The Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of His Excellency the President and an important policy-maker in the Government, has been quoted in the “Headlines Today” (Daily Mirror, Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, Page 4), that there was little scope of going beyond the current levels of devolution.
He has further stated that the existing constitution is more than enough for us to live together and that he does not think that there is any issue on this more than that.
At the beginning of the bi-lateral talks between the Government delegation and the TNA on 10th January 2011, it was agreed to adopt the speech made by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa in July 2006 to APRC, as the direction for the solution. In that speech, he stated that
“people in their own localities must take charge of their destiny and control their politico-economic environment…
“in sum, any solution needs, as a matter of urgency, devolve power for people to take charge of their own destiny…
“any solution must be seen as one that stretches to the maximum possible devolution without sacrificing the sovereignty of the country, given the background to the conflict…
“in conclusion I wish… all success in their collective endeavour in formulating a political and constitutional frame-work for the resolution of the national question”.
However, the points for discussion proposed by the TNA delegation at the invitation of the Government delegation as early as February and March 2011, were not responded to by the Government delegation even at the tenth round of talks held on the 4th of August 2011. It is in this background that the TNA asked the Government to respond before proceeding with any further dialogue.
Now the Government seems to be proposing another mechanism, namely, a Parliamentary Select Committee, for the resolution of the national question. Minister Basil Rajapaksa has been quoted in the Tamil language newspapers today as having said that a Parliamentary Select Committee is the best method to find a political solution to the national question. He says that in this way, we can find a political solution that is acceptable to all communities in the country, and has invited the Tamil people to have faith in this process.
The TNA is yet to see the Terms of Reference of the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee which is said to be for the purpose of finding a long-lasting political solution to the national question.
However, simultaneously, the Defence Secretary takes up a diametrically opposite view and declares it in public. Therefore, we wish to pose this question to the Government: how do you reconcile this policy statement of the Defence Secretary, with your avowed commitment to finding a political solution, through a Parliamentary Select Committee process? The Government must clearly state their position with regard to devolution of power and political solution, in the background of this statement. How can Minister Basil Rajapaksa call on the Tamil people to have faith in the Parliamentary Select Committee process while his brother the Defence Secretary, states categorically that there is nothing more that needs to be done in terms of devolution?
M A Sumanthiran, TNA National List MP