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Chain Reactions and Energy Releases

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by Kumar David

Though I do have a particular interest in the JVP-NPP and am anxious to see the NPP’s ‘Rapid Response to Current Challenges’ manifesto developed and improved, this column not drafted exclusively for that purpose, though it may read like that. I would be happy if other social and political movements find it useful. But first an analogy; only laymen who studied physics in school will make sense of it, but my analogy last week with the Exodus of the best European scientists from Nazism in the 1930s generated interest. So here goes.

Neutron penetration of a U-235 nucleus within a critical mass makes everything go bananas; like Boris Johnson. Point 1: The nucleus fissions into Barium and Krypton and emits say two new neutrons. These two then bombard adjacent U-235 cores and so on and so on. The number of fission reactions multiply 2, 4, 8, zillions of times till all the U-235 is used up. Point 2: The mass of the fission products (Barium, Krypton and 2 neutrons) is a bit less than the mass of the initial U-235 plus one neutron, say by a tiny amount m. Even if you skipped A-Level physics in school (poor sod) you would have heard of E=mc2 where c is the velocity of light (300 million meters per second). One kg of U-235 produces the same energy as three million tons of coal. Jesus! Point, set and game to nuclear energy but for safety problems; radioactivity, waste disposal etc.

Deciding your species

The analogy with my subject today is this. Anyone who writes a manifesto must aim at a chain-reaction (ideas must spread like a fire) and make big gains in persuasion in the public domain. The NPP is the only entity that has issued a manifesto in this season; Sajith’s SJB is scratching its head and all the parties and goofs in the government fruit salad are scratching their ulcers. Wisely the NPP document is called “initial” so one can look to revised and improved versions to come. Hence it is implicit that comment will be welcome. NPP redrafts or anyone trying his/her hand at a programme must focus on four fundamentals.

State, constitution, provincial power, the National Question.

Economy: Productivity, growth-exports; fiscal gap; foreign debt; public-private-FDI balances.

Welfare: Healthcare, education, social services and infrastructure.

I separate out from the first point the National Question for special comment.

Foreign policy, economic dependence, nonalignment.

Taming corruption, enhancing public service efficiency, abolishing abuse of power by the police and halting militarisation are imperative – too well known to need repetition. I do not intend to write at length nor offer alternative drafts, only to highlight my thoughts. My intention is to make comments that may be useful to those updating the NPP document or writing fresh manifestos. Even in the latter case the NPP version will be the starting point since there is no point reinventing the wheel.

State and Constitution

In respect of constitution and state structures what has to be said is simple. It will have to be a liberal-democratic order based on the extensive and excellent work that was done in 2016-17 but was simply discarded; I refer to the seven Subcommittee Recommendations. More recently there have been the NMSJ proposal and Basil Fernando’s six-part series in Colombo Telegraph. The truth is there is already too much, not too little material to hand. Some basics are straightforward: JR’s Constitution, the Twentieth Amendment and the presidential system must be dumped as must some chapters and concepts in the Sirima-Colvin 1972 Constitution. At this juncture Lanka needs a democratic constitution, not a one-party arrangement nor a post-revolutionary structure. The devil is entirely in the details (balance of power between the so-called three pillars, constitutional committee systems, checks and balances, proportional, direct or mixed electoral options, provincial and regional balances). All possible options are out there and have been thrashed out ad nauseum for two decades; it’s a matter of opposition manifesto drafters zeroing in on bona fide compromises and getting on with it. The fly in the ointment is the ambition of scoundrels with presidential aspirations; other compromises can be worked out.

Economic systems and subsystems

It would appear that the economy is the hardest nut to crack; observe the inconclusive humming and hawing of all commentators and scholars who nevertheless agree that (a) to (f) set out below needs to be done. Their prevarication is for the sole reason that they are unwilling to commit themselves to the ‘big decision’. This is where my atomic analogy helps make the point. You have to make a commitment to a basic strategy, you pick a direction, the nature of the energy release process (U-235 or plutonium). The details, the specific answers to the specific questions (a) to (f) and their sub-questions are chain reactions that then fall into place.

