The Tamil National Alliance says everybody must have a stake in the country and none should be second-class citizens.
While insisting that they will not stand in the way if the Buddhists prefer their religion to be treated above all, even though the country should be secular State in its Constitution, TNA yesterday (30) said the country would remain one only if different peoples have a stake in governance.
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran told the Constituent Assembly “any Constitution that seeks to treat all of its citizens as its equals must be a secular Constitution. I am not a Buddhist. I cannot be told that am second class in this country. A Constitution that gives a particular religion a foremost place cannot be a Constitution that treats its citizens as equals. It’s up to this House to decide whether you want a Constitution that does not treat its citizens equally. Even though, that is the ideal status, if Buddhist people wish special status be given to Buddhism, we will not stand in the way. But, that is an indefensible position for Buddhists to take.
How can any Buddhist who defends equality ever get up and say that?”
He also said that the TNA clearly believe that Sri Lanka must be a federal State.
While noting that there is a misconception that the call for federalism comes from the side of the Tamils, as the first step in dividing the country, he said “nothing can be farther from truth than this.”
He noted that the federalism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the founder of the SLFP S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike as far as in 1926. Peter Keuneman and A. Vaithialingam of the Communist Party in their report in the 1944 too recommended federal structure for the country. Merging of the North and the East was not our demand first. It was first demanded by the Kandyan Chieftains, once before the Donoughmore Commission and again before the Soulbury Commission, he pointed out.
He also insisted that the TNA believes in one undivided country.
“If the country is to remain one, different peoples in this country must have a share of the governance. It cannot be a system of governance where a simple majoritarian rule prevails. There must be maximum possible power sharing arrangement, so that all kinds of peoples have a share in it. Otherwise, the sovereignty of people will be meaningless. The country must understand the reason why we are asking for the sharing of power is that we can be proud of this country where we live. We don’t want to be second class citizens. If we are to be proud of this country and call ourselves proud Sri Lankans, we must have an equal stake in this country. Until we are being treated as equals, not by mere words but actual access to government power being given to our people, we will never be able to say we are Sri Lankans. The reason why TNA participates in this constitutional process is to erase bitter past,” he added.