The Sunday Leader

13th Amendment… Yes Or No!

Despite the pressure from India and Tamil political parties, the Sri Lankan government has maintained that the 13th Amendment would not be fully implemented and police and land powers would not be devolved to the provinces. The Sunday Leader spoke to several politicians to get their opinion on as to why the full implementation of the 13th Amendment is important to the Northern Province and what solution could be given to the Tamil national issue outside the 13thAmendment.

We Are Still Against The 13th Amendment

Sunil Handunnetti – JVP MP

We should not look at the issue from within or beyond the 13thAmendment. The 13th Amendment was brought in to solve the issues of the North and East but not to address issues of the other provinces. However, it did not happen – it only meant to complicate things.

The other provinces hardly face any issue of power as those provinces are governed by those who hold the power of the Central government.

Therefore when it comes to police and land powers they had no issues. On the contrary, an opposition party is elected for the Northern Provincial Council. Hence the Central government is acting in rivalry and has no intention of solving the issues. If the government wants to address the issues in the North and East, they should give them the civil administration, provincial powers and land rights.

The government’s reactions to these issues help the separatists to spread their ideologies.  We are still against the 13th Amendment and we believe that the 13th Amendment has only made the issues more complex.

The government should establish a system to devolve powers through a system such as ‘Jana Sabha’ which we introduced to give more power to village levels instead to the provinces.

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It will not satisfy Tamil people

Vickramabahu Karunaratne - NSSP Leader

The question about the 13th Amendment is not really the issue. Even if the 13th Amendment is fully implemented it will not satisfy Tamil people. Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) joined the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and other political parties came forward to contest the Northern Provincial Council election on the condition that if they win they would fight for the Tamil people’s rights and would enhance powers given to them.

They want the police and land powers and financial powers devolved to the provinces. There is a provision in the 13th Amendment to merge Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils. The Late Mr. J. R. Jayewardene united the two councils whereas now two provincial councils have been established in the North and East without any powers and are dictated by the Central Government.

So far the TNA leaders expected the Indian government to help fully implement the 13th Amendment and go beyond the 13th Amendment to address the Tamil issue. Yet the BJP government led by Prime Minister NarendraModi has exposed themselves to be supporters of the Sri Lankan President.  Now the Tamil people have to mobilise themselves and go for an international campaign. They should also get all the supportive organizations together and campaign in the South. They need to give more pressure locally on the government through left formations.

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Demand for 13 Plus needs to be discussed

Mano Ganesan, DPF Leader

The reason why the Northern Provincial Council needs police and land powers is because the opposition party, TNA is elected to govern the council. The other provincial councils are run by the UPFA and therefore they do not come across issues related to power when implementing activities.

The Northern Provincial Council needs the full implementation of the 13th Amendment for its proper functioning. If anybody is demanding for 13 Plus then that needs to be discussed.

The reason India and Tamil political parties are talking about the 13 Plus is because the President has agreed to enhance the 13thAmendment.

He has made such promises to the UN and to India. If the government is to fully implement the 13th Amendment, it will be a good initiative. Then the TNA has to carry forward the discussions about the 13 Plus through the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) appointed to address the Tamil national issue.

 

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Debate shrouded by separation controversy

Eran Wickremaratne – UNP MP

The core idea of the 13th Amendment was to devolve political power and decision making to the periphery within a unitary state. It is normal for those who feel marginalized from centralized decision-making to exert greater pressure for devolution. Hence the cry for more devolution for the Northern part of the country.

The problem we face today is that the devolution debate has got shrouded by the controversy about separation. The problem with the 13th Amendment is its partial implementation: the central intrusion into provincial list and centrally sponsored regional development programmes.

Clearly the devolution of land powers is a sensitive issue. But non- implementation of the Constitution and non appointment of the NLC are going to result in a worse situation.  No one is going to stand in the way of the legitimate needs of national security through open and transparent government. The need to secure airports, ports, and security establishments will be safeguarded through the unitary provisions of the Constitution. But when the private lands of people are acquired without consultation, due process and constitutional and legal protection, it invites a backlash in the future.

The Police force is the unique institution between the Government and its people. Unlike the armed forces it has a community role. The 13th Amendment   provides for both a National Police and also for the police to function in the provinces.

The community policing function can be devolved. The argument that the provincial police function under the Chief Ministers in the South may lead to chaos, is an argument advanced by those who wield powers at the Centre and want absolute control. Those who argue for keeping the system as it is today are those who are responsible for its present condition. An unreformed Police force will be undesirable whether it is at the national level or at the provincial level. So we need Police reform. But that is not to be confused with having a two-tier police system, where there is a National police, and community policing is devolved to the provinces.

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India has not given police powers to provinces

Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage

India also has not given certain powers such as police powers to the provinces. Subramanian Swamy of the Indian Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) has made a comment regarding the matter saying that India itself has not given such powers to the provinces and therefore they cannot expect Sri Lankan government to do so.

Now, the provincial council is established in the Northern Province after an election. With reference to land powers there is enough land power vested with the provincial councils.

I had been the Chief Minister of the Southern Provincial Council for several years. We had no issues with the powers vested with the provinces. There is a land commission.

And obviously, there are some lands that belong to the Central government, Wildlife and Forest authorities. But the Provincial Councils have 90% of land power vested with them. Some lands like Sinharaja Forest are protected internationally and the provincial councils cannot do anything to such lands.

The provinces have been given enough powers, if they seem to be seeking powers for their own political gains.

 

4 Comments for “13th Amendment… Yes Or No!”

  1. dagggy

    Ask the Naval Rating who attacked Rajiv Gandhi at the parade.
    He foresaw it all…………………

    Current idiots can not think.

    My answer is not at all.
    Scrap the Provincial Council system.

  2. R.M.B Senanayake

    Never mind the powers over the Police and Land,the Government doesn’t allow the NPC to function at all. The Governor should be removed and replaced it the NPC is to function at all.

  3. Upul Fernando

    First of all, there are no provinces in India. They are called states, same as in United States and Australia, among other countries. You calling them provinces within little sri lanka will not undermine their powers, it is just petty. Secondly, they do absolutely have police powers. Each state has a separate police force controlled by their own IGP.. Sri Lankans may be fools to believe lies but internationally you are being sidelined every day.

  4. the army governer must remove fothwith to democratic government function in the north east provincil council. 13th amendment was in the constitution,it is in operation some communal politicians are distriped the function in provincial councial.land and police powers belong to north east provincial councial,politicians come and go but implement will continues

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