Saturday 24 October 2020


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

24 October  2020



Ceylon Senate Reviving Itself?

When reading the Sri Lankan Supreme Court’s reasoning in relation to the 20th Amendment bill the thought of Senate kept coming to my mind. It came first when I was analysing the 2020 Election results for Jaffna district. As mentioned previously, the likes of Mr CV Wigneswaran and Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam were elected through preferences as if they were senators. In the case of the Judiciary – those who inherited the British structure continue to be Senators. We did have a Senate until 1971 September. The challenge to the 20th Amendment has taken place during the anniversary of the dissolution of the Senate.

More to the point is the fact that I received an email from Tamil Diaspora media at that point with a video clip of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa with his family in a Hindu temple. The email was headed ‘ MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA AT NAVARATHIRI PRAYERS IN TEMPLE’

We have been facilitating Navarathri (nine nights) at our family temple in Sangarathai-Thunaivi in Vaddukoddai district. This is an addition during my generation. I believe that a place of worship is a common area through which we share belief and therefore heritage values. The folks of Thunaivi who separated themselves on caste basis – lost the connection to the more educated mind in Vaddukoddai. If power had been gradually devolved from the Farmer caste to the less educated junior castes who were respectful of the higher thinking minds, we would not have separated from national government. Once we separate we have already confirmed stagnation at that point and this means loss of opportunity to devolve.

Wikipedia presents the following proposal of 2010:

[Recently there have been consideration into the reintroduction of a senate into the Parliament of Sri Lanka. The United People's Freedom Alliance Government, led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, is exploring possibilities to change the existing parliamentary system significantly. The government proposes that the new Senate will have around 45% of the members from the Parliament and the remaining 55% to be appointed by the president, taking the recommendations of the religious leaders and other distinguished personalities of the civil society. Therefore, the proposed Senate will have a total of 65 members, 28 Sinhalese and the rest, 37, would be appointed from minority communities, professionals and other intellectuals]

This did not eventuate. But at political level, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa did include Muslims and Tamils in his side during and after the 2020 elections. In terms of Senate 65% of those who petitioned against the 20th Amendment bill in Courts were Sinhalese. The rest were minorities and professionals. Ideally we need at least 50% of participants to have alternate forms of belief at policy level. Otherwise, Sri Lanka’s intellectual development would either be of use to foreigners or would be stunted at political levels – as has happened within the Tamil Community which ought to have demonstrated greater participation from non-TNA politicians and more independent professionals from Northern Province.

The lesson I have learnt about the system of Natural Justice is that when we believe, we would take every opportunity to participate and add our energies to others who are genuine participants. Then we will always be successful in achieving our goal – including through the future generations.   When our current work is of service value, it becomes heritage. Descendants of educated minorities have the greater responsibility to ensure intellectual leadership in Public life. The rest will happen through the system of Universal Franchise. By genuinely participating in the Hindu festival of Navarathri during which we celebrate the goddess of Education, Mother Saraswathi- Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa has confirmed that he is also an heir of Hindu culture. As a believing Hindu, I bless him.

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