A Critique of the Vitharana Proposal
In the essay given below C. Wijeyawickrema, also known as Chand Wije (CW), gives a critique of the views of Minister Tissa Vitharana , Chairman of the APRC (q.v. = see glossary. While his basic criticism of Vitharana's views is correct he combines this analysis with several of his pet ideas which are questiionable. The problem is to separate the two. I note that CW's essay has not received much comment from the 'Patriots' even though it has been repeated. But then there is very little sensible comment coming from the Patriots.
CW shows that Vitarana's policy gives a one-way trip to Federalism even if he does not actually use the F-word. There are two amendments to be made to this. Firstly it will not stop at Federalism and sooner than later it will lead to full separation which is the ultimate goal not only of the LTTE but also of the non-LTTE Tamils. Secondly the views advanced by Vitharana are not his own but those contained in the Mahinda Chintanaya (q.v.). This so-called 'Chintanaya' gave the monstrous formula of "maximum devolution within a unitary state". The plain fact is the devolution (q.v.) is incompatible with a unitary state, so we are dealing with a basic contradiction in terms. CW is correct in pointing out that the Indian system will work in India but not in SL. His Himalaya-Pidurutalagala analogy is quite appropriate.
The APRC or APC was simply set up to find a formula that will satisfy (a) the international community and (b) the Tamils who are a minority, and (c) those cowardly Sinhelas who think that they can get out of the current mess by giving the Tamils a bit of the cake but not the whole. These are not considerations that should determine the search for a optimal system of Government for any country. The APRC has not been able to find a solution that satisfies the Mahinda Chintanaya as no such solution exists. So far we have had the Majority Report, which is presumably supported by Vitharana, and the Minority Report supported by some nationalists. They differ only in one particular, viz. whether the North and the East should be amalgamated in one Provincial Council or not. But both are wrong (see ACSLU Blogs ID 6.1 and 6.2). No wonder GOSL is afraid to adopt any of these versions, or an alternative to them, and keeps on advancing the date they are supposed to announce their decision. CW calls Vitharana "an anti-Mahinda Chinthanaya agent". He is in fact a trusted agent of MahindaR. How could be have become the chairman of the APRC is he is not approved by the largest party in the Parliament. I regard him as a stalking horse for MahindaR.
CW seems to think that the APRC should produce a grand plan for the development of the country. This is the responsibility of the ruling Party and GOSL, but we know that they are not doing this. What they do is to build grand projects (with money begged or burrowed) such as the airport at Weerawila, the cricket stadiums in Hambantota, Mihinair airline, etc. all meant to perpetuate the Mahinda dynasty rather than the develop the country in the most efficient way. What the APRC is entrusted to do is the produce a plan for devolution of power while maintaining the facade of a unitary state, and this is the impossible thing they are trying to do. This too should be the responsibility of GOSL if they do what is expected of them rather than shift the responsibility to others.
Having given credit to CW where credit is due some comments are necessary on some of his other ideas and how his pet theories square up with the Vitharana phenomenon.
(I heard that a letter to the Island editor on April 25th 1997 ended the then "Package deals" of law professor G. L. Peiris. I write this letter praying for an end to the APRC proposal of minister Vitharana.)
After two atapirikara-carrying trips to Malwatta and Asgiriya temples, minister Vitharana, Chairman, APRC, has given an outline of his "power sharing mechanism" to a Daily News reporter (Daily News, 3/30/2007). He had also spoken before the OPA on 3/27/2007, especially on the devolution of water resources. T! he general secretary of LSSP visiting Malwatta and Asgiriya is different from Anandasangaree or Karuna going there. As part of their overall plan of peace and good governance, British governors used the two Kandy Mahanayakes as cultural relicts. It was a strategy similar to them accepting and promoting the caste system despite their Christian religious beliefs. In the case of monarchy in London it has functioned as a symbol of unity.
With no disrespect to the Venerable Mahanayake Theros, it must be said that the revival and protection of the Buddhist way of life under an all out assault on it after 1815 and 1818 was carried out by coastal monks such as Walane Sidhdhartha, Waskaduwe Subhuthi, Migettuwatte Gunananda and Hikkaduwe Sumangala. Like in India or more recently in South Korea Buddhism would have wiped out from Ceylon if not for the Sanga society in which Vidyalankara monks played a key role. The JHU and for example, Ven. Ellawala Medhananda is the latest link of this chain via the late Ven. Soma. Thus, if APRC chairman had an urge to obtain Buddhist views on his plan he has one in Colombo free of travel time. A trip to Kandy should not look like the trip JRJ and RP made to the first wedding of Prince Charles.
