26 October, 2020

Blog

Buddhist Taliban, Four Kinds Of Monks And Voice Of Sanity

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“All threats to his own authority he resists with absolute ferocity”- Machiavelli

When we observe Buddhist monks full of rage and lust for the exercise of physical power going about the country with a creed of hate and a call to arms against Muslims and other ‘non-believers,’ the sight of a sagely monk calmly, serenely, peacefully and intelligently campaigning for a change in the constitution that will benefit all and restore peace, it is much more than a breath of fresh air. It is the very embodiment of hope for a nation in an era of hopelessness; a beacon of value in times that are being stripped of values; a solid and noble sentry that’s watching, concerned over a nation that is tearing itself away and drawing toward a perilous end.

While men and women in prominent positions-in the academia, in the Public Service, in business,in media and in the NGO system have opted out of fear or possible gain to remain bystanders and while a good many of the Sinhala Diaspora are parroting the rhetoric of the Buddhist Taliban here is a benign soul who has thrown in his lot with the future of our island and the long-term welfare of its people. Revd Maduluwave Sobitha would unmistakably stand to gain in all material trappings like luxury cars, trips overseas and some financial deals to boot had he chosen to ignore his conscience and gone with the official line as some of his corrupted colleagues have done. Yet, he has put the nation and the people above himself. There is no agitation in him; no impatience with those who have chosen to prostitute the Dhamma. Yet, he keeps pressing softly and gently exuding a measure of the radiance of the Great Master. He knows he has found the solution.

In the Cunda Sutta the Buddha told Cunda, the smith:

“there are four kinds of monks, not a fifth. One kind has won the path; one expounds the path; one lives the path and one defiles the path.”

It is a matter of serious concern for true Buddhists that there are such large numbers of defilers wearing the robes of the well-conducted monks. By their incendiary rhetoric the latter variety of monks are able to gather mobs around them that become destructive. One of the monks belonging to these raucous, Buddhist Taliban called upon every monk in every temple to act as a cop “on behalf of the Buddhists.” Muslim traders are being intimidated; mosques and churches attacked. One media image of a raging monk was particularly disgusting.

Revd Maduluvawe Sobitha’s mission is of a totally different kind. He was quick to diagnose that Sri Lanka’s disease is a fault in the system or a systemic flaw. The root is the document that bares out the rules of the business of running the country or the social contract between people and their rulers. From this systemic blemish all current evils flow. If this script is not discarded all political actors now and in the future, whatever the color, will dance the devil.

Revd Sobitha rallied around him some eminent persons not tied to any political party, formed the National Movement for Social Justice and has now drafted proposals to amend the constitution of Sri Lanka. The drafting committee was headed by constitutional lawyer, Jayampathy Wickremaratne.

Revd Maduluwave Sobitha would unmistakably stand to gain in all material trappings like luxury cars, trips overseas and some financial deals to boot had he chosen to ignore his conscience and gone with the official line as some of his corrupted colleagues have done. Yet, he has put the nation and the people above himself.

In 1978 JR Jayawardena introduced the constitution that prevails to this day in a self-hallucinatory moment when he thought he could be kept in power by a document until he dies. The pre-1978 Westminster-type constitution gave our island peace and genuine development without epithets like ‘Gam Udawa,’ ‘Divineguma,’ ‘Deyata Kirula,’ ‘Mathata Thitha,’and so on. It was under the Pre-1978 constitution that huge Sri Lankan infrastructure like the numerous irrigation networks had been built; that massive colonization schemes had been set up; that Madya Maha Vidyalayas and Maha Vidyalas had been erected; that universities and Technical Colleges had been founded; that a vibrant healthcare system had been instituted and so on and so on. Sri Lanka had no pretending patriots those days; no claims of ‘aascharyas’. DS Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake, Sirimawo Bandaranaika and JR himself for the first part of his rule, dealt with positive construction and positive development. Also, the great revolution of the liberalized economy, the Free Trade Zones, and the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Scheme etc-were all done or planned before the bahubootha vyawasthawa. Structural changes had been introduced and indeed the country was looking forward.

Alas! JR’s madness came down on the nation and the country began a slide to authoritarian rule where one man knows the truth and where one man takes the decisions for the people. Decision-making is at the center. The trend that JR’s constitution led to has reached logical culmination in nationally catastrophic proportions under the current regime. The new scenario is that the man in the center will decide that there must be a harbor in Hambantota, and an airport in Mattala disregarding the need for proper prior study. Hey presto these projects see the light of day with willing Chinese loans. In the same vein the center decides to nail and jail Sarath Fonseka, once described “the greatest army commander in the world,” and Fonseka converted overnight from national hero to a jail- bird. Also, the center decides that the Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake must go home and it is done. No questions. MPs put your hands up! Hang due process and send the rule of law and natural justice on a holiday! Nobody checks the center and nobody dares check.
To quote an apt example from outside Lanka we have a dictator in North Korea who has decided that he must go to war with South Korea and shoot down America, too. Even in the face of a crumbling domestic economy Kim Jong-un decides that the priority is war. He is rallying round patriotism for this cause. The media is being shaped to persuade the populace that the “Dear Leader,” has found an incarnation in Kim Jong-un.

