Singapore Principles of 2013: Tamil polity taken for ride from Oslo to Singapore
Right from the Indo-Lanka agreement of 1987 to Oslo Declaration of 2002 and to hitherto unrevealed Singapore Principles of 2013 that brought the Sampanthan polity into a conceptual framework for the recent regime change in Colombo, the external forces seeking to influence the affairs of the island have taken the Eezham Tamils for a ride to confine the Tamil polity into the unitary State of genocidal Sri Lanka without securing any concrete and descriptive guarantee from the Sinhala polity. By its latest move, the ITAK has pushed the Tamils back into the past, Tamil political observers in Jaffna said citing the so-called Singapore Principles from 2013. TamilNet brings out the text of the so-called Singapore Principles for the edification of global Tamils.
All the clauses of the so-called Singapore principles are non-descriptive with regards to a principled approach in resolving the national question.
Mr M.A. Sumanthiran, the non-elected national list ITAK parliamentarian and Mr V.T. Thamilmaran, the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Colombo were the Tamil representatives from the island while representatives of the so-called Global Tamil Forum (GTF) were representing the Diaspora Tamils at a meeting in Singapore in 2013 when Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne came with his proposal points to agree upon a conceptual framework aimed at regime change, the removal of Executive Presidency and other arrangements targeting good governance. Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne was an adviser to Sri Lanka’s past two Presidents.
“Mangala Samaraweera came as a ‘beggar’ urging Tamil support for regime change and abolition of the executive presidency. It was 2013,” said one of the participants, reflecting on the Singapore meeting.
When Tamil aspirations came for discussion, M.A. Sumanthiran wanted to avoid the mentioning of terms such as Nation and Right to Self Determination in the document.
Only the voice of a human rights defender, a Sinhalese, representing the civil society, was in favour of a formula based on the recognition of nationhood to Tamil people with their traditional homeland in the North-East.
V.T. Thamilmaran, who was once respected for his principles on Tamil sovereignty, was silent and was talking only about good governance.
Tamil aspirations went missing in the proposal. Instead, the document was drafted with the intention of being non-descript. But, a consensus was achieved on winning Tamil voters through the TNA for the regime change.
A lawyer from Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was also represented at the meeting apart from several other representatives.
The meeting was organised by South Africa and was funded by two European countries.
The directors of South African ‘In Transformation Initiative’ Roelf Meyer, Ivor Jenkins and Mohammed Bhabha organised the meeting.
Ironically, the ‘approach’ of the South African outfit, according to its website is “premised on the philosophy that any solution to differences or even conflict must be designed, must evolve, and must be developed and settled domestically; solutions cannot be prescribed from external actors.”
The ‘Singapore principles’ was giving secondary status to religions other than the Buddhism.
The 10-points agreed between the Sampanthan polity and the regime changers including the new SL Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, at Singapore in 2013 follow:
In describing the nature of the State what is important is the substance; the labels are secondary.
The Constitution shall be based on basic constitutional principles and values including sovereignty of the people, participatory democracy and supremacy of the Constitution which shall form an unalterable basic structure.
Power sharing shall be on the basis of self-rule and shared-rule within an undivided Sri Lanka.
The Executive Presidency shall be abolished and the form of government shall be Parliamentary.
The pluralist character of Sri Lankan society as well as identities and aspirations of the constituent peoples of Sri Lanka shall be constitutionally recognised.
There shall be a strong and enforceable Bill of Rights consistent with universally accepted norms and standards.
There shall be a separation of powers and an independence of judiciary which includes a Constitutional Court.
Important institutions shall be independent and accountable. Appointments to these and High Posts shall be through a transparent mechanism that provides for a national consensus, example Constitutional Council.
Institutions of the State shall reflect the pluralist character of Sri Lankan society.
The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. The Foremost place to Buddhism and equal status to other religions shall be assured.
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The controversial paragraph of the so-called Oslo Declaration of December 2002 follows:
Responding to a proposal by the leadership of the LTTE, the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all communities. [Related story with full text]
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On 11 November 2011, Mr Erik Solheim was claiming that it was the UNP politician Mr Milinda Moragoda and himself, who were behind the drafting of what he termed as ‘Oslo Declaration’ in December 2002, which was signed by Mr Ranil Wickramasinge on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and by Mr Anton Balasingham on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“It was Milinda and myself who wrote that document at the [...] restaurant here in Oslo and Balasingham accepted it and he took it to Prabhakaran and Prabhakaran refused. It was not public at that time, but it was clear he was furious because he was reluctant to federalism,” Solheim said during the evaluation of the Norwegian Peace Process [Video evidence].
Mr Balasingam has recorded his version of the narrative on the subject in his book, “War and Peace: Armed Struggle and Peace Efforts of Liberation Tigers”: “[I]t must be stated that there was not any specific proclamation titled ‘Oslo Declaration’. The decision to explore federalism was included in the record of decisions at the Oslo talks and signed by the chief negotiators of both delegations and the head of the Norwegian facilitating team.” (page 403)
He further explains LTTE leader’s position that Tamils were prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offers substantial regional autonomy and self-government from the part of the Sinhala side.
But, failing the delivery of regional self-rule, the position of the LTTE leadership was that the Tamils have no alternative other than evoking the external right to self-determination. In an implied sense, Balasingham explains the objection by the LTTE leader to the exact phrasing of the paragraph in the so-called Oslo Declaration.
It was after the LTTE submitting the ISGA framework, which stressed the external dimension of the right to self-determination in its preamble and after the publishing of the War and Peace book questioning the ‘Olso Declaration,’ Mr Balasingham was brought back into the negotiations as chief negotiator by the LTTE leadership in 2006 during the Norway facilitated talks between Mahinda Rajapaksa’s GoSL and the LTTE.
While there was a leadership committed to principled political foundations, the Tamil polity had internal mechanisms to address the external manoeuvrings that sought the Tamils to abandon their principles.
But, now, the Tamil polity claiming to represent the Eezham Tamils in the homeland has no such fundamental principles or mechanisms.
The Tamil polity could be course-corrected and brought back to track only through the edification of the masses.