21 November, 2018

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Constitutional Reform: The State Of Denial Will Divide The Country

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

A fact is something that is proven to be true and is known to be the truth. When it is said that a person is in a state of denial, it would mean that the person knows the fact or truth of something but does not want to accept it. Such irrational behaviour in a person may sound very silly and stupid for an outsider. The reason why he would not accept the fact as it is, is because his thinking and decision-making ability are prejudiced by strong and complex emotions. These emotions can be based on a variety of reasons like idealisation, desire, shame etc.

There are two issues that need to be addressed by this nation at this crucial time. The outcome of which, history will record it either with unforgiving disapprobation or with generous laudation. Firstly, the constitutional absurdity between Article 9 of the Constitution where Buddhism is given the ‘foremost place’ and Article 12 which states about Right to Equality. Secondly, the idea amongst the populace that this is a Sinhala Buddhist country – a notion perpetuated by opportunistic politicians or politicians who are in a state of denial and, by those belonging to religious institutions, who have transformed the noble teachings of Buddha innovating it into a political, cultural and commercial institution. Very, very sadly, far astray from the teachings of Buddha.

Fear And Suspicion

When the absurdity of Article 9 is referred to, it is done with the objective of good constitution making for our country. After all that is the document that will tell the world who we are. In order to allay the fears and suspicions if any, of those who may have difficulties in interpreting and accepting facts in its true sense and living in a state of denial, it is necessary to unequivocally state that this writer is a great respecter of the true teachings of Buddha and, secondly, would never want this great country of ours to be divided.

Why Cannot We?

South Africa, we all know was at one time the most ostracised country in the world. They were in a permanent state of denial vis a vis apartheid. They are different today because they accepted the fact, as the fact. Acknowledged the truth, as the truth and shed their bigotry to understand, accommodate, reconcile and co-exist.  In that pursuit, they formulated a new constitution which, today, may be named as the most modern constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution reads:

“We, the people of South Africa,

Recognise the injustices of our past;

…….. Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to –

Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;

Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law; …”

South Africa recognises eleven languages as her official languages and also has provision to promote and ensure respect for languages commonly used by communities in South Africa, including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu to name a few. Its Bill of Rights in Chapter 2, is an extensive formulation safeguarding, protecting and providing for the dignity of human rights.

If South Africa with a population of around 56 million people, with nearly nine ethnic groups practising a variety of religions can come together, why cannot we Sri Lankans come together?

Reform Methodology

On the issue of Article 9, it is necessary for the respected Sangha to come out of the mindset that Buddhism must be given the foremost place. Forget the opportunistic politicians. If the Sangha bravely and as the true followers of the Buddha and his noble teachings, comes forth, these opportunist politicians will also sing the same refrain that Article 9 must be removed. 

To insist on having this Article is living in a state of denial. Can any Buddhist sincerely say that this great teaching requires for it to be given the foremost place in the Sri Lanka constitution?  Is it not an insult to this teaching? Does Buddhism need to be incorporated into an Article of a constitution for its survival? It is contrary to the teachings of buddha, it is a constitutional absurdity and it will not serve the best interest of this country.  (Please see my three-part analysis on the subject in the Colombo Telegraph ((1) Critical Evaluation & Democratisation Of Article (9) dated July 3, 2016, (2) New Constitution: State, Religion & Buddhism dated July 14, 2016 and (3) Does The Constitution Restrict Religious Freedom? dated August 6, 2016).

If the need is to promote Buddhism there is no objection in passing legislations to that effect but certainly not in the document which is supposed to represent every citizen of this country.

Sinhala Buddhist Country

With regard to the popular notion that this is a Sinhala Buddhist country and the rest are ‘others’, the constitution can be the starting point to tackle this state of denial. Sri Lanka is a country which is populated with multi ethnic, multi-cultural and multi religious communities.  It would do well for her both locally and internationally, if she embraces this ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.  Like South Africa, Sri Lanka can also model itself to be a light to the world.  Here lies the true and actual propagation of Buddhism and Buddhistic values. 