Under this absolutist constitution all power is concentrated at the center. All government agencies are subsumed under the center and there is little space for institutional independence that alone can bring truly creative and productive decisions for the people. Furthermore, the seductive power of a powerful center will complement the constitutional proclivity for authoritarian rule. Centralized decision making is inherently flawed because by eliminating or discouraging inputs from independent external contributors the nation is put into a very vulnerable situation. The path is laid for a corrupt tyranny acting at its will and pleasure and consulting with only a favorite circle before making decisions that affect the welfare of people.

The central plank in Revd Sobitha’s proposals is the abolition of this absolutist constitution and its replacement by the Westminster model of more collective decision-making. The Prime Minister in Britain is said to be primus inter pares or ‘first among equals’. This has, however, not meant a weakening of the center in countries like Britain and Australia that follow the Westminster model. In effect, British Prime Ministers and Australian Prime Ministers have been virtual presidents and their election campaigns are done in presidential style. When Kevin Rudd led the Labor campaign in 2007 the slogan was “Kevin 07.” How did that differ from Obama’s campaign? On the other hand, the office of the president of Sri Lanka is something overpowering and capable of invading the whole government apparatus once parliamentary control is obtained. This appalling invasion is what discerning Lankans see taking place today. Parliament, judiciary, elections, Attorney General, Auditor General, police and all institutions that are expected to keep an independent presence to check an executive that can go wrong are under the president’s heel.

This is why Revd Sobitha’s proposals are also aimed at returning the independence of the judiciary, elections, Public Service etc so that the rule of law is restored.

Revd Sobitha, next, invokes the return to the First- Past- the Post- system of elections that Lanka had enjoyed pre-1978. Under the prevailing proportional representation (PR) system all that a candidate for parliamentary elections need do is to have his/her name put in the party list. He need not have an electoral base and he can be any bandit or drug dealer. The party bureaucracy (in effect, again the president) decides. Under the old system a potential candidate is tied to a particular electorate and he must always be accountable to that electorate. The accountability is lost under PR. MPs can behave any way they desire and even disregard the people that elected him as all they got to do is to please the party and the president.

The campaign of Revd Maduluwawe Sobitha and his National Movement for Social Justice has got to reach widespread popular appeal before it can succeed. The political ruling class-both those in office and those praying to get into office- have far too much to benefit by the current system and will not yield unless forced. The damage of absolutist rule has more to complete its course before people can awaken.

*Shyamon Jayasinghe, a Peradeniya University graduate in Philosophy, worked as a public servant in Sri Lanka specializing in Management. He subsequently worked in Australia where he is now domiciled. A frequent commentator on social and political issues in Sri Lanka, he is renowned for his astonishing role as the Narrator (POTE GURA) of the original production, in 1956,  of Ediriweera Sarchchandra’s theatre classic Maname. His interpretation of this role has become the model that  all performers of the role in subsequent plays of this genre have emulated.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    In Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka today let’s see who the people listen to and follow – Ven Maduluwave Sobitha or the violent racist monks. My bet is on the latter.

    • 0
      0

      This good monk will also be pronounced a ‘traitor’ by are rabid dogs
      There will be character assasinations & acusations….

      But this is the only way out…, the healing for the illness, the medcine for the condition.

      Even Gandi, Nelson, Jesus paid the price, but we gained the much needed recovery !!

    • 0
      0

      Ven. Sobitha can now expect a ‘Wijedasa Rajapakse’

      ATTACED AT NIGHT, VISITED BY DAY !!!

      rule 3 of the junta-family hand book.

  • 0
    0

    Well said Shyamon.

  • 0
    0

    Ven Sobhitha represents the voice of right mindfulness, right thinking and right action as given in the eightfold path. The salvation of the country lies in the rejection of hate and violence. Calm thinking and mindfullness of the rights of all beings must prevail. Any issues with the minorities could be discussed in a calm and peaceful manner.

    The present system is corrupt and breeds corruption and injustice. There is no way that the country or its people are going to prosper other than the leaders and their kith and kin. The movement presents an opportunity for all to unite and change the system in an orderly and civilised manner. Let us hope and pray that it succeeds.

