Why A Referendum Is A Bad Idea
by Dayan Jayatilleke, 'Sri Lanka Guardian,' Colombo, June 18, 2013
Three bad ideas in one week?
…The race is a close one but the worst idea around is possibly the one that a national referendum should be held on the retention or abolition of the 13th Amendment. That gem of wisdom comes from the JHU and NFF but has been picked up by opinion makers closer to the Opposition leadership. Those who advocate it like to see themselves as patriots, but their suggestion gravely undermines the national interest. It is evident that the advocates of a referendum are myopic to the point of inability to see beyond their noses.
Consider the highly probable – I would say, almost certain – result of such a referendum. The Tamils of the north and east will vote against abolition on the 13th Amendment as will the Muslims. There is no Tamil political party in Opposition or with the Government that will support abolition. There is no Muslim party of any significance that will do so either. Most of the Sinhalese, located in the southern two-thirds of the island, will vote for abolition. Except for the Sinhalese in Ampara, the north and east will vote in one direction, the south another.
The bloc of ‘Tamil speaking people,’ a long-standing slogan of Tamil ultranationalists, will be created by this plebiscite. The electoral map will show the north and east re-merged emotionally, psycho-politically; de facto although not de-jure. Worse still, the NO vote will pretty much correspond to the contours of the Tamil Eelam map. The world will see a divided Sri Lanka, with a clearly defined proto-Tamil Eelam.
To compound the stupidity, a referendum would also reveal a NO vote right in the heart or abdomen of the island, the hill country, with a majority of Tamils of recent Indian origin voting against the abolition of the 13th Amendment. What a damaging blow such a political map would be to the achievement of the Sri Lankan armed forces and what a splendid gift to the Tamil Eelamists in Tamil Nadu and the diaspora!