Feature Article

APC, an exercise to buy time?- Saravanamuttu

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 July 2006, 11:00 GMT]
"There is no clear policy from government on the issue of a constitutional settlement or sense of urgency with regard to acquiring one even through the APC [All Party Conference] process, begging the question of as to whether the process is about being seen to be doing something and about buying time and not much else," writes Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Director of Colombo think tank, Center for Policy Alternatives, in a column that appeared in this Wednesday issue of Morning Leader.

Noting that although APC gives an appearance of inclusivity despite the reservations of the main opposition party, Dr Saravanamuttu writes: "Major challenges and problems are approached tactically [by the Sri Lanka's President]; solutions are averted and avoided since they carry the risk of adverse political fall out. The strategic objective is to postpone and/or pass the buck. The hackneyed expedient of an APC to come up with the outline of a settlement to the ethnic conflict is one such example."

On the need for effective devolution of powers, Dr Saravanamuttu says that "it is axiomatic that devolution also needs to address issues relating to identity as well as security and socio-economic advancement, without over-reliance on the centre. In this regard, it is also important to address the question of regional minorities.

"In sum, any solution needs to as a matter of urgency allow people to take charge of their own destiny," and questions why the Government of Sri Lanka has not crafted proposals along these lines.

Dr Saravanamuttu pointing to the inclusion of "most prominent and consistent ant-federalists like H.L. de Silva" in the expert panel, adds that "the balance of power of opinion and bias on the committee may result in the whole exercise being yet another one of futility," and questions, "Is the primary consideration here the transformation of the conflict or is it about keeping potential critics on board ?"

The columnist says he is concerned that "in the absence of a clear strategic perspective and vision for the country the president falls back on gut political instincts and biases imbibed in his political apprenticeship in the ‘70s."

"These are basically majoritarian, immune to new ideas and intellectual reflection, culled from an elementary power politics perspective in which retention of power — the basic goal of any politician — takes precedence over everything else and executive convenience is embedded as the standard operating procedure for governance and government," Saravanamuttu says.

Related Articles:
19.07.06   APC, a political drama to dress-up unitary constitution - LT..
16.07.06   Rajapakse's new agenda, a tactic to derail progress towards ..
11.07.06   SL President Rajapakse addresses APC, Expert panel
10.07.06   "United Sri Lanka," cannot be accepted as a pre-negotiation ..

External Links:
CPA: Center for Policy Alternatives
ML: The President and the plot for peace and governance Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu


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