The debate on the need for a new Constitution has once again cropped up thanks to reports that a section of the Buddhist leaders had thought it was not necessary. The process of drafting a new Constitution is already well on its way and a rough draft of its content is already in place.
While some may think that the current Constitution is sufficient and there is no need to go for a fresh one, it is also important to understand why it is important too. The minorities, especially the Tamils and the Muslims have pinned their hopes on the new Constitution for the longstanding National issue to be solved.
While a segment of the country feels that the move would only divide the country, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and others who push for a new Constitution have assured that it was not the case. The TNA in particular have openly said that the new Constitution would be based on a united, undivided country.
However, there are some who are skeptical despite such assurances. The issues of the North and East take center stage in this process, for obvious reasons. We have the majority of the minorities living in these two provinces and they have had their own demands which have created mixed responses from the majority Sinhalese. Both provinces were bruised due to the war.
But, the factor that is not being addressed so far is the confidence rebuilding process between the Tamils and the Muslims in both provinces. If now is the right time to come up with a new Constitution, it is also the right time to iron out all the differences between both these communities that have undergone unexplainable trauma during the conflict.
The Muslims believe that they suffered during the war, because of the Tamils. Even the infamous eviction of Muslims from the North is still fresh in their minds though it has been 27 years. It is time to patch up. A New Constitution should not solely be on paper. It should also be in the mindset of the people.
Published in the Nation on October 21, 2017