Tamil Information Centre
User Name:   
Password:   
  Remember Me  
Sign up  |  Forget password
Home   
Search
    Contact us
Constitutional Politics
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)

By Ahilan Kadirgamar

Why is there so little interest about a political solution among the people throughout the country? How is it that the reactionary forces in the South and the North have taken the upper hand in the public domain and gaining ground in rejecting the constitutional
reform process?  

The problem I would argue is the lack of political vision of both the Government leadership and the TNA leadership. Three valuable years after regime change have been wasted without engaging and mobilising the people towards a political solution. Furthermore, the constitutional reform process was delinked from the everyday concerns of the people and their social and economic aspirations.  

Past, present and the future

The call for a political solution came out of our tragic history. Nationalist polarisation and a majoritarian post-colonial state tore apart the country for decades. If our leaders failed to stitch together an inclusive polity in the decades after Independence, the armed uprisings of later generations of youth in the South and the North resulted in immense of loss of life. Such tremendous violence and destruction requires deeper reflection about our past. And a political solution should internalise such self-critical reflection. Furthermore, a political solution can bring those who have lost faith in the democratic possibilities of our society, into meaningful participation with reformed state structures.  
While addressing such a divisive history is crucial, engaging people also requires starting from their current concerns. In this context, throughout the country there is increasing disenchantment about the deteriorating economy. There is little faith in the Government’s neo-liberal pronouncements about economic development and the war-torn regions in particular are trapped in a post-war economic crisis. How will the proposed constitutional reforms address such everyday concerns of the people?   
Those of us who are advocating devolution should link the constitutional debate to the travails of the people including the drought, lack of decent jobs and the rising cost of living. We have to articulate the implications of such constitutional reforms for the contemporary concerns that are topmost in the minds of people. Otherwise, why would the people listen to us, much less join the campaign for a constitutional solution? Therefore, devolution and its implications for regional development and rural rejuvenation have to be at the centre of the constitutional reform debate.  
A new Constitution is about our political future. How do we communicate the importance of a plural and democratic society? In a time, when ethnic polarisation and a majoritarian world view is projected nationally and regionally, the political vision of rebuilding inter-ethnic relations in all parts of the country is an urgent need. The constitutional reform process then has to be part of a larger vision of forging a consensus about rebuilding state and society around pluralism and equality. Such social diversity and economic equality should be emphasised, not just as mere legal enactments, but as central principles determining state policies. In other words, the political solution should address not only the ethnic question, but also class, gender and caste differences in our society.  


Chauvinists to the fore

The failure of those leading the constitutional reform process to articulate a vision that speaks to the people has provided an opportunity for the chauvinists in the country to divert the debate. In fact, the subtle message from the Government and the overt pronouncements from the TNA claim that the importance of such constitutional reforms is to win the confidence of the international actors; including for foreign investment and to relieve pressure in international forums. I would argue, the international actors have little interest in the constitutional reform process in Sri Lanka. In fact, international attention has shifted to other conflicts in other parts of the world, and the public discourse in Sri Lanka places excessive importance on geo-political interests.

The public discourse here is still stuck in the internationalised environment, at the height of the war, of a decade ago. In this context, the chauvinists in the South have made it a debate about sovereignty, international intervention and division of the country. The chauvinists in the North, on the other hand, claim it is about the TNA leadership succumbing to Colombo and betrayed Tamil aspirations by undermining international pressure.   
These chauvinists in the South and the North, even though they seem to be worlds apart, are in fact objective allies in their quest to keep the country polarised. They both either whip up fears through conspiracy theories or deploy grand narratives, about the same issues of separatism and international intervention; issues of little relevance in the post-war context. Furthermore, Sinhala and Tamil chauvinism converge and expose their character when the Muslim question arises. These chauvinists, regardless of their political location, are unashamedly anti-Muslim in their campaigns.   
Attacking the current efforts towards constitutional reform are now the proxy for the nasty political campaigns of the Joint Opposition seeking to mobilise Sinhala Buddhist nationalists and the number of narrow Tamil nationalist groupings now part of the recently formed Tamil Peoples Council. Neither of these forces have any meaningful solutions for the problems of the people, much less a political solution. Rather, their manoeuvres will only disrupt yet another opportunity to address the national question. Such cynical politics has been the curse of our destructive history.  