In any case minister V's words do not give the impression that he had listened to the advice given to him by the Malwatte Mahanayake Thero. This advice was reported in detail in the Island newspaper on March 9, 2007. It also appears that minister V ignores public comments such as "Federalism and marriage" (12/12/2005, 1/11/2006), "you cannot legislate against geography" (Island, 2/22/2006), "Federal Marriages and water wars" (www.defence.lk, 8/31/2006), "Language-blind regional development units" (Island, 10/25/2006), "Anandasangaree and God Vishnu" (Island, 1/3/2007) and "A letter to a Tamil friend after 40 years!" (1/25/2007). This is no surprise as APRC has even ignored 800 or so proposals it obtained by invitation from "Janayas."
During the period 1935-1964 Marxists preached two things: bangawewa (destroy) and sama thana. JVP copied this later in 1971 and 1988. Sama thana did more psychological damage as villagers could not comprehend that the golden brains could possibly go wrong. Facing generations of discrimination under the colonial rule, and never treating Tamils or Muslims as second class people, they could not think of any justification that in their locality or region where 99.9% spoke Sinhala why Tamil should be equally used (recognized). LSSP and CP never understood that providing equality of opportunity is different from parity of status. JRJ's Imbulgoda march was against a Tamil Federal scheme. But villagers were confused as to why Marxists became an appendage to the Tamil state party of Chelvanayagam. With stories such as Marxists shouted at Sir D.B. calling him an abittaya (because he grew up in a temple atmosphere as child) and they called King Dutugemunu a gadol modaya (fool of bricks) Marxists became an engine on logs (kota uda).
With only an appointed, not voter elected position, minister V is repeating history. He has taken upon his soldiers the baggage abandoned by G. L. Peiris. In Buddhism no two persons are equal, and therefore, providing equality of opportunity to its people by a government which came as a western democratic principle had no conflict within Buddhist society. Aspirations of individual Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim, not the aspirations of IC, Tony Blair, the American ambassador or Prabakaran that minister V should talk about. For that he does not have to resurrect the Neelan-GL package.
Ven. K started a village development and crime eradication movement in the 1940s with Justice Akbar, ASP Osmond de Silva and Tamils. Ven. K faced all kind of obstructions from the colonial government and the CCS crowd. At that time LSSP was also engaged in Malaria control work and suriya mal selling. If Marxists were not blinded by the dogmas of Trotsky and Stalin they could have become little Ho Chi Minhs in Ceylon where nationalism and socialism (not Marxism) worked hand in hand. Instead uncles of minister V became alienated from the villagers like water and oil. What V is doing today will make him an anti-Mahinda Chinthanaya agent within the government.
If the Chairman of APRC thinks that "the words federal and unitary have lost
their meanings over the passage of time," then we need God Vishnu's help to help
him. This is a lesson at grade 9 level Civics. The self-appointed
jack-of-all-trades Carlo Fonseka has recently pointed out at a book launching
why devolution (F not U) is needed for social order on the basis of his analysis
of Buddhism's three "kilesas" (lobha-dosa-
Did minister V explain his F=U formula to the Mahanayakes? "F" is a political marriage contract in modern politics. "U" on the other hand is Buddhist politics such as the King allowing persecuted coastal Catholics or Muslims to live in his kingdom or temple priests in remote areas giving food and lodging to Christian priests from Colombo or Galle who went on head hunting trips. Could V think of any example from anywhere in the world where Sinhala, Tamil, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim people cohabitate and live in harmony despite an active separatist agitation since 1918? It was the Colombo ruling families who ruined this harmony after 1931.
An "F" marriage cannot work when one of the partners has a paramour. The IC solution to Sri Lanka is unique in that two parties living in one house is asked to go to two houses for the happiness of both. Unfortunately a marriage cannot be saved that way. This is why even Lakshman Kadiragamar was wrong in proposing an "F" solution. An "F" solution based on language differences (as in India since 1956) is a slippery path with no end in sight. Indian "F" model is the best example. Indian army is fighting against separatism all over India.
An "F" creates two or more units which have some powers that cannot be taken back from them permanently for ever. The egg is scrambled. As the asymmetrical package dealer G. L. Peiris once confessed, the F is a risky path, once taken the egg cannot be unscrambled. F is like a roach motel, you see the roach entering but no return back. Unlike the notorious CFA 2002 or the merger, F is a one-way path.
