Category Archives: constitutional amendments

Universal Franchise for Ceylon in 1931: The Complexities of Governance and Policy

Jane Russell

I am greatly honoured to be asked by the Awarelogue Initiative to speak at their Lecture Forum in this year of 2021, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the advent of universal franchise in Sri Lanka. In my lecture, I shall touch on some of the complex problems of governance and policy faced by a small multi-ethnic island, flanked as it is and always has been, by economic and political superpowers.

Dr. Thomas Drummond-Shiels: Donoughmore Commissioner 1927/28: Labour MP for Edinburgh 1924 -31; Under Secretary of State for the Colonies 1929-31

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A Sturdy Voice That We Miss: Rajeewa Jayaweera on India’s Looming Politics

Dr, D. Chandraratna in The Island, 11 June 2021, where the title reads An Appreciation: Rajeewa Jayaweera: A Void Hard to fill” …. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

On 11 June, 2020, when we heard the distressing news of Rajeewa Jayaweera’s untimely death, I wrote an appreciation from afar that he was a public intellectual who had contributed immensely to public debate, mostly on our relations with India and to a lesser extent with the Western countries. Coming from a fortunate background, and immersed in the diplomatic life of his father he took a scholarly interest in foreign affairs. Few in Sri Lanka has contributed so much to the subject recently as much as Rajeewa, to bring into public discussion our relations with the world community. His accounts were a  ‘learned and incisive appraisal of events’ particularly during the turbulent times of the threat posed by separatism. In this article on the first death anniversary I wish to justify my assertion about Rajeewa by way of an appreciation with a difference.

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Political Crisis and Ethnic Conflicts in Sri Lanka: A Rejoinder to Michael Roberts

K. M. de Silva, being an article published in the Ethnic Studies  Report, Vol. 6/1, January 1988 …. a riposte to a Review of his book Managing Ethnic Tensions in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka, 1880-1985, (1985)

                                          I 

I have long believed that the author of a book under review should not bother to write replies to reviewers however perverse he believes the latter to be. After all he has had his say at greater length than the reviewer. My present departure from this practice, and the response I write to Michael Roberts’s review of my book Managing Ethnic Tensions in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka 1880-1985 stems from two considerations. Invited to write a short review (1,500 words or so) in the style of the present journal Michael Roberts writes a review essay of 20,000 words. It has been reduced to about 2/3rds its length for our journal but it is still the longest review we have published. Secondly, he proceeds to write two reviews of the same book, one for this journal, and one for another [see p. 61 above, Michael Roberts 1987 (a)]

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Lord Soulbury, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Peradeniya University

This striking and rare photograph from 20th April 1954 shows Lord Soulbury leading the young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their way to inaugurate the formal opening of the University of Peradeniya at its “Senate Building” — whereupon Prince Philip displayed acumen in deploying the original words –“more open than usual” when verbally administering the opening. What apt words!

This Pix has been sent to me by Gerald Peiris.

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Chandrahasan defends the Provincial Council System

Nirmala Chandrahasan, in The Island, 28 December 2020, where the title reads “In defence of Provincial Councils”

The Provincial Councils, like the windmills in Cervante’s Don Quixote, are having brickbats thrown at, and cantankerous knights tilting at them. In this piece I would like to answer some of the criticisms made against the Provincial Councils. But before I do so I note that the Prime Minister has announced that the Provincial Council elections will be held once the ground situation is ready for it. This welcome statement puts paid to all the critics, it being generally acknowledged that the Prime Minister as an experienced and consummate politician would know the political climate in the country and act accordingly.

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For Lanka’s Future and Serenity: Skanda’s Appeal from the Heights of Haputale

Somasundaram Skandakumar …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

A path to prosperity for Sri Lanka will ONLY evolve when the majority community that so passionately talks about Buddhism have it in them to abide by Lord Buddha’s profound teaching, in their hearts, minds and in Public.

It was the Lord who wished for ALL beings to be happy. It was the same Lord who said that when ALL beings are happy, nature will smile on the Country and prosperity will be assured from the ensuing blessings.

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Outdated Colonial Political Demarcations are No Foundation for Governance

Gerald H. Peiris, in The Island, 16 & 17 December 2020, where the title runs thus: “Province-based Devolution in Sri Lanka: a Critique”  …. https://island.lk/province-based-devolution-in-sri-lanka-a-critique-2/

  1. Preamble:  This article is prompted by the recent announcement that the Cabinet will soon consider a proposal to conduct Provincial Council (PC) elections without delay. The article is intended to urge that the PC system should be abolished and replaced by constitutional devices to ensure: (a) genuine sharing of political power among all primordial, áscriptive and associational groups that constitute the nation of Sri Lanka; and (b) the statutory protection of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity which the PC system, as long as it is permitted to last, will remain in dire peril. The article is also intended to stimulate the memory of those who appear to have forgotten the circumstances that culminated in the enactment of legislation in 1987 to establish PCs. There appears to prevail a measure of complacency among some of our present political stalwarts based on the notion that, with their two-thirds majority in parliament, and with the 20th Amendment in place, they ought to let the status quo remain intact. This, I think, is quite silly. Apart from the fact that landslide electoral victories tend often to be  brittle, those who were in the forefront of empowering the present regime are already reacting with dismay to the decision to re-establish the PCs.

John D’Oyly negotiating with Kandyan chiefs

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Dissecting the Federal Option for SL Tamils in 2005 — An Important Appraisal

  Gerald Peiris, whose original refereed essay in 2005 in Faultlines, Volume 17, Journal of the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi …. is entitled “Federalism and the ‘Federal Option’ for Sri Lanka” ….. Its Table of Contents is reproduced at the end of this presentation.

On Federalism as a Modality of Conflict Resolution

“The successful operation of federal systems requires a particular kind of political environment, one that is conducive to popular government and has the requisite traditions of political cooperation and self-restraint.  Beyond this, federal systems operate best in societies with sufficient homogeneity of fundamental interests to allow a great deal of latitude to local government and permit reliance upon voluntary collaboration.  The use of force to maintain domestic order is even more inimical to the successful maintenance of federal patterns of government than to other forms of popular government.  Federal systems are most successful in societies that have the human resources to fill many public offices competently and the material resources to afford a measure of economic waste as part of the price of liberty”.

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Bonapartist Autocracy in Sri Lanka from 1977 Onwards

Uditha Devapriya who notes that the article that followw here was published in two parts by “The Island” in its “Midweek Review” of December 2 and December 9, 2020. It has since  been edited to incorporate information which at the time of writing the author was not able to add.

 Napoleone di Buonaparte

I: Viewed in retrospect, the yahapalanaya regime seems almost a bad memory now, best forgotten. This is not to underrate its achievements, for the UNP-SLFP Unity Government did achieve certain things, like the Right to Information Act. It soon found out, however, that it couldn’t shield itself from its own reforms; that’s how 2015 led to 2019. Despite its laudable commitment to democratic rule, the yahapalanists reckoned without the popularity of the man they ousted at the ballot box. November 2019, in that sense, was a classic example of a populist resurrection unparalleled in South Asia, though not in Asia: a government touting a neoliberal line giving way to a centre-right populist-personalist.

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Adelaide University Initiatives-A: Roberts’ Oral History Project 1965-68

VISIT https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/83263 ………………. Michael Roberts. Oral History Project :  303

154 interviews by Michael Roberts of retired public servants who had served in Sri Lanka (mainly in the Ceylon Civil Service), politicians and other notables.

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