Complete package delivered to PSC

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The PA government officially presented its complete devolution proposal to the Parliamentary Select Committee this afternoon. The Committee will meet again on Oct.21 to discuss the modality of presenting the document to Parliament.

Prof. Pieris said that reservations of the other parties in the PSC will be specified in a rider to the document rather than placing it in the Parliament as a majority report of the PA.

He also told the Committee that some suggestions made by the other parties have been included in the document.

The Tamil parties in the PSC - PLOTE, EPDP, CWC and the TULF - have reservations on the issue of the final say the central government will have on questions of land under the PA proposal.

They have objections to the status of Buddhism. "The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the state to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana ......" says the PA proposal.

The Tamil parties also object to the continuation of the Lion Flag as the national flag of the republic and the same national anthem.

Despite private assurances by the PA, the Tamil parties say they will oppose the unit of devolution as described in today's document, including the plan to hold referenda in the east .

They say that they will not compromise on the homeland concept. This is their official position.

Privately the Tamil parties in Parliament appear to have come to an understanding on the unit of devolution with the PA and hope to soon do so with the UNP.

The PA's document on constitutional reform describes Sri Lanka as an indissoluble union of regions. The executive system of government is done away with. The President is to have ceremonial powers while remaining the commander in chief of the armed forces of the country.

The document proposes to have only one category of citizenship in the country called Sri Lankan unlike the current practice of describing citizenship on the basis of ethnicity, descent and registration.

All those who have been permanent residents of Sri Lanka since Oct.30, 1964 and not having citizenship in any other country shall be considered Sri Lankan citizens according to the PA document presented to the Select Committee today.

The PA wants to place the document in the Sri Lankan Parliament before the budget is taken up for debate next month.

The brief preview of the document made public today drew some fire from Sinhala hardliners this morning. The 'Divaina', the stridently anti-devolution Sinhala daily, attempted to threaten the Sinhalese by declaring in banner headlines today that Sri Lanka's name is going to be changed under the PA's proposal.

The document will not have any legal status in Parliament as long as it remains there as a report of the Select Committee - with the rider.

It is believed in Sri Lankan foreign ministry circles that placing the document in Parliament on schedule will strengthen PA's position vis-à-vis the western donor community.




Mr.P.R.H Wijesinghe of Kaldemulla (near Colombo) filed action in the district court of Colombo yesterday against Prof. G.L Pieris claiming that the PA's devolution package is his copyright.

Mr.Wijesighe who is currently resident in Virginia in USA, claimed that he had drawn up a devolution plan for resolving the conflict in Sri Lanka in a book he has published recently.

He accused Prof.G.L Pieris of taking out the proposal 'lock stock and barrel' from his book and presenting it as the PA's devolution package.

 

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