Colombo Telegraph

Impact Of Buddhism, Politics & Corruption On The Rule Of Law – Part II

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

Gnanasara’s rendezvous with President

The grotesque picture of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero must have truly embarrassed the decent Buddhists and the respected monks. He is attempting to assault a female police officer unashamedly looked on by the others. Substitute citizen Perera or Subramanian or Abdullah in place of the monk and imagine how the picture would then have looked like. Another instance of the Rule of Law (ROL) becoming impotent when it relates to monks violating not only the law but, also, the very arm of the law.

Gnanasara Thero who famously called President Sirisena, “rukada nayakayek – a puppet leader” among other matters stated as follows:

(ජනාධිපති තුමනි, ඔබ වහාම ඉල්ලා අස් වෙන්න)
“President, you resign immediately”

“…Meka api palamuwenma kiuwa me ratata enna yanne rukada nayakayek …… Sirisena mahaththayo dan kale hari dan yanna …. Purushayaek inna oney methena.”

Translation : “We said that a puppet is becoming the leader of this country…….. Your time is up Mr. Sirisena. Now go……. There must be a man (masculinity) in this place. (10.04.2015)

This very Gnanasara has taken centre stage as a bedfellow in an apparently intriguing political gamble. This will be stretching the argument to include politics as influencing the ROL.

Akusala Kamma (Bad Action)

Chronicling the records of Gnanasara thero provides additional perspective to the paralysed ROL even during the Rajapakshe era.

In June 2014, he was alleged to have incited violence against the Muslims of Aluthgama and Beruwela. The rioting caused several deaths, destruction of properties and damage to businesses worth billions of rupees. The Muslim community’s call to appoint a Commission to investigate this incident has fallen on deaf ears.

As journalist Dharisha Bastians observes: “The Government that arrested journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, politician Azath Sally and human rights activists Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan under sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act dealing with an incitement of communal tension, has been criminally derelict in the case of Gnanasara.” (DailyFT, 26 June 2014).

Gnanasara, who as a monk administers the virtue to abstain from intoxicants that causes heedlessness, has himself pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run and drunk driving case and been fined by the Court (CT 11/04/2013).

In October 2015, warrant was issued for his arrest for failing to appear before courts on two cases. One for allegedly obstructing a media briefing by the Jathika Bala Sena while the other case was for defamatory remarks against Quran opposite the Slave Island police station. In January 2016, he was remanded for alleged contempt of court and threatening Sandhya Ekneligoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. Earlier, a warrant had been issued for his arrest on a case regarding his alleged participation at an unlawful assembly in front of the Bribery Commission. Besides this there have been several other complaints filed against him.

The latest episodes was the statement made by Gnanasara blaspheming Allah (please see my article, CT of 09/12/2016). These unabating incidents prompted the 21 Parliamentarians to write to H.E. The President requesting investigation and prosecution. Nothing done!

Potte Naufer

Why these records are important is to reconcile a strange event that took place in the Presidential Office recently. There was growing criticism from the Muslims, civil organisations, civic minded Sinhalese and Tamil people on the disgraceful behaviour of these monks. In response, the President had summoned a meeting of the religious leaders early last month – Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islam were represented. Lo and behold, to the surprise of many present at the meeting walks in Gnanasara Thero.

Those who were amazed at this were later asking if the President has legitimized all violations of this monk. They were worried if this will give the extremist monks the wrong signal to continue with impunity so long as one is wearing the robe. Did his presence make the other genteel monks of stature, dignity and respect uncomfortable? He has been variously identified in the media as ‘rogue monk’, ‘hooligan’, ‘thug’ and ‘delusional character’. He is alleged to epitomise vulgarity, filth and abusive language. Gnanasara is also noted for his ignoble remarks at those in the government and the legal system with utter disrespect to the Noble Eightfold path.

Dr. Dhammika Herath commenting on Gnanasara thero’s conduct once wrote, “where are these traits arising from? A deranged, callous, psychotic thought process and personality? …….. He is extremely dangerous to humanity, Sri Lankan society and people in general.” (CT, 23/08/2014)

Queries were in the air as to how could the President have sat at the same table with such a person? Someone remarked sarcastically that this is like the President sitting with ‘Potte Naufer’ (now serving term) to discuss how to rehabilitate ‘pathale lokaya’ the underworld. Is this magnanimity of the President or is this cheap politicking?

International Community

How far will the international community be impressed about the President, the Prime Minister and the Government? The Joint Opposition always alleges interference in the affairs of the Attorney General’s Department and the Police Service. If correct, we are assured of a future where chaos and pandemonium will rule and not the Rule of Law. The fallout effect of this will be the further deterioration of respect to the Police Service, diminishing human values and inaccessibility to justice. The domino effect will be failed international relations and drop in foreign direct investments.

It is alleged that there have been over 540 incidents of violence, intimidation and hate carried out by various extremist groups against the Muslims. Over 511 incidents against the evangelical Christians as at December 2015 (MCSL letter to IGP, 16.12.2016).

For Dicey (1961) equality before the law would mean, “the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary courts …”

Wither ROL, Hail The Law Of Karma!

The ROL principle in buddhistic teachings is cosmically an inescapable one and that is the law of Karma. Karma does not curry favour with monks, nationalism, racism, ‘blood types’ nor is it bothered about pending election, Sinhala voter base, political influence etc. when it deals with justice. Even Muslims are subjected to this Karma though not in the form of influencing rebirth but on eschatological principles.

Buddhist philosophy is clean. However, the Buddhist who behave un-buddhistically and, those who protect such violators, those who fool the innocent masses displaying reverence by erecting symbols of Buddhism, those who stand to pay obeisance to monks who are violators are those who barter this great teaching for a little worldly gain. These are the culprits who damage, tarnish and dent Buddhism; Let them be from among the monks, the laymen, the racists, the extremists, the politicians or whoever.

Remember, one can escape, manipulate and prostitute with the Rule of Law but no one can ever run away, escape, manipulate or prostitute the Laws of Kamma. Be aware!

To bring back the Rule of Law and the original teachings and practices of Buddha, engage the sincere Buddhist monks and buddhist intellectuals. These people are silently lamenting because they do not want to be part of this confusion. The Sinhalese people are very good people. If this goodness prevails there will be no better nation in this world to live than Sri Lanka. And, fortunately, I am a Sri Lankan! I demand that the Rule of Law be given its due place.

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Impact Of Buddhism, Politics & Corruption On The Rule Of Law – Part I

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