Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 31 January 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette


Priorities in working towards a political solution

One year after the democratic changes our country witnessed, which also rekindled efforts towards reconciliation, the Friday Forum welcomes the process initiated on January 9, 2016 on constitutional reform, a response to critical political problems. While discussions on a political solution have focused on devolution and power sharing with the provinces, our statement puts forward some principles and ideas that we think are fundamental to address the structural problems that have undermined the body politic of our state and society since independence, and have created an environment for conflict and tension among communities.

Sovereignty of the People, Non-Discrimination and the Concept of a Secular State

The fundamental principle is that sovereignty is in the people within a united, independent and indivisible state. If sovereignty is in the people, the rights and aspirations of all people must be recognised, with respect for diverse religions, languages and ethnicities. Such a plural society will inevitably move towards a state which treats all religions alike. The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and Tamil are national and official languages.

Democracy and devolution

Over the decades, authoritarianism has been on the rise, both with the state becoming repressive in the face of insurrections and armed conflict and with the increasing centralisation of state power. The current unitary structure of the state and the executive presidency have contributed to an alarmingly disproportionate centralised style of governance, abuse of executive power and violations of fundamental rights. This has also led to a breakdown of law and order, and a culture of impunity for acts of gross violence and corruption. The principle of subsidiarity calls for devolving power from the centre and for people’s participation and power sharing. There should be constitutional guarantees to ensure such devolved power is not retaken by the centre, and that the criterion of use of such devolved power is, in its turn, invariably the welfare of all citizens of the devolved unit without distinction.

We have witnessed how a unitary structure of the state leads to the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the economic policy makers and even our educationists working with a centralised mindset. Such a unitary worldview is hierarchical and undermines the concerns and participation of people in the peripheral regions in particular. Democratisation of state and society and sovereignty of the people require that any new constitutional proposals should abolish the Executive Presidency and provide for maximum devolution within the concept of a united and indivisible country.

Sustainable Development

The legacy of the social welfare state, with comparatively high human development indicators, has been undermined in recent years with neo-liberal economic policies. Economic development has focused mainly on Colombo and the Western Province, and uneven development characterises the national economy. Social and economic inequalities are on the rise, with such inequalities particularly affecting the regions in the periphery including the Northern and Eastern Provinces that were most affected by the armed conflict. Sustainable development policies should be implemented in the regions, to ensure that local economies and resources are also developed and benefit the people. There should be fair and adequate distribution of national resources to ensure such regional development.

In this way the untapped human resource potential of rural youth and women can be harnessed for development. Sectors such as agriculture and fisheries, which are important for livelihoods at the regional level, can be developed through adequate national resources committed for such development.


The gains made after independence regarding equitable access to quality education have been progressively undermined, and there has been national recognition of a continuing crisis in the education sector. This crisis is not limited to our school system and university education, but is reflected in non-formal education such as vocational training and agricultural extension.

If education is to be meaningful, it has also to be accessible and relevant to problems and issues faced by people in diverse and marginalised communities. This requires reassessment and review of curricula and teaching methodologies with the participation of regional education authorities. They must be adequately resourced to meet the challenges of education reform.


Sri Lanka after decades of armed conflict and great inequalities has become a divided society. Ethnic and religious divisions, class differences and caste oppression in some communities continue to undermine our capacity to achieve integrated development and progress. Efforts to rebuild inter-ethnic and other social relations between communities have to begin with adequate resources allocated to the regions as well as with dismantling the structures at the centre which perpetuate racism, gender-based discrimination and other forms of social exclusion.

We ask all engaged in the current reform to reflect and recognise the importance of integrating the above principles into the process. The Friday Forum calls on citizens and Parliament to reflect on these principles and engage with the constitutional reform process, so that we can begin to resolve the political questions that have plagued our country since Independence. The need for rejecting adversarial politics and finding common ground to forge a consensus on what is best for our common future was emphasised by President Maithripala Sirisena when he addressed Parliament. This may be the last opportunity to defeat divisive and extremist forces in different parts of our country, and work towards a just society and a sustainable environment of peace, security and prosperity for all our people.

Professor Savitri Goonesekere and Ahilan Kadirgamar for and on behalf of Friday Forum

FMM condemns behaviour of extremist Monks

The Free Media Movement condemns in strongest terms the unruly behavior of few extremist Buddhist Monks who tried to disrupt the court hearing of the journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda disappearance case. This disrupting took place on 25th January 2016 at the Homagama Magistrate Court. The leader of the extremist Bodu Bala Sena outfit, Monk Galabodaatthe Gnanasara entered the court by force and shouted in uncivilised language blaming lawyers and court officials for conducting the case of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda disappearance.

While leaving the court after challenging the Magistrate to arrest him, BBS leader Monk Gnanasara threatened in filthy language Prageeeth’s wife Sandaya Eknaligoda and she has made a complaint to the Homagama police against the threat by Monk Gnanasara.

Punishing those who try to disrupt the case of Prageeth Eknakigoda disappearance is a pre-condition for the fair hearing of the case. If the culprits are not punished, they will continue to disrupt and influence the court proceedings. Number of Military officers has been charged with the abduction and disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda. Extremist nationalist groups have mounted a campaign against arresting military officers’ on the ground that they are war heroes.

Journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda disappeared on January 24, 2010 in Colombo.

FMM notes with concern that after the court ordered to remand Monk Gnanasara till 9th February 2016 for contempt of court and other charges on 26th, a group of his supporters, including bhikkhus behaved like thugs disrupting court proceedings and preventing prison officials taking Ven. Gnanasara to remand prison. Police, which use un-proportionate force against protesting civil groups, did not take action to bring the situation under control and allowed the extremist group to take the upper hand.

FMM would like to reiterate Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s encouraging words condemning the unruly behaviour of this violent gang: “Everyone is equal before the law and the law should be enforced on anyone no matter who they were.’’

FMM urge the government and police to take action against the threats directed at Sandaya Eknaligoda, an exemplary campaigner for justice and not to allow any disruption by any extremist group of Prageeth Eknalogoda disappearance case.

Seetha Ranjanee, Convener, FMM
C. Dodawatta, Secretary, FMM



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