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පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රි මහාචාර්ය රජිව විජේසිංහ-බලය බෙදිම ගැන අනෙකුත් පක්ෂ වල ඇති බිය සැක අප දුරු කල යුතුයි1. Indian External affairs Minister SM Krishna has said that President Rajapaksa agreed to go beyond the 13th amendment. However the government has not yet confirmed nor denied it. What is the stance of the government regarding the 13th amendment and the possibility of going beyond it?

I assume Mr Krishna would not have made this statement up,and it fits with the President’s consistent declaration that he would move to 13 plus. This does not mean that we need to stick to everything in 13, since obviously there are some things like the merger of the North and East which most people have realized was absurd. But we need to strengthen the principle of empowerment of all our people so that, if some things are modified, more should be added.

That is the position of most members of the government.  Almost all those in the SLFP whom I have spoken to have this view.  There may be members of other parties who are worried about the implications of any changes, from both sides as it were, and their fears must be assuaged. It is desirable to convince those who fear separatism that any settlement will not promote that, and equally it is desirable to convince those who think any change will strengthen majoritarian tendencies that that will not happen.

2. Doesn’t this stand in contrast with what the government has been saying about devolution? Until very recently they have been completely against giving land and police powers to the Provincial Councils?

There is no contradiction in that government has not opposed Provincial Councils having land and police powers, the point is to ensure mechanisms that will prevent abuse of powers at any level. With regard to land we need to clarify what is meant by the present position that land is vested in the State, but its usage is largely left to the Province. The important thing, I believe, is to assure the Province that land will not be alienated by the Centre for settlement, and equally to assure the Centre that alienation by the Province will be according to established guidelines.

The problem has arisen because for decades we have not formulated a clear policy on land. The impression I get unfortunately is that, apart from the Liberals, no one is interested in policy formulation – for instance this government abolished the Ministry of Policy Planning and Implementation of which I think we now feel the urgent need.

With regard to police, again we need to make sure that security is not threatened,  and given the manner in which the LTTE was built up with international financing, we need to strengthen safeguards. However at the same time we realize that police must have the confidence of the communities in which they function, and that is why most functions of the police have to be administered locally. Developing clear guidelines to fulfil all these objectives will not be difficult, if only, as the very perceptive Indian commentator Mr Sathiyamoorthy put it, both sides stop posturing. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

February 2012
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