It has become imperative to repeal the 13th Amendment and enact new legislation to ensure that the sovereignty of the nation and the territorial integrity of the country are safeguarded whilst providing equal opportunities to all, fostering communal harmony and promoting a Sri Lankan identity, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Faiszer Musthapha said.
In this regard the best option would be to give effect to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statement stressing the fact that “there are no majority or minorities in this country but only Sri Lankans of different ethnic origins and subscribing to different religious belief”.
Therefore a new constitution ensuring people’s rights and equal opportunities should be introduced irrespective of whether a citizen is a Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay or of any other race and whether one is a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or a person of any other religious belief.
The government has the will, the power and the able guidance of a charismatic leader President Mahinda Rajapaksa to usher in a new prosperous Sri Lanka with a strong Sri Lankan identity.
Issuing a statement the Deputy Minister interalia said:
The recent political developments in the country have triggered a debate among the people on the potential adverse consequences of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is a sequel to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord signed in July 1987. It was a genuine effort on the part of India to bring about a cessation of hostilities between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE terrorist group. The intentions of both governments are made clear in the preamble: “Attaching utmost importance to nurturing, intensifying and strengthening the traditional friendship of Sri Lanka and India, and acknowledging the imperative need of resolving the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, and the consequent violence, and for the safety, well-being and prosperity of people belonging to all communities of Sri Lanka…..”
However, over the period of past 22 years since signing of the Accord and introduction of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the people belonging to all communities of Sri Lanka have not been benefited.
As very correctly analysed by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, “the 13th Amendment and the CFA didn’t serve the people of Sri Lanka. Instead, they facilitated interests of various other parties, including the LTTE. Interestingly both supported the separatist cause.”
Further, it would be seen that the 13th Amendment: inter-alia
(I) obstructs the implementation of the government’s social welfare measures,
(ii) impedes the post-conflict reconciliation process,
(iii) poses a threat to safeguarding Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity
The Provincial Council system is a fetter to bridging the gap between communities which is an essential ingredient in nation building and reconciliation. The recently concluded Eastern Provincial Council election proved beyond doubt that this system resulted in the polarization of people on ethnicity and religion.
Another significant adverse characteristic of the provincial councils system is its impact on the country’s economy. As many economists had pointed out it is a ‘White Elephant’. The provincial council system has created a huge drain on the fiscal strength of the country. A cost benefit analysis would show that the benefits are relatively much lower than the costs. Over a period of ten years there had been a fourfold increase of recurrent expenditure in the provincial councils. It has increased from 28,856 million in 2000 to 111,336 million in 2009 (Source: Central Bank) Therefore, it is clear that that the 13th Amendment has failed to deliver the expected results.