DEVOLUTION FACT OR FICTION?

15 July 2013 05:28 am - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

The concept of devolution is the passing down of governmental powers in respect of the periphery - from the Centre to various organs in the periphery.  The object theoretically sought to be achieved by this process is to enable the people of an area to look after their own affairs. The 13th Amendment is alleged to have been enacted to achieve this objective.  


However, an examination of the manner in which the 13th Amendment ‘worked’ and/or was `put into practice’ would show beyond doubt that quite apart from giving more and more powers to political parties and giving them more opportunities of robbing the people by the expenditure of their funds on rubbish that did not in any way benefit those people, and also providing employment opportunities for the otherwise unemployable supporters of parties, the 13th Amendment never came anywhere close to achieving the purported objective of devolution.

Let us start at the beginning.  If the object of the 13th Amendment was to enable the people of each province to look after their own affairs, it must follow that it is the people of each area who were the major influencing force or the major determining force in making decisions about the governance of each province.  
It is more than laughable to even imagine that such a thing happened.  

" Members of Provincial Councils are not, and never have been independent individuals who had the right to make decisions according to their beliefs of what is right or wrong "

Even the choice of those who are to receive nomination to contest an election for the purpose of electing   representatives of the people is not given to the people of any province but vested solely and entirely in the leadership of various political parties (and  independent groups where  such existed).  The odious system of proportional representation ensured that while no People of any area could nominate or secure as a right, the nomination of any person whom they desired to have representing them; those People had no power or authority to do so however much the person concerned was willing to come forward.  That power is vested entirely in the leadership of the political parties and sometimes, so called `independent groups’.  

Thus, those who were elected as members of Provincial Councils represented their parties and not the people.  This perhaps was exemplified by a statement made by a Provincial Councillor of the Southern Province Ajith Prasanna (whom I know well and who happens to be one of my Junior Counsels from the day he retired from the Army) who is reported in the Daily Mirror of 29/06/2013 to have said, inter alia as follows:-

“I realised that as a junior politician I do not have the right to bear a personal opinion in the political arena where I am part of a political party.  I had two choices.  Either to walk out of the party or to fall in line with the majority choice of the party I will be representing.  I chose to change my opinion (!!) and replace it with that of the party decision”.  

I have little doubt that while Major (Rtd.) Prasanna was forthright in what he had admitted, others had not been anywhere near being so forthright. The factual position is that members of Provincial Councils are not, and never have been independent individuals who had the right to make decisions according to their beliefs of what is right or wrong and the views of the people whom they are purported to represent on the same subject, but are in fact, mere puppets who are tools in the hands of their party leadership.  Thus, the statement of Major (Rtd.) Prasanna proves beyond doubt that. Provincial Councillors do not represent the people but are merely servants or puppets of the leadership of their respective parties.

" Not one party in this country gives even the Chief Minister of a province a free hand to attend to the affairs of that province according to the wishes and/or the benefit of the people "

The statement of Major Prasanna was corroborated in full by a statement made by a Provincial Councillor of the Eastern Province who was elected on the `list’ of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. When asked what his position would be on the Bill being presented to Parliament to amend certain sections of the Constitution pertaining to the Provincial Councils, he is reported, also in the Daily Mirror, to have said that he was awaiting the decision of the party to decide on how to make that decision.  It would be observed that here again the people of the province play no part whatsoever in the making of that decision.  The decision of that particular Provincial Councillor was something that he had decided to take on the basis entirely of what his party decided.  Of course the `Party’ in this context means, the `Leader’ thereof.

The aforesaid matters apart, one often finds purported electoral alliances being made between the various parties for the sake of gaining office or position.  These alliances are forged principally in Colombo and without any reference to the People or the voters of any particular Province. The desire of any political party, be it the ruling party or any other, is to gain office and exercise power so that, inter alia they could  benefit themselves, their kith and kin and hangers on of themselves and their parties at public expense .  The people of each province hardly come into the equation accept as voting units who must necessarily be deceived into voting for their respective parties.  

Let us take one example of this state of affairs.   The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress entered into an electoral pact with the United National Party to contest the Provincial Council elections for the Eastern Province in or about 2009.  While the Constitution states that the Chief Minister shall be the member of the Provincial Council who commands the support of the majority of the members thereof, the UNP and the SLMC had decided prior to single vote being cast, that Rauf Hakeem would be Chief Minister if that misbegotten coalition had won the majority of seats. As it happened the people of the Eastern Province declined to have Rauf Hakeem as their Chief Minister and the so called alliance between the UNP and the SLMC was relegated to the Opposition.  Shortly after being so relegated Rauf Hakeem’s earlier purported desire to serve the people of the East appears to have largely vanished and he went back to Parliament and accepted a portfolio in the Central Government, namely, the Government of Sri Lanka.