Conceptually there are just two and only two choices between basics, between ‘energy release’ processes to select from; either the “capitalist road” (private investment, entrepreneurship, market dominance; for want of a better term the Western model) or a more socially or publicly directed model (for want of a better term the Vietnam, Mongolia, China model). Of course, there is scope and need for flexibility whichever the direction and that will take a lot more discussion. But two points are crucial. Once you know in which direction you are pointing answers to specific details in (a) to (f) fall within recognised alternative spectra. Second, I have discarded other systemic options (the Soviet or Cuban centralised state directed style and now discredited model, and the Reagan-Thatcher old-IMF championed ‘neoliberal’ option). The flabby neither here nor there stumbling methodology frequently employed in the past has failed all across the developing world.

(a) Enforce fiscal discipline.

(b) Implement reforms to enhance productivity.

(c) Prioritise manufacturing, shift to tech industries and emphasise exports.

(d) Make firm decisions about foreign capital investment and public-private enterprises.

(e) Clearly define the role of the capitalist sector and market economics.

(f) Enhance the efficiency of state machinery.

To drive home the argument that once the fundamental ‘energy release’ option is chosen the ‘chain reactions’ fairly easily fall into place, let me choose (a), (d) and (e) for brief comment. To enforce fiscal discipline (and please the IMF), you have to slash expenditure, increase revenue, or a bit of each with emphasis falling this way or that. Frugality in expenditure will impact people’s livelihood (sales tax, wage controls and labour-market reforms and slashing welfare expenditure). Or to secure more revenue the top income tax rate (just 16% now) must go up and the Central Bank’s interest rate just 3.5% now has to be pushed much higher. Either way the ‘energy-release’ option choice is political, it is JVP-NPP or Sajith-SJB; let this be said openly.

Of course, both options will need to make huge concessions to real-politics, that is good, but the two game-plans are clear-cut; the rest is ‘chain-reaction’. In respect of flexibility the NPP’s Rapid Response clearly indicates that it is sensitive to the role that the private-sector will perforce be called upon to play within its preferred direction for another generation – vide China. It would be wise from the point of view of the public, and reassure the capitalist class if the manifesto is fleshed out and details made more explicit.

Young Einstein

The choices that will be made by Sajith-SBJ ideology (conservative but couched in radical plumage); the market-driven, entrepreneurial-capital led road, is well understood. For example, on point (d) – foreign investment – it will be an open invitation sweetened by tax and remittance concessions. There is nothing conceptually new; it is in use in dozens of countries. I say no more on this matter as I can safely take it this a well-known strategy.

It is the other option, the more directed one, where the sate intervenes as the custodian of the public interest that needs the NPP drafter’s close attention. The government plays this role in varying degrees in India and in China, in Mongolia and in Mexico. I expect the second version of the NPP manifesto will measure up to addressing these variations which have so far been left incomplete. I also expect that the SJB cannot remain manifesto-less for much longer; 2022 is likely to be the year of the manifestos!

The godforsaken minorities!

Breathes there a Sinhala-Buddhist with soul so dead who never to himself hath said “This is my own my native land”? Or sworn “Will no one rid me of these turbulent minorities”? If only these blasted Tamils and Muslims and Catholics were to evaporate how peaceful Lanka would be, with what single mindedness could we devote ourselves to building a nation of splendour flowing with Gota blessed milk and honey.

Fat hopes! Absent Tamils and Muslims men of ill-will will find other causes to tear out each other’s throats and disembowel their neighbours. The loin-cloth versus keulas, hali versus tree-climbers, Kandyan snobs despising low-country plebeians, vellalas guarding their temple gates. No, I am not being facetious; if the social consciousness of a nation is primitive the behaviour of its people will be correspondingly primeval. Equitable answers to ethnic and religious conflicts exist, but getting the majority of people to accept any is daunting, and not only in Lanka.

Both the JVP-NPP and Sajith-SBJ, despite their chequered track records, can think up some sort of patchwork quilt of proposals, marketable to all sides – the SLPP cannot, even in theory. But however short of nirvana the NPP or SJB proposals on the national question fall, it is determination to deliver on promises (no more B-C and Dudley-Chelva circuses) not their absolute virtue that will count in the event that either forms a government. If you promise only 50% and only deliver forty you will be a hero; promise one hundred and riots, racism and a string of lies you will just be another fallen idol.



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Features

Thomians triumph in Sydney 

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Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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Marked stress on Asia in US foreign policy

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US President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea May 20, 2022

US President Joe Biden’s recent tour of some Asian powers is indicative of a renewed and enhanced interest the US is beginning to take in the Indo-Pacific region. In this his first Asian tour the President chose to visit Japan and South Korea besides helming a Quad meeting in Tokyo and there is good reason for the choice of these venues and engagements.

