GRAB THE HAND THAT REACHES
Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Irrigation and
Water Resources Management, stated Wednesday in Parliament that
the Rajapaksa government will not take any vital decisions on
its own to do away with the 13th Amendment, and that the
administration seeks consensus.
The proof of that pudding is in the eating, and it should be
remembered that there has been an open invitation for the
opposition including the TNA to join the Parliamentary Select
Committee, that would decide on any kind of replacement that
will fill the vacuum left by amending or jettisoning the 13th
Amendment to the constitution.
Inevitably, the government is not merely a seeker of
consensus but consensus comes to it. For example, on the issue
of the impeachment of the Chief Justice, it will be recalled
that opposition members who first called for her resignation.
This seems to be why there seems to be some divergence of
opinion in the main UNP opposition itself on the impeachment
moves, with some UNP parliamentarians appearing to be baffled
that the party leader, in their opinion, is soft peddling the
issue, even though Ranil Wickremesinghe with his vast experience
on such matters should know best.
The point is that the Rajapaksa administration does not move
on any vital national concern if there is no critical mass of
opinion that has been formed on any such issue. It is because
there is just such a critical mass of opinion on the issue of
the 13th Amendment that the government first broached a
wide-ranging national discourse on the subject.
Remember, it is discourse that was the first step, and the
airing of views in the public media space on the 13th Amendment
has begun very much before any tangible moves have been taken to
strike out 13-A from the constitutional document. Which
government that has a working two-thirds majority in Parliament
will do this, if it is not an accommodative, consensus seeking
administration that seeks conciliation and co-existence with the
Nobody will say that the minorities have no problems or no
outstanding issues that have to be addressed at the Centre, but
so far the parties that seek to represent them in the North for
instance have been apathetic in the face of the accommodative
spirit of the Rajapaksa government. This is why the organized
ethnic-Tamil political opposition here in this country should
seriously re-think taking its cues from the Tamil diaspora -
so-called -- which for the most part for obvious reasons does
not have a national agenda.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, trite through that
may sound, and it can be seen that the government is not
dictated to by the vocal coalition partners that for instance
would have wanted the 13th Amendment torn off the constitutional
But, the President has said that the Amendment will be
replaced by something that will be thoroughly discussed and
dissected, and therefore in effect what's expected is something
that is tantamount to an amendment to the 13th Amendment.
That is far reaching accommodation especially in the face of
the raucous almost tub-thumping noises among the more vocal
sections of the coalition partnership, but it is a pity that the
Sumanthirans and the Sambandans of this country are not
cognizant of this fact.
It's correct to say that this sort of consensus and
accommodation animates most aspect of governance of the current
administration. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe for example, has
gone out of his way to say that the Sri Lankan government did
its best to meet the expectations of countries which expressed
some concern about Sri Lanka's human rights record. Since the
Geneva UNHRC meeting in March, these countries have got to know
Sri Lanka better, though there are new areas that Minister
Samarasinghe says Sri Lanka has expressed willingness to work
on, in a spirit of cooperation.
Despite a recalcitrant image that some of the diehard
antagonists want to portray, the government has been quite
overtly consensus seeking, and in plain terms, friendly and
sincere in its interactions with all-comers both in the country
and abroad. It behoves the opposition parties to think seriously