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
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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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.
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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’.
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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CA Chandraprema, in The Island, 23 & 24 November 2016,
“The purpose of the Subcommittee on Centre Periphery Relations appears to be to empower the provinces to such an extent that the central government is rendered irrelevant. What they envisage is a nominal central government with nine virtually independent provinces.” (Analyses of the other subcommittee reports will appear from Monday onwards.)
Part ONE: Constitutional Assembly: Analysis of Centre-Periphery Relations Report
The Provincial Governor: The report submitted to the Constitutional Assembly by its Subcommittee on Centre-Periphery Relations focuses on several areas such as the role of the provincial Governor, and the fiscal, administrative, land and police powers of the provincial councils. What the subcommittee report says about the institution of the provincial governor is plain and direct as follows: “The present powers of the Governors are excessive and should be curtailed. The Thirteenth Amendment and the Provincial Councils Act No. 42 of 1987 vests a multitude of powers to the unelected Governor to intervene, control and regulate the executive and legislative functions of the provinces. The position of the Governor with such powers represents central dominance in the province…”
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