  • 0
    0

    Rev . Sobitha means well . His conclusions are correct . But the REALITY IS LITTLE CAN BE DON BY HIM AND HIS FOLLOWERS AND EXPERTS TO BRING ABOUT CHANGES NEEDED FOR THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE OF THE ISLAND . THE RICH AND VERY RICH CITIZENS OF SL AND THE CORPORATE CEOS ARE ALL VERY SATISFIED AS THINGS ARE WITH MONEY LAUNDERING AND A CORRUPT STOCK MARKET AND WITH NO TAXES ON LUXURY CARS THERE IS NO REASON FOR THEM TO UPSET THE APPLE CART !! WHILE THE POOR MANS THREE WHEEL AUTO AND OTHER SMALL CARS ARE ALL TAXED !! . AS I HAVE ALWAYS SAID CHANGE CAN ONLY HAPPEN BY A REVOLUTION WITHIN THE GSL OR AN UPRISING OF THE MASSES . HISTORY CAN REPEAT ITSELF AND THERE MAY EMERGE ANOTHER BUDDHA RAKITHA THERO . WHO KNOWS? , THE MASSES ARE SUFFERING WITH HIGH INFLATION AND UNBEARABLE COST OF LIVING . BUT THE MASSES ARE LIVING IN CEAR OF THE ARMY AND POLICE AND GR AND MR . GOVERN BY THREAT . THERE ARE NO LEARNED OPPOSITION LEADERS AS IN THE 1950 to 1970 ERA . IT IS ALSO SAD THAT THERE IS NO LOVE AND COMPASSION AND TOLERANCE IN THE GOVERNANCE OF THE ISLAND . GSL IS ON A SLIPPERY SLOPE TOWARDS A DICTATORSHIP . THE FUTURE IS RATHER BLEAK . THE GENEVA RESOLUTION WAS ONLY A SLAP ON THE WRIST . GSL WILL COMPLETELY IGNORE IT AND CARRY ON BUSINESS AS USUAL ALIGNING WITH CHINA, PAKISTAN , IRAN , CUBA, N. KOREA ETC . THERE IS ANOTHER CAUTION – THE USA IS KEEPING A CAREFUL EYE ON THE WATERS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN . SHOULD GSL RELATIONS WITH CHINA BRING THE CHINESE TO THE INDIAN OCEAN THEN GSL WILL BE IN REAL TROUBLE WITH US EMBARGO AND REAL CLEN UP OF GSL IS BOUND TO HAPPEN . ( Libya , Egypt , Iraq ) . FOREIGN MUSLIM NATIONS ARE ALSO KEEPING AN EYE ON GSL AND THE MUSLIM DILEMA . ALL IN ALL SL HAS A BLEAK FUTURE UNDER THE RAJAPAKSE SAMAGAMA .

    • 0
      0

      Why do you need to shout in capital letters? or is it an oversight of CT?

      • 0
        0

        May be because good views in simple letters do not get into the minds of some.

        • 0
          0

          It is quite the opposite as such clumsy capital lettered pragraph-less verbal diarrhoea puts one off that one won’t even bother to read it even as I was even put off from even perusing it. Are you also appearing under another false name?

      • 0
        0

        Oh! It’s just a show of goofy spectacle; any way you could read without spectacles?

  • 0
    0

    The venerable monk should run for presidency. I have utmost confidence in him. He has the potential to be what Gandhi was to the muslims of India. I only hope he doesn’t suffer the same fate

  • 0
    0

    It was under the Westminster system and the Soulbury Contitution that;
    1. A section of citizens were disenfranchised.
    2. The Senate was rendered impotent and then abolished.
    3. Sinhala only became law
    4. The 1958 riots became the precursor to a bad habit
    5. Communalism was entrenched
    6. Majoritarianism became institutionalised.
    7. The Privy Council as a last resort for justice was abolished on frivolous excuses.
    8. Tamils were alienated from the mainstream.

    The limits imposed by the Westminister model and the Soulbury constitution were breached at every turn in letter and spirit and when this was not enough, the politicians innovated the 1972 and 1978 constitutions which legitimised political expediency, opportunism, corruption, institution destruction and personal glorification at the expense of the citizens and this country.

    We have hit almost the bottom of a slippery slope and we have to adopt a constitution that is visionary and defines the ideals for this country in clear and unambiguous terms, to make the climb back possible. These ideals should be entrenched principles that define the constitution. Anything that would be a departure from these principles should be unconstitutional. Further, whatever the grievous faults in the current edition of our republican constitution, we have become accustomed to republicanism. To improve drastically the present system will be logical. It should help us climb to new heights in a higher mountain.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      1. A section of citizens were disenfranchised.

      I guess you are thinking of Tamils, but there are others such as the few people of Chinese origin. They cannot even get a passport. It is not the fault of the constitution, but the politicians who make such silly discriminatory laws.

      3. Sinhala only became law
      It could have happened under any constitution. The will of the people and all that …..What is the official language of Australia, New Zealnd all multicultural societies? Not Tamil, Greek or Vietnamese.

