Category Archives: constitutional amendments

Constitutional Reforms in the Melting Pot: Bulathsinghala and Perera

I. Frances Bulathsinghala: “A glimpse into the saga of Sri Lanka’s constitutional reforms,” South Asian Monitor, 24 February 2017,

The attempts by Sri Lanka’s National Unity government to draft a new constitution in order to seek a permanent solution to the long drawn Tamil ethnic question is afloat in the grey skies of ambiguity.

Although six subcommittees on various subjects had submitted their reports based on wide scale public consultations and the Steering Committee had drafted its own report based on the recommendations by the sub committees, plans of presenting the report to the Constitutional Assembly which comprises the current members of parliament, has been stalled.

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Constitutional Issues in the Limelight … Liyanage and CBK

ONE:  Constitutional Reforms: Would it be a solution to the national question?” by Sumanasiri Liyanage, in The Island, 16 February 2016

A German friend of mine whom I met after 7 years in the middle of our conversation asked me about the state reforms project of the Yahapalana government. He said that many people he met had been sanguine about them in spite of some minor difficulties. Lankans have been talking about the state reforms since the second republican constitution was promulgated in 1978. Three main questions have been posed, namely, (1) The executive presidential system and the  over-centralized architecture of the constitution; (2) the constitutional relevance in ethnically divided society; and (3) the representational deficiency in the system of election. After a heated debate in the 1980s and 1990, the heat of the constitutional debate has now subsided as many seem to believe that the present system has reached some stability. This may be partly due to the rigid character of the constitutional design. However, it is not totally true as we have had Parliaments with the necessary 2/3 majority [to effect change if requisite].

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Muddles in the Present Kingdom of Lanka

Rajan Philips, in Sunday Island, 12 February 2017, where the title is Constitutional Tensions and Mixed Messages”
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When it seemed that there was nothing left and it was all over insofar as the government’s commitment to constitutional changes was concerned, there were new developments last week that are pleasantly surprising and politically reassuring. The first sign of hope emanated from a meeting President Sirisena had last Wednesday (February 8) with representatives of about 50 civil society organizations at the Presidential Secretariat. The second sign of optimism came from the appearance of External Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Foreign Correspondents Association gathering on Tuesday night. A third pat on the back for the constitutional initiative came from former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, but she characteristically made it controversial by compounding it with her opinion on war crimes investigation. Continue reading

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A Requiem for Stanley J. Tambiah

Sachi Sri Kanthain Ilankai Tamil Sangam, 9 February 2014, … http://sangam.org/stanley-jeyaraja-tambiah-1929-2014/

tambiah-pic-11 “In 1958, while I was leading a research team composed of university undergraduates, all of whom were Sinhalese, that were engaged in a sociological study of peasant colonization in Gal Oya, ethnic riots unexpectedly broke out in our midst, and at Amparai, Sinhalese public workers went on the rampage in hijacked trucks, attacking Tamil shopkeepers and Tamil peasant colonists. My students, very solicitous for my safety, insisted that I stay behind closed doors while they stood guard. And I was later hidden in a truck, and spirited out of the valley to Batticaloa, a safe Tamil area. That experience was traumatic: it was the first time the ethnic divide was so forcibly thrust into my existence. And intuitively reading the signs, I wished to get away from the island, for I experienced a mounting alienation and a sense of being homeless in one’s own home.” …… Tambiah SJ (1997) a rejoinder to ‘Buddhism Betrayed’ book review by Sasanka Perera

Tambiah SJ (1997) on 1983 ethnic riots in Sri Lanka

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Revamping Lanka’s Government Structures? CTF Proposals In. Prospects Dim.

Sanjana Hattoruwa,  in The Sunday Island, 7 January 2017, where the title is “A Report on Reconciliation“… with the highlighting below being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

chandrika manouri-muttetuwegama

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Last week, the Consultations Task Force (CTF) handed over its final report to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga. It was supposed to be handed over to the President. However, he wasn’t present at the ceremony, on a date and time his office had negotiated after many delays spreading over months. As widely noted, the CTF comprised of eleven members drawn from civil society and was appointed by the Prime Minister in late January 2016, to seek the views and comments of the public on the proposed mechanisms for transitional justice and reconciliation, as per the October 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, you would expect the PM, whose brainchild the CTF was, to be present at the handover ceremony. He wasn’t either. Continue reading

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Constitutional Issues via Architectural Form: Sharp Interest from People, Somnolence from Politicoes

Sanjana Hattotuwa, courtesy of The Island, 3 December 2016, where the title is “Corridors of Power” … with highlighting emphasis inserted by Editor Thuppahi.

I do not recall the exact moment, but I do remember a time when I was so frustrated with the Rajapaksa regime’s blatant disregard for the constitution that I wondered how best I could communicate a critique of power to even those who would vote for, and loved him. This was after the 18th Amendment, late 2010. I was interested in a way to engage with what I hated to see come about, in full knowledge, at the time, that those opposed to what Mahinda Rajapaksa did were in a minority. I had one relatively successful previous attempt which suggested when instead of presenting a contrasting opinion, which can be variously, violently and immediately dismissed, a way to debate the substance of a contentious issue is created, a rather different timbre of engagement ensues.

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President Sirisena in Q and A with The Hindu: … Resolving Tamil Issue Central Today

Daily News, 11 November 2016, where the title is ‘Solving the problems of Tamils is my obligation” ….. Emphasis via highlighting is the work of The Editor,Thuppahi

Emphasising his commitment to resolving Sri Lanka’s Tamil question, President Maithripala Sirisena has said he has an obligation to address the concerns of the island’s Tamils, most of whom had voted for him.  About 90 percent of the people in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated north voted for him in the January 2015 elections, he said: “They have confidence in me that I will solve their problems. So it is not only my responsibility, but also my obligation to solve their problems,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview on Wednesday at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

Amid growing concern over the apparently slow-paced reconciliation efforts, President Sirisena said: “Reconciliation is not something that can be done in a few days.” The government’s endeavour must be acceptable to the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and other communities. “That is not an easy task,” he observed.

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