29 September, 2020

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Last Opportunity To Defeat Extremist Forces: Friday Forum

“This may be a last opportunity to defeat divisive and extremist forces in different parts of our country, and work towards a just society and a sustainable environment of peace, security and prosperity for all our people.” says the Friday Forum.

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

Issuing a statment last night the Friday Forum said; “While discussions on a political solution have focused on devolution and power sharing with the provinces, our statement puts forward for our fellow citizens and parliamentarians some principles and ideas that we think are fundamental to address the structural problems that have undermined the body politic of our state and society since independence, and have created an environment for conflict and tension among communities.”

We publish below the statement in full;

PRIORITIES IN WORKING TOWARDS A POLITICAL SOLUTION

One year after the democratic changes our country witnessed, which also rekindled efforts towards reconciliation, the Friday Forum welcomes the process initiated on 9 January 2016 on constitutional reform, a response to critical political problems. While discussions on a political solution have focused on devolution and power sharing with the provinces, our statement puts forward for our fellow citizens and parliamentarians some principles and ideas that we think are fundamental to address the structural problems that have undermined the body politic of our state and society since independence, and have created an environment for conflict and tension among communities.

Sovereignty of the People, Non-Discrimination and the Concept of a Secular State

The fundamental principle is that sovereignty is in the people within a united, independent and indivisible state. If sovereignty is in the people, the rights and aspirations of all the people must be recognised, with due respect for their diverse religions, languages and ethnicities. Such a plural society will inevitably have to move towards a state which regards and treats all religions alike. The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and Tamil are both national and official languages.

Democracy and Devolution

Over the decades, authoritarianism has been on the rise, both with the state becoming repressive in the face of insurrections and armed conflict and with the increasing centralisation of state power. The current unitary structure of the state and the executive presidency have contributed to an alarmingly disproportionate centralised style of governance, abuse of executive power and violations of fundamental rights. This has also led to breakdown of law and order, and a culture of impunity for acts of gross violence and corruption. The principle of subsidiarity calls for devolving power from the centre and for people’s participation and power sharing. There should be constitutional guarantees to ensure such devolved power is not retaken by the centre, and that the criterion of use of such devolved power is, in its turn, invariably the welfare of all citizens of the devolved unit without distinction. We have witnessed how a unitary structure of the state leads to the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the economic policy makers and even our educationists working with a centralised mindset. Such a unitary worldview is hierarchical and undermines the concerns and participation of people in the peripheral regions in particular. Democratisation of state and society and sovereignty of the people require that any new constitutional proposals should abolish the executive presidency and provide for maximum devolution within the concept of a united and indivisible country.

Sustainable Development

The legacy of the social welfare state, with comparatively high human development indicators, has been undermined in recent years with neo liberal economic policies. Economic development has focused mainly on Colombo and the Western Province, and uneven development characterises the national economy. Social and economic inequalities are on the rise, with such inequalities particularly affecting the regions in the periphery including the Northern and Eastern Provinces that were most affected by the armed conflict. Therefore sustainable development policies should be implemented in the regions, to ensure that local economies and resources are also developed and benefit the people. Furthermore, there should be fair and adequate distribution of national resources to ensure such regional development. In this way the untapped human resource potential of rural youth and women can be harnessed for development. In addition, sectors like agriculture and fisheries, which are important for livelihoods at the regional level, can be developed through adequate national resources committed for such development.

Education

The gains made after independence regarding equitable access to quality education have been progressively undermined, and there has been national recognition of a continuing crisis in the education sector. This crisis is not limited to our school system and university education, but is reflected in non-formal education such as vocational training and agricultural extension. If education is to be meaningful for all the people, it has also to be accessible and relevant to problems and issues faced by people in diverse and marginalised communities. This requires reassessment and review of curricula and teaching methodologies with the participation of regional education authorities. They must be adequately resourced to meet the challenges of education reform.

Co-existence

Sri Lanka after decades of armed conflict and great inequalities has become a divided society. Ethnic and religious divisions, class differences and caste oppression in some communities continue to undermine our capacity to achieve integrated development and progress. Efforts to rebuild inter-ethnic and other social relations between communities have to begin with adequate resources allocated to the regions as well as with dismantling the structures at the centre which perpetuate racism, gender-based discrimination and other forms of social exclusion.

We ask all engaged in the current reform to reflect on and recognise the importance of integrating the above principles into the process. The Friday Forum calls on our fellow citizens and our Parliament to reflect on these principles and engage with the constitutional reform process, so that we can begin to resolve the political questions that have plagued our country since independence. The need for rejecting adversarial politics and finding common ground to forge a consensus on what is best for our common future was emphasised by the President when he addressed Parliament. This may be a last opportunity to defeat divisive and extremist forces in different parts of our country, and work towards a just society and a sustainable environment of peace, security and prosperity for all our people.

Professor Savitri Goonesekere                             Ahilan Kadirgamar

For and on behalf of

Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Mr. S.C.C.Elankovan, Prof. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Dr. A. C Visvalingam, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare,  Mr. Danesh Casie-Chetty,  Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, D Wijayanandana & Mr. Chandra Jayaratne.

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Latest comments

  • 19
    2

    This is not the first or the last time that appeals like these will be made. All such previous appeals have failed to convince a large segment of the Sinhala-Buddhist population. The crux of this issue is the extent of power to be devolved to the Tamil speaking regions of North and the East. The Tamil politicians want powers just a step short of a separate state. The majority of the Sinhala-Buddhists will concede only the minimalist position, with strong central control over these regions. The new constitution will need to find the middle ground.

