At the invitation of the President, I met his Excellency along with our Party senior member Mr. S. Selvendra at 4.30 PM on 10th August 2022 at the Presidential Secretariat. The Prime Minister was also present. The President explained to us at length his plan of governance which included a Parliamentary governance committee giving a greater role for the Provincial Governors. His idea was that all MPs from Provinces must govern the respective Provinces under the Chairmanship of the Governors in terms of a National Agenda. He referred to Austria as an example. (His example was inappropriate. Austria is a Federal Country).
Further discussing regarding grabbing of lands in Provinces by Central Government Ministries he agreed that there should be no forestry land that should be grabbed by Ministries and that we should focus on preserving the environment in each Province. He said, if need be a maximum of 2 acres could be taken over by the Government. I said no land should be appropriated by the Central Government in the Provinces except with the consent and concurrence of the respective Provincial Government. There was no response from His Excellency.
Regarding National Schools he said 50 National Schools were enough for the Country not 1000 National Schools. I pointed out that no Provincial Schools could be taken over by the State and that our Alliance has already filed action in this regard.
He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1.
He wanted me to share a document which outlines the proposal on how money could be channeled into the Country from the Diaspora.
It became apparent to us while discussing with him that his plan was to strengthen the central administrative control of the entire Country totally ignoring the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
I pointed out to the President that the Tamil people in this country expect the government to take speedy action to attend to their requests submitted by all Tamil National party leaders which included the release of political prisoners; action to trace the missing persons; stop the activities of various government departments to grab Tamil lands and stop persons trying to build Buddhist temples in Tamil homeland with the help of the Military and so on.
It was also pointed out that in order to enable the Tamils to give political leadership and governance over their Provinces, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be implemented in full as a temporary measure until satisfactory constitutional reforms are made. We told the President that until this process is started in earnest satisfying the Tamil people, we will support the Government from the Opposition. There was no question of our becoming a part of the Government.
Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems. Nevertheless, we promised to forward the document he called for and took our leave to depart.