Chapter Ten

The devolution debate and Tamil Homeland

The constitutional restructuring programme and the debate which it has initiated towards evolving a rational form of government is a correct move of achieving a stable constitution. But where the flaw lies in the present debate is that the Tamil people are not participants in the debate nor the subject of debate reflect the aspiration of the gamin people whose accommodation is the real issue of constitutional conflict.

Like an excited dog that will bark at anything that is thrown at it, any talk of devolution generates lot of noise and is called sell out to the Tamils. From the time of the federal demand there has been a frenzied reaction from a section of the Sinhalese to any idea of redressing the grievances of the Tamil people.

In some instances P.A.Government's efforts in finding a solution and the proposals it has put forward are more of an effort at dismantling even the progress that was achieved in the 13th amendment.

The general strategy of the PA Government can be described as an attempt to succeed at the strategy of the UNP regime where it failed. The PA Government enacted such manoeuvring to hood wink both the Sinhalese and the Tamil people who desired a sensible negotiated settlement before the Presidential elections by giving an impression that it is interested in such a negotiated settlement. After winning the elections, it soon found that it had no option, but to defend itself by falling into the trench dug by the UNP regime.

In its pre election priorities, PA Government was solely guided by exigencies of electoral victory. Due to the left alliance and leaning even LTTE labelled Chandrika as a progressive women who should become the President of this country. PA could succeed in winning the support of the Tamil people by giving an impression that ethnic problem will be solved and their miseries will be ended through and earnest effort at a negotiated settlement.

PA Government's strategy in dealing with the LTTE consisted of speaking development with the LTTE while attempting to sell solutions that fell far short of Tamil aspirations and cajole LTTE into accepting such ideas through offering inducements while maintaining military pressure. The government would not commit itself to any proposal and preferred to use third parties and feelers.

There was an entrenched and preconceived position within the PA mainly among those from its major component the SLFP, which hibernated during the 17 long excruciating years in opposition, that a more extremist thrust on the war front will tilt the balance in favour of the Volk to which substantial number of SLFP members are devotees. The lone effort to change course and the sincerity soon came to an end and this entrenched position overtook and dictated the course of events making search for peace and concern *)r the plight of Tamils a mask . All hopes of the famil people that an era of peace would usher were soon dashed to the ground.

The present strategy of the PA, that was also followed by the UNP regime, is based on the militarism of the Volk as the ruling ideology North East, while continuing the debate on devolution which Premadasa initiated by enacting various dramas using the Tamil Parties in Colombo until the annihilation of the Tamil people in the North East.

The PA governments obsession of succeeding at the strategy where the UNP failed has brought a snore intensified but less sustainable program me of war that was not seen during the UNP regime. Vital to this programme was the compromise on national interest by offering to placate various dubious international interests for gaining international support which the UNP could not muster. The success of the PA's strateg,v greatly depends on the money it could raise to fund the war effort from the sale of national assets.59

The apprehensions on Devolution Package.

How the PA's political package seeks to perpetuate the hold of the Volk can be seen in its legal text of the devolution package. WhileJll's 1 3th amendment used ambiguities of the constitution to frustrate and nullify the constitutional process, PA's scheme depends on curtailment and control of resources and cripple the policy implementation of the of the Regional Government by providing for powers to run parallel programmers in all subjects devolved to the Regions .

Though land is a devolved subject, reserving the right of the centre to hold on and take over any land where and when it wants will leave only the unusable land with the Regions.

The following powers are found on the Reserved List.

  1. National Security
  2. National Planning
  3. Taxes on income, capital and wealth of individuals, companies and corporations
  4. National Rivers
  5. Telecommunication
  6. National Health administration
  7. Inter regional
  8. Irrigation schemes
  9. Rights relating to traditional migratory fishing
  10. Management of central policy and education training, management and supervision of national schools
  11. National Environment
  12. Public utility infrastructure development
  13. Industrial development

The centre will have power to impose its policies, control and run parallel programmes in all the above subjects though these are also found on the Regional List. With these powers the Centre can cripple any initiative on any subject and either will demand the Regional Council become a mere implementing agency for Central programmer and if the Regional Council refilses to cooperate, the Centre will run its own programmes while denying the funds to the Region for the implementation of regional programmes based on regional policies.

The constitutional provision giving right to the Centre to run parallel programmes by including them on both lists will lead to serious conflicts between the Centre and Regions which covers almost all the subjects now being proposed to be devolved to the Regions.