This apart, the Constitution to which many pay lip service and all have taken oaths whether sincerely or falsely to support and obey, has been ignored in spades in matters pertaining to Provincial Councils.  Thus, while the choice of who are to be Ministers in Provincial Councils is, according to the Constitution vested in the Chief Minister, in fact the person who decides who should be Ministers and who should not is the leader as the party which forms administration.  This is also so with regard to, inter alia the dissolution of each Provincial Council. According to the Constitution it is the Chief Minister who must make the decision to advise the Governor accordingly.  However, in fact it is the leader of the party that controls the administration who makes the decision.  

It is not in anyway strange that parties which pay lip service to ‘devolution’ should so utilise Provincial Councils for their own political/material benefit and that of their supporters and hangers on and not for the benefit of the people of those provinces.  That it must be remembered is what they do in respect of the entirety of Sri Lanka when they constitute the government.  Be that as it may, it would be observed that not one party in this country, despite the various protestations concerning their purported devotion to devolution gives even the chief minister of a province even though he may be a favourite of his party leader, a free hand to attend to the affairs of that province according to the wishes and/or the benefit of the people.  Secondly, it is evident from the conduct of each party that even candidates for election from any province are selected not by one or more party branches in such province but by the leadership of the party which invariably appoints a nominations committee consisting of the party faithful to select candidates.  Thirdly as was made most evident by the UNP, (the parent of the illegitimate `child’ called the 13th Amendment) that party abhors devolution despite its professed ‘love affair’ with it. Thus, while the UNP adopted a new Constitution which provided for annual elections to various senior posts including that of leader of the party in December 2011 that Constitution was promptly amended this year to give the party leader a term of office of around three years and abolishing annual elections.  Further, while Sajith Premadasa was the elected deputy leader of the party it was not he but John Amaratunga who was nowhere near being the number two man in the party, who was nominated by and acted for the leader Wickremesinghe during his several sojourns abroad. These matters apart Sajith Premadasa though the purported deputy leader of the party was not even given the right to make any important decision pertaining to the party and/or even to conduct a propaganda campaign designed at increasing the membership of the party without the express permission of a subordinate in the hierarchical structure of the party, namely Wickremesinghe’s obedient servant, Attanayake!!!

" Even the choice of those who are to receive nomination to contest an election for the purpose of electing representatives of the people is not given to the people of any province "

Are things any better with the Tamil parties? I think not.  It would be observed that their demands for further devolution and the strengthening the powers of Provincial Councils are designed solely to increase the strength and/or political clout of their own parties.  The welfare of the people does not figure at all in any of these demands made by them.  Indeed the major Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance has shown that it cared not tuppence for the welfare of the Tamil People when they accepted the terrorists of the LTTE as being the `sole representatives of the Tamil People and maintained a deafening silence about the atrocities committed by the LTTE even against Tamils.  Thus, they breathed not a word of criticism against the LTTE for kidnapping Tamil children for slave labour in their terrorist cadres; they breathed not a word of protest against the LTTE extorting money from Tamil civilians in the guise of collecting taxes; they breathed not a word of protest against the LTTE for preventing that veteran Tamil politician and leader of the TULF, V Anandasangaree from voting at the elections of 2004; they, who make such a strident claim to being democrats and believers in democracy breathed not a word of protest against the murders of leaders and activists of political parties that opposed them such as the EPRLF and EPDP, and even sought to justify the conduct of the LTTE in preventing the EPDP from engaging in any political activity on the Kayts or the Delft Island (I forget which).  Thus, the people are treated to a diet of lies and deception by the various political parties.  

So long as this situation continues, no amount of purported devolution would help the country and certainly, so long as this situation continues no government whether with or without provincial councils, would be of any use to the people.  

  Comments - 2

  • vichara Tuesday, 16 July 2013 12:20 PM

    "The object theoretically sought to be achieved by this process is to enable the people of an area to look after their own affairs. "
    This was the propaganda objective. But the objective was to as recorded in Section 1.3 is to nurture ethnic differences.
    1.3 of the recognising that each ethnic group has a distinct cultural and linguistic identity, which has to be carefully nurtured,
    If it was for the participation of people it should have been discussed with the people and approved by them.
    Nowhere is it stated in the Agreement that it is for sharing power with the people.

    kali Tuesday, 16 July 2013 01:18 PM

    This is neither fact nor fiction but an extension of the game of Deception being played by MR and his gang to fool the World.
    There is no real democracy in the North or East but army rule enforced with the help of Thugs and Proxies like Karuna and Douglas who are clowns dancing to the tune of Genocidal Rulers.


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment




Murder most foul

Sixty-one years ago on September 25, 1959 Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaran

What went wrong in Kandy?

Tragedy struck when a five-storey building caved in and collapsed, killing a

The 20th Amendment Bill Lest We Forget

Strident calls were repeatedly made from many quarters for the 19th Amendment

Public transport 'side-laned'?

“Miss, mantheeru neethiya nisa api bus passen yanna one. Ithin drop eka par