The first phase of these bridge-strengthening efforts by the US began in late August last year when US Vice President Kamala Harris visited South-east Asia in the wake of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Besides being driven by strong economic compulsions, the US intention was also to ensure that too much of a power vacuum did not open up in the region, following its pull-out from Afghanistan, since China’s perceived expansionist designs are a prime foreign policy concern of the US.

However, the US President’s recent wide-ranging tour of East Asia seems to have been also prompted by some currently intensifying trends and tensions in the wider stage of international politics though the seeming power vacuum just referred to has a significant bearing on it. The immediate purpose of the US President’s tour seems to have been to bolster his country’s backing for Japan and South Korea, two of the US’ closest allies in East Asia. This is necessitated by the ‘China threat’, which, if neglected, could render the US allies vulnerable to China’s military attacks on the one hand and blunt US power and influence in the region on the other.

While Taiwan’s airspace has reportedly been frequently violated by China, sections in Japan have reasons to be wary of perceived Chinese expansionist moves in Japan’s adjacent seas. Moreover, many of China’s neighbours have been having territorial disputes with China, which have tended to intensify the perception over the decades that in the Asian theatre in particular China is a number one ‘bogey’. For historical reasons, South Korea too has been finding the increasing rise of China as a major world power considerably discomforting.

Accordingly, the US considers it opportune to reassure South-east Asia in general and its allies in the region in particular of its continuous military, economic and political support. Though these are among the more immediate reasons for Biden’s tour of the region, there are also the convulsions triggered in international politics by the Russian invasion of Ukraine to consider.

Whereas sections of international opinion have been complacent in the belief that military invasions of one country by another are things of the distant past, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine in February this year proved them shockingly wrong. We have the proof here that not all authoritarian rulers are prepared to adhere to the international rule book and for some of China’s neighbours the possibility is great of their being attacked or invaded by China over the numerous rankling problems that have separated them from their economic super power neighbour over the decades. After all, China is yet to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is increasingly proving an ‘all weather friend’ of Russia. Right now, they are the strongest of allies.

The ‘China threat’ then is prime among the reasons for the US President’s visit to East Asia, though economic considerations play a substantive role in these fence-strengthening initiatives as well. While South-east Asia is the ‘economic power house’ of the world, and the US would need to be doubly mindful of this fact, it would need to reassure its allies in the region of its military and defense assistance at a time of need. This too is of paramount importance.

President Biden did just that while in Tokyo a couple of days back. For instance, he said that the US is ‘fully committed to Japan’s defense’. Biden went on to say that the ‘US is willing to use force to defend Taiwan.’ The latter comment was prompted by the perceived increasing Chinese violations of Taiwan’s air space. After all, considering that Russia has invaded Ukraine with impunity, there is apparently nothing that could prevent China from invading Taiwan and annexing it. Such are the possible repercussions of the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, North Korea is reportedly carrying on with its development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. On this issue too, South Korea would need to have US assurances that the latter would come to its defense in case of a North Korean military strike. The US President’s visit to South Korea was aimed at reassuring the latter of the former’s support.

However, as mentioned, economic considerations too figured prominently in the US President’s South-east Asian tour. While being cognizant of the region’s security sensitivities, bolstering economic cooperation with the latter too was a foremost priority for the Biden administration. For example, the US is in the process of formalizing what has come to be referred to as the Indo-Pacific Trade Treaty. The US has reportedly already inducted Japan and South Korea as founding members of the Treaty while, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are mentioned as prospective members to the treaty.

The perceived threat posed to Western interests in South-east Asia by China needs to be factored in while trying to unravel the reasons for this region-wide endeavour in economic cooperation. It needs to be considered a Western response to China’s Belt and Road initiative which is seen as having a wide appeal for the global South in particular.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having a divisive political and economic impact on the world, international politics will increasingly revolve around the US-China stand-off on a multiplicity of fronts in time to come. Both sides are likely to try out both soft and hard power to an exceptional degree to exercise foremost influence and power in the world. As is already happening, this would trigger increasing international tensions.

There was a distinct and sharp note of firmness in the voice of the US President when he pledged defense and military support for his allies in Asia this week. Considering the very high stakes for the US in a prospering South-east Asia, the US’ competitors would be naive to dismiss his pronouncements as placatory rhetoric meant for believing allies.

