COLOMBO: R.Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader and the new Leader of Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament, has suggested that substantial power be devolved to three to five regions in the country to enable their Chief Ministers to serve the people in the best possible manner.
Speaking in parliament after being appointed Leader of Opposition on Thursday, Sampanthan said: “I was thinking to myself this morning, rather than having so many ministers at the Center, why can’t we have 3-5 regions in this country vested with substantial powers of governance? There are many young members of parliament who can be excellent Ministers and Chief Ministers in those regions. Give them maximum power and allow them to rule various parts of this country in such a way that the people’s interest is best served.”
He pointed out that India has 29 States and yet that country is united.
“India stays together because the people’s aspirations are respected, honored and implemented by the States which have been constituted in such a way as to preserve linguistic interests, cultural interests, religious interests and so on,” Sampanthan said.
The Leader of Opposition said that the TNA will be loyal to Sri Lanka, but its primary duty will be to ensure that there is an acceptable solution to the Tamil question.
“There are issues that need to be resolved in the national interest. Amongst them are the long-festering Tamil question. We would like to work closely with everyone to resolve this question. While we will be loyal to this country and to the people to this country, I must emphasize that it is also our primary duty to ensure there is an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question,” Sampanthan said.
Promising to work with all the opposition parties, the TNA leader said: “We will extend our fullest support to all parties and members in the opposition and we will work closely with them to ensure that we are an effective and efficient opposition.”
“The opposition will support the government on issues where it is justified and oppose the government when it is in national interest to do so.”