      4. The 1958 riots became the precursor to a bad habit
      What has the constitution got to do with the price of fish? That is a failure of the law enforcement authorities and the politicians (Tamil and Sinhalese)

      5. Communalism was entrenched
      Again, what has the constitution got to do with the price of fish? It is more to do with the caliber of the Sinhala and Tamil politicians. It could happen under any constitution, if you elect idiots irrespective of race the results is a mess.

      One of the biggest mistakes Lanka did was to allow race or religion based political parties. I guess, you could say that it was a weakness in all the constitutions of Lanka. Until recently, as far as I know, it was only the Tamils who had race (Tamil) based political parties. That was a recipe for disaster. Now race/religion based political parties has become a cancer…

      6. Majoritarianism became institutionalised.
      Unfortunately in life, the majority wins, but they have to ensure the minorities are taken care. The minority has a responsibility to work with the majority and respect the majority views. Isn’t that how democracy works? Isn’t that how multicultural societies work?

      7. The Privy Council as a last resort for justice was abolished on frivolous excuses.
      There are many countries without the Privy Council functioning well. I don’t see a problem there. For example, as far as I know there is no appeal to privy council in Australia. When I last checked, Australia is doing fine, a multicultural society where the minorities recognises the majority views and live amicably to a great extent.

      8. Tamils were alienated from the mainstream.
      So, Tamils did not contribute to this predicament? They were all saints? Why did the Tamils have political parties based on race? Why did the Tamils disagree to Sinhala and ‘SRI’ number plates, but are willing to live in other countries where Tamil is not the official language. In Malaysia, Malays are only 50% (~25% Chinese) of the population, but official language is Malay, nobody seems to have a problem with that. Compare this with SL where Sinhalese are >70%…
      Tamils are minorities in other countries and seem to adjust well and the same adjustments should be attempted in SL. Try it, it might just work!

      • 0
        0

        Truth,

        These were the result of the constitution not guaranteeing the rights of citizens and politicians undermining the constitution at every possible opportunity. Do not confuse majoritarianism with majority rule. The state should work in the interest of all citizens and should not promote the interests of a majority community at the expense of other minority communities.

        Further, do not make meaningless comparisons. Has our democracy evolved as in Australia? Has our judicial system functioned as it should ? Has not Australia treated its aboriginals worse than dirt? Were not the governments in Sri Lanka on the path to treat the Tamils like the aboriginals in Australia? We needed a third referee and the Privy Council was just that. Even the Privy Council failed us many times. Soon after it made a decision that was unfavourable to the government, it was abolished as a court of last resort.

        Tamils did not cast the first stone in the process of alienation set in motion. They of course helped making a developing bad situation, worse.

        What was the name of the political grouping SWRDB headed before joining the UNP ? It was Sinhala Maha Sabha! The UNP and the SLFP , represented majority communal interests. this was majoritarianism in the name of democracy. They were not national parties in practice and no different from the Tamil political formations.

        The so- called Sri Lankan Tamils were not recent migrants to this country. There are one of the three founding peoples of this country – Sinhala, Tamil and Veddah. The three peoples through interbreeding have also achieved a considerable degree of genetic uniformity.

        Why should the Tamils have accepted the Sinhala Sri, when it was forced on them. They are not guests in someone else’s house. They are in their own house and it is their home. Their neighbours have no right to dictate how they have to live . There rights are not secondary to that of the Sinhalese. The Tamils may be a minority, but they are equal citizens and part owners of Sri Lanka. They are shareholders in the enterprise called Sri Lanka. They need not bow down to any one or dance to anyone’s dictates. Their rights as co-owners or minority share holders should have been respected at all times.

        The Tamils also did not create trouble for anyone in the early years of independence. Trouble was created for them and they reacted. The reaction may have been ugly and excessive, but yet it was a reactive. The first stones were not cast by the Tamils.

        Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

        • 0
          0

          My dear fellow, don’t distort the truth or put half baked comments here since it is dishonest.

          British brought tamils from india as day labour and Sl was not oblight to give citizenship to indian labour brought on by the imperial power. Worst of all when brits are leaving these indians suppose to be going back to india. It did not happen so why should SL govt. give citizenship to foreigners let alone to bloody [Edited out] indians?

          Same happen in Uganda and look what Idi Amin did? He deported all these indians to UK… Well done Idi even though you were a bad man.
          At least Srima did the right thing by giving some SL citizenship … Rest is history.

          • 0
            0

            Watcher,

            Read some authentic books on history, before accusing me of distorting history.

            Dr.RN

            • 0
              0

              Dr R, you still did not answer to my note… Why should SL govt give citizenship to indians, which was a british responsibility…

              May be Phd got you confused with so many distorted books but history is history and based on facts.

            • 0
              0

              Watcher,

              They were already citizens and had earned that with their blood and sweat . Citizenship was taken away from them. They were full fledged ceylonese at independence. There is a big difference between granting and taking away citizenship.

