Monday June 18, 2018

Sri Lanka running out of time for new constitution; containing extreme forces

Aug 22, 2017 08:11 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka main political parties should quickly reach consciences on a new constitution with a key minority party in the north being 'flexible' and stop creating room for extreme views to rise again, a constructional lawyer has said.

“You cannot bring out a Constitution at the tail end of a Parliament,” Jayampathy Wickramaratne a legislator who co-chairing a technical committee on drawing up a new constitution told Colombo-based foreign correspondents.

"Other factors come into play."

President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party is yet to submit its proposals with a deadline being reached this week.

An interim report on the constitution has been ready for several months, and the proposals of the SLFP can be included as an annexure, he said.

Sri Lanka current parliament, elected in 2015 is now almost at its halfway mark and parties are now eyeing the next election.

Sri Lanka's current centralized constitution has been a stumbling block for devolution of power to the Tamil minority.

Some analysts say the problem is East-European style ethno-religious majoritarian nationalist hate that has gained ground over during the last century along with the popular vote and state interventionism, enabled y a weak base of ideas regarding individual liberty and freedom.

Wickramaratne said the Tamil National Alliance, headed by R Sampanthan, the key Tamil party has been "moderate and reasonable".

He said a failure by the two main parties to reach an agreement will fuel extremists from both the North and the South again.

Progress has been made on electoral reforms with some agreement reached on around 140 members to be elected directly and the rest of the 225 members being elected on the basis of the total vote, he said.

Talks were also on the way for a second chamber, which could have representation of very small communities such as the indigenous peoples, he said.

A second chamber in many countries had been able to preserve freedoms and become a check on majoritarianism.

Political analysts say when liberals ended monarchies in Europe, and pushed for elected parliaments, they envisaged individual freedom and liberty and not the oppression of minorities, or the expansion of state interventionism, which became widespread with the rise of the popular vote.

But when empires ended - for example the Austro-Hungarian Empire - racially or linguistically mixed regions saw a rise of majoritarian politics, which is the automatic trend of the popular vote sans a strong liberal ideological base. In Western Europe, activits fought for secular ideas like liberty, equality and fraternity (or even socialism) the popular vote was not a threat to any religious or ethnic minority.

In many areas of Eastern Europe and later in Asia and Africa after the World Wars, triangular nationalism emerged.

A newly created state -unified by former Emperors or kings - which had a majority of one ethnicity is claimed it as their own 'homeland' by the newly-ruling urban elite, with one or more minorities protesting that they had been living in the 'homeland' for centuries as well.

The minority could also point to times in the history they had separate existences, under kings, princes or empires, as could many regions in the current 'majority' area also.

The targeted minority (the irredenta) usually built up links with a neighbouring country with a majority of their own ethnicity, forming the third edge of the triangle. The neighbour may intervene, including militarily, to help the 'unredeemed' or 'lost' people.

State interventionism in economic matters in countries such as Germany - one of the first linguistic nation-states to emerge in Europe - created fertile ground and the tools to intervene in religion, ethnicity and other freedoms, leading to Nazism, later, freedom activists say. (Colombo/Aug21/2017 - Update II)


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