ThurairaJasingam harps ON Police and Land powers for PCs
BY Mirudhula Thambiah
Eastern Province Agriculture Minister and General Secretary of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) KrISHnapillai ThurairaJasingam says that the Chief Ministers of all nine Provinces have continuously demanded for Police and Land powers. Therefore, now the importance of those powers have been understood by many. "All Chief Ministers are emphasizing on devolution of power. The only challenging situation we see is the North and East merger and the nature of the State – unitary or federal. We want to make sure that it is acceptable by all when it reaches the preamble of the repealed Constitution." Following are excerpts of the interview:
?: The Asgiriya Chief Prelate has recently stated that there is no necessity for a new Constitution in the current context, what is your reaction to this statement?
A: I feel every media is interpreting their statement in different ways. Many suggestions have come up in relation to religious identities at the steering committee of the constitutional reforms. Some political parties have suggested a secular State and others have suggested a Buddhist State as mentioned in the current Constitution.
Therefore, the current stand of the Buddhist prelates seems to be a result of these suggestions. The President has taken steps to explain the actual situation of the suggestions made for constitutional reforms. The Prime Minister had said he will also take up the role of making further explanations on this issue. In case of need we are also ready to give our explanations.
We still believe that this will not hamper the attempts made to bring in constitutional reforms. We believe the Buddhist prelates will accept our reasonable explanations.
?: TNA Leaders have said they will meet the Asgiriya Chief Prelate to discuss this matter. When have they scheduled the meeting?
A: We have not yet made arrangements. But we will meet them to explain our views.
?: Some members of the TNA's constituents continuously say that there is no development on the proceedings of the constitutional reforms. Do you agree?
A: Although we are a little far from the Parliament, since we are representatives of the Eastern Provincial Council, yet we know that all our parliamentarians discuss the constitutional reforms proceedings during Parliament sittings with the TNA leadership. All these parliamentarians are aware of every development that is being made at the steering committee. However, there is a political legacy in Sri Lanka, that is when politicians maintain the same trend in issues.
We have been provided with the reports issued by the steering committee and we were briefed on the developments taking place with regard to constitutional reforms. There is a good understanding in power devolution in the suggestions made for constitutional reforms. Even the JVP members have agreed to certain suggestions regarding power devolution.
All Chief Ministers are stressing on devolution of power. The only challenging situation we would expect is the North and East merger and the nature of the State -- unitary or federal. We want to make sure that it is acceptable by all when it reaches the preamble of the repealed Constitution.
We feel that the government has the biggest role to play in bringing up a suitable solution, through the constitutional reforms, so that our country can succeed economically. The Government can successfully obtain a two thirds majority in the Parliament without the support of the Joint Opposition and when the reforms reach a referendum, it is our role as well as the government to gain victory. We believe that people will support and we believe they will understand our reasonable demands.
?: You said challenges regarding a merger of the North and East and the nature of the State will have to be faced when it comes to constitutional reforms. As you know, most in the South do not welcome the merger as well as the federal State. Why do you think they oppose both these demands?
A: It is simple, just as we oppose the term 'unitary', they oppose 'federal'. However I already stated that all have managed to accept devolution of power. Therefore, arrangements have been made to give maximum power sharing. Therefore, issues erupt only when such terms are brought up in a discussion.
We will only have problems when the nature of the State is decided. We want a solution in a united Sri Lanka with equal rights.
?: How do you view the importance of Land and Police powers?
A: Chief Ministers of all nine provinces have continuously insisted that Police and Land powers are needed for every province. Therefore, now the importance of both these powers have been understood by many.
?: As the General Secretary of ITAK, how do you view the political stability of your party following the turmoil that occurred at the Northern Provincial Council recently?
A: Stability remains unchanged. There isn't any confusion or any other problems that had disturbed the stability within the party. Of course, there were misunderstandings within the party during the time of the Northern Provincial Council issue.
We did have minor issues within the party regarding the Northern Chief Minister but we solved those issues. When we take the TNA coalition, the EPRLF members are used to making contradictary comments when issues are taken up for discussions. EPRLF Leader Suresh Premachandran and Parliamentarian Sivasakthy Ananthan had made contradictary statements against the ITAK on media. But that had not caused any damage to our party activities. We do not give explanations or replies to their comments against our party on media, because we feel it is an internal matter within the party.
They continue to make such comments and that does not mean their allegations are true. We are hurt but will not make it a big issue.
?: Earlier, your leadership announced that disciplinary action will be taken against ITAK members Ananthy Sasitharan, Prof. Sittampalam and Sivakaran, what exactly is the current situation?
A: We did not impose any disciplinary action against Prof. Sittampalam as he is one of the oldest leaders of ITAK. But we did take disciplinary action against Ananthy Sasitharan and Sivakaran.
Prof. Sittampalam is one of our founder members. We did not move to take any disciplinary action against him. But, as I said we have taken disciplinary action against the other two members. We formed a separate committee into the matter and have managed to amicably settle the issue. We did not take steps to remove them from the party, but we have decided not to give them any positions in the party for a period of three years. Currently one year has been completed since we took the decision.
They have openly campaigned against our decision taken in connection with the Presidential Election of January 2015. These two members gave media statements against our stand at the Presidential Election. We did demand for their explanations regarding their negative move and they said the party did not take any decision regarding the Presidential Election of 2015 and thus did not make any move against it. All our central committee members knew the decision although it was not reached at once. We initially said that we will announce our stand at the correct time. We did not publicize our decision through media, as we thought it was unsuitable at that moment. We announced our decision only two or three weeks before the election through the media.
Therefore, these two members said the party did not take any decision, however the decision was taken. Disciplinary action was taken, since they refused to follow the party's decision.
?: As you know there seems a complex situation in repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. How do you view the situation?
A: When we initially had discussions we reached consenus that the PTA should be repealed according to international standards.
However, the report was different to what was discussed. When the report was ready for the public we said that it was not discussed with us. Therefore, the government had agreed to discuss it with us.
Terrorism is a very much used term and it is the role of the Government to clearly explain to the people regarding the necessity of repealing it. However, the Government should meet international standards when repealing the PTA. We will exert pressure in a way to make them understand the necessity to repeal the international standards.
?: Recently, former Minister Karuna Amman alias Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, had said that he will discuss with the ITAK on working together in the political scene. Did he approach the ITAK leadership so far?
A: There was no such discussion so far. Post 2010, Pillaiyan met the TNA leader and discussed about working together. However our Leader spoke about the merger of the North and East as a part of the political solution, and Pillaiyan was not ready to accept it, thus he withdrew from discussions.
Karuna had only released a media statement about working with us. These are results of the TNA following the correct path with the correct aspirations for the people. However it is questionable up to what extent people will accept them as part of the TNA.
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