No easy road ahead

What the legal experts in Sri Lanka who have been involved in drafting new Constitutions have consistently failed to address is the class question, not just in the structure of the Constitution, but also in the broader process of mobilising for it. How do we make a new constitution speak to the mass of working and rural people belonging to the various ethnic communities in the country?  
People all over the country are resentful of the power in Colombo, just as people in the periphery of the North are resentful of the power concentrated in Jaffna. That has to do with a history social exclusion with uneven development as well as class and caste power intertwined with administrative state power. Is this not the basis for dismantling the unitary structure of the state which has concentrated power in Colombo? Such a move away from centralised state power should be coupled with means of protecting the concerns of the numerically smaller minorities and the socially excluded in the regions.   
While the media and our liberal elite are focused on corruption, issues such as uneven development and regional inequalities are rarely considered. Neither those advocating for a constitutional solution nor those opposed to it, have seriously addressed the issue of increasing inequalities in our society.   
The difficult road ahead for the political solution is dependent on engaging the people. For progressives in the North, devolution of power is crucial in order to put to rest Tamil nationalism. The progressives in the South, on the other hand, have to think more about how they can make devolution work for the people in the country rather than as something only important for Tamil aspirations. Regardless of where the constitutional reform process is headed, we have no choice but to engage in this political debate, as it is bound to determine the trajectory of our democratic future. 

Source: Daily Mirror

Share on Facebook


 Latest 25 News/ பிந்திய 25 செய்திகள்:
Tamil Information Centre (TIC) expresses grief over brutal, cowardly attacks on churches and other places in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)
அனுபவம் மிக்க சிரேஸ்ட தொகுப்பாளர் N.T Jegan அவர்களோடு info4tamils இணைய வழி தொலைக்காட்சியினூடக கண்காட்சி பற்றிய கலந்துரையாடல்
பிரசுரிக்கபட்ட திகதி: 20/11/2017 (வியாழக்கிழமை)
இலங்கைத் தமிழர்கள்: காலவரையறையற்றதொரு பாரம்பரியம் என்ற கண்காட்சிதொடர்பான தமிழ் தகவல் நடுவத்தின் (TIC) உத்தியோகபூர்வ அறிக்கை
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
கண்ணீர் அஞ்சலி
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
Report reveals bone samples belong to 1499-1719 AD era
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)
Northern Province’s Economic Development Framework
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)
OMP welcomes inclusion of its interim relief proposals in budget
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)
Raghavan to take public concerns to UNHrc
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
Jaffna to get Olympic-standard aquatic complex
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
Treat women and girls with respect - EDITORIAL
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
Vandalizing archaeological sites - Cabinet approves upping fines, jail terms
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
Right time to abolish executive presidency - JVP
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
International Court Of Justice & The ‘Ceylon Tamils’
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
British Tamil Students Build War-Torn Mullaitivu's First Media Centre
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Friday)
Joint Press Release: Sri Lanka sends war crimes denier to Geneva as part of official delegation.
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
Karannagoda drags Gota into mass murder case
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Monday)
Tamils’ Hopes Fading: Every Village Is Sinhalese? Rāghavan Sacked?
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Sunday)
106 Tamil Diaspora Groups Jointly Urge UNHRC Not to Give any more Additional Time to Sri Lanka - Urge to Refer to ICC
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Sunday)
Ten Years After A War Without Witnesses: Global Tamil Forum Calls To Ensure Sri Lanka Firmly Remains On The UNHRC Agenda
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Sunday)
Human Rights Council 40: UK Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Saturday)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while speaking at the Kilinochchi District development review meeting, blamed the Northern Provincial Council authorities, saying that they have almost become inactive towards the problems faced by the people in North.
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Friday)
Ranil blasts Northern Provincial Council
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Friday)
Approval for TRC mechanism Navi Pillay blasts Govt
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
A New ‘Washington Consensus’ ‘Indo–Pacific’ and India’s Emerging Role
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
US resumes Millennium Challenge aid to Sri Lanka
Published Date: 20/11/2017 (Thursday)
Donate
Support our work to bring rights to life in any way big or small
 Amount:

Donate using PayPal

Select dates to view
past and future events
<<<Sep - 2019>>>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930     
 Stand up for Rights and Justice
Grant 18 year old Saudi Woman Rahaf asylum in the UK
Read more...
Take Action
Trump’s child hostages
Set Noura Free -- sign now!
Tamil men accuse continuing torture in Sri Lanka Take a stand against torture and urge UN Human Rights commission for human rights to investigate
Latest Publication
Proto Sumero Dravidian: The Common Origin of Sumerian and Dravidian Languages Conference Report:

Proto Sumero Dravidian: The Common Origin of Sumerian and Dravidian Languages

Read more...

Thiruvalluvar
About us
Site Help
Getting in touch
Other
Facebook Youtube twitter
Sitemap  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms and Conditions
Copyright © 2019 ticonline.org, All rights reserved.