6 May, 2021

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Constitution-Making Process & The Pressure From The Buddhist Clergy

By V. Thirunavukkarasu –

Vallipuram Thirunavukkarasu

The Venerable Mahanayake Theros of the Buddhist Chapters suddenly met in Kandy on 4.7.2017 under the leadership of the Mahanayake Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter, Most Venerable Warakagoda Gnanaratna Thero. The purpose is to stall the ongoing Constitution-making process which is already more or less half way through. First of all, the million dollar question is as to why such a concern on their part arose after nearly one and a half years, and not at the beginning of the process.

As is well known, the National Unity Government, with the two traditional arch rivals, happily joining hands for the first time in the country’s long term interest, secured the people’s mandate to form the National Unity Government, inter alia, to enact and operate a new Constitution. Hence, it is irrevocably incumbent on the Government to carry out the sovereign people’s mandate, and there shouldn’t be any let or hindrance from any quarter in this respect. Of course, all sections of the people of all races and religions have had the opportunity to present their views and ideas from the time the Public Representations Committee headed by a political leader and Attorney-at-law, Lal Wijenayake started functioning at the inception. What has to be borne in mind by one and all is that the people’s mandate cannot be jettisoned.

Now, it is common knowledge that the former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa who had pledged in 2005 to abolish the Executive Presidency, reneged on that pledge. On the contrary, having gone half way through his second term, he got the infamous 18th amendment passed in Parliament to remove the mandatory 2-term limit to seek election to the Presidency, insatiably aspiring to become the first 3rd term President, but of course it misfired, thanks to the will of he people which is the most paramount factor. Presently, of course, he is a Member of Parliament as well as the foremost leader of the Joint Opposition (JO) representing the dissident wing of the UPFA, including the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) led by Parliamentarians Dinesh Gunawardena, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila respectively. The notorious propaganda of the JO is that (a) Federalism has all but been conceded, putting paid to the Unitary State system, and (b) that the foremost place given to Buddhism is being compromised. Such a bizarre, misleading propaganda is nothing but an insult to their own intelligence, besides taking the sovereign people for fools.

Well, the National Unity Government appeared somewhat taken aback by the sudden moves of the Buddhist Chapters which might well erode the Government’s 2015 mandate to take the country along the path of peace and reconciliation, to fast-track economic development for democracy to thrive, so that people of all races and religions could live in peace and amity.

Meantime, President Maithripala Sirisena has met with the Mahanayake Theros in Kandy and assured them that that there will be due consultations with them once the final draft Constitution is ready. Of course, the Mahanayake Theros can have their say even at this stage of the Constitution-making processes, but at the end of the day, the National Unity Government should boldly act in accordance with the people’s mandate handed down at the two elections in 2015. What is of most paramount importance is that there should be no question of pandering to the whims and fancies of any segment, apparently driven by a hidden hand. It is quite appropriate in this connection quote a journalist of yore of no mean repute, Tarzie Vitachchi, from his book titled “Emergency ‘58”. Here is what he said on the question of the price paid for pandering:

“When a Government, however popular, begins to pander to racial or religious emotionalism, merely because it is the loudest of the raucous demands made on it, and then meddles in the administration and enforcement of law and order for the benefits of its favorites, or win the plaudits of a crowd, however hysterical it may be, catastrophe is certain”

What is historically relevant to remember in this connection is the situation that led to Bandaranaike’s unilateral abrogation of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact in 1958, that is well-nigh six decades ago. Chelvanayakam had consciously accepted the pact, knowing well that it was a half-way house, even though some of his confidants had their own reservations. The fact that Bandaranaike found himself meekly abrogating the B-C pact pact due to extraneous pressure especially from the Buddhist clergy, is history, and a real tragedy; for had the BC pact been fully implemented sans any obstructions, the chequered problem could well have been well and truly finally resolved as the years went by, and there would certainly have been no war and the colossal destruction of life, limb and property.

Let lessons be learnt. Let wisdom prevail. Better late than never.

