Tamil Diplomat

Chandrasiri was identified as a person who had committed War Crimes: Says NPC Chief Minster

Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister Justice C. V Wigneswaran has accused the outgoing Northern Provincial Council Governor Major General G. A. Chandrasiri of going beyond the scope of his authority to openly canvas and become partisan politically.

The chief minister also has said, “There was also another problematic dimension in his continuation in office in that he himself was identified as a person who had committed War Crimes during his tenure of office as Commander of the Peninsula, and his position as the Governor, was a reflection of the absolute refusal to acknowledge by powers that be even the possibility of the commission of such offences”.

He said so in a welcome address delivered on the occasion of Pallihakara assuming duties as Governor today in Jaffna.

Wigneswaran in his welcome address said:

“It is indeed a happy occasion for us to welcome you into our midst. You will pardon me Sir for taking the liberty to write down my thoughts and feelings on account of the extraordinary burdens of travel that have been foisted upon me to rush within a few minutes from here to Colombo to attend another meeting equally historical as this one wherein all Chief Ministers of the Country are to meet  together thanks to the efforts of  Honourable Karu Jayasuriya,  our Minister of Buddha Saasana, Public Administration, Provincial Councils, Local Government and Democratic Governance.

Given that the Constitution contemplates the existence of a Provincial Council prior to or at the time of appointment of a Governor, and given that a Provincial Council itself comes into existence only with an election of such a Provincial Council, it is arguable that you are the first constitutionally properly appointed  Governor of the Northern Province, as all your predecessors were appointed prior to the Northern Provincial Council being created.  Your appointment therefore marks the commencement of civilian administration in Northern Province after a prolonged period of military administration and rule.

Your Honour’s appointment also marks the beginning of a shift from a military led “regime security” based perspective to a civilian “human security” based perspective in the leadership of the Province.  We are truly thankful to His Excellency for selecting  your Honour with a professional Public and Foreign Service background and as a known Human Rights’ supporter.

It is but natural for us to flag at a moment like this our comments and criticisms of the administration that preceded your Honour’s term of office.  The purpose of pinpointing some of the glaring shortcomings is partly to vent our frustrations and partly to hope there would not be a repetition of the past.

I have had a good personal relationship with your predecessor though he was aware of my reservations with regard to his governing style. Due to his military background he had set in motion a command – control administrative structure, which did not tolerate consultative machinery, and which continued as if he were still the Commander of the Forces in the peninsula. Such a hierarchical command structure naturally was insensitive to the civilian needs and aspirations. It also had a repressive effect on the officers and staff members. I used to be amused when my staff members would shudder to go before him for fear of his tongue lashing and possible repressive measures in the event of their non compliance with his orders and requests. There simply was no room for deliberation or discussion, which are hallmarks of civilian rule.  The involvement of the military in all civilian matters continued seamlessly given his links with the military.  Thus even a school prize giving was a matter for military involvement during his tenure.

There was also another problematic dimension in his continuation in office in that he himself was identified as a person who had committed War Crimes during his tenure of office as Commander of the Peninsula, and his position as the Governor, was a reflection of the absolute refusal to acknowledge by powers that be even the possibility of the commission of such offences

We have to also flag the fact that even though he was an agent of the President occupying a largely ceremonial position in a devolved administrative unit he went beyond the scope of his authority to openly canvas and become partisan politically. He interfered with the administration even more than the extent to which the Law permitted. He was openly discriminatory at times for purely political purposes. I have had the good fortune to have personally known many a Governor of the Western Province and I did not find them so inclined.

Another most unfortunate outcome of his period of office was his involvement in resource allocation. Instead of being an interested observer of the incidents of administration he entered the arena as it were to allocate funds for persons surreptitiously brought in by the Army and others to occupy lands earlier permitted to be occupied on valid Permits by persons presently in Refugee camps abroad.

Let me take this opportunity Sir to inform you that our Board of Ministers had forwarded to His Excellency the President our 100 day work plan to coincide with the Government’s 100 day plan and have commenced interactions with the Honorable Minister for Rehabilitation on the issues outlined therein. Our Board of Ministers are keen to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss our 100 day plan to agree and arrange on an appropriate implementation schedule to serve the war affected citizens in our Province, particularly in this current post war context.

It might all sound a discordant note if I were to continue in this strain on the happy occasion of welcoming you, Sir, into our midst. We are confidant Sir, that we would be able to forge ahead a new and successful partnership in our deliberations and working process. Let me congratulate you on your appointment and wish you all success in your new office. We on our part would do everything possible to make your stay in office pleasant and fruitful.