The parallel programme of the government will be at the disposal of the Volk, and the regional government will be at a total loss to prevent the emergence of conflicts which will be construed as acts against the unity and integrity. The Centre with its own vested interest to run its own parallel projects will not be favourably disposed towards the regional programmed It will see any independent initiative of the region as a act towards separation and will attempt to sabotage it in the contention that it has its own programme and is going to implement it. The power to run parallel programmes will be used to undermine the regional councils and will generate such conflicts that will bring about their dissolution.

The other important changes needed are the environment that has to be subject of the Region allowing only national environment policy be a concern of the Centre.

The centre's interest in women and youth affairs is uncalled for. Public utility infrastructure is another field by retaining which the centre will have parallel programmes in almost all the devolved subjects. Providing public utility is basic objective of any government. Under this subject the centre will parallel programmes health, education, roads, electricity urban development, water supplv and host of other public services. Education is another field where the centre hopes to create disruption by opting to run parallel programmed To say national schools are necessary to give a more profound national outlook is to relegate the regional schools to to be base for exclusive regional out look. By providing better facilities and inducements it can create considerable problem by disrupting loyality and devotion among teachers to their duty and destablise the provincial educational system.

The experience of the North East Provincial Council with regards to powers that allows the parallel programmes is, first it it will be a pretext for not handing over the existing infrastructure and cadre to the regional council. Secondly the centre will not hand over the programmes and resource it has at its disposal including data. Thirdly with such power in hand it will work out programmes in the respective field covering the entire Nowrth East and these programmes will never be implemented but used to block funding and implementation of programmes of the Regions.

The powers on land with which the centre can have any land it wishes will be used to facilitate the sale of Tamil homeland to the foreign interests without the consent of the Tamil people, a game at which Sinhalese are extremely good at. The development programmes will be used to implement strategic settlement programmes intended to undermine the security of the Tamil people, whom the centre under the Volkist hold has difficulty in trusting, and also to sustain and legitimise already existing ones.

Though land is vested with the Region the activity over the land will be controlled by the centre. The power over environrmel1t will be used to enact laws relating to Environmental Impact Assessment and it will be used to curtail and frustrate all economic activity within the Northeast.

Out of the 20 items for taxation allowed by the 13th amendment, only 7 are left with the Regional Council in the new draft, the remaining being transferred to the Central list through a general clause saying that all what is not found on the Regional List will be under the Centre. Though the money may be distributed back, the Regional Government will be at the mercy of the Centre. The basis that is being proposed as that will be used by the Finance Commission to appropriate funds in no way encourages those who want to develop the Regions.

The introduction of equityconcept based on percapita income will definitely turn out to be a disincentive to development. The dynamic regions will be called upon to subsidise lazy over populous regions which will encourage under development and discourage enthusiasm and stifle development in the more persevering regions.

The idea of national security in the Central List without its redefinition is the recipe for permanent military rule which is now found established in the North East. The attitude of the militarists is that they have captured these areas from the Tamils and they need not relinquish control over them and these servants of the Volk want to bring and settle the Sinhalese in areas they have captured from the Tamils. One will not be surprised by the repetition of Nigeria in Sri Lanka where the military ascendancy that was established by fighting secessionist war subsequentlydestroyed democracyinNigeria and brought permanent military rule.

When the term national being used in the Central List, it should be limited to policy which shall only be a guideline and these subjects should be placed under the President to be taken up at the Chief Ministers Conference . The responsibility for evolution of national policies should be left the respective advisory bodies to the Presidency who should head a policy research institute on the subject to which regions can address themselves for guide lines and assistance thus availing themselves the benefits of coherence and scale.

The right to run parallel programmers will lead to duplication and wastage and serious conflict with Centre holding on to resources that would have gone to the Regions.

The term national rivers could have no special meaning in Sri Lanka where almost all the rivers pass one or more regions except for Valukkai Aru in the Jaffna peninsula. There is no need at all for this mentioned as a subject on the Central List.

When there are such limits indicative of lack comprehension of the political basis of devolution and failure to recognise the political realities that have made constitutional restructuring necessary the very idea of devolution is made irrelevant by these concreted attempt to hold on and perpertuate the Volk. The political comprehension of the basis constitutional of restructuring has not improved in the present initiative of the PA government is indicated by the concomitant refusal to accept the usage of the term Government to the Regional Government meeting with same apathy as during the UNP regime.

The constitutional contradictions

The contradictions that are found in the present constitution as result of super imposing ideas of monarchical government, West Ministerial system, Gaullist system, the Indian Federal system can hardly be resolved without a more enlightened and open approach to the constitutional restructuring process. If there doesn't exist a capacity and a political culture that can comprehend and uphold the principles of constitution whose integration and embodiment should lead to a harmonious peaceful, prosperous, enduring Sri Lanka, no amount of effort or versions of constitution will bring about the desired effect.