*V. Thirunavukkarasu – Former Member, Colombo Municipal Council 

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Latest comments

  • 11
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    Is anyone paying attention to this? Buddhist militancy appears to be the next wave of terrorism in Asia—and it could go global. It’s been happening recurrently in Sri Lanka since the end of the ethnic civil war in 2009, with Buddhist monks attacking minority Muslims (as well as Christians). Similarly, in Myanmar since 2012, Buddhist monks have been openly attacking minority Muslim groups, including the Rohingya.

    But now, extremist monks in both countries have formally linked up to form a global anti-Islamist pact.

    In September 2014, Buddhist monks in Myanmar, including Ashin Wirathu who once referred to himself as the “Burmese bin Laden,” The Face of BUddhist terror flew over to Sri Lanka to officially launch the global Buddhist alliance. We haven’t seen any follow-up on what this alliance means exactly. But at the time, they said the goal was to get more Buddhist groups to join their cause against Islamist militants—partly as they felt their governments would fail to tackle this perceived threat.

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      what is wrong in Buddhist monks standing for the rights of the Buddhist people? Are only grievences and aspirations of the Tamils important? Are not the grievences and aspirations of Sinhala people important? The 75% of the population should bow down to the demands of the 12%?

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      Thengai ,

      “Buddhist militancy appears to be the next wave of terrorism in Asia—and it could go global.”

      Are you working for an NGO funded by Evangelical Christians who have launched a program to depict Buddhists as a militant group. These guys are targeting three Buddhist countries; Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

    • 5
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      Thengai Srinivasan
      “”Is anyone paying attention to this?”
      demala bombed dalada maligawa by bribing a buddhist monk.
      2 tiger demala solicitors registered office at southall used £1 million of british tax payers money to get the buddhist monk asylum on appeal at britain.
      Is it not time for raiding tamil terror cells in the west and a nandikadal 2??

  • 8
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    Agree with your comments TS.
    “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

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    Sinhala clergy legally represent us because they are voted by Sinhalase to represent them in the parliament. Therefore they should be consulted in this democratic process.

    • 3
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      “Sinhala clergy legally represent us”
      No question about it: but the Sinhala Buddhist Bigots are only a very small minority of the Buddhist population. This is the problem. Sri Lanka has a majority Buddhist population so the govt should go for a referendum when a new constitution is finalized.

    • 6
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      Champa…………….hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Thanks for making us all laugh.

      • 0
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        Tamil from the North

        Same here. I laugh at my imposter’s junk comments, too. A Rajapaksa pot cleaner.

        • 2
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          Champa you are hoot. You have some fantastic dreams and they are hilarious. Hahahahahahaha keep dreaming idiot.

    • 3
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      Champa, Treat this inquiry as seeking clarification, not as challenging your authority to say what you wish and how you wish to say it. You say that the Sinhalese have voted the clergy to represent you all in the house of parliament. I applaud you, for that principled approach of yours to conduct democratic business. When you accept that you have the representation you need in the House, why do you say that someone outside the House, be it Mahanayakes or not, be given the right to dictate his will, to the House, against all principles of democracy, you so deeply cherish.

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        Champa Thank you for good work.

        • 2
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          Jim softy,
          Tamils asking for more than what Prabhakaran bargained for – language, land prosecution of forces etc is same as Marcos family denial. they are all in it and never were any different to stick to a dying language than study an easy patchwork language. 30 more years and all would speak sinhala- the english kings took 100 years to accept the english language they did not know but known to the english public.

          Not every Filipino feels the same way about martial law or Duterte. Nearly 30 years after Marcos’s death, a powerful propaganda campaign by the Marcos family and its allies has twisted many Filipinos’ views on history, causing them to see life under Marcos as a kind of “golden age” for the Philippines. That’s good for the Marcos family, and makes it easier for many to accept a similar authoritarian government under Duterte. Fifty-seven percent of Filipinos support Duterte’s declaration, according to a Social Weather Stations survey in June. Duterte polls even better: According to another recent SWS survey, 78 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with him.

      • 3
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        as if you are not aware that is how it works in the citadel of democracy.

    • 7
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      Champo…

      what are u talking about… ?

      Who are this sinhala clery according to you ? Are you mad ?

