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A Case Against the Federal Constitution for Sri Lanka

A CASE AGAINST A FEDERAL CONSTITUTION FOR SRI LANKA 

Report of an Independent and Representative Committee

September 2003

Published by
The National Joint Committee
Y.M.B.A . Building (3rd Floor) 70, D.S.Senanayake Mawatha,
Colombo 8,
Sri Lanka.
(E-mail [email protected])

Printed by:
Samayawardhana
53, Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nahimi Mawacha. (Maligakanda Road)
Maradana -Colombo I 0.

The Most Venerable Rambukwelle Sri Vipassi Maha Thera
Maha Nayaka Thea of the Malwatta Chapter , ,
Malwatu Maha Viharaya
Ka ndy.

Most Venerable Sir,

Consequent on the proposal made at the ongoing peace talks between government and the LTTE to replace the existing Unitary Constitution by a federal system of governance, you summoned delegation from the National Joint Committee to your Aramaya on the 21st of February, 2003. and mandated it to set up a representative committee of eminent persons to study and report on the constitutional and political implications of introducing a Federal Constitution for Sri Lanka.

Accordingly, the following representative Committee consisting of Buddhist, Christian and Muslim persons of eminence was set up:-

  • The Honourable S.W. Walpita – – Retired Judge of  the Supreme Court, (Chairman) 
  • The Honourable R.S.Wanasundera – Retired Judge Supreme Court
    (Member) 
  • The Honourable Lucian de Alwis _ Retired Judge of the Supreme Court (Member) 
  • Mr. Douglas Premaratne P.C. – – Former Solicitor-General (Member)
  • Mr. M.Z. Akbar  – Attorney-At-Law (Member)
  • Dr.Piyasena Dissanayake – (Secretary to the Committee)

Our attempt to enlist a Tamil into the Committee failed because members of the Tamil community whom we reached ere apparently reluctant to run the risk of LTTE reprisals.

The Committee formulated the following scheme of sub-topics as a guide to its deliberations:-

  1. Genesis of the ‘Tamil Problem”
  2. Tamil claims to the Eastern Province.
  3. Divisive nature of Tamil Politics
  4. Background to the demand for a Federal constitution
  5. Definition of Unitary and Federal constitutions
  6. Does Sri Lanka have an environment of deralism?
  7. Legal and political implications of adopting a Federal Constitution
  8. Sri Lanka and Sinhala Civilization
  9. Summary and recommendations

The Committee by its public notice of the 12th March 2003 requested civil society organizations and individuals to send in written submissions or memoranda for the consideration of the Committee. We are pleased to be able to report that several erudite persons and public spirited organizations responded to our call with admirable enthusiasm and promptness. A list of such individuals and organizations is appended to this Report. We wish to gratefully acknowledge their contributions and thank them for their prompt response.

We have con1pleted our task to the best of our ability and we now respectfully submi.t it herewith for favour of your consideration and necessary action . We sincerely trust that it will receive due attention of the Maha Sangha, the Government, the Opposition in Parliament, Civil Society Organizations and the general public.

We also have to report with deep regret the death on the 16th May 2003 of the Honourable S.W. Walpita, who functioned as Chairman of the Committee from its inception and helped us considerably. Thereafter, the Hon. R.S. Wanasundera functioned as Chairman of the Committee and, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, the renowned author and social critic was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the”‘ Hon. Walpitas ‘s demise.

. ..
In conclusion, we wish to draw your immediate attention to the most alarming situation that is developing in the country following the decision of the Government to confer an Interim Administrative Council for the Northern and Eastern Provinces to be headed by the Tiger terrorists. Leading political analysts and knowledgeable persons are of the view that the division of the country is imminent and inevitable unless there is nation wide intervention by public spirited social institutions and leaders of society. Every effort must be made to block the designs and conspiracies of a group of local and international persons constituted by the ruling party and other sundry political parties and by anti-S1nhala and anti-Buddhist elements in our society like the NGOs who are actively furthering the demise and destruction of the Sri Lankan State.

There is a ground swell of widespread resentment and even despair among the people and pockets of resistance all over the country. They expect traditional leaders of our society, 1nore especially the Maha Sangha, to take the lead to stave off this danger. In this endeavour, they are prepared to face any danger and make any sacrifice. The people look in the first instance to the Maha Nayaka Theras to lead the way in conformity with the age old tradition.

Yours respectfully,

1. R.S. Wanasundera (Chairman)
2. Lucian de Alwis ( Member)
3. Douglas Premaratne ( Member)
4. M.Z.Akbar ( Member)
5. Gunadasa Amarasekera ( Member)
6. Piyasena Dissanayake (Secretary)

Acknowledgements

We wish to gratefully acknowledge the written
memoranda received from the following members of the public in response to our general request made via the news-paper advertisement and in response to personal requests –
Deshamanya H.L. De Silva, P.C
Mr. Durand Appuhamy
Ms. Kamalika Peiris
Mr. Elmo St. I Perera,
Mr. A. Dennis N Fernando
Mr. A. P. Ranatunga
Mr.Malinda Seneviratne
Mr.A.D.T.M. P. Tennakoon
Mr. Neville Ladduwahetty
Mr. Mahinda Gunasekara of the Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada
Sinhala Jatika Sangamaya

We owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Puspa Iriyagolla Dharmasena and Mr. Cecil Dhannasena for their invaluable help rendered to the Committee in numerous ways. Our thanks are also due to Ms. Chitra Wijesekera for assisting us to prepare the Sitlhala text.

We also wish to thank most heartily all patriotic individuals who generously contributed to defray the cost of printing this report, and Messrs Samayawardhana the Printers for a job well done.

In the preparation of this report, the staff, of the National Joint Committee willingly co-operated with us. We appreciate their help very much.

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