All the contradictions of the constitution of Sri Lanka can be classed into those arising from the general contradiction of the two systems of principles, one beginning with the sovereignty being vested with the monarch and the other sovereignty being vested in the people. The constitution should be evolved throughout by maintaining one of the path of transcendence of sovereignty on the constitution. Now it will be imprudent to argue that the sovereignty should start from a presumed monarchy on which much of the traditions of Westminster systems rests. Though this tradition has a deep rooted relationship to the constitutional experience of Sri Lanka, and may perhaps even provide a more stable governmellt,the politicalexpediencydictates the constitutional principles have to be evolved from the presumption that the sovereignty rests with the people.

One such instance of excessive neutralisation is effected by the introduction of the following check on the executive powers that is found in the 13th amendment, which are also found in the PA's draft.

154c Executive power extending to the matters with respect to which a Provincial Council has power to make statutes shall be exercised bythe Governorofthe Province for which that Provincial Council is established, either directly or through Ministers ofthe Board of Ministers, orthrough officers subordinate to him in accordance withArticle 154

154 f(1) There shall be a Board of Ministers with the ChiefMinister at the head and not more thanfour otherMinisterstoaidandadvice the Governor of a Province in the exercise of his functions. The Governor shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice, except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any ofthem in his discretion.

True enough, the British monarch who once held the sovereignty of this island by right of conquest vested the executive power with a Governor who first nominated and later allowed the people to elect a few who will advise him to execute his powers. But here the people have elected a Council vesting their sovereignty in the assembly to providing it with necessary, legislative and judicial powers and and have given such a right to the Board of Ministers to exercise the executive powers.

If this power is going to be vested in a Governor who has not been elected by the people but nominated by a President, who was elected by a Parliament to which people have entrusted some other responsibility in the form of legislative, executive and judicial powers with regards to subjects in the Reserved List, this principle undoubtedly make a mockery of the democracy and respect to will of the people. Even if it is argued, it is only a formal matter, it is still totally an unwanted arrangement which can be abused to bring total paralysis of the functioning of the Regional Council.60 The executive powers should be vested on an elected Chief Minister who is answerable to the Regional Council. The Governors responsibility to assure the constitutionality of the Regional Government should be achieved through the exercise of this powers as head of the Regional assembly. The judiciary has powers to prevent the executive violating the constitutional norms.

The other impediment is to limit the number of ministers to six while there is no such limit on the number of central government. The restructured constitution allows only defence, Foreign Affairs, Monetary affairs, Internal trade. and shipping and Aviation are the cardinal responsibilities left exclusively at the initiative of the Centre. The rest is of secondary interest to the centre being left to the Regions. There is definitely no need for the centre to have fifty ministers including on subjects which are totally devolved to the Regions.

Presently the centre has a minister with the portfolio of Provincial Councils and another with Public Administration another with rehabilitation and scores of other subjects which portray the the centre's intention of undermining the regional entities .

The concern for financial austerity need not be a domain of the Centre. It is also a matter of concern for the regions. But if a region feels, a full fledged minister has to be placed in charge of a subject it should be free to do so. The Central Region may not need a minister for fisheries but it will need a minister for plantation industries. The issue should be left to the discretion of the Regional governments and the there should be no limits on this. A cabinet is needed to effectively execute the responsibilities the people have placed on them.

The Trojan Horse of National Rivers

The introduction of the term customary rights to protect the interests of the Sinhalese fisherman while the Volk still refuses to recognise the customary rights of the Tamil people over the North East is indicative of the spirit with which the Sinhalese are approaching the issue of constitutional restructuring; to grab and acquire as much as possible to the Sinhalese while making every effort to hold on to the gains of the Volk.

The inclusion of national rivers which will subsequently include the river basins and command areas, can be used to undermine all agricultural development in the North East.

The Sinhalese who have now started talking about customary rights do not seem to be aware that there are customary rights relating to the these rivers that were once flowing through sZaIious principalities and kingdoms. These were not a cause for any conflict because the ancients of these lands adopted a sensible policy towards the rights of water flowing in these rivers. The Custom was once the water crosses boundary of one principality, the one on the upstream has no claim over the water that has passed this boundary

The assumption that the water flowing into the North East region from the Sinhalese regions is coming there out of grace and gratitude of the Sinhalese is untenable and cannot be used as a basis to advance riparian rights beyond the boundaries of the regions which the water has crossed.

