Category Archives: power sharing

The Liberation Tigers’ in Crisis

Gerald H. Peiris, being a reprint of Chapter Six in his Twilight of the Tigers,  Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2009, with Vijitha Yapa Publications in Colombo as local distributors, pp. 151-77 … a reprint inspired by the presentation of Jeremy Liyanage’s Q and A with Karuna in mid-2010.

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The contents of this chapter, except its ‘Introductory Notes’ and the ‘Postscript’, are based almost entirely on an article titled “An Assessment of the Current Crisis among the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” written by me in March 2004 while the events that constituted the early stages of the revolt led by ‘Colonel Karuna’ against the Vanni-based Tiger leadership were unfolding in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.  It was published by the Jane’s Information Group, UK. Written as it was in the context of acute paucity of documented information on the rapidly changing and bewilderingly complex scenario in the ‘north-east’ of Sri Lanka at that time, the article contained a fair amount of reasoned speculation. Here, in this chapter, I have retained the original article largely unchanged mainly for the reason that some of my speculations and predictions proved subsequently to be correct. The changes of the original article made in the formulation of this chapter have involved only some alterations of tense, and the addition of foo-notes for clarification and substantiation, and a ‘postscript’, intended to update the impact of the events examined in the article from the viewpoint of the thematic concerns of this volume.   Gerald Peiris

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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.

sl-parliament

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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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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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Twilight of the Tigers printed in 2009: A Staunch Anti-Federalist Treatise

Michael Roberts, reviewing Gerald H. Peiris: Twilight of the Tigers. Peace Efforts and Power Struggles in Sri Lanka, Delhi, Oxford University Press & Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2009,  pb, 297 pages…. reprinted from TRANSCURRENTS, with the % comments  therein [all from 2010] also presented at the end — after the Footnotes, …. with highlighted colours are my subsequent editorial impositions

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Twilight of the Tigers is essential reading for any person interested in the political history of Sri Lanka during the first decade of this century. With measured argument and in lucid prose Gerald Peiris challenges the belief that territorial devolution is a viable means of resolving Sri Lanka’s political problems and questions the thinking that launched the peace process in 2000-01.

The short title may mislead people into thinking that this is a book about the recent demise of the LTTE as a de facto state in Sri Lanka. In fact the book was in press by late 2008. But Peiris had correctly anticipated the direction of the war because he also has expertise in this arena, having contributed to Jane’s Intelligence Review. Moreover, for years he has adhered to a hardline patriotic position seeking to protect the island’s sovereignty. Thus, he has stood alongside such individuals as HL de Silva in objecting to federalism on the grounds that the devolutionary measures under consideration, including the North-East merged sub-state, would imperil political stability. Continue reading

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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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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’.

 

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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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