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A Majoritarian Constitution

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1972 Constitution in Retrospect – II

By (Dr) Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel

In this the second part of a three-part article on the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka becoming a republic, the writer submits that the 1972 Constitution paved the way for constitutionalising majoritarianism in multi-cultural Sri Lanka.

The unitary state

Although Tamil parties expressed their support for the Constituent Assembly process, they were to be disappointed by the substance of the new constitution.

Basic Resolution No. 2 proposed by the Government called for Sri Lanka to be a unitary state. The Federal Party (FP) proposed an amendment that ‘unitary’ be replaced by ‘federal’.

In a memorandum and the model constitution that it submitted to the Steering Committee of the Assembly, the FP proposed that the country be a federal republic consisting of five states made up as follows: (i) Southern and Western provinces, (ii) North Central and North Western provinces (iii) Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces (iv) Northern Province and the districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa and (v) Ampara district. The city of Colombo and its suburbs were to be administered by the centre. A list of subjects and functions reserved for the centre, with all others going to the states, was included. Interestingly, law and order and Police were to be reserved subjects.

However, Assembly proceedings show that the Tamils were clearly for a compromise. Dharmalingam, who was a main speaker of the FP under Basic Resolution No. 2, stated that the existing constitution had failed as it was not designed for a multi-ethnic country. He pointed out that in ethnically heterogeneous countries where unitary constitutions had been in operation, concessions to the federal principle have been made to meet the demands and aspirations of the minorities. Where there has been a refusal to concede the federal principle, there have been movements for separation. The FP distanced itself from secessionists such as C. Sunderalingam and V. Navaratnam, referring to them by name, and stated that it was not asking for a division of the country but for a division of power.

Dharmalingam made it clear that the FP’s draft was only a basis for discussion. Stating that the party was only asking that the federal principle be accepted, he suggested that as an interim measure, the SLFP, LSSP and CP should implement what they had promised in the election manifesto, namely that they would abolish Kachcheris and replace them with elected bodies. He stated: “If this Government thinks that it does not have a mandate to establish a federal Constitution, it can at least implement the policies of its leader, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, by decentralising the administration, not in the manner it is being done now, but genuine decentralisation, by removing the Kachcheris and in their place establishing elected bodies to administer those regions.”

Sarath Muttetuwegama of the Communist Party, the first political party in the country to propose federalism, in 1944, followed Dharmalingam and stated that ‘federal’ had become a dirty word not because of the federal system of government but because of what the FP had advocated. He was clearly referring to the FP’s association with the UNP and the conservative policies it had followed, such as voting against nationalisations, the takeover of private schools and the Paddy Lands Bill. Seemingly oblivious to the offer that Dharmalingam had made, he asked why the FP had not used the phrase ‘regional autonomy.’ Speakers from the UF who followed Muttetuwegama made it clear that the UF was in no mood to consider the FP’s offer to settle for much less.

Consequently, Basic Resolution No.2 was passed, and the FP’s amendment was defeated in the Steering and Subjects Committee on 27 March 1971.

Dr Nihal Jayawickrama, who was the Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, under the UF Government, and played an important role in the constitutional reform process, has said that the first draft prepared under the direction of the Minister of Constitutional Affairs did not contain any reference to a ‘unitary state’. However, Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike proposed in the Ministerial Sub-Committee that the country be declared a ‘unitary state’. The Minister of Constitutional Affairs did not consider this to be necessary and argued that while the proposed constitution would have a unitary structure, unitary constitutions could vary a great deal in form. Nevertheless, the proposed phrase found its way to the final draft. ‘In course of time, this impetuous, ill-considered, wholly unnecessary embellishment has reached the proportions of a battle cry of individuals and groups who seek to achieve a homogenous Sinhalese state on this island’ Dr Jayawickrama observed. ‘Reflections on the Making and Content of the 1972 Constitution: An Insider’s Perspective’ in Asanga Welikala (ed), The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice vol 1 (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2012) 43.

It is significant that the FP continued to participate in the Constituent Assembly even after its amendment was rejected. Records show that its leader, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, regularly attended the meetings of the Steering and Subjects Committee.

With the advantage of hindsight, it could be said that acceptance of the FP’s proposed compromise for a division of power would have proved to be a far-reaching confidence-building measure on which more could perhaps have been built later. Moreover, such an acceptance would have ensured the continued participation of the FP in the Constituent Assembly. Even had the FP, as the UNP eventually did, voted against the adoption of the new constitution, their participation in the entire constitution-making process would have resulted in greater acceptance of the 1972 Constitution by the Tamil people.

