Indian Origin Tamils Seek Multi-Member Constituencies
COLOMBO: Since Sri Lanka is seriously thinking of going in for major electoral reforms to replace the present District-wise Proportional Representation System (DPRS) with a mix of the DPRS and the First Past the Post System (FPPS), Indian Origin Tamils (IOTs) have submitted proposals to safeguard their interest.
The problems of the IOTs, who number 1.2 million in Lanka’s total population of 20.7 million, are different from those of the Sri Lankan Tamils. While the Sri Lankan Tamils live in virtually exclusive areas in the North and East, the IOTs live in Sinhalese majority areas. Given the fact that voting in Lanka is on ethnic lines, the IOTs will find it difficult to get elected under the FPPS system. Under the FPPS, the MP will always be a Sinhalese.
Therefore, the IOTs are asking for Multi-Member Constituencies (MMC) to get a fair representation under the FPPS.
“Multi-Member Constituencies are most essential to ease the fears of the most vulnerable ethnic minorities,” a memorandum presented to the Commissioner of Elections by the Democratic Peoples’ Front (DPF), a party representing the IOTs, said.
The memorandum said that many urban constituencies will have to be turned into MMCs since urban areas are typically multi-ethnic. A good section of the IOTs are urbanized. As regards Sinhalese-majority rural constituencies, those divisions in which Tamil is allowed to be used as an additional official language, should have MMCs, the memorandum said.
The DPF wants constituency delimitation to be done on the basis of population figures as per the last census in 2011, and not on the voter list.
For a fair representation in seats filled under the DPRS, the party wants the administrative districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Ratnapura, Kandy, Galle and Kurunegala to be divided into two for electoral purposes. The IOTs are significant minorities in these districts.
The DPF considers it fair if the IOTs are able to elect five MPs from Nuwara Eliya district; three from Colombo; two each from Badulla and Kandy; and one each from Ratnapura and Gampaha; making a total of 14 MPs in a House of 250.