    But that will be difficult. Some 60% of the Sinhala-Buddhists voted for Mahinda Rajapakse in the last two elections. This constituency was nurtured on ethno-religious nationalism, where the Tamil and the Muslim were considered interlopers in this “Sinhala-Buddhist Aryan nation”. Subscribing to this racist ideology are not just uneducated folk, but also professionals with university degrees – which, of course, shows the dismal level of general and tertiary “education” in the country. The unfortunate thing is that the schools and universities have become mere cram shops with no effort being made to open up and expand the minds of the youth to absorb liberal ideas.

    Mahinda Rajapakse and his cohorts are giving leadership to these misguided racists, Sinhala-Buddhists majority that voted for him. No amount of Friday Forum (or other) appeals will reach this segment of the population. Any constitutional reform that addresses Tamil political aspirations will be opposed vehemently and violently. The likes of BBS will raise their heads in the Sinhala – Buddhist heartland. It will be a re-run of the opposition to B-C Pact and D-C Pact.

    With no reasonable resolution to this issue forthcoming, the most likely thing to happen is that Tamils will, eventually and by good means or bad, carve out a separate state in the North and East. It may not happen in the short term, but certainly will in the medium to long term.

    History will depict Rajapakse, who is now acclaimed as a latter day Dutugamunu, as the witless, thick-headed and power crazy leader who led his constituency astray and allowed circumstances to divide the island into two States.

    Those ardent supporters of Rajapakse, and who will still be alive in 25 years, will see this happen.

    And may they repent their youthful idiocy well into their old age!

    • 4
      2

      I think it was the people and society stayed mum – as if kirimati fed crocodiles while some artiste like Jacksony anthony made public speeches keeping former president above everything. That was a greater mistakes as some forces in the days of Germany s wars louded publicly truning the gulliable listerners so blind.

      Today s world, Buurwanse or the like would go singing using sinhala popular terms deliberately targetting those very same gullible voters- for their polical survival. Latter has been most known practice specially in third world countries where so called Demcocracies are in action. Srlanka is part of them.
      Any simons to add their thoughts and turn the society blind is possible so long no rigorous laws are in action. Where I am sitting now, Germany, even using some terms is a punishable acts. Say, if you are attacked by KANAKA or NEGER – the laws are there to act against you immediately.
      That kind of law enforcement is imperative in today s srilanka. Then only people would gradually change their cow dung filled mind sets. Senior should work exemplary – starting from schools, daham pasal to any other instituations where the youth are gotten their education. Parents should be guided by professionals. I think UNO could do a greater mission if UNO would stany by in srilanka helping turning the folks towards healthy thinking. There should be continous workshops by which the facts but facts are being taught to the nation.

    • 2
      0

      It is true that this is not first or last chance as we have a history of repeats of promises and cheats by Sinhalese politicians. The politics of this island has completely changed since 1948 and fallen in the hands of dirty democratic politics of majoritism. The acceptanace of democracy by Sinhalese Buddhists is not because they love democracy but it is suited to their dominance in decision making.
      Though we have a national government at present, almost half of them are opportunistic and waiting for their opportunity to take revenge against Tamils. The recent arrest drama of BBS head monk and the violent protest by Buddhist monks clearly reminds us 1958. The President and Prime Minister appears to retreated their stands on devolution and showed they are not prepared to go against Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism on the devolution. It might take another 3 to 4 years to work out the new constitution proposals and the country has to face an election before finalising anything and Who will dare to talk about proper devolution to Tamils at the time of election? Another election, another government, another drama???

    • 1
      0

      Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

      RE: Last Opportunity To Defeat Extremist Forces: Friday Forum

      ““This may be a last opportunity to defeat divisive and extremist forces in different parts of our country, and work towards a just society and a sustainable environment of peace, security and prosperity for all our people.” says the Friday Forum.”

      Thank you, Prof. Savitri Goonesekere for this write up. Thank you Friday Forum.

      “Sovereignty of the People, Non-Discrimination and the Concept of a Secular State”

      “The fundamental principle is that sovereignty is in the people within a united, independent and indivisible state. If sovereignty is in the people, the rights and aspirations of all the people must be recognised, with due respect for their diverse religions, languages and ethnicities. Such a plural society will inevitably have to move towards a state which regards and treats all religions alike. The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and Tamil are both national and official languages.”

      This is really the need of the hour, secular state with fundamental Rights.

      It is really hard when the IQ distribution of the population is bi-modal, tri-modal or multi-modal, and the idiots at the botttom are making all the noise.

      Remember, the average IQ of those who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa is around 64.

      http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html

  • 5
    0

    Very useful comments for the makers of the new constitution to seriously take heed of. Bensen

  • 11
    1

    Start wth Gnanasara, now that he has been remanded on contempt of court charges, to which incident the magistrate himself was a witness. Prosecute him and jail him. Also,file charges against him for the ugly incidents in Beruwala and Aluthgama. Do not miss the opportunity arrest all the yellow robbed thugs who created near riot conditions in the vicinity of the Honagama courts-video evidence is available- prosecute them and hand the longest sentences possible.
    Arrest those who carried illegal national flags and shouted inflammatory slogans during the Sinha Le procession to Kandy- I am sure video evidence is available- charge them and hand over once again the longest sentences possible. Do these within a month and extremism from atleast the Sinhalas side will go into dormancy. The same should apply to the extremists on the Tamil and Muslim sides too.

    Use the law that exists without fear or favor to put this country back on the right track. Do not consort with the devil.