Why did APRC ignore 800 or so people's proposals? What is the reason for a hurried solution? Where is the home-grown solution? Does minister V believe in Buddhist economics discussed in Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful (1973) or in Buddhist politics? One example was Buddha's advice to Ajathashatru, the king of Magadha, when the latter had a war plan to capture the Lichchavi kingdom of Koshala. It was Buddhist democracy in 500 B.C. After all the reasonableness doctrine, compromise in modern democracy is the Middle Path in Buddhism. Why cannot V use either the Nalagiri or Angulimala damanaya in dealing with Tony Blair, TNA or Prabakaran?
The Mahinda Chintanaya is nothing but an application of our 2500-year old traditions of living in harmony with other human beings (be they Helanic or Roman or Muslim traders, Tamil invaders or plantation coolies, Malay soldiers or Portuguese who came with Bible and sword, Burghers and NGO evangelists) which got twisted in the hands of Colombo black whites (since 1833) and Marxist preachers (since 1935). APRC or its expert committees do not have people who read the Ummagga Jathakaya as high school students.
Why is minister V in a hurry? Is it because more and more time means less and less time for the Prabakaran episode? The IC does not want a total removal of the cancer of terrorism. They want a second Vadamarachchi in 2007. They want him in a three-piece suit flanked by his western-educated children. Why? Is there any connection to the theory of the White man's burden of 1905? Is there any influence from White evangelism of Blair or Bush as outlined by the Polish Pope John Paul II when he visited India in 1999 (evangelization of Asia)? Pope's propaganda cabinet minister with a giant budget was located in Ratnapura. Or was it the "clash of civilization" thesis of the Harvard professor Huntington (1993)? Balkanization of Sri Lanka is a short cut to India. The world federation of Tamils wants a separate state, and Tamil Nad opposes Hindia's intrusions. In the Trincomalee harbor even the nuclear submarines could hide in deep under sea troughs as revealed by the former CCS officer Neville Jayaweera who is now running a Christian communications network from England. So there is great temptation all around that probably escapes from minister V's radar screen.
What does V know about the separatist paradigm in Tamil Nad and Sri Lanka? It began in Tamil Nad in 1917 and one year later in 1918 it came to Ceylon. In India the colonial master openly promoted separatism stating "India is a myth." They promoted a Pakistan. In Tamil Nad separatism grew to the extent that even the Ramayanaya story was changed stating Ravana was a Tamil king who fought against the evil doers of Rama and Seetha (Adam and Eve?)! Prabakaran is thus a Ravana prince more than a new Chola king with a cyanide pill. In the past it was Sivaji Ganeshan or MG Ramachandran (born in Kandy) who acted as Ravana in popular Tamil Nad movies. A former SP of NP recently noted how Jaffna Tamil boys went in the morning by boats to Tamil Nad to see the opening shows and return home in the night!
Despite the total silence of Colombo NGO peace mudalalis with western Ph.D.s and the Marga Institute, not to produce "papers" on the impact of the Tamil Nad separatist agenda on Sri Lanka, from 1917 to 2007, there had been a continuous flowing of two parallel streams of separatism poisoning each other. Thus in 1949 SJV Chelvanayagam benefited from Tamil Nad's "Dravidasthan movement." In the late 1950s it was the "anti-Hindi movement." When separatism was proscribed by the 1963 constitutional amendment, it came to the Kandyan areas in lock stock and barrel as DMK threat and a Kallathoni problem (Tennakoon Vimalananda, Dravida Munethra Kasagam Movement and the future of the Sinhalayas, Anula Press, Colombo, 1970). In the 1980s separatism went back to India, officially, with MGR and Indira Gandhi sponsoring it with surface to air missiles. After the murder of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 there was a set back but in an era of coalition governments in Delhi, Tamil Nad voting block has become more powerful than the power of Delhi to use or abuse the presidential rule in order to discipline unruly regional politicians (Article 356).
Tamil Nad is in such volatile state that Delhi is now surviving by capitalizing the rival demands of its present or former chief ministers to arrest the other or to impose the presidential rule. At least two major caste groups are demanding two separate states within Tamil Nad. It is only a matter of time a future Prabakaran takes control of Tamil Nad politics which is driven by sex scandals and family affairs. The common criminal Veerappan incident (Saradeal or Robinson Crusoe) demonstrated how easily and quickly separatist sentiments could be utilized to overthrow the corrupt and inefficient political establishment in Tamil Nad. The Janatha Party leader Subramaniumswamy's recent book (Sri Lanka in crisis: India's options, 2006; (Island, 3/21/2007) should be an eye-opener to minister V.
