19 June, 2019

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Blackmailing The Government

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

The death fast by a relatively insignificant nationalist Buddhist monk turned politician Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero MP, of the Jathika Hela Urumaya and a National List MP nominated by the United National Party (UNP) in the current Parliament, ended on the fourth day. 

The monk was demanding the resignation or removal of Rishard Bathiudeen MP, and Minister for Industry & Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Co-operative Development, Vocational Training & Skills Development. He is also the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC). Others in the monk’s list were Western Province Governor Azath Salley and Easter Province Governor MLMA Hizbullah.

Rathana Thero alleged all three Muslim politicians had links to the now banned Jihadi terrorist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ).   

As matters evolved, maneuvering and counter-maneuvering by politicians, top-down is abundantly clear. The fact that Presidential and Parliamentary elections are due within the next 18 months makes pragmatic decision making a virtual impossibility.   

Public opinion amongst many in the Sinhala Buddhist and Christians communities endorsed Rathana Thero’s public spectacle, carried out in the precinct of the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Electronic and print media carried reports of supportive crowds in Kandy and several other cities. Cries of Sadu, Sadu could be heard to the chanting of Pirith. Shop Keepers in Kandy and elsewhere closed their shutters to express solidarity. Politicians and Religious dignitaries made a beeline to Kandy to show solidarity. The monk’s death fast was a clear case of political blackmail.

This writer could not help but wonder, would Lord Buddha have approved of this monk’s modus operandi and public support for him? Where in Buddhism is it stated, destroying a life, one’s own or of another for whatever reason is permitted?

A theocracy is a state where the priesthood holds political power. Whereas Sri Lanka may not be a theocracy, it does contain many characteristics found in such a state. The influence wielded by religious leaders, especially the Mahanayakes and their involvement in most major government decisions, cannot be denied. All this is a clear sign, ours is not a secular and progressive society and will remain so in the foreseeable future.

The mediocre national leaders of low intellect produced by this country over several decades is a major contributory factor to this unhealthy practice. Religious leaders tend to fill the vacuum thus created, by default. The most recent example was the leadership role played by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings. It prevented retaliation against the Muslim community. Meanwhile, all that our impotent political leaders could do was play the blame game.  

The monk’s death fast was an act of blackmail to force the hand of a weak government, without the requisite parliamentary majority of its own. The UNP is struggling to survive by appeasing all and ending up antagonizing all instead.    

This episode gives rise to another issue in the future. Encouraged by what transpired, what is to prevent others from emulating similar acts of blackmail? Will future governments too, be compelled to do nothing and let governance go to the dogs? 

Nine Muslim Ministers, Deputy and State Ministers from the UNP, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and ACMC announced their resignation from their positions last Monday.  Allegations of terrorist connections and interference in law enforcement have been directed only against Rishard Bathiudeen and not against the likes of Kabir Hashim, Rauf Hakeem, MHA Haleem, and five others. Therefore, it is not clear why these politicians have resigned unless it is to blackmail a hapless government to save Rishard Bathiudeen. He is accused of multiple wrongdoings, and a No Confidence Motion (NCM) placed before Parliament. 

SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem, flanked by Kabir Hashim of UNP and Rishard Bathiudeen of ACMC besides serval other Muslim politicians while announcing their resignations to the media made some strange sounding statements and justification for their community based collective decision. 

Hakeem requested the government to expedite their investigations and bring a closure without any further delay. He stated, “we expect the government to do this within one month during which we will render out support.”  

He has been a cabinet minister almost continuously since 2000 and should be aware, no government investigation can be completed within such a period. 

Despite their laborious efforts, they cannot hide the fact, all of them expect to be back in their positions in one month. 

The nine resignations is a veiled threat of depriving the UNF government of its parliamentary majority. Besides, the Muslim voter base is essential for Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

The SLMC leader justified their collective decision stating, “We decided to resign from all the portfolios to facilitate investigations to be conducted in a free and fair manner.” Is Hakeem implying they cannot function as Minister without interfering? Does that also mean they have all been interfering with law enforcement until now?    

Hakeem also stated, “It is true that the perpetrators of the April 21 bombings were from our community, but from the first day onwards, we have assisted the Tri-Forces in rooting out these individuals and have complied with the government to bring about a change in our community.” 

