It is claimed that at the time of independence in 1948, to resolve the ethnic problem many safeguards for the minorities were provided in the first constitution of Lanka. Yet the backward mentality of the majority of people enabled the leadership to work in violation of the constitution by excluding the protective provisions that gave safe guard to the minorities. These provisions were systematically removed in the second constitution and went out of the way to include protective provisions for Buddhist Sinhalese, not needed for the majority community under true democracy. Then came the present constitution with certain obnoxious features. Subsequently introduced amendments are bluntly discriminatory to the minorities. This led the country to a civil war and with the intervention left movement the 13th amendment to the present constitution was introduced in 1987 to devolve power to the peripheries with the Provincial Council System intended mainly to protect the rights of the Tamil speaking minorities. Unfortunately, that was never implemented properly and helped only to prolong the civil war. Today, the Tamil speaking people are expecting at least, the core of the 13th Amendment to be drafted into the new constitution in full, excluding the concurrent list that provided overlapping responsibilities between center and the peripheries making it difficult to implement the provincial council system.
At a time when the people of the country, in particular the poor are unable to make ends meet, it appears to them that the Mahinda group legislators are hell bent on sabotaging the new constitution. Both the President and the Prime Minister have repeatedly said that unitary status and pride of place for Buddhism will be retained in the new constitution. Many suggests government needs only to include clauses in the constitution to enable the followers of other religions to practice their faith without hindrance in any part of the country and the new constitution will only come into operation if it gets accepted by the people in a referendum. Even Marxist can agree to such a set up as Buddhist philosophy rejects supernatural creations and accept dialectics of nature.
Many believe that a golden opportunity now exist and the President and Prime Minister has demonstrated to the people that they are different with their respective legislators; hence to assist them to go ahead with the new constitution. They must use every opportunity to explain to the people of the need to get the nationality conflict a thing of the past; making it clear to the people of their policy to resolve the national problem. In this scenario referring to non governmental organizations minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa stated ‘They have been very active under every government. When they sense a change of any incumbent government, they throw their weight behind the emerging force ahead of the elections. Then they try to become heroes soon after the formation of the government, staking a claim for it. This organization called ‘Purawasi Balaya’, boasts of playing a role in the formation of the government. It cannot get even10, 000 votes single-handed, in reality. They cannot get even a member elected to a local authority. Vickramabahu Karunarathne has been in politics for such long years. Yet, he cannot get elected even to a local body. Though these NGO fellows crow over, they do not have public support. We are the ones elected by the people. We command their support. These elements always try to project a chaotic image of the country, as a point to raise funds internationally in terms of US dollars. They depend on dollars.’
This intervention of minister Wijedasa came as a shock to those stood firmly against racist fascistic politics. The problem of Wijedasa is that he speaks without proper information. In the case of Christian religious places discriminated, harassed or attacked, he did not want to investigate the complaint; instead depended on Catholic Cardinal’s statement and concluded that Lakshan is a liar and he should be punished. This action is totally unfair to both to the Cardinal and the lawyer. In the above statement too, he refers to Purawasi balaya and Vickramabahu as NGOs. This is ridiculous; Purawasi balaya is a mass organization with a social democratic programme which was published and distributed properly. They participated in the democratic campaign that brought Yaha Palanaya to power.
I belong to the registered political party- Nava Sama Samaja party; a Marxist party. We were in a joint action front with the UNP since 2008. Under difficult conditions we participated in the campaign against the fascistic Mahinda regime. We donot want fascistic rulers back and we support the proposed constitution with substantial power to minorities. I have been a member of Colombo Municipal Council from 1995 to 1999, when I became a member of western provincial council. Later I became a member of Dehiwala Mt Lavonia municipal council until last year. Also, after the presidential victory there was a National Executive Committee for general supervision and I was appointed as one of the 15 members. Surely, that means some section of the democratic mass movement stood by me. Thus I am a political leader funded by supporters. As a member of the Fourth International I am supported by Marxists world over. On the other hand Western bourgeois governments do not support Marxist parties in the world! Only other resource I have is the money his government payed as back wages, for my position as a teacher in engineering mathematics in the Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya!
On this subject of NGO’s; Minister in charge, Mano Ganeshan said ‘On the subject of regulating the NGOs, Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe must be having his own reasons. But as the Minister for this subject I don’t see any serious reason to regulate NGOs in this country. I even don’t want to use the word, ‘Regulation’ but ‘Facilitation’ as long as they meet the lawful requirements. After I took office and the National Secretariat for NGOs brought under my ministry, I have taken very many steps. I have eased the pressures in them. NGOs were considered as ‘traitors’ and the INGOs were considered as ‘enemies’ then. It was once upon a time. Now I have given strict instructions to the Director-General of the NGO secretariat and his staff under me to consider NGOs and INGOs as partners in the state building. They are the civil society organizations who stood with us during the, hey days. I was there all alive with Civil Monitoring Commission, ‘Vipakshaya Virodhaya’ and ‘Samagi Peramuna’. In fact I played sizable role in such struggle movement since back as year 2005 with Raviraj, Lasantha, Bahu, Siritunga, Britto, Nimalka, and Priyani when even the traditional CSOs and politicians backed due to fear. I can’t drop or ignore them. I call them as Civil Society Organizations (CSO) rather than NGOs.
I have the blessings of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on this. President Sirisena has told us in the cabinet in general to get all the forces to build the country. Taking the clue, I am now establishing nation-wide, district-wide, division-wide CSO councils. Even some CSOs misunderstand this. But it’s an independent network. My ministry is doing the facilitation part. I am going to get them official placements in the district and divisional DCC meetings to have their say in the development and nation building affaires with the elected representatives and state officials. We require all actors of the nation including the civil society at every DCC meetings, where decisions are made on the spending of state funds. This will reduce the levels of corruption, wastage, mismanagement and identify the priorities of the poor masses.’
Minister Rajapaksa says that some NGOs are detrimental to national reconciliation and religious harmony. But we are political tendencies within the democratic movement that defeated Mahinda regime. If such sabotage is done by an organization whether NGO or otherwise, Wijedasa can take action through police or the relevant ministry without behaving like an upset person. There are wrong doers in the parliament too. There are violators in all branches of the state. The Yahapalanaya should identify them and clean the institutions in the best interest of the country.
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