    Solutions must be found now. We cannot wait for the new constitution! If our parliamentarians cannot agree on a rather innocuous preamble, are they going to agree with what the Friday Forum suggests? It is going to be a long and tortuous exercise that may be akin to an elephant labouring to produce a mouse!

    If the law and order mechanism deals with Gnanasara and his cohorts as laid down in the law, the government will gain much traction on the constitution making exercise.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 3
    0

    First, everyone must take to heart to work with the existing systems. For example, there is a Provincial Councils in operation with funds and certain functions allocated. How have these Provincial Councils performed during its life time? A good example is the Northern PC. The country expected, when a retired Supreme Court Judge assumed duties as its Chief Minister, he will set an example and set the bench marks for smooth functioning of a Local Government administration. But what has happened. His own Ministers complain that the funds allocated have not been used or misused. That is a FACT. To talk about the rest of the PC is a waste of time. All these PC stalwarts have become, all powerful “THUGS” depicting them as “Tribal Leaders” and go about doing business as they please. Just another example. How did a whole lot of members of a PC spending the funds allocated to spend on developmental projects go on a “JAUNT” to Singapore and worse one of them being taken for questioning in relation to his behavior. So these “FORUMS” can issue statement after statement; but do they survey and find out what is ACTUALLY taking place out there. These “Statements” are good for the use of students in schools and Universities in their pursue of higher education to acquire qualifications; but do not produce any tangible results for the common man. So please venture out and see for yourself what is going on and start working with the people and the existing administrative set up to bring results and possibly to change and develop to meet the demands of the future.

  • 7
    0

    If a natural act of yawning should earn a punishment of 8 months jail,
    at a recent occurrence in Mt. Lavainia, what should be the sentence for
    a notorious yellow-robed rascal of a leader, where the Magistrate was
    a silent witness?

  • 5
    1

    John Snow of C4 is in Colombo. He interviewed Ranil W the PM of Sri Lanka. JS asked the question what happened to all those Tamils who surrendered. RW with a straight face said they are all probably dead.

    who is responsible for this mass murder of who surrendered Tamils?

    Will the present Govt expose the culprits and give them the proper punishment?

    Are these extremist untouchables?

    • 3
      2

      Rajash

      Good to see you back in form.

      After all, you are not angry with your tap (pipe) in your bathroom.

      I knew it was only a childish taunt.

      Get on with your comments.

      • 1
        1

        Native thanks for welcoming me back.

        I had issues with the flush (not the tap)…it was not flushing down the shit. The one at home is now fixed and working.

        • 0
          1

          Rajash

          [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    A well reasoned logical analysis with a moderate approach to a general solution. It is important for the Friday Forum to delve into the nuts and bolts of a solution. It is then when the Friday Forum itself may not agree on a detailed proposal.
    Once a solution is put on paper, it should propose a mechanism that would entrench the key provisions that cannot be changed without the consent of a majority of each of the two linguistic communities. Then put in place the consequences, guaranteed by major powers, that would result in the event of repeats of 1956 and 1972.

  • 2
    1

    Long ago, our devious politicians latched on to what seemed to be a ‘master’ stroke when they assured ‘Buddhism’ as the most favoured religion, enshrined within the constitution. No President, No minister, would take office without the blessings of the Sangha. The Mahanayake’s had their unseen hands on the steering wheel of the Nation. The sine qua non for highest office in the land was an unwavering devotion to our form of ‘Sinhala-Buddhism’. The result was a bastardization of democracy. More; evil forces masquerading as Buddhist priests have now bastardised the Sangha. Even more; these evil men are now thumbing their noses at their own Nayakaya’s, politicians, and NOW the judiciary. They hold sway over the overwhelmingly Sinhala-Buddhist armed forces of this land.

    Large numbers of decent Buddhists abhor the high-jacking of the noble ideals.

    Any religion or quasi-religion has NO place in the politics or in the administration of our land. How silly to even think that a deity or a noble philosophy needs the protection of mere mortals.

    You see people getting on with their daily lives on our truly beautiful island with a quiet dignity that mask their concerns. Who will put these evil men in their place? Who will free us from the stranglehold that is making a misery of all our lives? When, if ever, will trust return to free us from this perennial cycle of hate and misery?

    The message must go out to friend, colleague and neighbour. There is a better way. United we are ALL strong and stay happy. Divided we will ALL remain weak and miserable. Those who believe this must keep hope alive.

    • 0
      0

      Spring coha,

      no point of putting entire blame on the poltiicians.

      It isthe average mind set of lanken folks – they are so easily manipulative folks. Even if the statistics say that the folks are literate most of them behave the other way around being caught by any abusive politicians easily.

      See, even today, how many of them would see it right as to why the more accusations are levelled on to Mahinda Rajapakshe.. no matter any accusations, those the like Rajapakshe men can move anythign easily. The question people resect good governance, respct and dignity of life should be studied properly. I really dont know it is just becuase of poverty or anything else. no doubt lanken in general need long long year to turn civlized.. it is not an easy task at all.

    • 5
      0

      Spring Koha

      “The result was a bastardization of democracy.”

      May I add to your comment:

      The result was a bastardization of democracy and Buddhism, further conning Sinhala speaking people in the interest of crooks.

  • 3
    1

    ‘The ROOT CAUSE’ of all the problems that we have been facing in our country is the imaginary and false doctrine of the Siňhala nation, the ‘ĀRYAN’ – SIŇHALA – SIŇHALESE – ‘THĒRAVĀDA’ BUDDHISM – LAŇKĀ Doctrine with one – to – one correspondence and the successive governments of Srī Laňkā
    dominated by the Siňhala Buddhists formulating their policies based on this imaginary and false doctrine and unilaterally implementing them.

