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Friday, July 6, 2018
JUL 05 2018
A month after the July 1983 riots which put back Sri Lanka’s economic progress by decades, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) under the aegis of President J.R. Jayewardene, passed the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution in August 1983, proscribing separatism.
The relevant piece of legislation reads, ‘…(1) No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka. (2) No political party or other association or organization shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.
(3) Any person who acts in contravention of the provisions of paragraph (1) shall, on conviction by the Court of Appeal, after trial on indictment and according to such procedure as may be prescribed by law, (a) be subject to civic disability for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court : (b) Forfeit his movable and immovable property other than such property as is determined by an order of such Court as being necessary for the sustenance of such person and his family ; (c) not be entitled to civic rights for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court ; and (d) if he is a Member of Parliament or a person in such service or holding such office as is referred to in paragraph (l) of Article 165, cease to be such Member or to be in such service or to hold such office…’
Paragraph (I) of Article 165 deals with public officers, judicial officers and such other persons as required by the Constitution, to make an oath of affirmation of the Constitution, including eschewing separatism.
In the context of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, the spotlight falls on UNP Jaffna District MP and Child Affairs State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran.
Maheswaran speaking at an official event at Janapathi Nila Mehewara, Jaffna on Monday is alleged to have had said, ‘…the aim was to rebuild the LTTE and that they should ‘remerge’ and be strengthened in the North and the East if the residents of those areas wished to remain alive, free of fear and suspicion and for their children to return home safely after attending school…’ (See yesterday’s ‘Ceylon Today’)
LTTE is a separatist organization and is proscribed by law. In that context, Maheswaran’s speech in support of the LTTE is a violation of the Sixth Amendment.
Her speech should also be taken in the context that only a few days earlier, on 22 June, Police at a checkpoint at Oddusuddan, Mullaitivu, discovered a 15 kilo claymore mine, two pressure mines, two hand grenades, 98 rounds of T-56 ammunition, four remote control devices, six electronic detonators, two LTTE military fatigues, three T-shirts embossed with the ‘tiger’ (LTTE) logo, two red and yellow LTTE flags and two large rolls of wire inside a three-wheeler. Police have taken into custody five persons in this connection, thus far. This shows that the LTTE, which was principally involved in starting the July ’83 conflagration after they ambushed and killed 13 soldiers at Thinnaveli, Jaffna on 23 July 1983, is far from being dead.
GoSL needs to beef up its intelligence and be in touch with its counterparts in the West, Australasia and India, where a large Tamil diaspora, a number of whom are sympathetic to the LTTE, live, to prevent another conflagration.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s State-controlled ‘Daily News’ reported that UNP Leader Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe was scheduled to meet Maheswaran in Colombo yesterday to inquire into her controversial statement.
Following the victory at the 10 February Local Government elections, the only thing now needed for the Rajapaksa camp to further consolidate their position is to brand the Government as being a ‘tiger’ supporter, to infuriate the 70 per cent Sinhala-Buddhist masses, in the light of recent developments.
Therefore, the best thing that Maheswaran could do to save her Party from further humiliation is to resign.