In fact many of the rivers that flow into the North East bring only a meagre quantity of water and all potential inundation of water has been developed upstream in the Sinhalese Regions. What is coming into the North East is what cannot be held back profitably and much of the water that flows into the sea from these rivers is collected from the catchment areas within the North East Province. This whole idea of national rivers can be left out and the subject of inter regional sharing of water be placed as a matter of concern for the Chief Ministers Council where the need for any co ordination in water sharing can be left to the respective inter regional commissions. There is no need for a central bureaucracy to hold on to an issue which requires spot attention and quick decisions especially in managing disasters.

The other subject equally important in terms of dangerous consequences where the Volkist schemers who now occupy various positions at different levels in the Central Administration is the Inter Regional Irrigation Schemes found in the Central List. All the three major schemes under Senanayake Samudra, Mahaweli Scheme and Giants Tank will come under the Central control covering nearly two third area of the North East province.

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In the original project of Mahaweli as proposed by Ratnasabapathy Cooke in the Mahaweli Ganga Irrigation and Hydro Power Survey Ceylon, the Mahaweli project extends up to Elephant Pass.61 This can be easily understood as once the NCP channel reaches Kanakarayan Aru and the proposed reservoir is built on the Kanakarayan Aru which also feeds the Iranamadu Tank, the Killinochchi area will also come under the command area of the Mahaweli project.

How the idea of development was abused to advance the interest of the Volk was exhibited in the execution of the L system project which is also known as the Weli Oya well ahead of the programmes scheduled execution and placed under control of the military. It dawned on the Volkists that wedging through the Tamil homeland will bring X ictory in their designs of subjugating the Tamil people and and the renegade Volk looks to prevail upon the Tamil people such a move is important for the National Security and expect the Tamil people to share this idea of national security If the problem of the Sinhalese is that they cannot trust the Tamils then the best ay of bringing peace is through separation.

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A similar programme has been schemed up for Thamankaduwa area known as the system B where there were 110 Sinhalese villages a few years ago . Numerous villages with Sinhalese names have now been created in preparation for settlement of the Sinhalese by the Volk which has placed the Mahaveli project at its disposal with its programme of encirclement, wedging and carving out.

This area twenty years ago before the advent of the Mahaweli project had only Tamil and Tamil Vedda villadges. The Muslims of Batticaloa who encaged in seasonal tobacco cultivation had their rights renewed every year by the council of village chiefs. The Muslims were not allowed to grace their cattle other than on payment of money. Cattle rearing and cultivation of paddy were the mainstay of these villages.

Today in the name of Mahaweli development all these villages have disappeared and people who have been lising in these villages have been reduced to abject poverty The war is very necessary for the Volkists to continue these programmes.

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PLATE XX. System B. The New Village Names, Mahawelli Development Project

A close analysis of the names of villages that have been proposed by the Mahaweli Authority in both L and B system clearly reveals the political content of the agenda of the Volklists who have now control of the Mahaweli project like any other central government projects The list does not have a single Tamil village The Volkist degeneration has eaten into every aspect of national life and such is the nature of the disposition and degeneration of the Volkist they cannot tolerate to see a single Tamil village in these areas which they want to develop This so with their attitude to the entire North East

The Village names expose the orientation of the Volk to help only the Sinhalese, and its mission to revive the dead Buddhist period that existed during the time of King Asoka, third Mauryan King (circa 273 232 BC) of Magadha known for making Buddhism the of ficial religion of his empire on the back of the poor Tamil farmers in the Mannampitty area

The neo facist disposition of the Volk xvithin the North East Proxince is exhibited by the selection of such names as Sepumal and Vijayabahu who are known for their anti Tamil heroism

It is an absurdity from an engineering point to argue that these inter regional schemes cannot be be restructured and compartmentalised and handed over to the respective regional governments keeping in line with political realities and the desire of people to manage their own affairs. If the centre refuses to part with the proposal the best course of action would be to limit the Mahaweli project to the Sinhalese provinces and plan the irrigation of the Tamil province separately. Let the water find its natural course into the Tamil Region.

There are large rivers like Ganga, Indus and Nile that flows between various countries and their international flow has in no way deterred their development and utilisation in respective countries. It is high time the Volkists stop these wonderful ideas of development of the North East which are schemes pursued with the purpose of large scale money laundering by politicians and of finials.

The Sinhalese attempt to carve out areas and annex them as Sinhalese areas has become a single minded obsession for the Volk which has diverted the entire national resources for the objective of legitimising illegal claims for territory. This disposition, more than any other issue soured the cordial relationship that existed between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. The major course for the under development and lack a programme of industrialization in the South is the land grab programme of the Volkists and the subsequent drain of resources on war and its destruction.

