|Wednesday, 21 January 2004|
The Memorandum of Understanding between SLFP and JVP
1. Sri Lanka, which is a country blessed with a plenitude of natural resources, and an ancient and rich cultural heritage is today facing an unprecedented crisis. This crisis which has gripped the totality of Sri Lanka's society is manifest in political, economic and cultural spheres.
As a result of the wrong policies followed by the ruling United National Front (UNF) government, the country faces the prospect of losing its territorial integrity and the establishment of a parallel Eelamist State.
Conditions for international support for such a separation are being fostered by the UNF. At the same time the foundations of a vibrant national economy are being systematically destroyed and a new economic configuration based on crony capitalism, racketeering, corruption and subservience to international financial institutions is being rapidly established.
Faced with this debacle which affects all Sri Lankans, irrespective of race, creed or language, the people are seeking a new path of governance.
2. The economic policies of the UNF are determined by lending agencies with scant regard for local priorities and the aspirations of the people.
These policies include the sale of strategic national assets such as State banks, petroleum industry and power, and of economically viable State ventures such as Insurance and vital social services, such as transportation (CTB and Railway), to political favourites in a manner particularly lacking in transparency. In the field of agriculture, policies inimical to local farmers are being pursued. Laws relating to land sales are being amended to suit foreign investors, a water tax has been proposed in the guise of water management and fertilizer subsidy and other assistance granted by the previous government has been curtailed.
The so-called development policies of the UNF Government have been undertaken with scant regard for preserving the natural habitat, and environmental protection. The natural resources of the country are being pillaged with no regard for economic consequences.
The poor are called upon to bear the brunt of these policies. The safety-net against poverty established by the People's Alliance Government has been removed by curtailing social welfare programmes. For example -
* Cutting Samurdhi benefits,
3. The ethnic question of Sri Lanka too has taken an undesirable turn since the formation of the UNF government. In the name of the aspirations of all our peoples for an honourable and durable Peace, the UNF has set out on a path which would lead to a separate Eelamist State.
The MoU signed by the Prime Minister did not have the prior approval of the Head of State - the President, Parliament or even the Cabinet and the Parliamentary group of the UNF. The terms of the MoU have been flagrantly violated on numerous occasions by the LTTE, but the UNF Government has been unable to respond. Consequently, the objectives of the separatist forces have received a boost while the legitimate rights of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim peoples of the country have not been recognized.
As a result of these lapses the separatist LTTE forces have become stronger.
* The LTTE has laid claim to a naval zone for its sea tigers thus reinforcing their claims to a separate navy. Their claims have been entertained by the Norwegian Monitoring Mission.
* The security forces of Sri Lanka have been under intense pressure to vacate the High Security Zones. They have been rendered ineffective in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
* LTTE is also continuing to abduct thousands of innocent Tamil children, extort money in the guise of "taxes" and harass Muslims and the Sinhalese to drive them out from the Eastern Province.
Accordingly, the so-called Peace Process will not usher in a durable peace but threatens the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the country, degrading its dignity. The LTTE's proposals for an Interim Self-Governing Authority go far beyond the resolution of the problems of the Tamil people and other minority communities, and create the basis for a separate Eelam state.
4. Today, basic human and democratic rights are being violated in our country. Prior to the establishment of the UNF government, the People's Alliance (PA) and the JVP with the active support of the United National Party set up several independent Commissions following the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
Today, they have been made ineffective. Many of the powers and functions of the Independent Police Commission have been re-vested in the Inspector General of Police due to the lack of facilities and staff in the National Police Commission.
Over 60 SLFP activists have been murdered. Over 3000 party members and supporters have suffered loss to person and property. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Internal Security, took no action against these violations of our law. UNP representatives, their kith and kin and party supporters attack the police with impunity. Law and order has broken down. As a result organized crime including murder, robbery, kidnappings and rape have become the order of the day. The UNF government brought the police and prisons under a single Ministry, thereby setting the stage for the creation of a Police State.
The former Minister of Defence attempted to grab the Defence power of the President. Fortunately the Supreme Court held that the proposed 19th amendment was unconstitutional thereby thwarting the Government's attempts to impose dictatorial rule in the rest of the country.
The Government failed to take action, while the LTTE set about crushing the democratic and human rights of all communities - Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim in the North and East. Under the "Ceasefire" leaders of Tamil organizations opposed to the LTTE were brutally murdered. The Muslims of the Eastern Province were deprived of their rights and physically attacked.
The UNF Government's attempt to set up a one party, police state dictatorship was strengthened by its stranglehold on the media. It unleashed a "media mafia" which controlled the flow of news and information thereby violating the citizens' right to information.
For all these above-mentioned reasons, joint action to prevent the drift towards a one-party, anti-democratic, UNF dictatorship has become an urgent national responsibility and priority.
It is in this backdrop that the President was compelled to take over the Defence, Internal Security and Media ministries, as she was constitutionally empowered to do.
5. Under the UNF government the traditional values and culture of the country has been degraded in the guise of the "open economy". A culture of greed and exploitation has been implanted. The principle of community, mutual responsibility and political decency have been replaced by a "winner takes all" philosophy which has no place for the poor, the underprivileged and the handicapped.
6. Our foreign policy which was based on regional cooperation and mutual respect has been replaced by one of servitude and the absence of national dignity. Such change in our foreign policy can even pose a threat to our neighbouring countries. We must therefore return to a balanced approach which is our valuable legacy from the past.