Nevertheless, Muslim ministers and parliamentarians have failed to justify their silence and lack of support to Wijayadasa Rajapakshe. The former Justice Minister in November 2016  announced in Parliament of 32 Muslim youth joining IS in Syria. Community leaders have made very loud claims of having informed senior government officials but being ignored. The likes of Hakeem and Hashim must divulge if community leaders deliberately hid the vital information from their elected representatives, or the politicians decided to remain silent despite being informed.

“Bringing about changes in our community” notwithstanding, was anything done about visible changes taking place over the last several years? According to the Muslim Affairs Director, over 500 unauthorized mosques have been constructed in recent years. Authorities arrested dozens of visa overstaying Imams in mosques raided in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings. Introduction of the Arabic language in the Eastern Province including road name boards in Kattankudiya. These are a few of such changes. 

Self-regulating and policing is of vital importance, especially in the case of closed communities.  

Let alone a thorough investigation of Rishard Bathiudeen, even a cursory investigation into the ten charges put forward by Joint Opposition (JO) MPs in the NCM against the ACMC leader will require not one but several months if not years.

The community based collective decision of the Muslim politicians across party lines is a thinly veiled attempt at blackmailing the Wickremesinghe government.  It is a short-sighted act believed to be on the advice of the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulama (ACJU), the main body of Muslim religious leaders. It is bound to polarize an already divided nation further and relegate reconciliation to the backburner.

Four days after the resignation announcement, eight out of the nine resigning Ministers have supposedly handed their resignation letters to the President’s Secretary. No information is available if they have handed over their official vehicles and residences and if their personal staff have vacated their posts.

It is believed, all resigning Ministers will continue to sit in the front row in Parliament instead of becoming backbenchers. It is also understood the vacated ministerial positions will not be filled. The stage is being set for those who resigned for altruistic reasons to return after one month. 

For argument’s sake, a similar decision by Sinhala politicians on the advice of the Mahanayakes would have disastrous consequences to both the country and minorities.     

Politically expedient but ill thought out decisions of the Wickremesinghe government created the opportunities for both Rathana Thero and nine Muslim ministers for their blackmail projects. It has no one to blame but itself.  

The government should have permitted a quick debate and the NCM to address the rapidly increasing public opinion against Bathiudeen. Several UNP Sinhala Christian MPs may have supported the NCM. Opting first to bring about a meaningless NCM against the government, followed by a Parliamentary Select Committee investigation to examine JO’s charges against Bathiudeen brought about Rathana Thero’s death fast spectacle followed by the mass resignation of Muslim ministers.

In doing so, the government boxed itself into an unenviable situation. Another two days with the monk’s health failing could have resulted in countrywide mass protests which the government would not have been able to contain. Such a dangerous situation could have easily resulted in another round of anti-Muslim riots of a much larger scale than what took place recently in the North Western Province. That is something this nation needs the least. 

The lack of even a few astute and seasoned political strategists in the Prime Minister’s inner courtier and its consequences is abundantly clear. Such are the repercussions of packing the party hierarchy with less educated non-entities and so-called educated ‘Yes’ men. It is a malaise found in both sides of the political divide.

President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa regularly pontificate on communal harmony and reconciliation. The fact that their respective administrations failed to prosecute a single person responsible for anti-Muslim riots in 2014 and 2016 disqualifies them from taking the moral high ground. Quite understandably, the Muslim community holds it against the government and even the Sinhala Buddhist community.  

The government’s problems are by no means over. As the Muslim MPs have stated, they will wait only for a month. A thorough investigation of charges leveled against Bathiudeen is not doable by any stretch of the imagination.   

What happens thereafter is any body’s guess.

The government would do well to develop a strategy to handle any future death fasts, now that a precedent has been set.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    5

    A good one. Hundred percent agree

    • 9
      2

      Sach,
      I surprised when I was reading the the few paragraphs of Rajeeva whether he really changed but when I read fully and noting your comment I realised this pundit’s purpose was hiding the truth and putting the blame on Muslim community. He never utter a word about another Monk Gnanarasa who was pardoned by President Sirisena and his hate speech at Kandy or he never utter a word about the violent attack on Mosques, businesses in many parts of South by the supporters of his boss Mahinda. What a dirty Sinhalayo is this Rajeeva.

      • 0
        4

        Can you read English and comprehend which I know you lack immensely? Where does the author put the whole blame on Muslims? By being factual did you expect Sinhala Buddhist bashing? yeah well that didnt happen.