    The Para – 28 of the UN Expert Panel Report confirms this. It says:

    “After independence, political elites tended to prioritize short-term political gains, appealing to communal and ethnic sentiments, over long-term policies, which could have built an inclusive state that adequately represented the multicultural nature of the citizenry. Because of these dynamics and divisions, the formation of a unifying national identity has been greatly hampered. Meanwhile, SINHALA-BUDDHIST NATIONALISM GAINED TRACTION, ASSERTING A PRIVILEGED PLACE FOR THE SINHALESE AS THE PROTECTORS OF SRI LANKA, AS THE SACRED HOME OF BUDDHISM. THESE FACTORS RESULTED IN DEVASTATING AND ENDURING CONSEQUENCES FOR THE NATURE OF THE STATE, GOVERNANCE AND INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS IN SRI LANKA.”

    Thus,

    1. as long as the Siňhala nation adheres to its imaginary and false doctrine, the country would belong only to the Siňhala ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists, and Siňhala language and ‘‘Thēravāda’ Buddhism only could be given the foremost place in the country. Thus, citizens other than the Siňhala ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhist claiming right to the country or a particular region will not be acceptable;

    2. as long as the Siňhala nation adheres to its imaginary and false doctrine, the citizens other than the Siňhala ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists will continue to remain as second class citizens and they have to be content with the rights and concessions given to them by the Siňhala Thēravāda Buddhists;

    3. as long as the Siňhala nation adheres to its imaginary and false doctrine, country could remain as a Unitary State only and genuine power sharing would not be possible. Thus, creation of Federal States neither be tolerated nor even be accepted;

    4. as long as the Siňhala nation adheres to its imaginary and false doctrine, the country could not be made a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multicultural country;

    5. as long as the Siňhala nation adheres to its imaginary and false doctrine,
    Democratic rights would be entirely enjoyed by the Siňhala ‘Thēravāda’
    Buddhists. But, in the long run, even the ordinary Siňhala people would lose
    their democratic rights.

    Thus, unless the Sinhalese nation is proved with scientific evidences that its Doctrine ‘ĀRYAN’ – SIŇHALA – SIŇHALESE – ‘THĒRAVĀDA’ BUDDHISM – LAŇKĀ with one – to – one correspondence is false and imaginary and they accept it, there will not be a change in the island!

    Unfortunately, so far, Mythri or Ranil or their Government or the intellectuals among the Sinhala people have not tried to explain the TRUTH to the ordinary Sinhala population.They are interested only in getting the votes of the Sinhala Theravada Buddhist and capturing power!

    The TNA politicians do the things that their “Masters” order.

    So, Forums and Bodies could make a number of appeals that do not reach the ordinary Sinhala Buddhists. But nothing will materialize in this country dominated by Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhists!

    • 1
      0

      A.S. Udhayakumar says “The TNA politicians do the things that their “Masters” order.
      So, Forums and Bodies could make a number of appeals that do not reach the ordinary Sinhala Buddhists. But nothing will materialize in this country dominated by Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhists!”

      As far as the TNA politicians are concerned this is absolutely true from past experience. In the “pecking order”, obeying without question is what finally ends as “BLOC VOTES” – a political convenience.
      HOWEVER, this NOT the way democracy is expected to function….it is a bastardization of democracy to cast votes en-bloc.
      In that context, the division-prone Sinhala people better represent a democratically functioning diverse nation than the TNA or the LTTE – both of which were titled the “sole representatives” of the Tamil people.
      So let us not mix up the “domination by Theravada Buddhists” with the proper functioning of democracy.
      Sri Lanka’s Sinhala Buddhists formed ~80% of the nation’s population but this number has since dwindled into the 60-70% range due to conversions to Christianity, lured by offers of educational and employment opportunities as well as the solace of an all-powerful God to whom one could pray for help in times of difficulty…a solace not available to Buddhists of whom each individual must rely on himself/herself for his/her salvation, in this often cruel world, or turn to the Hindu gods at such times.
      That some Buddhists who find strength in themselves show NO compassion for those who turn to the Heavens for solace is not anything to be proud of.
      In fact it speaks of an arrogance that is not any part of true Buddhism.

      Buddhists of Sri Lanka have traditionally been a very tolerant group that has not interfered with the free practice and expression by other religions until very recent decades, and objective research is necessary to find answers as to why Buddhists NOW find it necessary to flex their muscles and demand recognition as the dominant group in the island, and why Buddhist aspirations are perceived by them as being overtrodden in efforts at reconciliation with aggressive minority groups who find Buddhist life styles and rituals a thorn on their side.

      Britain recognized the importance of protecting the heritage of Buddhism: the Buddha Sasana and Temporalities at the time of the Treaty ceding the island by the Kandyan king, and even in adopting the First Constitution at Independence from Britain.
      Should this not be considered as a PLEDGE by Britain?

      • 4
        1

        CountryFirst

        “Buddhists of Sri Lanka have traditionally been a very tolerant group that has not interfered with the free practice and expression by other religions until very recent decades”

        You may be right that is why they repeatedly vote for the most corrupt, cheats, thugs, drug smugglers, war criminals, repugnant candidates and keep deafening silence when the worst kind of atrocities were being committed through out the country.

        They usually get angry when minorities are about to make a reasonable deal with the state/government. They go berserk and they tolerate their own behaviour.

