Category Archives: devolution

Muddles in the Present Kingdom of Lanka

Rajan Philips, in Sunday Island, 12 February 2017, where the title is Constitutional Tensions and Mixed Messages”

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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Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE

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Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Regions and Centre in Constitutional Gymnastics: Italian Lessons for Sri Lanka

Rajan Philips,  courtesy of The Island. 4 December 2016,where the title reads “Constitutional Reform: Complacent government, carping contrarians and Italy’s referendum” … Emphasis added b Editor, Thuppahi

As Sri Lanka’s constitutional reform proposals are making their way from the backstage into public view, Italy held a referendum yesterday on a constitutional reform proposal to significantly emasculate the Senate in the country’s bicameral system. Coming on the heels of British Brexit and American ‘Trumpit’, the Italian referendum has morphed from being a narrow constitutional question into another occasion for testing the rise of western populism. Like David Cameron in Britain, Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, has quite unnecessarily turned the referendum into a plebiscite on himself, vowing to resign if the constitutional proposal were defeated at the referendum. A majority of Italian voters might just take their PM on his offer and throw him out. That would be a huge victory for Beppe Grillo, national comedian turned populist (political) outsider, and an equally huge setback for the increasingly shaky European Union.

rajans-map    aa1982-referendum

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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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India & Lanka and the Devolution of Land Powers: Critical Comments

Gerald H. Peiris, courtesy of The Island , where the title is “Devolution of Land Powers – A Comment” … Note that emphasis via highlighting is the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

Among the writings published in the wake of release of the Report submitted to Parliament by the Constitutional Reform Sub-Committee on ‘Centre-Periphery Relations’ are those that appeared in recent issues of The Island – C. A. Chandraprema’s ‘Analysis’ of the report, and a more general piece titled ‘Constitutional reform and devolution of power’ by Harim Peiris. The former, needless to say, is an incisive critique written at a level of expertise which the ‘Panel of Experts’ that served the sub-committee appears to have lacked. The latter, I respectfully submit, is a feeble attempt that contains misrepresentations, intended no doubt to reinforce the recommendations made by the sub-committee on ‘devolution’.


aagp-devolution Figure 2

This paper is being written with the twin objective of supplementing Chandraprema’s criticisms with a few sets of information relevant to a study of ‘Centre-Periphery Relations’ in a multi-ethnic polity such as ours, and to highlight with special reference to Harim Peiris’ article, the superficiality typical of the on-going campaign intended to emaciate the unitary character of the nation-state of Sri Lanka. This campaign is also represented by recent publications such as the reports produced by the ‘Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reform’ (chaired by Lal Wijenayake) and the ‘Constitutional Reform Sub-Committee’ referred to above, alongside the sustained literary efforts by self-professed “Sri Lanka experts” in India ̶for example those associated with the ‘Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies’ of the University of Madras̶ whose barely concealed objective all along has been that of promoting the hegemonic interests of India in the South Asia Region.


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Gems and Nuggets within the Commentary on SINHALA MINDSET: Reflections

Michael Roberts

A chance event led me to study the comments responding to “Sinhala Mind-Set,” one of the signature ‘tunes’ introducing my web-site – the other being WHY THUPPAHI. The present collection of responses has been cast in spasmodic fashion between 2009 and 2013. They are from Sri Lankans for the most part, with Mel Glickman, Jane Russell and one “Duque” being the only personnel outside this specific ‘embrace’ of nationality. Several facets of the information and thinking inscribed in these comments are pertinent to the situation facing Sri Lanka in the 2010s. I have therefore presented them again with significant segments highlighted to assist or stir readers, while proceeding to add reflections of my own in this companion piece. The aim is to promote provoke debate.

1364002696fea9-4 ssinhala-ness

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Constitutional Reform: Three Welcome Think-Papers placed in the Public Realm by the Centre for Policy Alternatives

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5 November 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is pleased to publish the next two papers in the CPA Working Papers on Constitutional Reform 2016 series.

Working Paper No.8, Civil and Political Rights in the Sri Lankan Constitution and Law: Making the New Constitution in Compliance with the ICCPR by Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala is a detailed and critical examination of the compliance of current Sri Lankan constitutional law with the primary instrument of Sri Lanka’s international obligations with regard to civil and political rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The paper’s extensive audit of the Sri Lankan law points to the concrete areas, both substantive and procedural, in which the makers of the new constitution should focus their attention if it is to reflect a body of civil and political rights that is consistent with basic international standards. Political expectations of democratisation generated by the 2015 elections also demand that the new constitution should afford the fullest and firmest protection to these core rights, including the addition of the fundamental rights to life and human dignity, privacy, and property, without which neither democracy nor good governance is achievable. Continue reading

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Filed under centre-periphery relations, constitutional amendments, democratic measures, devolution, education, governance, historical interpretation, language policies, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, power sharing, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, unusual people, world events & processes