              Of course there were many who came to our shores illicitly after independence and we called them ‘ Kallathonies’. They were not entitled to citizenship. There was a time around the mid- and late 1950′ s, when all Tamils were derisively called Kallathonies!

              I hope you will now recheck your so-called facts.

              Dr.RN

            • 0
              0

              Dr R, your reply is not correct… Let me give you some facts… I am talking about Brits thats brought in indian day labourers which were almost a million ( at 1948) and agreement with brits and Indian governing side was that these people are temporary labourers and indian nationalities.

              You said, ” They were already citizens and had earned that with their blood and sweat . Citizenship was taken away from them. They were full fledged ceylonese at independence. There is a big difference between granting and taking away citizenship.”…. WRONG,WRONG, WRONG…

              Well I hope you got your phd in a recognise uni since giving false facts to support your tamil hysteria does not do you any good.

              I have documents to prove that day laborious were indian citizens and has nothing to do with the Ceylon citizenship.. My grand father had all the documents and we can prove this tamil rubbish about taking away tamil rights… Remember MrS. B gave half of them SL citizenship which was very generous and you with a phd now distorting history to fit in with your agenda and you should be shamed. You are a dishonest man.

              Sl’s darkest history is not treating Up country tamils properly considering they are part of the huge foreign revenue that country is enjoying via tea exports… I believe this is not fix yet and we need to do more to get this right.

              Jaffna tamil issue is local made and cast over loads basically treating low cast tamil as bonded slaves and sinhalese should be ashamed that we have condone this racist behaviour from Jaffna cast morons. Now govt is fixing this and vellahs (sp) are not happy.

          • 0
            0

            Watcher,

            Please read the following, including a deeper meaning of the word disenfranchisement:

            1.Thesaurus Legend:

            Disenfranchised – deprived of the rights of citizenship especially the right to vote.

            Enfranchised – endowed with the rights of citizenship especially the right to vote

            2. “Everyone has the right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality…”- Article 15, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

            3. “…after listening to the entirety of the debate, one cannot help feeling that the main reason which has brought about … this Bill … is that the Government wants to exclude as much of the (plantation Tamil) population as is possible from becoming citizens of this country …

            …Just a word at this juncture, Mr. President, on the unqualified statement made that Ceylon has the right, as every other country, to determine the composition of its population. When Germany under Hitler, started to de-citizenise the Jews, every civilised country in the world condemned it. Hitler said that he has absolute power to determine the composition of the population of Germany; and he did determine that to his own satisfaction. The question that arises is whether, by deciding upon the composition of the population of this country, in the manner proposed in this Bill, are we doing the right thing, the fair thing, the honourable thing? That is the question that one has to pay due regard to….” (Speech made by Senator.S.Nadesan winding up the Debate on the Ceylon Citizenship Bill on 15 September 1948 in the Ceylon Senate – Session: 1948-49 – Senate Hansard Pages 1096-1127)

            4.”(At the first General Elections) under the Soulbury Constitution (in 1947), the Ceylon Indian Congress (representing the Plantation Tamils) won seven seats….
            From the point of view of the persons of Indian origin, the first Parliament under the Soulbury Constitution proved to be the grave-digger of their rights. This Parliament, in 1948 enacted the Ceylon Citizenship Act. Almost all Plantation Tamils were de-citizenised by a Provision that only people born in Ceylon, prior a particular date, November 1949, of a father born in Ceylon, could be recognised as a Citizen of Ceylon.
            Then came the Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Act, which purported to grant Ceylon Citizenship to people who were able to satisfy certain qualifications, namely, residence in Ceylon for a period of 7 years from 1st January, 1939, in case of married people, and for a period of 10 years (from 1st January, 1936) for unmarried people. They were also expected to have adequate means of livelihood. Their families should have been, normally, resident in Ceylon and they should be capable of observing the laws of Ceylon.
            This Act was claimed, by the (Sinhala) Government, as one which would permit people of Indian origin to become Citizens of Ceylon. In point of fact, because of various procedural questions and administrative discrimination, the Act did not provide the necessary relief to persons of Indian Origin to acquire citizenship of Ceylon. As it turned out, of 850,000 persons, in respect of whom citizenship applications were made, only about 145,000 persons were able to acquire Ceylon citizenship. Applications of 700,000 persons were rejected…
            While a battle was on in the Parliament, over the Citizenship Act, certain interesting developments, in respect of certain Tamil members of the then Parliament, took place. When the Ceylon Citizenship Act was passed in 1948, C. Suntharalingam, who was a Minister in the (UNP) Government of D.S. Senanayake, voted for the Citizenship Act, while G.G.Ponnambalam (Sr), who was then, the leader of the Tamil Congress, voted against the Act, and so did Ponnambalam’s Tamil Congress Party. But, by the year 1949, G.G. Ponnambalam joined the Sinhala dominated Government of D.S.Senanayake.
            When the Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Bill came before the Parliament there were two Tamil Ministers in Cabinet of D.S. Senanayake. On the issue of this Bill, namely the Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Bill, there was a split between the Tamil Members of the then Parliament. G.G.Ponnambalam, despite the pledge he had signed with the party representing the Plantation Tamil interests (i.e. the Ceylon Indian Congress as it was then known) in respect of Citizenship for the persons of Indian origin, voted for the Bill, while C. Suntharalingam voted against the Bill, and resigned his portfolio. The Tamil Congress broke into two and Mr. S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, with his supporters formed the Federal Party….
            During the first Ceylon Parliament various developments, concerning persons of Indian origin, took place. The Immigration and Emmigration Act which, for the first time, restricted the residence of persons of Indian origin in Ceylon was enacted. The Plantation Tamil population was wholly disfranchised, making it impossible for any of their representatives to return to Parliament through the ballot …” ( from the Abdul Aziz Felicitation Volume, 1986, Navamaga Printers, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka)

