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Wednesday 26 June 2013

Why the northern province elections are different

As we have argued previously the Indo Lanka Accord is defunct due to the failure of India to fulfill any of the undertakings on her part as stated in the Accord. Thus there is no case for the thirteenth amendment or the provincial councils whether in the northern province or anywhere else in the country. Further the thirteenth amendment is not the law of the country as it was “passed” by the parliament going against the decision of the Supreme Court that wanted the President to hold a referendum to approve the Clauses 154 G (2) (b) and 154 G (3) (b). The Parliament “passed” the relevant bill as a whole and not clause by clause and hence the thirteenth amendment has to be declared null and void as a whole and not “Article” by “Article”. 

The question is being raised by some politicians as to why object to the elections for the provincial council in the northern province when the other provinces are “enjoying” the opportunities provided by the provincial councils. There is a reason for that though many people have forgotten the history of the establishment of the provincial councils through the now defunct Indo Lanka Accord. The so called Tamil problem goes back to the second decade of the nineteenth century when the Legislative Assembly was formed. The English did not give the Sinhala people or their culture the due place and only one member was appointed to represent the Sinhala people who had a history of more than two thousand years and who essentially created and developed the unique culture of the country. The number of Tamil representatives in the legislative assembly was equal to the number of Sinhala representatives which was a glaring discrimination against the Sinhala people. Further the Sinhala people were discriminated against in the professions and the English were very generous when it came to giving privileges to the English speaking Vellalas who had been brought to Sri Lanka by the Dutch as agricultural labourers.   With the limited franchise introduced in 1912 and universal franchise initiated in 1931 the English speaking Tamil Vellala leaders began to lose their privileges in the legislature, professions and the society in general  and the colonial rulers and the Tamil leaders interpreted it as discrimination against the Tamils in general. The “problem” of a few Vellalas was generalized to a problem of the entire Tamil community and the concept of a Tamil homeland was introduced. Tamil leaders decided to use the ordinary Tamils to achieve their ambitions.

Vadukkoddai Resolution of 1976 was the culmination of a process begun by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) or the so called Federal Party that had the objective of establishing a separate Tamil State.  We reproduce below relevant sections of the resolution as many people have forgotten   the resolution by now. 

“The first National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front meeting at Pannakam (Vadukkoddai Constituency) on the 14th day of May, 1976, hereby declares that the Tamils of Ceylon by virtue of their great language, their religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory for several centuries till they were conquered by the armed might of the European invaders and above all by their will to exist as a separate entity ruling themselves in their own territory, are a nation distinct and apart from Sinhalese and this Convention announces to the world that the Republican Constitution of 1972 has made the Tamils a slave nation ruled by the new colonial masters, the Sinhalese ,who are using the power they have wrongly usurped to deprive the Tamil Nation of its territory, language citizenship, economic life, opportunities of employment and education, thereby destroying all the attributes of nationhood of the Tamil people.

And, while taking note of the reservations in relation to its commitment to the setting up of a separated state of TAMIL EELAM expressed by the Ceylon Workers Congress as a Trade Union of the Plantation Workers, the majority of whom live and work outside the Northern and Eastern areas,
This convention resolves that restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country.

This Convention further declares -
that the State of TAMIL EELAM shall consist of the people of the Northern and Eastern provinces and shall also ensure full and equal rights of citizenship of the State of TAMIL EELAM to all Tamil speaking people living in any part of Ceylon and to Tamils of EELAM origin living in any part of the world who may opt for citizenship of TAMIL EELAM.
that the constitution of TAMIL EELAM shall be based on the principle of democratic decentralization so as to ensure the non-domination of any religious or territorial community of TAMIL EELAM by any other section.
that in the state of Tamil Eelam caste shall be abolished and the observance of the pernicious practice of untouchability or inequality of any type based on birth shall be totally eradicated and its observance in any form punished by law.
that TAMIL EELAM shall be a secular state giving equal protection and assistance to all religions to which the people of the state may belong.
that Tamil shall be the language of the State, but the rights of Sinhalese speaking minorities in Tamil Eelam to education and transaction of business in their language shall be protected on a reciprocal basis with the Tamil speaking minorities in the Sinhala State.
that Tamil Eelam shall be a Socialist State wherein the exploitation of man by man shall be forbidden, the dignity of labor shall be recognized, the means of production and distribution shall be subject to public ownership and control while permitting private enterprise in these branches within limit prescribed by law, economic development shall be on the basis of socialist planning and there shall be a ceiling on the total wealth that any individual of family may acquire.

This Convention directs the Action Committee of the TAMIL UNITED LIBERATION FRONT to formulate a plan of action and launch without undue delay the struggle for winning the sovereignty and freedom of the Tamil Nation;
And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached.”

Unlike in the other provinces there will be many candidates at the elections for the provincial council of the northern province who support the Vadukkoddai Resolution with many constituent  parties of the TNA and their members being either represented or being present individually at the “convention”. The Vadukkoddai Resolution advocates and approves the establishment of an Eelam and it is against the sixth amendment to the constitution which states among others the following:
157A. (1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.
(2) No political party or other association or organization shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.

It was not only the LTTE that fought for an Eelam, and those who abide by the Vadukkoddai Resolution will be campaigning in the northern province provincial council election. Would the TNA as a whole or as constituent parties adopt a resolution before the provincial council elections to the effect that Vadukkoddai Resolution is null and void. Politically all these resolutions, Accords, Pacts have been sunk in the Nandikadal Lagoon  with the defeat of the LTTE as the latter was the heir to all of them and was the culmination of the evolution of a problem that has a history going back to the Dutch who brought the Vellalas to Sri Lanka. Nandikadal was the political solution to a “problem” that has not been translated into law by abolishing the thirteenth amendment and the provincial councils. Law is always behind politics, technology and other systems of knowledge in general and it takes some time for Law to catch up in a western style democracy that actually does not represent the view of the people at any given time. The old left and Janavega and other sorts of socialists and liberals who have been elected to the Parliament do not represent the public view which will be asserted if a referendum is held. However, before a Parliament that represents the view of the public is elected and a cabinet is appointed accordingly  or a referendum is held, the government should at least amend the so called thirteenth amendment to have a clause similar to the Article 63 of the constitution that makes it compulsory for the MPs to take an oath to the effect or affirm that they would uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic, as far as Provincial Council Members are also concerned before holding the elections to the northern province provincial council elections. Otherwise if a majority of members are elected to the northern province provincial council that does not uphold and defend the constitution but abide by the Vadukkoddai Resolution it would spell disaster for the country.  

Nalin De Silva