      Just few Mahananayakes not knowing the bits well, just having awoken from their long slumber to have added few remarks – actually are no serious at all. At the time, Ballige putha s son – Namal the eunachs ran amok style – night races tremouring in Tooth relic temple premises…. there too, Mahanayakes what they had to say were not at all respected.
      They are there just to be seen as SRILANKENS so called highly respectable clergy men.
      They are no sufficiently educated to see it right.
      Else, those men in sanga constume would never utter a single word partial to that BBS butcher-eunach-aggressive Balusaraya.

    • 0
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      BULLSHIT

    • 1
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      Sinhala Clergy or more correctly Sinhala Kill-urgey

  • 4
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    V. Thirunavukkarasu starts with the question to Sangha “First of all, the million dollar question is as to why such a concern on their part arose after nearly one and a half years, and not at the beginning of the process.”
    Is it possible the Sangha is being manipulated?
    T goes on “As is well known, the National Unity Government, with the two traditional arch rivals, happily joining hands for the first time in the country’s long term interest…………”
    T, we now know that certain individuals fought for their lives. We thought otherwise – thought that corruption, nepotism and culture of impunity will be bridled. The GoSL is not successful here because they want some their own to be let off..
    In early fifties the slogan was “Federalism will lead to invasion and Sinhalese will be pushed into the sea……….”. This is being recycled after some seventy years. It is as catchy as ever.
    By the way, the BC pact was unilaterally abrogated because of the Themises, Rajaratnes. At the assassination trial it transpired that Buddharakeetha (then Thero) was only interested in expanding his businesses.
    Lanka will go forward if and only if the present governance structure tailored to protect the corrupt is changed.

  • 0
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    ‘pandering to the whims and fancies of any segment, apparently driven by a hidden hand.’ Exactly that !! All this hush hush constitution making is pandering to the Tamil diaspora as a thank you for getting the Tamil vote for Sirisena/Ranil combo. That was the pledge. Tissa Attanayake was dead reight. And as for Chelvanayagam (who is he?) who was a Malaysian had no business asking for a bigger slice of the cake on a racial basis at all. Time the Tamils come to their senses and count their blessings for being able to live a much better life here in Sri Lanka than in their mother land Tamilnadu.

  • 1
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    WHY Do Not These People Talk About The Right Violations Of The Sinhalese Buddhist People That Had Taken Place Since The Portugese Invaded Our Country…………And It Is Now THe Time has come for the Sinhalese People AWAKE from Dreams And Come to reality To Work Out A Campaign to Get Back All Their Lost Rights And Heritage As All These Other Alien Communities are TRYING to Drag This Country To Another Dark Era along with the Kalu Suddas’ …….As Roman Catholics We Asume that We Should Give Due Respect To The Sinhala Buddhist Culture Of This Country and Integrate with it if This Country Is To Prosper ……………….And All Communities To Live Peacefully………….So Initially We Have To Get Back The Original Name Of This Country ….The Island Nation Of Sinhale And The Sinhale Flag under which all communities have been living peacefully in Before The British Took Over……..The Biggest problem is that British Have Handed Over This Country To A BUNCH of KaLu SuDDhas Who Took Over This Country As Ceylon,The Name The British Given For The Sinhale Country………..An utter Violation Of Fundamental Rights Of The People Of This Country…………..Unless you make these corrections we cannot think of people in general have a feeling for our country………….more you think of going to be Sri Lankans More You Are Pushing This Country Towards Racialism and Extremism………Because Sri Lanka Is An Alien Country……………..Unless This Is Done we shall observe things as We See in CT columns like the above…….THAT Most People Who Thinks For Themselves that They Are The Educate Lot EVEN does not care too hoots to GIVE RESPECT AND GET RESPECT following FM KaLaWeDDa…….They Are Probably Day Dreaming

  • 2
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    Mr. Vallipuram Thirunavukkarasu

    First-of-all, in 2015 government never asked a mandate for Federal-Constitution. Reconciliation has nothing to do with Federal Constitution, in fact it is complete opposite of reconciliation. Tamils’ famous slogan “path-to-peace-and-reconciliation” is a total joke when more Tamils live peacefully outside-North.

    You-say “…there should be no question of pandering to the whims-and-fancies of any segment,…” Exactly, the 450,000 votes President received from the North is no reason whatsoever to ignore the sentiments expressed by 76% of the majority-Sinhalese against the Constitution. The Government should not bring a Federal-Constitution to satisfy whims-and-fancies of one segment which comprises only 10% of the population, out of which approx. 7% lives outside North.