        • 1
          1

          @Native Vedda

          “that is why they repeatedly vote for the most corrupt, cheats, thugs, drug smugglers, war criminals, repugnant candidates and keep deafening silence when the worst kind of atrocities were being committed through out the country.”

          You have evidence that Sinhala Buddhists single-handedly voted in the present administration ? No Thamils or Native Vedda’s voted for them ?

          I would like to see this evidence please

          Regarding deafening silences, all communities in Sri Lanka are guilty of such. I don’t recall island-wide objection to JVP atrocities by Sinhalas, nor clarion call against LTTE atrocities by Tamils.. ditto for all other communities

          Are you privy to some unknown things ?

          DO share !

      • 0
        0

        Dear CountryFirst!

        The problem is not with Buddha’s Teachings or Buddhism. The fundamental problem is the IGNORANCE of the Sinhala Theravada Buddhist leaders, intellectuals and politicians.

        Let me explain this with a simple example.

        Do we have to change the National Flag of our country?

        Our mother land has been facing protests by a section of the citizens regarding the National Flag of the country and there are a number of Cases related to the National Flag pending in the Courts.

        But, so far, neither the Department of Attorney General nor the Lankan Courts have made any decision on this very important matter!

        On March 2nd, 1951, the Parliament of our country approved the National Flag with Green, Maroon stripes and lion holding a sword.

        However, the 1972 Constitution of the country only gave to Buddhism the foremost place in the country.

        The Article – 9 of the present Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka says that “ The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddhist Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1) (e).”

        The Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka does not give specifically the FOREMOST place in the country to anything other than BUDDHISM!

        This compels us to raise an important question.

        What should the National Flag of Republic of Sri Lanka that gives the foremost place to Buddhism in the country depict?

        Should it depict Buddhism, or some other thing?

        First of all, the Legal Experts of Lanka have to make a correct decision on this matter!

        1. If the National Flag should depict Buddhism as emphasized in the Article – 9 of the Constitution:

        If the Legal Experts of Lanka come to the conclusion that the National Flag of the Republic of Sri Lanka should depict BUDDHISM in accordance with the Article – 9 of the Constitution, a number of important relevant questions arise. They are:

        i) What should be depicted on the National Flag?

        ii) What Symbolizes Buddhism?

        iii) Our country is said be a Buddhist country for the last 2300 years. Was there not any Buddhist Flag in use in Sri Lanka for the last 2300 years?

        iv) If there was, what was it?

        v) Could not that Flag be used now as the National Flag of the country in accordance with the Article – 9 of the Constitution?

        Here the Experts on ancient literatures of Lanka and the archaeologists have to make a scientific study and find correct answers to the questions!

        But the main problem is to make a correct understanding on ‘Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism’!

        Unfortunately, none of the accepted Lankan, Indian and other foreign archaeologist, historians and others has, so far, conducted a scientific study on ‘Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism’.

        A person by the name ‘Abimanasingham Sitthawatthai Uthayakumar’ who studied Maths, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Technology etc in his higher studies has only conducted a scientific study on Symbolization’ and ‘Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism.’

        These subjects have been explained in his presentation made before the LLRC on 12th. November, 2010. https://catalog.lib.uchicago.edu/vufind/Record/8456116

        2) If a decision is made by the Legal Experts of Lanka that the National Flag of the Republic of Sri Lanka need not be designed in accordance with the Article – 9 of the Constitution:

        The Article – 6 of the Constitution says that “The National Flag of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be the Lion Flag depicted in the second schedule.”

        In the National Flag we find a green and a maroon coloured vertical stripes and a lion holding a sword placed at the centre of a rectangle having four Boa leaves inside the rectangle at the four corners of it.

        Here TWO important questions arise. They are:

        i) Could this be called a “Lion Flag” as mentioned in the article – 6 of the Constitution?;

        ii) What do the green, maroon colour stripes and the lion holding a sword placed at the centre of the rectangle symbolize?

        By calling it a “Lion Flag,” the other two stripes are simply rejected!

        Then how to describe this flag in the Constitution? A decision has to be made on this!

        On the other hand, the second schedule of the Constitution gives the photo of a flag.

        But it does not give the detail of what the two stripes and the sword carrying lion placed at the centre of a rectangle with Boa leaves at the corners symbolize. http://www.priu.gov.lk/Cons/1978Constitution/Schedle_2_Amd.html

        A scientific study of our present National Flag

        National Flag of a country must unite all the citizens of the country and it should not be a symbol of IGNORANCE!

        But, our present National Flag is actually a symbol of ignorance and the Sinhalese of the country are not represented in the National Flag!!

        The National Flag of Sri Lanka is a modified flag of one of the three flags that were captured in 1815 by the British in the Kandyan Kingdom. It was then kept at the Chelsea Royal Military Hospital. A painted copy of it was obtained and it was published in the Sinhala paper Dinamina.

        Sinhala ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists at once associated the flag with the “Sinhalese” thinking that the lion symbolizes the Sinhalese people!

        They failed to conduct a scientific study of the flag, as they did not have any knowledge on the subjects ‘Symbolization’ and ‘Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism.’

        In the original flag of the Kandyan kingdom we find a male lion facing our left holding a raised sword placed at the centre of a rectangle with four pinnacles pointing inwards at the corners.

        In the Dambulla painting that depicts Duttagāmani – Ellara fight also, we find similar lion with a raised sword facing our left, but kept at the centre of a square with two triangles each having two equal sides.

        Animal lion has nothing to do with a sword. Therefore, the lion should symbolize a human!

        In one of the stories of the Commentary on Samjutta Nikkaya, we find Buddha being compared with male lion, horse, elephant and Bull.

