying a false picture. In fact at the last Election the people were able to loudly proclaim their disapproval to the Government in power and the presence of the military in the Northern Province. Secondly without power, without authority in our hands to proclaim insufficiencies in the Thirteenth Amendment at Colloquiums and Seminars made no impact on the Government nor the International Community. But we felt it was better to get ourselves established in authority, experience the short comings in reality and thereafter tell the world what was happening. That exactly is what we are doing now. Rather than to merely say that Thirteenth Amendment is insufficient we feel exposing its shortcomings while established in office would be beneficial for future changes.”]
First of all Dr. Jayatilleka has the responsibility to refrain from calling Mr. Wigneswaran ‘Justice Wigneswaran.’ Had Mr. Wigneswaran not gone into politics – such reference would have confirmed that Mr. Wigneswaran was effectively a Governor in that field. But by taking on official portfolio as a politician, Mr. Wigneswaran renounced that title. This is necessary to represent the primary value of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers to the average voter. Wisdom from the experiences through that portfolio would naturally underpin the outcomes of current work. But they should not be presented as is through the current portfolio. That is like a migrant in Australia producing Sri Lankan culture as is – here in Australia. One could legitimately do so if the latter is a continuation of the former. The laws of Jaffna Tamil – Thesawalamai is structured for the man to represent his wife, for this reason. The woman is not less powerful than the man. The woman become Shathi / Energy and underpins the current work of the husband. Likewise our past.
To my mind a Government that is Administratively weak lacks the ability to Administer those who lack faith in it and/or those in whom it has little or no faith. Hence the above interpretation by the Chief Minister. But Dr. Jayatilleka interprets this to his followers as :
‘Thus the objective of the TNA has not been to secure the full implementation of the 13th amendment and to expose the government for non-implementation, but rather to expose the insufficiency of the 13th amendment as such!’
That is an interpretation of an outsider, lacking insight into our community.
Dr. Jayatilleka states ‘Mr Akashi was absolutely right when he urged flexibility and reform on the Sri Lankan government and sounded the alarm of serious consequences in Geneva March 2014 (that’s 75 days away, folks) if it failed to shift in the right direction. He did get one thing wrong though. There is neither a “Central government” nor a “Northern provincial government” in Sri Lanka. Those categories and that terminology pertain to a federal system such as that of India. Constitutionally what we have is a unitary state form in which there is one government and power has been shifted outwards and downward, in specific respects, to provincial councils or administrations. That is the crucial distinction between federalism and devolution. Of course Mr Akashi’s political Freudian slip indicates the view of Sri Lanka and attitude towards it in a large segment of the international community. The treatment of Sri Lanka as already containing two power centres, two capitals, does not help the battle for devolution and only reinforces the propaganda of the Sinhala hawks within and outside the State.’
The admission that power has been shifted ‘outwards’ is confirmation of devolution with the devolved unit carrying Equal status as parent. The past of the parent becomes the ‘governor’ of the present executive. Constitutionally – we also have a Sinhala State due to article 18 (1) of the Constitution which states:
‘The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.’
Technically speaking therefore – all other languages come after Sinhala. Similarly, as per article 9:
‘ The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).’
The ‘rights’ granted under other articles have lesser status and are applicable only where there are expressions of belief. Such expressions shall not be blocked but be facilitated. The primary responsibility to express themselves is with the minorities. That to me is exactly what Mr. Wigneswaran has done. Sri Lanka, through its diverse faiths IS made up of at least three capitals and three power centers due to the above article. The first one is given form by the Government. The other two by the believers of a diverse faith.
To my mind, this article by Dr. Jayatilleka strongly indicates fears of loss of status within the region. Tamils who truly seek self-governance would not shift their sight to India’s Tamil Nadu. But when the Sri Lankan Government fails to harness this power – it would spread itself laterally. The way the Sri Lankan Government has naturally spread its powers outwardly (Dr. Jayatilleka’s words) Tamils – its real opposition in this issue – have also spread their powers of sovereignty laterally and hence are naturally merging with Tamil Nadu’s leadership powers. That’s a natural compensation for the lower status as per the Sri Lankan Constitution.
Last night it was recognized at the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney, that the Coordinating Committee that successfully completed its term – leaves behind a strong value in that it demonstrated in action that its members were equal to the ordinary members – by facilitating the ordinary members to speak more than they – the committee members did. Likewise, in a democracy, where the constitution endows first class status to a particular culture – such as Buddhist culture – other cultures/religions need to have greater ‘freedom-facilities’ to express themselves – so long as they are not in breach of the law.
Hence, unless Mr. Wigneswaran’s statements were in breach of the law – Dr. Jayatilleke had the responsibility to facilitate such cultural beliefs and not block them. If Mr. Wigneswaran’s speech is in breach of the law – then Dr. Jayatilleke has the opportunity to take legal action. Now, THAT would be a very interesting outcome given Mr. Wigneswaran’s legal heritage! It would be even more interesting to observe how Jaffna Courts would handle this matter – given that there may be provisions of Thesawalamai applicable to Jaffna Tamils. One who believes in Thesawalamai will be naturally protected and supported by that law of our ancestors – to preserve her/his sovereign powers earned by practicing Thesawalamai. I believe through my own experience that once we identify with this support of Natural Justice, through our own experience – the judgments by others become a confirmation of this or a declaration of their own ignorance. A Sri Lankan Government which has faith in its Tamil Community will not have anxiety about India’s takeover plans through Tamils. To my mind, Dr. Jayatilleka is lacking in this belief in at least one self-governing Tamil at least of his parallel status. That is the confirmation that his system has failed him.