Such substantial areas that were traditionally Tamil were ceded to the Sinhalese to placate the arguments of historic and to compensate to the Tamils living in the South. The Sinhalese have obtained control of these areas after the fall of Anuradapura Civilisation in the 1 0th century A recent survey showed that the North Central and North Western Provinces have considerable areas available for land settlement. But the Sinhalese have chosen to keep these lands for future generations and have come to interest themselves on grabbing as much as possible from the North East abusing the powers provided by the unitarv state and using the cover of development.

The other reason why the Sinhalese have not been able to go and settle down in these areas available within the Sinhala Ratta is the local Sinhalese living in the North Western Province and North Central Province and Uva considering themselves Kandyan Sinhalese oppose Sinhalese from the South coming and settling in these areas.

There is no need what so ever for the Tamil people to cede even a square inch of land from the the present North East. If at all there has to be territorial adjustment, it should start with the reinstatement of areas of Pdavil Kulam (Padaviya and Weli Oya) and Thamban Kadavai (Tmmankaduwa) which were improperly appropriated by the British. If the Sinhalese come forward to effect this in a magnanimous manner, the Tamil people should consider the request for land along the coast line that will enable Sinhalese fisherman to do their seasonal fishing in the East cost.

The obsession of the Volk with such programmer as to diside the Tamil Homeland and carving out Trincomalee are abhorrent and unworthy of people with whom Tamils will want to share one nation and these clever ideas are greatly despised by the Tamil people. There is no need for the Sinhalese to take upon themselves the responsibility of dividing the Tamil homeland where British left and take forward a programme so as to assist some other forces that may have designs over Trincomalee. The Sinhalese should decide either they want peace or war with the Tamils.

The Sinhalese for the first time have such a vast area under their control in the seven provinces of Sinhala Ratta, a territory whose natural disposition the whole world would envy. It is time for the Sinhalese stop looking at the map and wondering how big the North East is and instead they look at the richness of their homeland of Sinhala Ratta and the opportunities it affords them. The Tamils can fight this war for another hundred years, but it is peace the Tamil people want to share with the Sinhalese in one nation.

The demographic considerations

The dictates of social justice do not take into cognizance the numerocity factor. The lesser numerocity of the Tamils is a virtue. The world need not be burdened with a case for increase of the the numbers by turning peoples habit of careful breeding into a disability by opting to appropriate political rights in proportion to the numbers. Careless breeding cannot be made into a source of power and right to rule over others. The perception of historical rights of people do not depend on their numbers.

The population of North East is about 14% ( this includes the 1,5 % upcountryEamils nowsettled in the North East.) with another 2% Muslims and 1% Singhalese. The natural endowments as it is could just support these people.

The historical rights of people do not diminish with a decrease in their numbers. It matters little whether the Tamils are 14% or just 14 when it comes to deciding what are their historical rights.

Further using the percentage can be very misleading. The population of the North East has increased from its 1 million to its present level of 3 million without hardly any increase in economic opportunities for the people while there is a Systematic destruction of the livelihood of the people by the Xtolkist schemers with the objective of flooding this areas with Sinhalese from the South to achieve the Volkist dream of swallowing up the whole island.

The present population of the North East is equal to the population of Ceylon throughout the island during the beginning of the century. If peace returns, the Northeast Regional government will be burdened with responsibility of finding employment opportunities, land for settlement, and infrastructure such as education and health for nearly 2 million people who are now displaced and have lost their livelihood.

It is the responsibility Regional Government to provide employment opportunities for its people and this should be explicitly stated as one of the subjects on the Regional List.

There is no need at all for the Sinhalese people for these hostile and less endowed peace of land either for their security or to assure a prosperous life and the issue of security of the Sinhalese must be contemplated within the Sinhala Ratta and the rest should be left to assure the security of the Tamil people The security of others will be assured within the North East by establishing the law and order machinery, assuring the fundamental rights of all citizens based on the good will of Tamil people Land settlement of the the Sinhalese in the North East so as to undermine the historical and security perceptions of the Tamils can only lead to great resentment among Tamils which has lead to the present situation of near division of the country.

If the productivity of the land under the control of the Sinhalese is taken into account, the area under the Sinhalese has to be increased three fold to get the economic area that is in the possession of the Singhalese. It is the more favourable natural conditions that has led to the present situation where the entire export economy in agriculture is based in the Sinhala Ratta providing for opportunities as well as the ability to support greater density of population.

It is time for the Sinhalese to think of the amount of national resources they have wasted for grabbing these lands of the Tamil people. These resources should have been used for the industrialization of the country towards which there has not been any serious programme or policy since independence. These national resources are not the property of the Sinhalese alone.