      • 2
        0

        Ajith
        What else can you expect from a dull witted racist like the author of this article who thinks readers are fools and have short memories?

  • 9
    0

    shame on these monks and they do not have any respect in humanity.. They are cheap and they work against all Buddhist teaching

    • 2
      4

      And Gnanasara met Solheim and Tamil separatists in Norway….

      • 4
        0

        sach

        “And Gnanasara met Solheim and Tamil separatists in Norway….”

        He was trying to buy T 56 from LTTE and learn the art of “keeping your friends close and your enemies closer” from Solheim.

  • 0
    5

    Jayweera you have written a biased article Buddhism was not your faith (people are influenced by their personal convictions). what you all says bhiklkus, Mahanyakes should talk only when you people want and not otherwise. Rathana thero does not have your democratic rights or human rights because that is not something approved by your kind.
    Is sinhala buddhists Jump and down, there is a Photo taken for Rauf Hakkem with his gang that he was preying to Allah while Temple of tooth is in the background. Muslims, lay people may be, are not saints. they danced a lot and tried, just like Politically motivated others, their best to subjugate, oppress and suppress sinhala buddhists. Now, muslims proved who really they are. Even they they say buddhists or bhikkus can not talk or react just PRAISE TH”E TWO LORDS. what CRAP. you people are writing.
    finally you want even peaceful events banned. What is your faith ?

  • 8
    0

    Rajeewa the racist what has the sinhala Buddhist political leaders have done to control Sinhala Buddhist terrorist causing.death and destruction property from 1956 onwards
    Have you and your political leaders have encouraged it.
    Not single man was brought to.justice
    Your bloody country will be finished off by the ISIS

  • 0
    6

    Politicians and govt are trying for their benefit. Just tell us which country in the world that doe snot have minorities and which country in the world which address Majority and Minorities Separately. oUR POLITICIASN ADDRESS EVEN 0.2% mALAYS AND eURASIANS. tHEY ARE THAT PATHETIC. Every politicians says Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims. Why Muslims are needed to address when they are also either Tamil or Sinhala. On the other hand, they never say how buddhists accommodate other religions or how Sinhala people accommodate other ethnic groups. that is unfair. That is common Mahavamsa Mindset whether it is christian or buddhist.

    • 0
      4

      JD the Modaya
      1. Last time I checked, Saudi Arabia had no minorities despite being under the British for some time.
      2. Last time I checked Malaysia had one law for majority Muslim Bhumiputras and another for Chinese and Indian monirities.
      Ever heard of such things?

  • 6
    1

    Racist anti Thamizh it is Kattankudi and not Kattankudiya . Stop giving Chingkalla twist to ancient Thamizh place names. This country is in a mess because of Chingkalla Poutha fascists like you and fake Arab Wahhabi immigrant Wahhabi Dravidian Thamizh Thullkans from South India . One wants to convert the entire island to a Chingkalla Poutha fascist land and the other first wants to steal the east from its Thamizh owners with the help of foolish Thamizh hating Chingkallams like you , who are very short sighted and convert it to some Arab Wahhabi/Salafist fascist land and then use that is a base to spread their evil Arab Wahhabi/Fascist doctrine to the rest of the island. The foolish short sighted Chingkallams , where encouraging this extremism and Arabisation of the island’s fake Arab low caste immigrant Dravidians from South India and even the Arabic signs and name boards and place names replacing the ancient indigenous Thamizh language , place names Etc , thinking by creating this new Arabized identity and culture for local Muslims and distancing them from their Thamizh culture , they could use this as a tool to marginalise the Thamizh . They were even encouraging or turning a blind eye when Thulluka politicians and extremists were openly and illegally stealing Hindu temple and Thamizh lands and ethnically cleansing Thamizh in the east with illegal funds from the Arabian Gulf was used to fund all this Arabization/Islamiation of the ancient Thamizh Hindu east. Stupid Chingkallams, the Thamizh language , culture and Saivasm is indigenous and very ancient in the island , far more older than Chingkallam and Poutham and most Chingkallams are descended from Thamizh. Yet they wanted to destroy this ancient indigenous language, people and culture and were encouraging an alien language , culture and religion to destroy this in the east and see the result. By trying to destroy native Thamizh people language , culture and Saivaism , using the devil Wahhabi/Salafism , alien Arabic and Arab culture they have created chaos.