Although they discontinued participation at a later stage, Federal Party MPs nevertheless took oaths under the new Constitution. Tamil parties soon united under the banner of the Tamil United Front (TUF), which later became the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). At the famous Vaddukoddai conference of 1976, the TULF embraced separatism and adopted a resolution calling for a separate state called ‘Tamil Eelam’ in the Northern and Eastern provinces. At the 1977 elections, the TULF contested on a separatist platform and swept the Tamil areas.

The place of Buddhism

According to Dr Jayawickrama, Dr. de Silva’s original proposal called for the guarantee of freedom of thought, conscience and religion to every citizen. However, the Prime Minister requested that this proposal be added with a provision for the protection of institutions and traditional places of worship of Buddhists.

Basic Resolution No. 3 approved by the Constituent Assembly was for Buddhism to be given its ‘rightful place’: ‘In the Republic of Sri Lanka, Buddhism, the religion of the majority of the people, shall be given its rightful place, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddhism, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Basic Resolution 5 (iv).’

Basic Resolution 5 (iv) referred to read: “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have and adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

But by the time the final draft was approved, the proposal had undergone a further change. Article 6 of the 1972 Constitution is as follows: ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddhism while assuring to all religions the rights granted by section 18 (1) (d).’ Section 18 (1) (d), in the chapter on fundamental rights, assures to all citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

To the question of whether constitutionally guaranteeing special status to Buddhism not available to other religions of the land might adversely affect the non-Buddhists, Dr de Silva retrospectively responded in the following manner: “The section in respect of Buddhism is subject to section 18 (1) (d) and I wish to say, I believe in a secular state. But you know when Constitutions are made by Constituent Assemblies they are not made by the Minister of Constitutional Affairs. I myself would have preferred (section 18(1) (d)). But there is nothing…And I repeat, NOTHING, in section 6 which in any manner infringes upon the rights of any religion in this country. (Safeguards for the Minorities in the 1972 Constitution (Young Socialist 1987) 10.)

Dr Jayawickrama has been more critical. ‘If Buddhism had survived in the hearts and minds of the people through nearly five centuries of foreign occupation, a constitutional edict was hardly necessary to protect it now’, he opined. (‘Colvin and Constitution-Making – A Postscript’ Sunday Island, 15 July 2007).

Language provisions

Basic Resolution No.11 stated that all laws shall be enacted in Sinhala and that there shall be a Tamil translation of every law so enacted.

Basic Resolution No.12 read as follows: “(1) The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala as provided by the Official Language Act No. 32 of 1956. (2) The use of the Tamil Language shall be in accordance with the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act No. 28 of 1958.”

Efforts by the FP to get the Government to improve upon Basic Resolutions Nos. 11 and 12 failed. On 28 June 1971, both resolutions were passed, amendments proposed by the FP having been defeated. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam informed the Constituent Assembly that they had met with both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, and while the meetings had been cordial, the Government had refused to make any alteration to the Basic Resolutions. He stated that the FP would therefore not attend future meetings. “We have come to the painful conclusion that as our language rights are not satisfactorily provided in the proposed Constitution, no useful purpose will be served in our continuing in the deliberations of this Assembly. By taking this step, we mean no offence to anybody. We only want to safeguard the dignity of our people.” There was not even a dramatic walk out. ‘We do not wish to stage a demonstration by walking out’, he added.

That Dr Colvin R. de Silva, who prophetically stated in 1955, ‘one language, two countries; two languages, one country’, should go so far as to upgrade the then-existing language provisions to constitutional status has baffled many political observers. In fact, according to Dr Jayawickrama, the Prime Minister had stated that it would be unwise to re-open the language debate and that the better course would be to let the ordinary laws on the subject operate in the form in which they were. By this time, the Privy Council had reversed the decision of the Supreme Court in A.G. v Kodeswaranthat a public servant could not sue the Crown for breach of contract of employment and sent the case back for a determination on other issues, including the main issue as to whether the Official Language Act violated section 29 (2), as the District Court had held. Dr. de Silva did not wish the Supreme Court to re-visit the issue. ‘If the courts do declare this law invalid and unconstitutional, heavens alive, the chief work done from 1956 onwards will be undone. You will have to restore the egg from the omelette into which it was beaten and cooked.’ He had, however, resisted a proposal made by Minister Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike that Sinhala be declared the ‘one’ official language of Sri Lanka.

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