    You-say: “..The purpose is to stall the ongoing Constitution-making process which is already more or less half way through…” Half way through? Are you sure? The President and the PM both said that they haven’t even put forward its proposals and that it was under discussion. I believe you are telling the truth. Sinhalese-Buddhists are ever grateful to Maha-Sangha led by Most-Venerable-Chief-Prelate-of-Asgiriya- Chapter for their timely intervention.

    I beg to differ you about the role played by Maha-Sangha. On the contrary to your assumption, they were fully aware of the situation. Since last year Chief-Prelates were informed and updated by patriotic politicians and masses. WW conducted seminars islandwide explaining people the contents of the print propsals of the Federal Constitution. Even last year, Chief-Prelates-of-Malwatte-and-Asgiriya wrote to President and Prime Minister seeking clarification on the constitution making process. Apart from that every time a Minsiter visits them, the first thing they inquired was about the new constitution. You would appreicate the fact that the Three Chief Prelates issued the historical statement after much deliberation and dialogue with various sectors of the society since last year.

     

    • 5
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      Champa, As a student in a leading Catholic school in Colombo, I moved out to North when we were forced out of Colombo, with the slogan, ‘Get back to from where you are’. Then again, as an adult, I had to move, that time out of North, out of fear of the atrocities meted out to Tamils by the military. And, you are telling me today that Tamils are living peacefully outside-North. That is baloney. Which Tamils are you speaking about? Can you guarantee those Tamils that their future is safe and secure, in your hands. I don’t deny that you have a need to defend your position, but I would plead that you do so with arguments that are factual and honest.

    • 2
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      Champa

      “WW conducted seminars islandwide explaining people the contents of the print propsals of the Federal Constitution.”

      Did he also carry Sanghas’ clanking b***s everywhere he went? When Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa was carrying Sangha’s b***s what were you doing? were you carrying WW’s on your head?

      Do you know the sort of pre-election deal hatched between Ranil and WW?

      Has Sangili Karuppan ever worked and earn a living in his life time apart from the unearned income from parliament and other Kappang?

  • 3
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    Tissa had to fall for MR’s googly and cleanly stumped by RW/MS combo for no score duck.
    Champ0, Softee keep dreaming!

  • 0
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  • 3
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    “Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact in 1958”

    Bloody humbug, two Christians both were children of Malayali families negotiated a pact to retain their grip on power in a Predominantly a Buddhist country; for both these fellows at that time it is either by hook or by crook. Bandaranaike wanted to hoodwink Sinhala Buddhists (Majority) and Chelvanayakam wanted to hoodwink Tamil Hindus. The guys like Vallipuram thinks they were great politicians! what a shame?.

    • 4
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      Don’t tell me the polish childminder offered you a blood transfer like michael jackson and you accepted it to shed off the Yakoooo in your DNA.

    • 1
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      Sinhala Banda

      “Predominantly a Buddhist country”

      When did you get the idea for luxury. Don’t be stupid. The constitution does not state it is a Buddhist country. However it says stupid Sinhalese are expected to carry the clanking b***s of the ageing Sangha who have already gone ga ga.

      By any chance you a descendant of Telugu?Telugus have lot of problem with Malayalis and Tamils. The name Banda sounds like Dutch.

      • 2
        1

        “However it says stupid Sinhalese”

        Native Vedda, you and other Anti-Sinhala Buddhist extremists always thought Sinhalese are stupid. You fellows, have misunderstood our character of “HUMILITY or HUMBLENESS” as weakness and interpreted as stupidity. We learn to be humble from our Religion; Buddhism and hope one day you will understand it.

  • 4
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    “”First of all, the million dollar question is as to why such a concern on their part arose after nearly one and a half years, and not at the beginning of the process.””

    Obama and Modi alone know how the government changed hands.
    RBI chief Dr Raghuram Rajan was against the swap of $$ 1.5 billion on the 15th January for helicopter money.

