A survey conducted by Dr Colin Irwin of the University of Liverpool among the Sinhalese on the question of sharing state power with the Tamil minority, has found that the majority of the Sinhalese people are in favour of sharing it, despite the fact that there is no pressure on them to do so after the crushing of Tamil militancy in May 2009.
Conducted in 2009, three months before the end of Eelam War IV, and repeated in 2010 after the defeat of the LTTE, the survey found that the support for sharing power was high and had gone up. While in 2009, 59 per cent said power sharing was “acceptable”, in 2010, 80 per cent said so.
“This is contrary to the myth that the Sinhalese do not favour devolution,” said constitutional lawyer Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne, delivering the S J V Chelvanayakam Memorial Lecture here on Saturday.
The survey was done to test the acceptability of the recommendations of the “Majority Report” of the All Party Representative Committee, which President Mahinda Rajapaksa had appointed to find a political solution to the Tamil question. The report had recommended a significant devolution of power to the regions and sharing of power at the Centre. While it found that these recommendations had the support of the majority community, Rajapaksa chose not to act on them. The regime, Wickramaratne said, continues to deny the Tamils a share in state power, insisting that extension of econo-mic benefits will obviate the need for power sharing.
Wickramaratne pointed out that ethnic minorities which occupy a distinct territory, have a tendency to seek a share of state power or regional autonomy, but majority communities do not want to share state power in any way. He traced the political history of Lanka to sh-ow how 1936 onwards, Sinhalese-dominated mainst-ream political parties had baulked at sharing state power with the Tamil minority.