Does V provide an adequate mechanism to prevent secessionist attempts under the geopolitical conditions mentioned above? He says there are two safeguards: (1) the president can deploy the army and (2) he can dissolve the province and take over the administration. Minister V must be kidding. Even under the 13th amendment which is not and F but U condition according to V or Carlo Fonseka or another law professor Lakshman Marasinghe (Daily Mirror, 3/9/2007), the chief minister Vartharaja declared UDI and fled to India. Where would be the IC if it happens again? Once minister V allowed the province ! to do everything it needed to be on the separatist path, the province will appeal to IC for help or justice. It will say the president is not allocating sufficient amount of water from the Mahaveli River and the IC and UNO will intervene. As Marx said people also suffer from the dead.
In the case of India each state is a small fraction of the goliath. This is why comparing Indian F and its article 356 with a Sri Lanka F is like comparing the Himalayas with Pidurutalagala because both are mountains. Minister V has to be more careful than Anandasangaree.
Does V reject the proposition that there is a traditional Tamil homeland in the Eastern Province? Is he willing to make that rejection the foundation stone of his proposal? V should not first get his scheme approved and say that the issue of re-merger will be discussed later. Re-merger means acceptance of a homeland. Homeland theory is a colonial western idea. This was what the Neelan-GL package wanted. Neelan went even further and refused to accept the Pondicherry sub-model of the Indian "F" model because the homeland would then look like a moth eaten patch of land with Muslim and Sinhala "Pondicherry units". V will be putting the cart before the horse if he does not clearly understand this issue. If V's constitution is silent on homelands now and if later it comes up making a giant N-E unit, then the Trincomalee state will be as big as the Colombo state. With Malayanadu in between Colombo army will be no match to Trinco power. This is not a day dream of a Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinist. V does not have to believe what the retired geography professor G. H. Peiris wrote in his book (2006). He could read what the Englishman Paul Harris has written on the subjects of Malayandu youth unrest and Oluvil Muslim radicals. If V accepts FP, TULF, TNA and Anandasangaree versions of a homeland then V cannot stop homelands for Muslims, Indian Tamils or Christians in Negombo. He will get an "F" grade from the IC crowd.
V says there are about 27 other countries which have veered away from U status towards F states to prevent separation. Without a list of these countries one cannot comment on this point. In the Fiji Islands or in Malaysia there were attempts of separation. In the Fiji case the army arrested the Indian-backed prime minister for anti-national work against the native Fijians. In Sri Lanka Tamils and Muslims enjoy more rights than any where else in the world. In Colombo the richest are the Tamils and Muslims. Thus when Karuna says in 2007or when the JVP said in 1971 or 1988 "give us what Colombo gets" (kolambata kiri apita kakiri -Youth Commission Report, March, 1990, p. xvii)) there is/was no ethnic discrimination. Instead the truth is that the Colombo class has been controlling 95% of people, which became worse under the globalization game and the 1978 Dharmista samajaya gimmick.
Section 29(4) of the Soulbury Constitution did not allow the removal of five centuries of discrimination against the majority community which is allowed and implemented in other countries that faced similar situations of the majority was the victim. The Shia majority in Iraq complain that the Sunni minority mistreated and killed them. South Africa had the same problem. In Russia the party members were the minority who exploited the majority citizens.
V says "if the minorities don't get the power they need, the only solution is separation." Can V say that the majority got the power? Who got power after 1931 or after 1833? A group of white-kissing Colombo families who used Buddhist masks after 1931 got power. A group of Colombo Tamils who used the language card to prevent the poor Tamil learn Sinhala but gave Sinhala private tuition to their children got power. The question is will this Colombo control change under V's proposal? Rather than re-inventing the Neelan-GL package, V should ask a set of new questions. He has become a prisoner in trying to provide new answers to his old questions. Does he know that by sheer mismanagement the Colombo black whites ruined the country?
(a) they destroyed the structural democracy of the island since the early
1960s, after the 1962 Coup (the separation of powers doctrine started in 1802
when North was the governor and the rule of law);
(b) JRJ killed territorial democracy after 1978 with a "bahubootha Vyavastava," an electoral system that robbed people of their representative democracy, and by demolishing the VC-TC local government system;
(c) In the 1980s village level civil administration was politicalized by increasing the number of GSN units from 4,000 to a mind-boggling 14,006 (each GSN unit has a GSN, Samurdhi Niladharee and a mid-wife);
(d) A corruption trinity of AGA-local MP-NGO agent (Colombo peace mudalalis or evangelists) now runs the show. Each AGA unit (there are 319 of them) has between 100-150 officers excluding teachers;
(e) the gap between Colombo and villages increased under globalization and free trade;
(f) the divide between Colombo rich and village poor widened after 1978;
(g) Vakarai IDP welfare money stolen by corrupt officers!