To make the statement to the ‘others’ that this is a Sinhala Buddhist country is an affront on them. For the bigots they can call whatever they want but the fact remains that this country belongs to all its citizens.  And, the citizen would never want to derogate their status as equal citizens.  So, then those who make such nonsensical claims are in that state of denial.  They are in fact, creating a division amongst the communities.  Little wonder that the Tamil community wants to take care of their own affairs in a land that they can call it theirs. 

The proposals in the Report of the Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights is fairly extensive in securing the fundamental rights.  With a view to forge closer unity, reconciliation, understanding and coexistence between all the peoples of Sri Lanka, an additional Article is suggested, to be suitably incorporated in the Constitution which reads:

“The people of Sri Lanka recognises the multi ethnic, multi-cultural and multi religious diversity of our people.  We believe that Sri Lanka belongs to all who live in it, united in diversity.  Every citizen of this country is a Sri Lankan.  He/she shall be proud to call himself/herself as a Sri Lankan and that this country belongs to him/her.  Every Sri Lankan irrespective of ethnicity or religion shall be equal citizens.”

It is high time that the Sinhala Buddhist people (not all of them) and the respected sangha (not all of them) who are in this state of denial, come out of their delusion and accept the fact. If not, they are the ones who will one day be the cause for this country to inevitably, be divided.  This would be a costly price to be paid for parochiality and bigotry.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    MassL.Usuf

    You have put it well for the Majority community to comprehend the situation in Sri Lanka. Yet,it is not that they do not understand the position of the Tamil community and what the country needs, but they do not want to. One can teach someone who doesn’t understand things but difficult to teach someone who understands but deliberately fails to accept it. These are the people who doesn’t want peace and progress but destruction in the country I have never seen such backwardness, corruption, crime, in the country except that few tall buildings have come up. That is not progress

  • 2
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    Are you kidding mate?………..
    Wahabis are raking in as big or even bigger than the Tamils……….If one exempts Dr Ranil’s mate Diaspora Mahendran and his SIL…….
    What has this Article 9 done for the Sinhala Buddhists?…………
    Dr Ranil’s very first Yahapalana Action was to Jail the good Sinhala Buddhists for issuing free Prayer Clothing to old Sinhala Buddhist devotees…………
    Then he went on to arrest and silence each and every Buddhist Monk who spoke against Dr Ranil’s secret agenda to give Federal Homelands to Tamils and Muslims………..
    Now every Tom Dick and Harry come out with all guns blazing to publicly attack , insult and degrade Sinhala Buddhists and their Monks for trying to protect their 2500 year heritage and culture…………..
    You can take Article 9 and shove it up where its opponents want……….
    It wouldn’t make any difference to the Sinhala Buddhists under this Yahapalanaya………..
    I am talking about the great majority who are the rural poor , who do not live in Muslim and Tamil built and owned Condos in Colombo…….
    I am talking about the Sil Ammas and Thathas who received those free Prayer clothes……

    • 0
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “I am talking about the great majority who are the rural poor , who do not live in Muslim and Tamil built and owned Condos in Colombo…….”

      The public racist SWRD Banda lumped the great majority into Pancha Maha Balavegaya, a new brand, promised them heaven and earth. Its been 62 years since the Sinhala/Buddhist racists took absolute control of the state, and 2 Sinhala/Buddhist terrorism, 30 years of war, …………….. yet you continue to whinge about ……………….. the great majority.

      Have a word with Bandula Jayasekera who might have some idea how to keep you happy. You don’t like him do you?

  • 2
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    Sellam,

    If the country is so bad, simply don’t visit there. Get your relatives down to where ever the living hell you are at.

    None of the Sinhalese are going to miss you. The country will not go bankrupt either.