7. It is clear that in respect of the above mentioned five areas, the UNF government has rapidly brought the country to the brink of disaster.
8. In terms of the analysis set out above, it is imperative to implement an alternative plan of action encompassing the economic, political and cultural spheres in order to save the country from destruction. The time has come for the creation of a broad, patriotic, popular national alliance which will be the way forward for all the people of our country - be they be Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burghers.
The time is now opportune for such a broad patriotic national alliance which will present and carry out an agreed common programme of national resurgence. This is therefore a historic moment.
9. We, therefore, have dedicated ourselves to the task of establishing a government which will seek to implement the following "Pancha Maha Piliveth" or the Five Noble Objectives of Governance:
1. The Economy:-
* To promote an economy which will give pride of place to local production in both agricultural and industrial sectors, encourage local farmers, entrepreneurs and industrialists and rejuvenate local companies and industries.
* To lay emphasis on increasing productivity in both public and private sectors, which will be afforded significant roles in economic development instead of indiscriminately selling off national assets in a corrupt manner.
* To emphasize the significant role in development of efficient and modern management, including all necessary measures to promote transparency and good governance.
* To revive and adopt global advances in modern technology, maximize foreign capital investment on the basis of mutual benefit with a view to opening our country to global economic progress.
* To solve the pressing economic problems of the masses by granting a variety of relief measures.
2. Ethnic Harmony:-
* To launch a multi-faceted programme which will ensure that all people who have made Sri Lanka their home viz. Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslims and others should not suffer any discrimination on grounds of race, religion, language or culture and totally to remove all manifestations of differential treatment. Further on the basis of such equality, to guarantee fundamental, human and democratic rights to all the above mentioned groups.
* To ensure that all attempts at separatism based on language and religion be combated and defeated and the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the country be safeguarded, through ensuring the unity of all ethnic groups and guaranteeing to everyone of them equal benefits of economic development.
* While rejecting separatism and political violence, both parties emphasize that a negotiated settlement to the ethnic question should be found through a correct dialogue with the LTTE and other relevant groups and communities so that political solutions which will safeguard the political equality and democratic rights of the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and other communities will be arrived at.
The SLFP and the JVP agree that this problem must be settled on the basis of ensuring the equality of all ethnic groups and the guaranteeing of all human and democratic rights which will signify such equality, as well as by strengthening representative democracy.
The SLFP holds the view that these objectives could be achieved by the devolution of power to the provinces within a united state.
The JVP holds the view that these objectives could be achieved by administrative decentralization to the local authority level, in order to ensure the ethnic identity and safeguard the cultural heritage of all groups within a unitary state.
However both parties agree that divergence of views regarding the final settlement should not be an obstacle to their journey together to overcome the serious crisis which is faced by Sri Lanka.
Both parties agree to enter into a process of political dialogue with the LTTE and all other relevant groups and communities on the correct basis, including granting their rights and eliminating inequality and mistrust among them and consolidating democracy. Both parties further agree to go forward to a final solution and abide by the results of the negotiation process and the wish of the majority of the people.
3. Strengthening Democracy:-
In order to strengthen democracy we will formulate a New Constitution:
* Executive Presidency will be abolished and the Sovereignty of Parliament will be further strengthened.
* This will include necessary safeguards to ensure the rights of all communities.
* A new electoral system will be introduced, which will reflect wishes of the people.
* The two parties agree that in order to further strengthen the sovereignty of the people and to halt the present march towards authoritarianism and the breakdown of law and order the Independent Commissions should be strengthened. Reform measures affecting the Police, the judiciary and the police services would be undertaken with a view to depoliticising such institutions.
4. Cultural Policy:-
While safeguarding the national identity and the cultural heritage of all sections of the Sri Lankan people, the two parties agree that useful influences of cultures from all over the world would be made use of in the free and vigorous growth of indigenous cultures. It was agreed that every attempt should be made to halt the rapid erosion of social values and direct society towards cultural rejuvenation based on traditional values, to rebuild a desirable political culture in our society.
5. Foreign Policy:-
* The two parties agree that our Foreign Policy should be based on safeguarding our sovereignty and independence while maintaining friendship and goodwill with all States and international organizations.
Our Foreign Policy will not be aligned or subservient to any camp. In particular, we should ensure that our Foreign policy should not endanger the sovereignty and independent of our neighbouring states but should rather preserve and expand existing goodwill with these neighbouring countries in the spheres of political, economic and cultural relations.
* We believe that the implementation of the "Pancha Maha Piliveth" set out above will help Sri Lanka to emerge from the present crisis and be the basis of a National Regeneration.
* We believe that a people based development can be evolved on the basis of public accountability, transparency and good governance.
* It is our belief that the United National Front Government which has created a crisis among all the people who live in Sri Lanka, should be defeated at the earliest possible time.
* We also believe that by dedicating ourselves to the achievement of the five goals enumerated above a new administration based on the people's participation for national reconstruction should be established.
* Based on the above mentioned principles we invite all patriotic progressive people belonging to all communities to unite to bring such a Government into fruition.
We solemnly pledge that we will safeguard this Agreement based on the "Pancha Maha Piliveth" and to commit ourselves to make such a programme a reality for the benefit of our nation. We now pledge and proclaim our firm resolves to build such a future for our motherland and seek the active support of each and every patriotic Sri Lankan citizen to achieve that end.
For SLFP - Maithripala Sirisena - General Secretary
Produced by Lake House