            Further, many have alleged that the plantation workers were disenfranchised by the D.S.Senanayake government, not as a move against the Tamils, but to weaken the Samasamaja movement. Either way it was unprincipled and immoral.

            Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

            • 0
              0

              I am glad you put historical notes here… It also confirm what I have been saying..

              Citizenship Act, which purported to grant Ceylon Citizenship to people who were able to satisfy certain qualifications, namely, residence in Ceylon for a period of 7 years from 1st January, 1939, in case of married people, and for a period of 10 years

              This is exactly my point that temporary labourers that was brought from india was not entitle to SL citizenship.
              You can be emotional about your kins but SL govt. is not legally oblight to give these imperial labourers any rights.. They have no rights since they are not Sri Lankans.

        • 0
          0

          The Tamils also did not create trouble for anyone in the early years of independence. Trouble was created for them and they reacted. The reaction may have been ugly and excessive, but yet it was a reactive. The first stones were not cast by the Tamils.

          Dr. RN,

          I’m disappointed to hear this from you. I guess Indian fishermen could also say as much: “the Sinhalese navy arrested us, everything else was a reaction to their actions!” Please don’t forget that Tamils had a nearly 60% presence in civil service and 40% or so places in university admissions in medicine and engineering at the time of independence. How many of these people were from Jaffna and other well off circles as opposed Tamils from other parts of the country or Indian Tamils? What were their numbers compared to total population? Even today, whatever may be the justification, aren’t Tamils asking for the right to control 40% of the land and 60% of the coastline??? Isn’t N/E Tamil population only 5-10% of the total population???

          • 0
            0

            Navin,

            The solution was to invest in education in the backward provinces and districts. Why should the Tamils have been tarred, feathered and set alight, for having good schools and an ambitious population. I however agree that the Vellalah Jaffna Tamils were disproportionately over represented in the areas you mention. This skew would have corrected itself and come to the median if sensible policies had been adopted.

            The comparison with Indian fisherman poaching in our waters is rather lame. They are Indians and have no rights in our territorial waters. If your argument is that the national economic pie has to be apportioned as per community numbers, it bolsters the arguments of the Eelamites.

            Dr.RN

            • 0
              0

              Since independence, we have now invested heavily in education for 60+ years and we still do not have a level playing field. Yet you say standardization was wrong and we should have had total merit based admissions all the way. Isn’t this selfishness or what?

              We can argue about how to best do standardization, but I don’t see any reason to believe that government should NOT have adopted standardization as a policy.

              I’m not saying national economic pie should be rigidly regulated and distributed according to ethnic ratios. However, if its not distributed equally amount ethnicities according to their numbers, then that indicates a disparity in access to resources between communities which is extremely bad and needs to be addressed urgently. Today, the students from plantations benefit from standardization. If not for that, they would have been pushed out of the system. Still, its possible that there would not be any riots given their lack of critical mass and support from elsewhere to agitate against it. However, if they were in numbers comparable or greater, it is foolish to expect them to sit back and suck it up.

              Tamils should have accepted standardization as a policy and worked towards an amicable system instead of asking that the highly skewed status quo be maintained.

            • 0
              0

              Navin,

              The problem is that 60 years of investments have only led to a quantitative increase in educational opportunities, without being accompanied by efforts to improve and keep on improving quality. The best schools are yet those in the big cities. It is not a level playing field yet and we will never have one, if the present trends continue. Our system of education is producing many literates and very few educated. The educational sector is in a mess, is inadequately funded, has a severe shortage of qualified teachers, is mismanaged by a bureaucratic menagerie and is not going anywhere, but backwards. This is our curse. Our Universities are in a similar mess too. We do know what universities should be and making them higher high schools.