        In the ancient coins, seals and sculptures of Lanka and India also, Buddha had been symbolized with these four animals. In the Buddhist temples and architecture we find these animals. In Mihintale Temple, Kanchi Thupi Gate Thoranas etc. we find these animals.

        In the Lion Capital of Sarnath, India, that symbolizes Buddha preaching ‘the Four Noble Truths’ that emphasize ‘the Middle path,’ we find on the cylindrical wall these four animals rolling Cakkras depicting Buddha rolling the Dhamma Cakkra!

        In the Tamil epic Manimekalai, Buddha preaching Dhamma in Lanka is being described as Buddha rolling Dhamma Cakkra in Lanka.

        Therefore, the Lion in the flag may symbolize Buddha. But we have to confirm it through the other symbols.

        What does the sword carried by the Lion symbolize?

        If the lion in the flag symbolizes Buddha, what connection Buddha had with a sword?

        Buddha could not have any connection with an arm “sword”! Therefore, something associated with Buddha has to be symbolized with the sword.

        The Lankan Sinhala and Tamil archaeologists, historians and Buddhist Sangas could not understand what the ‘sword’ carried by the lion symbolize for the reason they failed to conduct a scientific study on Symbolization and Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism!

        The Tamil word for a ‘sword’ is “VaaL” (வாள்). The Tamil grammarian Tolkaapiyan in his great Tamil Grammar book “Tolkaapiyam” has said: “VaaL OLiyaakum” (வாள் ஒளியாகும்) (Uri Iyal).

        Therefore, a ‘sword’ could symbolize light and Enlightenment.

        Likewise burning fire, different types of oil lamps, full moon etc could be used to symbolize Enlightenment. In the coins and other archaeological finds of Lanka and India, we find these used to symbolize Enlightenment. To overcome the lack of adequate space in depicting full moon in small coins, a crescent and a dot inside could be used. See examples shown below.

        Therefore, this Lion in the Kandyan flag is an Enlightened Lion, Lord Buddha!

        However, we have to confirm this with further evidence.

        The Lion in the flag is placed at the middle of a rectangle that has four pinnacles at the corners.

        The “nature” of a rectangle with pinnacles at the corners is “a group of four equally important things.” Therefore the rectangle with pinnacles at the corners could symbolize “the Four Noble Truths!

        A number of geometric figures could be created to symbolize the Four Noble Truths!

        Such figures had been used in a number of archaeological finds of Lankā and India!!

        Buddha who realized “the Four Noble Truths” adhered to what it emphasizes (the Middle Path) and attained NibbāNa. It could be symbolized by placing the lion with sword at the centre of a rectangle with pinnacles at the corners!

        Therefore the lion flag of the Kandyan kingdom symbolizes Lord Buddha who adhered to what the Four Noble Truths emphasize and attained NibbāNa!

        As the sacred Tooth relic was kept at Daladā Māligāva in Kandy, this flag could have been hoisted at Daladā Māligāva to symbolize the reign of Buddha Dhamma!

        The Parliamentary Select Committee of Sinhala ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists and others who did not know anything about Symbolization and Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism, made modification in the original flag.

        Not knowing that the original flag symbolizes Lord Buddha and Buddhism, they removed the pinnacles at the corners of the rectangle and inserted Boa leaves with the explanation that the four leaves symbolize Metta, Karuna etc. and associated Buddhism with the Sinhalese (lion)!

        Mr. S. Paranavithana who was appointed as the Secretary to the Committee also did not know anything about Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism accepted it.

        S. Paranavithana who in 1970s wrote a great book on Brāhmi Inscriptions of Lankā” was unable to understand what the 65 symbols that were found marked in different combinations on the Brāhmi inscriptions severally and jointly symbolize! When he died also, he did not have a scientific knowledge on Symbolization and Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism!!

        Thēravāda’ Buddhism rejects symbolization and Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism.

        Thus, it rejects Purānas, literatures, dance, music and other fine arts and architecture!

        Mahāyāna Buddhism only accepted these and utilized to explain Buddhism to ordinary people and assisted them to adhere to the preaching of Buddha and attain NibbaaNa.

        Therefore, when we speak about arts and architecture of Lanka, we cannot claim them as “Sinhalese Arts and Architecture.”

        We have to say “Lankan Mahāyāna Buddhist Arts and Architecture!”

        Therefore, the Lion flag of Kandy should have been designed by Mahāyāna Buddhists.

        But, in designing the flag, the Tamil word “வாள்” (sword) has been used to symbolize Enlightenment!

        Therefore, the Lion flag of the Kandyan Kingdom should have been designed by Tamil Mahāyāna Buddhists who had a thorough knowledge on Symbolization and Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism.

        Thus, in the national flag of Sri Lanka, Sinhalese people have not been represented!

        On the other hand, in the National flag, the Tamils and Muslims are placed along with Lord Buddha!

        This is a great insult to Buddha and Buddhism!!

        Therefore, the present National Flag of Sri Lanka is a symbol of IGNORANCE that insults Buddha and Buddhism!

        Thus, the present National Flag rejects what are being emphasized in the Article – 9 of the present Constitution!

        Will the Constitutional Assembly make necessary changes in the National Flag of the country?

        If the Article -9 of the Constitution is maintained, will the Constitutional Assembly adopt the flag captured the British in 1815, i.e. Lion holding sword placed at the centre of the rectangle with FOUR Pinnacles at the corners as the National Flag of Sri Lanka in accordance with the article?

        If the Constitutional Assembly deletes the Article – 9 of the Constitution, with what it is going to symbolize the Sinhalese in the National Flag?