Do we need a hurried devolution package, based on the same Neelan-GL formula? Or should we take a holistic approach to handle our antho-jata-bahi-jatas meta-problems? The V proposal in its present form will deliver an "F" to a group of Tamil politicians but will not solve the mismanagement problems of the average person, Sinhala or Tamil. This is the aspiration issue that V should think of. Not the aspirations of IC or Tony Blair.
In India under the language-based state reorganization, a! new tier of local/regional politician class developed who began to challenge the Delhi political class. That brought an end to the Congress Party control and created a sick Delhi center dependent on over 20 coalition partners. Indian poverty is still a major problem and politicians at all levels are thriving. Is this not what is happening in Sri Lanka after 1978? Macaulay's grandchildren from all former colonies flooded UN jobs just as white mayors in USA left the major cities leaving them for black or Hispanic minorities. For an outsider minorities are mayors in all major US cities! Who are the children going to the future world leaders' summit in USA (Daily News, 7/23/2006)? How many Sri Lankan village boys got scholarships to Harvard or Oxford? Just see how Sri Lanka's Sixth Great Force (janitors and housemaids in Arab countries) is treated by its Colombo ruling families? This is what minister V should consider as top priority not a Prabakaran solution within 60 days.
V says Province is the devolution unit. Does he not accept that PC is a white elephant, and unwanted burden on people and the economy? Is there any scientific, ecological, social or economic justification for this unit other than Rajiv Gandhi and Dixit forcing it on JRJ, Sri Lanka's kaputu bo tree? V is taking the path of least resistance to achieve his goal of paving the way for a Tamil homeland. Why did Colebrook divide the island into five?
V has proposed a 100-family Jana Sabha (JS) unit (ward) below Gam Sabha (GS). From GS comes Pradeshiya Sabha (PS). A GS will according to V cover about 2/3 of one GSN unit. This is similar to what Ayub Khan proposed for Pakistan which was similar to the Soviet people's councils (Pakistan: old country/new nation, Ian Stephens, Pelican, 1964, p. 314). The Ayub plan became too good to be true and never implemented. He was talking of "basic democracies" with units of 800-1000 people. Instead of his own plan, if V decides to read the valuable document of the Local Government Reforms Commission (Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1999, the Abhayewardhana report) he would become an expert in grass-roots politics. A.T. Ariayaratne's 1988 book, "The Power Pyramid and the Dharmic Cycle" also gives a plan of action. Another source is Arjuna Hulugalla of the CIMOGG who writes regularly with a unit plan leading to a District administration.
V has a golden opportunity to link the Gama Naguma project just inaugurated under the Mahinda Chinthanaya with his mission as Chairman of APRC, if he comes out of his parity of status prison. Tamils have a homeland in Tamil Nad. Muslims have Mecca and a billion muslims. Christians have Pope. Sinhala people and Sinhala Buddhist have this tiny island, 15 million and the ocean. Trostsky or Vish! aka Kumari Jayawardena did not know this. The 2500-year old civilization of Sri Lanka should really be a UNECO heritage site. Just think of the biso kotuwa or the Dambulla hydraulic lamp? Rather than running with ghosts of SJV Chelvanayagam or GG Ponnambalam minister V should think of using his Marxist energy to empower the Tamils, Sinhala and Muslim comrades at the trinity level. Because, the dagaba was kovil, mosque or church at the grass roots level. Let aspirations grow at the family and village level. Do not promote language-based separation. Instead create language-blind developmental units. If in a given village the majority happens to be Tamil let them work on their aspirations from house hold level upward to VC level. Several VCs can go to District level. Imposing a Provincial level unit on them by a Colombo group is not suitable in Sri Lankan case as there is the fear and danger of separation.
Because our trinity is tank-centered it fits very well with the modern concept of river basin-based administrative units. New Zealand, a tiny country like ours is using this concept. The geographer Maddumabandara has produced a river basin-based administrative system for Sri Lanka that V should get his APRC and the expert lawyers to study. Because, one cannot legislate against geography law in books cannot become law in action if APRC chairman acts like a Colebrook in 2007.
While developing the Southern Province the APRC should think about moving the administrative capital to a location within the triangle of Anuradhapura-Vavuniya-Trincomalee on a 20 year plan. Let Tamil farmers in Jaffna meet with Sinhala farmers in Hambantota by linking that capital with Hambantota along the Mahaveli River with a railway line and a high way. By moving the science and integration ministries to Raja Rata ASAP the Marxists mini! sters could win the hearts and minds of the janayas. This is what an APRC should really be engaged in rather than re-dusting the old documents in Colombo houses.