  • 3
    1

    Dude enough for your Guessing, assumptions (I wonder?? argument sake?? quotes) and conspiracy theories. Why dont you write about what is MS is up to and the reasons for MS/MR to vehemently resist and oppose the truth being revealed. As citizens dont we have the rights to know the truth. The so called MS nominated commission is nothing but farce. Given Pujitha and Hemas accusations there is no credibility what so ever for this commission. As long I am aware there is no other credible inquiry going on other than rumor mills.. It is almost going to be two months after Easter, Is there anything more important other than knowing the truth. Your idea was to force the government to hold NCM (will that bring answers to what happened on Easter), which will trigger backlash from Muslim politicians and there by distract the real issues and the possibility of bringing government down along with PSC. In the mean time Rathana jumped the gun and Muslim politicians en masse took them selves out of the equation (took your trump card out), showing their solidarity as well insisting innocence until proven otherwise.. So now you are angry at Rathana for spoiling your party.. You mean to say Lankans have to depend on fake commission and some fake court cases filled by MS against Pujitha and Hema, for truth. Dude we know your stand during last year circus. You are not just a MR proxy but a FAKE and a FRAUD. You lied here before about reports which do not exist. You like MS called PSC “a white wash” even before it started just because you do not have enough representation to influence the findings.(whole country now realizes why MS/MR wants to block) ) You personally incited violence against Muslims by accusing them behind Easter carnage.You have no credibility what so ever,Readers please refer to this frauds, post Easter articles.

  • 4
    1

    FRAUD, it is MS and MR who are blackmailing the country. Tell your bed time stories to your grand kids. But be aware , even they could see how empty you are.

  • 3
    1

    I didn’t read the essay after few lines on the top. Master Sinhala Buddhist Racist Rajeewa putting the blame on Ratnam, the suicide terrorist. Like a pious thief preaching Buddhism to the house hold before rob them. This, one don’t count as hypocrite, but as partnership business with Ayatollahs. Ayatollahs did not de-rope Ratnam, but has fallen on Hakeem’s feet.
    Until yesterday Rajeewa was functioning as the attorney in Diego case. He thought getting the Diego from UK would yank out America from Indian Ocean. So this dhobi was struggling to wash UK’s dirt, while he is sleeping on the local Meethotamulla. Hahahahahaha….

    Let me give a simple, natural law, but not one of Buddha’s 8 laws. Do dog barks at moon. But America is not going out of Indian Ocean even if Rajeewa too fast to die. Muslim cannot save you from that even if you fall at Hakeem’s feet.

    Now, Modayas’ eyes are on how to bring the Arabian Province Kattankudy back in to Lankawe jurisdiction. Modayas paid and authorized to convert Kattankudy only because the lazy idiots didn’t want to learn Tamil to spy on Tamils. These imbecilic buggers wanted translators from Tamil, while Tamil is a national Language. Now the rotten fools like Rajeewa don’t know what is going on in Arabic Kattankudy. So they want to change the Batticola into Hindi Province to have translated the Kattankudy master pieces. Then they will need Trico changed into Chinese province to have the Hindi translated.
    Muslims ask to stop using Pali & Sanskrit to stop Arabic. Ceylon Tamil is 10% Pali, 20% Sanskrit, 70% pure Tamil. Sinhala is 30% Pali, 30% Sanskrit and 40% Tamil. Before Hezbollah wash his back Rajeewa do yours.
    A man fasting to ready and die is shameful than this jingo Laptop journalism? So, Rajeewa like flies sit on the tip of the reed and swing this way and that way when the breeze rocks the leave.

    Comedy Thamai!

  • 1
    1

    A good analytical article. I would only wish to give a clarification for the Arabic term JIHAD. The word Jihad literally means STRIVE / STRUGGLE. Your whole life is to strive to earn your living in the purest of forms, to live out the faith in its prescribed form and goes so on and so forth. And it doesn’t mean or permit TERRORISM in any form or manner.

  • 4
    0

    Those who want power know that to win elections you have to butter up the Buddhist clergy, even look the other way when thugs in saffron robes act violent, and spread hate, which is dangerous for the country, and a threat to the minority.
    No religious entity, or monk or priest, should interfere, and get involved in our political system, nor dictate how the country must be run. They should focus on spreading peace and harmony among all people, instead of adding more fuel to the fire.

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