        Dear CountryFirst!

        For all these years our religious leaders or the intellectuals or the politicians have not written our Constitution properly. Even recently the National Flag without Green and Maroon stripes were raised opposite the Dalada Maaligava in a Pooja conducted by the “Sinha -LE” organization.

        The Legal experts and politicians talk only about abolishing Executive Presidency and new Electoral system that affects them.

        They are ignorant of the fundamental flaws in the Constitution!

        Dear CountryFirst!

        1) No article or articles of the constitution of Lanka could be considered as un important or lesser important than the others,

        2) No article or articles of the Constitution of Lanka shall be inconsistent with or contradictory to any other article or articles of the Constitution,

        3) When the citizens of Sri Lanka engage themselves in changing the constitution all the fundamental flaws in the present Constitution should be rectified by the Constitutional Assembly.

        Dear CountryFirst!

        How the Sinhala Theravada Buddhists of Lanka have been protecting the heritage of Buddhism: the Buddha Sasana? What happened to the Article – 9 of the Constitution?

        Even after the war, the Sinhala Theeravaada Buddhist have only been engaged in erecting statues of Buddha in the North and the East to symbolize Sinhala Buddhist domination in the country!!

        What does “Sinhala Theravada Buddhism” mean in the island Lanka?

        Please keep in your mind. In ancient time, the Tamils of Lanka and South India were Mahaayaana Buddhists and thousands of archaeological finds discovered in the North and East, along the coasts of Southern Lanka, central high lands and South India confirm this in addition to ancient Tamil and Sinhala Literatures!

        The Tamils have the right to speak about Buddhism and heritage of Buddhism!!

        Will Sinhala Theeravaada Buddhism accept this? No! Not at all!!

        Why? You may know the answer!

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          Uthayakumar says:
          “In ancient time, the Tamils of Lanka and South India were Mahaayaana Buddhists and thousands of archaeological finds discovered in the North and East, along the coasts of Southern Lanka, central high lands and South India confirm this in addition to ancient Tamil and Sinhala Literatures! The Tamils have the right to speak about Buddhism and heritage of Buddhism!! Will Sinhala Theeravaada Buddhism accept this? No! Not at all!!

          HOWEVER, WHATEVER THE ANCIENT HISTORY Uthayakumar speaks of, he should cite valid references to support his claims, not Eelam-driven rewriting of history…

          Only a very small minority of Tamil people in SL are Buddhists today and over the 3+ centuries of colonialism almost nothing had been recorded about the existence of Buddhism as a practised religious philosophy among Tamils who are very largely Hindu, but include recent converts to Catholicism and Evangelist Christian sects among the excluded lower castes coincident with the colonial rule.
          THIS ABOVE IS THE TRUTH AND NO AMOUNT OF TWISTING it and/or REVISIONIST HISTORY CAN CHANGE THAT!!

          What is the problem with some Tamil people that they have to NOW DRIVE Mahaayanism as a wedge to divide the Theravada Buddhists who have both an enormous archeological and scriptural history recorded in this island? Is this a post-Modi phenomenon in connivance with the IDU?? The name-calling and abuse that goes on in these columns against the Sinhala Buddhists for being still a majority group is what seems to irk so many on these threads.

          Buddhists have not had a problem with the HINDU PEOPLE …they have lived side by side with mutual respect for centuries.
          ALL THIS IS CLEARLY A RECENT MISCHIEVOUS TREND TO DIVIDE THE SINHALA NATION FURTHER AND FURTHER APART INTO AS MANY ANTAGONISTIC GROUPS AS THE “POLITICAL CONNIVERS” CURRENTLY AT WORK UNDER THE YAHAPALANA REGIME’S MACHINATIONS CAN!

          HOWEVER, My question remains: Should not Britain stand by her pledge to protect Buddhism which they recognized as the nation’s main religion when they signed the Kandyan Convention?

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            Dear CountryFirst!

            ”HOWEVER, WHATEVER THE ANCIENT HISTORY Uthayakumar speaks of, he should cite valid references to support his claims, not Eelam-driven rewriting of history”

            You have started your petty talk “Eelam-driven rewriting of history!”

            Dear CountryFirst! You go and ask all the archaeology. history professors and Senior Lecturers of all the Universities in the South whether they have studied the subjects “Symbolization” and “Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism.” No! They have not!! Also you yourself can go through book on Brahmi inscriptions by S . Paranavithane(1970). Please read what he has written about 65 different symbols found marked on the Brahmi inscriptions. These are new fields. All what your historians and archaeologists written so far are false and imaginary. It is not something like writing politics. It is logical like maths. If you want to know the fundamentals of Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism, let me know your e-mail. I will send you a soft copy of booklet that will help you. The problem here is U cannot put large number of photos of coins, seals, inscriptions, statues a, sculptures etc. The RSS men are like the Sinhala Theravada Buddhists. Indians also failed to conduct a scientific study on Symbolization and Symbolization of Biddha and Buddhism. As I have already explained about the “Lion Capital” they have “LION CAPITAL” that symbolizes Buddha and Buddhism as national symbol, but their Constitution states its a secular state!

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    Friday Forum.

    Last opportunity to Defeat extremist forces?

    An unbiased analysis is that every attempt to resolve the National Question has been jettisoned by Majority racism!
    Is the Friday Forum in a position to reverse that trend?
    Very unlikely!