              The standardisation scheme was immoral and short changed this country. I am for equal opportunities for every citizen. But equal opportunity does not imply that Peter has to be robbed to pay Paul. Rather, Paul must be provided all the facilities to become like Peter! All the money spent on a 30 + year war in Sri Lanka, by both parties to the conflict, if spent on education, would have made us the pride of Asia. As a result of standardisation and the turmoil it seeded, Jaffna lost its greatest asset and resource- education. It will likely never regain the old glory. However, the rest of the country and the South did not replicate what was in Jaffna, either. The country ultimately lost in disastrously and is where it is today.

              Further, affirmative action, to provide places for the best of the disadvantaged students in our universities and in provincial polytechnics, would have been more humane and avoided the tragedy that followed standardisation.

              Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

            • 0
              0

              Dr. RN,

              I’m not saying standardization is a substitute for development. We need it as an interim solution.

              According to your reasoning, today we are ROBBING students from Colombo to make way for students from places like Wanni, Mannar, Uva etc. Now what you are saying is we ditch the district quota system immediately and start developing schools in other parts of the country. I’m sure those students from Colombo who cannot gain admission to medical schools even after getting As for all subjects will be very happy with such a scheme. However, what is your response to students who will loose university placement as a result, this year, next year, the year after, and so on? Mind you this will be a far worst crisis than the Z-score muddle. How long do you think it will be before development kicks in so that
              a student from Wanni can compete with Colombo student on his own If we cannot do this today, how could we have done it 60 years ago? Do you think any government would take such a measure? Note
              that this has nothing to do with Tamils anymore. Majority of students who will both loose and gain as a result of standardization today are Sinhalese.

            • 0
              0

              Navin,

              The solution is affirmative action in favour of the disadvantaged. The US implemented such a scheme in favour of her diadvantaged minorities. In Sri Lanka, the dice are yet loaded against the disadvantaged in all communities and post-war, all the war-affected.

              The only solution I see is to open up a level of educational institutions, between the Advanced levels and University, to get the students from diasadvantaged areas or schools ,who do not score the marks required marks for direct admission to the Universities, attend diploma courses in various fields for two or three years. The best of these students, should be provided the opening to enter universities to obtain the higher education they seek. I remember there was a scheme in the 1950s to admit the top students from the Kundasale School of Agriculture to the agriculture and Veterinariany Science faculties. The scheme I suggest may provide an opportunity for many to obtain intermediate level skills in many fields, for which there is a high demand here and abroad.

              I am against anyone who deserves something through merit being deprived of opportunities because of circumstances that are not defined by him or her, such as accident of birth in a family, community or place.

              Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 0
          0

          Dr. Narendran:

          “The so- called Sri Lankan Tamils were not recent migrants to this country. There are one of the three founding peoples of this country – Sinhala, Tamil and Veddah. The three peoples through interbreeding have also achieved a considerable degree of genetic uniformity.”

          A great majority of Sinhalese have problems accepting that truth. I once had a Sinhalese professor of engineering from the deep South, and he was a very kind and generous man, but when it came to talking about Tamil issues, he said that Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka by the Dutch to work in the tobacco plantations in Jaffna.

          If a highly educated man like him had those views, imagine ordinary people’s views. I had assumed it was only the Jathika Chinthanaya crowd of Nalin de Silva/Gunadasa Amarasekara that had such views, but it is much more widespread.

          Given this deep denial (and/or ignorance) among a large number of Sinhalese that Tamils lived in Sri Lanka for centuries before Western invasions, most Tamils don’t have a lot of hope that homegrown solutions can be found without external pressures and international intervention.

          • 0
            0

            Agnos

            “The three peoples through interbreeding have also achieved a considerable degree of genetic uniformity.”

            Please leave my people out of this genetic uniformity. We are unique people and let us keep it that way.

            • 0
              0

              Then give the above trio a persuasion, a kind of a concoction from the “Vaddhi Chintanaya” solutions.

  • 0
    0

    All ethnic and religious groups must go along and consult Revd Maduluwave Sobitha and must bring a change in every aspect to our Country for a good future.

    • 0
      0

      Yes, campaign for the solidarity integrating the culturally diverse population of Sri Lanka. [Are you a teacher??]

  • 0
    0

    My family suffered much Torment from Bhuddists as well as Bhuddist Clergy. We had no law that could assist us. Fortunately due to Good freinds both within the Police force and without; me and my family had were protected.
    I might add here that the only Sri Lankan language, any ofus speak is Sinhala.
    If the Venerable Clergyman and others like him could take this message to the streets it would assist in ridding the Country of this Constitution and this Dictatorship.
    Please Ven Sobitha push for this change.
    May God Bless You.

    • 0
      0

      Ven. Monk! We believe you, respect you and we are proud of you!

