"Majority Report" authors commended

[TamilNet, Saturday, 20 January 2007, 19:33 GMT]
A group of Sri Lankan academics and civil activists in a letter sent to the members of the Experts Panel on Constitutional Reform Friday, said that the "Majority Report provides a reasonably compromised and remarkably consensual road map for effecting the necessary constitutional changes towards a political resolution," and added that "the onus is now on [Sri Lanka's] President Rajapakse and the leaders of the SLFP and the UNP to take the lead and act on these recommendations."

Full text of the letter follows:

In support of the ‘Majority Report’ of the Experts Panel on Constitutional Reform

Deshamanya R. K. W Gunasekera
Mr. Faiz Mustapha PC
Dr. Nirmala Chandrahasan
Mr. Asoka Gunawardena
Dr. Sivaji Felix
Dr. Rohan Perera PC
Ms. Therese Perera PC
Mr. N. Selvakumaran
Dr. K. Vigneswaran
Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne PC
Ms. Malkanthy Wickremasinghe

At this critical juncture in our country’s history, you have responded magnificently to the task of formulating a Constitutional Framework for the Political Resolution of Sri Lanka’s National Problem.

It is the first time that a representative group of Experts, comprising academics, civil servants, lawyers and professionals, has been asked at the highest political and executive level to collegially deliberate on all aspects of our National Problem and reach a reasonable consensus towards a political solution.

The document that you have produced is of immense importance for Sri Lanka’s political and constitutional future and your collective effort in producing it will go down in history as an act of rare courage, bold vision and great integrity.

While reflecting the rich diversity of the “constituent peoples of Sri Lanka”, you have risen above our ethnic differences and brought into political relief our common humanity.

You have proposed the foundation upon which we can build a new Lanka inclusive of the Sinhalese, the Sri Lankan Tamils, the Muslims and the Upcountry Tamils.

Most of all, your proposals resonate with the views and opinions of the political moderates among all communities and reinforce the genuine interests of all the people of Sri Lanka.

For all of this we congratulate you and we offer our fullest support to the process that you have set in motion.

Although four Panel members have expressed concerns on specific details in the Majority Report, and two other members have put forward their individual viewpoints, it is fair to say that the Majority Report provides a reasonably compromised and remarkably consensual road map for effecting the necessary constitutional changes towards a political resolution.

As well, the Majority Report synthesizes and builds on all the compacts, pacts, agreements and understandings of the past that mark our long and tortuous search for a political solution to our national problem.

After the informal understanding between D.S. Senanayake and G.G. Ponnambalam, in 1949, within the compact that was the Soulbury Constitution, came the more formal pacts and proposals of later years. The long list of them includes the celebrated Bandaranaike–Chelvanayakam Pact (1957), the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact (1965), the Development Councils Act (1980), the Parthasarathy Proposals and Annexure “C” (1984), the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement and the Thirteenth Amendment (1987), the Interim Report of the Mangala Moonesinghe Parliamentary Select Committee (1992), the Devolution Proposals (August 1995 and January 1996), and the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka Bill (2000).

Every one of these earlier attempts foundered at the altar of political expediency, victims of feudal and narrow political interests overriding the interests of the Country and its People. All Sri Lankans have paid dearly for these failures and the country that should have become an economic and cultural paradise in the Indian Ocean has become the land of death and destruction.

In setting up the All Party Consultations and the Experts Panel, President Rajapakse created yet another opportunity for all Sri Lankans to find a lasting political solution to our national problem.

These steps were also his and his government’s considered response to the pleas of the international community to pursue the certainty of a political solution instead of plunging the country into the uncertainties of war.

We note that Dr. Tissa Vitarana, the Chairman of the All Party Representatives Committee, has produced his own report incorporating most of the recommendations of the Majority Report for consideration by the Political Parties.

The onus is now on President Rajapakse and the leaders of the SLFP and the UNP to take the lead and act on these recommendations. The JVP and the JHU have predictably come out against the two reports. They are entitled to disagree with the recommendations of these reports for agreeing to disagree is a part of democracy, but it should not prevent the movement towards a political solution.

The Majority Report offers suggestions for rebuilding trust between the Government and the LTTE, and provides a reasonable basis for engaging the LTTE in political negotiations. We do not underestimate the difficulties inherent in either of these tasks, but it is the responsibility of the State to take the initiative towards a political solution.

Failure to take the political initiative will only enable the LTTE to define the terms of engagement. The LTTE will find it impossible to ignore, or reject, a political solution that has broad support among the Sinhalese, the Sri Lankan Tamils, the Muslims and the Upcountry Tamils, and carries the endorsement of the international community.

We are not suggesting that the all the recommendations in the Majority Report and Tissa Vitarana’s Report are unexceptionable, and some of them will need to be reassessed and modified during the finalization and implementation of the political solution.

But the time is now for the President other political leaders to commit themselves to work towards a political solution based on the two reports.

It is also the time for religious leaders, professional and trade union organizations, civil society groups, the Sri Lankan media and representatives of the international community to plead with and persuade Sri Lanka’s political leaders NOT to miss this opportunity.

Lastly, we once again salute you, the eleven Panel Members, and ask of you to continue to show the same courage and persistence, in the coming weeks and months, to facilitate the acceptance of your proposals by our political leaders.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Paul Caspersz, Kandy
Lionel Bopage, Australia
Marshal Fernando, Colombo
Asela Jayanath, Australia
Nimalka Fernando, Colombo
Ajith Lakshman, Australia
Prof. Kumari Jayawardena, Colombo
Ajith Rajapakse, Australia
Silan Kadirgamar, Colombo
Dr. Michael Roberts, Australia
Prof. Vijaya Kumar, Kandy
Dr. Willie Senanayake, Australia
Jayaratna Malliyagoda, Kandy
Prof. S.T. Ariaratnam, Canada
Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Colombo
Dr. Amali Philips, Canada
Bernadeen Silva, Colombo
Rajan Philips, Canada
Prof. H. Sriyananda, Colombo
Prof. Kumar David, Hong Kong
Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Colombo
Sylvester Jayakody, Italy
Lal, Wijenayake, Kandy
Prof. N. Shanmugaratnam, Norway
P. Rajanayagam, UK
Dr. S.P. Wickremasinghe, UK
Prof. Shanta de Alwis, USA
Dr. A.R.M. Imtiyaz, USA


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