Trying to solve ethnic conflict will lead to bigger Ethnic TRAP.
it is important to consider the plight of minority Sinhala settlements in Trinco, Batti, Ampara, Vavuniya, Nuwara-Eliya, etc. under a federal set-up. They should be convinced that they will be better-off than they are under the central government. This is a very difficult thing to achieve given the complete lack of Sinhala representation among the political parties that are in strength in the N-E including TNA, SLMC, EPDP, PLOTE, TMVP, etc. The bottom line is they don?t trust these race-based political parties however much they try to contradict the ground realities - they are unable to command any trust from the Sinhala voters.
I have not seen anywhere how federalism can (as opposed to any other set-up) give the Sinhalese anything ?extra?. Hence, most of them will not support a federal system. Their desire for a peaceful settlement of the ?conflict? should not be mistaken for a ?federal system? that places them under Tamil and Muslim political parties in whom they have zero trust and will add another overhead burden on the country just as the PCs.
A sustainable solution as opposed to one adopted under duress
On the other hand, if a resolution can be reached that gratifies the popular vote base such a system will be protected and promoted by the masses.
It is regrettable that most ?political solutions? disregard the aspirations of the majority and I do not think they will keep silent once the federalism matter hots up. Some of their (popular) leaders should be blamed for their part for not actively engaged in the process apart from opposing it outright.
Should the regions be allowed to formulate their diplomatic priorities or should they follow the central government? If they do not have such powers, the regions will surely demand it. It is no secret that Tamils want much closer ties with Canada, UK, Switzerland and Tamil Nadu than now and similarly Muslims would want closer link-ups with the Islamic World. Tamil Nadu, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Iran are likely to have heightened diplomatic importance to the various regions. Apart from obvious conflicting interests among Saudi and Iranian interests (there were a few disturbing developments in the East last year), how can Tamil Nadu and Indian interest be managed by the Lankan central government and the regions? These conflicting interests will surely interplay with other matters like the Chinese developments in H?tota that includes a navel base.
Simply we are heading into diplomatic anarchy under federalism. On the other hand, if the regions? rights to diplomatic interests are curtailed, would federalism achieve its desired targets?
Can India allow federalism to take root in Sri Lanka?
May be yes in 1987 but not now. In 1992 India banned the LTTE not because of Rajeev Ghandi or Sri Lanka, but rather because its influence on India?s own territorial integrity. This was evident in the report that called for a continued ban on the LTTE that was presented to the Indian parliament in 2007. Citing this, prominent constitutional lawyer HL de Silva stated that division of Lanka would be the epitaph of India.
Provided that a federal set-up will result in a more disintegrated Lanka, it is unlikely that India would support it wholeheartedly. It is also concerned about possible Western/Islamic influence in its backyard. This may in part explain why India has played a dormant role as regards federalism in Lanka even the 13th amendment 20 years ago had little Indian input.
However, what is considered in Sri Lanka is much more dangerous than federalism itself it is a strange variant that can be described as ?racial-federalism?. This doesn?t sound well but that?s exactly what most politicians in favour of federalism demand. A separate Muslim Unit within the Tamil Homeland? Separate Sinhala units within each of them? How ridiculously racial? We are likely to fall into a bigger ?ethnic? trap if we try to solve the ?ethnic? conflict by federalism. My personal view is that we should be moving in a different direction that can integrate the ethnic groups. We don?t differentiate ethnic celebrations, ethnic foodstuff and ethnic attire. We need more than Dosai Villas, Buhari Cafes and Bath Kades we need our fellow citizens who run them to live and thrive in our nation among us.
Edited By - AnuD - 16 Aug 2007 03:59:23 GMT