  • 0
    0

    Your question: “First of all, the million dollar question is as to why such a concern on their part arose after nearly one and a half years, and not at the beginning of the process.”
    Answer: if you speak at the beginning, the Yahapalana government, your type writers, and foreign funded $$$ NGOs say: “Hey monks, you don’t know nothing; you know only to consume what the poor villagers offer you to eat; therefore, don’t jump the gun! We’ve not even thought of how to draft it”.
    Now your question is: why did not you speak at the beginning?
    (At this point, you may continually sneeze; because those people in SL remind us of your name and your mother’s name too)! They do that when they are cornered with stupid questions like yours!

  • 1
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    Mr. Thiru, this country does not belong to NGO’s and/or writers who think that they know everything about SL and the rest of the world. Clearly, it belongs to the majority Sri Lankans (Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Veddas, and other ethnic groups who consider themselves Sri Lankans). There are pseudo Sri Lankans who support the invader and any nation has that kind of misguided citizens. However, the majority of Sri Lankans had been protecting it against vicious foreign invasions whether geo-political, cultural, economic or of any other disguised form.
    Mr. Thiru, Before writing about the Mahanayakas or the Sangaha leaders in Sri Lanka, you should read and understand their sacrifices from the Anuradhapura period to Portuguese, Dutch, and British eras. I hear that even Corporal Gamini Kularatna who sacrificed his life in 1991 to save the Elephant Pass camp with thousands of soldiers was and ex-monk.
    Today we have tons of burning issues and don’t try to hide the gravity of those issues by bringing in unnecessary subjects like the constitution. First of all this government has no mandate from the public for it, and what this government has been doing for the last 2 years is telling blatant lies to you, me and everyone.
    Look at those issues that have grown to the epidemic level today (Dengue, SAITM, strikes, cost of living, student agitations, murders, thefts, corruption, just to name a few. People ask: what is the relationship between those issues and the proposed new constitution. Can the new constitution cure the Dengue epidemic? Or will it resolve the SAITM issue. That’s what the Sangha leaders ask, on behalf of the people. This government did not listen to the people for the last 2 years, and that’s why the Sangha leaders have spoken up! Please do not try to belittle and ridicule their voice because that may be the last voice you hear on behalf of the voiceless poor.

  • 2
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    What are we to do::::>>>>

    1. The Tamils are not going to be assimilated into Buddhism and sinhala way of life
    2.The Muslims are not going to be assimilated into Buddhism and Sinhala way of life
    3. The Christians are not going to be assimilated into Buddhism and Sinhala way of life

    So under these circumstances ONLY the common RULE OF LAW that will bind these entities together AND some human qualities that are universal to ALL of Human Species. Including , those in developed economies and not so developed economies to NO economy at ALL (eg. some African countries)

    We will have to define the 13th Amendment into:

    1. Tamil dominated Northern Region
    2. Eastern Region we will have to demarcate this region again differently. And make sure they are NOT joined as North+East as there are significant number of Sinhala people still living and have lived in the Eastern Province.

    3. A National Captial territory including Colombo to Negombo area and spreading south towards Moratuwa.

    The Rest is Sinhale. This is the way 13th Amendment should be amended.

    If there is an Ethnic problem AND the solution is found for the Ethnic problem then the SOLUTION must reflect the SOLUTION to that Ethnic problem.

    For example: If there is an Issue with the Tamils and Tamil speakers with the Sinhala people then the constitutional arrangements SHOULD reflect the SOLUTION to the PROBLEMS envisaged in the beginning.

    JUST because the Sinhala-Buddhists HAVE NOT asked for a HOMELAND MUST NOT EXCLUDE THEM FROM HAVING A HOMELAND.

  • 1
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    May I quote Lee Kuan Yew ”Churchman ,Lay preachers,Priests, Monks ,Muslim Theologians, all those who claim divine sanction or holy insights take off your clerical robes before take on anything economic or political” What I cannot comprehend is Buddhists are expected to give up all material things in life and endeavor to extinguish themselves to ensure that they are not born again. They including some priests are doing just the opposite which is against Buddhas teachings. Obviously they will have a prolonged stay in Samsara.

  • 3
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    Thanks, Mr Vallipuram Thirunavukkarasu.

    It may be that your articles get some hostile comments from guys who will always keep trolling. However, I’m sure that your sober and moderate articles will have an effect on even those trolls.

    That not many may be reading what you so carefully write is a worry, but I think that you should keep going.

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