    • 1
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      Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera : The country is bankrupt.. and you know by who? USA and Sri Lanka dual citizenship holders …yes …your.. Rajapakse clan….and their relatives and kith and kin are also dual citizenship holders…and they can command Sri Lankan air lines to fly them in and out of the country including their pets….and they do not care a damn and none of them will miss the Sinhalese masses who vote for them and worship them and you know what the clan doesn’t care a damn for Sri Lanka or Sinhala Buddhism they love their scotch and luxury houses in the USA

  • 1
    1

    MASS L USUF: Non sinhala buddhists including Sinhala -christians/Catholics are 37%. YOu say it is not a Simhala buddhist country. what is UK. Is it a multi religious and multi ethnic country or an Anglican country religiously. You people are migrents in Sinhale. FYI, England not the whole UK has only 44.9% of White British people.

  • 2
    1

    MAss L USUF: Why don’t you think this all is what Allah wants ? Why your allah is not to be seen in any of these things ?

  • 0
    1

    MASs L USUF: Just enjoy the life. YOur life is in danger not because of this crap constitution of Ranil. It is the Wahabis in the country. Be careful about them. If not leave to some country in the middle east. They are looking for people for the next war. You cannot be from Saudi arabia though.

  • 4
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    There is a similarity between S.Africa and Sri Lanka. Both countries were ruled by minorities discriminating the majority. In Sri Lanka, Wellala Tamils collaborated with the British and discriminated the majority Sinhala people. In S.Africa, the white minority that ruled the country lost power and accepted the fact that they discriminated the majority black people. In Sri Lanka, Tamils who held a privileged position while British were ruling failed to face the reality that it is no longer minority ruling the majority and started the propaganda campaign that they are been discriminated instead of accepting that majority Sinhalese were discriminated. In S.Africa, the minority whites learned to face the reality but in Sri Lanka minority Tamils failed to learn how to face the reality. That is the difference between S.Africa and Sri Lanka and the root cause for the so called ‘Ethnic Problem’.

  • 1
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    Just saying this a “Sinhala Buddhist country” or having a “Prominent place to Buddhism” do not give anything to anybody. All these decades this did not give any special privileges to Sinhala Buddhists or any harm to others. Making a big issue out of this is a waste of time and energy which can be used to develop this country.

  • 1
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    Belief need not be true. So is the case of all the religions. Believing in things as a radical just indicate the human weakness. What ever religion may be, we can comprehend there could be one god, which again is just a belief, but rationally acceptable. What is the rationale to fight for something, which nobody knows whether true or not? If Mahanayake believes in ‘foremost place’, it only shows the quality of belief. Let it be. Buddhism is not going to achieve its foremost place by this action. It is only going to make a mockery of the belief, and apparantly already it has started.

  • 3
    1

    My Dear Friend,

    All of the following countries are non-secular Christian or Muslim countries , first you preach them to become non-secular countries:
    1. England and United Kingdom
    2. Norway
    3. All Arabian Countries and North African Countries.

    We (majority) needs to protect our 2500 years of history, heritage and culture. We do not need a new constitution or secular state.
    What our people need and asking for is that the better economy (living conditions), education, health, security and other basic needs.

    Batalanda (three letters man) and Chavra Rajini who do not belonging to that Sri Lankan culture and heritage. That is why they want to have a secular state. That is why they continuously insulting to Buddhism and Buddhist Monks. Further, it obvious that they have entered into a contract with the outside forces to destroy our country. They hired a paid laborer, “Gamarala” to cheat majority Sri Lankans.

    When there is a proper election or referendum on this matter, we show our democratic values and teach them a good lesson in the near future.

    Therefore, please do not try to preach us.

  • 0
    0

    Since independence in 1948, successive GoSL have been in a state of denial. They denied that Lankan minorities have grievances – the extreme end is the claim that there are no minorities. Few years ago BBS was formed with blessing from MR and GR. BBS has its own interpretations of traditional Buddhism and is slowing evolving into a Buddhist sect. The mission of this sect is to create a Buddhist-Sinhala-Only SL.
    Five hundred years of colonial rule could not dent the purity of Lankan Buddhism. BBS Buddhism is the danger to Lankan Buddhism. BBS is slowly gaining control over the Sangha. The GoSL is in a state of denial.

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