  • 0
    0

    A brilliant article.Well expressed. We want more to come out into the open and speak up. Congrats Shyamon

  • 0
    0

    Great article. We need more intellectuals like Shyamon to come out and talk like this. Where are the artists, media persons and academics who very correctly took up such issues in the past? Why are they silent? Is it because of fear or because of favours? Ven. Sobitha must be commended for making these proposals. If MR does not agree (and I don’t think he will) we need to push parties in the Opposition to come to an agreement. This is a good basis for a grand electoral alliance. CBK and SLFP dissidents should also join. Also SF, Shirani B and others. JVP too. The UNP must respond to these proposals. It was good to see Sajith and Ravi K also coming out against the executive presidency. Only Ranil has to be convinced that the presidency is not going to fall on his lap. Who the candidate can be decided later. let all agree on the principles on the basis of what Ven. Sobitha has made. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

  • 0
    0

    If first past the post is the way to go then each electorate should have roughly the same number of voters to make it fair.

    There has to be some guarantees on press freedom included in the ‘charter’. Mechanism to ensure that the state media is independent and cannot be manipulated and the private media is not controlled by any individual such as Murdoch owning 70% of the print media in Australia. Diversity and ensuring diversity of the media is very important to ensure proper functioning of democracy.

  • 0
    0

    Hats off to Rev Maduluwave Sobhita Thero.

  • 0
    0

    Hamuduruwane ;
    Will they [ the ruling family] allow you to present your proposal, and implement those good governing rules.

    But i hope you are not afraid of white vans????.

    BLESSINGS OF TRIPLE GEMS for all of you.

  • 0
    0

    I tell the BBS that you have no job here in Sri Lanka as the Muslims here have done nothing to harm the Buddhism or the Sinhalese. You have a job in Afghanistan.Go there and fight Taliban and Al Qaida .It is they who destroyed the world renown Bahamian Buddha statues. What you idiots are doing here is nothing but sowing seeds to create a Muslim terrorist movement and bring disaster to Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    Sober and sound views candidly expressed by SJ. There is much in the comments of Dr.RN. What is clear is that laws, the supreme law and entrenched clauses apart, it is the spirit of the people and the sagacity of those in governance that matter. SL has rubbished all four constitutions from 1931 to 2013. To the British the unwritten constitution and conventions are sacrosanct and inviolable.

  • 0
    0

    I type in Capitals because at 83 years of age it is easier for me to do so . I am not shouting while writing in Capitals and if you felt I am shouting I conclude that you did not like what I wrote . Hope I am wrong . Let us live with love, compassion and tolerance , so did the Buddha preached .

  • 0
    0

    Executive Presidency should be abolished-Kamal Nissanka

  • 0
    0

    As a true Buddhist monk Ven Sobitha has initiated a dialogue to write a new constitution. To arrive at a final draft that will satisfy most and be acceptable to all races is a tough ask. I do not think that reverting to the Westminster model as a knee-jerk reaction will be the solution. That model may work in Britain and Australia due to the greater degree of independence, individuality and assertiveness of the legislators there. Sri Lanka’s lot will raise their hand and pass any bill if the boss says so, whether President or Prime Minister. The way they signed a blank sheet of paper to impeach their Chief Justice is a reflection of their character. On the other hand just imagine if the incumbent President ruled the country in the most exemplary manner, without racial prejudice but with integrity, justice and fair play, without authoritarianism,nepotism, and corruption. Then no one will criticise ‘JR’s constitution.It all comes down to the individual. It would seem that the constitution hinges on the quality of the people we elect. So I think much greater thought has to be given when devising a new system. It is often asserted that ‘the people are sovereign’ and ‘the parliament is supreme’ and so on, but people have no rights and the parliament has no obligations and accountabilities. To my thinking a new constitution must have a mechanism to raise the standard of the representatives in the legislature. This must be so in the selection process as well as their conduct in office with stringent penalties. If not we will be looking for another constitution yet again.

  • 0
    0

    Rev. Sobitha is an oasis in the desert of Monks. I am glad he is talking about the constitutional reforms. But I wish the reverend whom I admire would also raise his voice loud and clear against the hate campaigning monks who are ruining the country. Excepting 2 monks, we dont hear many monks speaking opposing this hate campaign

  • 0
    0

    This is an exceptional article about an exceptional Bhikku on an exceptional path.Down with executive Presidency-the root of all evil as Revd Sobitha has seen it. Why hans’t the UNP put this reform on top of its agenda? It is responsible for having brought this devil of a constitution?Fair that the party must undo what they have done?

  • 0
    0

    I am ashamed of these sinful monks.The video shows them throwing stones. Christians will be laughing at us.
    Ven Sobitha is a true monk that LIVES THE PATH-one of the four types mentioned in this praiseworthy article.

  • 0
    0

    This is a timely article written with great clarity and punch.Revd Maduluwawe Sobithais a model for our Sanga
    Sadu!Sadu!Sadu!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.