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    A well presented article. Yet I would like to correct that there are no hard line, divisive or extremists forces in the North and East but in the South. The Tamil people from the North and East have been demanding a federal form of government in a united Sri Lanka since independence. But the extremist forces in the south did not accept it and thereby lost one of the Sinhala leaders namely SWRD. The Vaddukoddai resolution is the result of the extremists forces in the South. The Vadukoddai resolution did not permit or encourage violence. The Tamil youths on their own took up to arms and the damage and loss to the Tamil community is far worse than to the Sinhala community. If the new constitution provides a federal form of government within a United Sri lanka, which I have my reservations, then there would arise unity among the two races and peace and harmony in the country.
    Taking advantage of the military success, vast acres of lands both in the North and East are grabbed by the armed forces and its owners are living in camps. Fishing and farming are carried out by the armed forces in those areas. This is not a good sign for reconciliation.
    A military occupation of the country’s North and East will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second class citizens deprived of all self respect.
    As we all know that during the end of the war, several youths both boys and girls surrendered to the armed forces. Their kith and kin are asking for their whereabouts. The Prime Minister in saying that they are dead is an easy way of getting rid of the serious question and very irresponsible because of racial attitude. How they are dead, how the girls were raped and murdered is to be answered. The basic requirements and demands of the Tamils have to be met sooner than later.

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    Thanks to “Friday Forum” for a comprehensive analysis and suggestions that if accepted and properly imposed by all sections of our Sri Lankan community will lead to the defeat of all extremist forces. Sri Lanka unfortunately will never see the fruition of such a blessing due to the unwavering efforts of most politicians to promise their electorates with things impossible without causing dissension among their own or with other ethnic or religious groups.
    Although almost all Sri Lankan Governments have made several attempts for peace at various forums they have all come to naught due to the intransigent and unyielding demands of certain groups. Although the demand for a separate state by the Tamil political parties and the attempt to divide the country is the prime reason for the calamity that the country endured the fault is always laid on the government and the Sinhalese people. The Sinhalese, mainly the Buddhist Sinhalese are blamed for racial hatred. Majority bashing has become popular with NGO’s,the Media and the Tamil diaspora. While the racial taunts directed towards the Sinhalese are taken for granted, even a little noise by a Sinhalese receives much media attention and condemnation.
    “United We Stand” is never heard from the leaders of the North.
    As ‘Friday Forum” stands by the slogan ‘United we stand’ it is time that the call for a separate state is withdrawn and this is honestly proclaimed by the Tamil leaders and the Tamil diaspora. The country would love to hear them also blare out ‘UNITED WE STAND’, act towards it and make it the last opportunity to defeat all extremist forces.

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    Sovereignty of the People, Non-Discrimination and the Concept of a Secular State

    ‘The fundamental principle is that sovereignty is in the people within a united, independent and indivisible state. If sovereignty is in the people, the rights and aspirations of all the people must be recognised, with due respect for their diverse religions, languages and ethnicities. Such a plural society will inevitably have to move towards a state which regards and treats all religions alike. The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and Tamil are both national and official languages.’

    The following if possible, could be amended as

    1. ” the rights and aspirations of all the people must be recognised,”

    ..should read as…

    ‘the rights, responsibilities and aspirations of all the people
    must be recognised,..”

    2. “move towards a state which regards and treats all religions alike.”

    .. should read as..

    “move towards a state which regards, respects and treats all
    religions alike.”

    3. ” The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and
    Tamil are both national and official languages.'”

    .. should read as…

    ” The constitution will also have to reiterate that Sinhala and
    Tamil and English are national and official languages.’

    We have to recognize the fact that this is 2016 and the constitution should not discriminate the language issue. All citizens deserve to learn all three languages instead of the two. This gesture would open the door for all the citizens to acquire knowledge and recognition from the world outside for all yearnings and also will catalyze as the link language to foster good relations between different communities instead of confining to the well.

    All citizens have to be legally made responsible to the society for their actions by a special provision in the Articles as “the fundamental rights and responsibilities.”

    It is praiseworthy of Prof. Savitri Goonesekere and others of such caliper to involve constructively to shape up the new constitution which I hope will make Sri Lanka regain its old gaiety.

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    All very worthy goals, although all have been discussed ad nauseum for decades. Is this the best this group–arguably the creme de la creme of the educated elite–provide? No concrete prescriptions or strategies provided… ultimately pie in the sky. We can all nod our heads in agreement and get on with our days because nothing will happen.

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    The hacknyed expression one does hear at every forum of RECONCILIATION in Sri Lanka this year specially and unless its taken seriously there will be no hope for the country’s progress in the bigger picture. South Africa achieved true reconciliation from an evil past of Apartheid. Despite their offers of help as reported in the press, it does not appear to being taken seriously?

    With over 10 official languages and as many races and cultures in that country they have ONE National Anthemn encompassing the major languages which is sung with gusto, by all as witnessed at the international sporting events.

    As a low-hanging fruit to even start the process, cannot ONE LINE of our Anthemn be sung in Tamil at the coming National Day on Feb 4th? Will this not begin to end the bigotry in this seriously divided land of ours? Take South Africa, New Zealand et al who have accommodated all their major communities, WHY CAN’T OUR RULERS THINK WITH THEIR GOD-GIVEN BRAINS?!

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    It would be forceful if a few Rajasinghes endorse what Dr Rajasingham Narendran has written!

    Expatriate

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    Friday Forum:
    Every one of you has been safe from the threats that many Sri Lankans have faced and probably still continue to face today for having the guts to call a spade a spade.
    The reason for that is very simple: the people you “critiqued” and continue to “critique” know that your influence never extended beyond the privileged upper classes of this country whose ivory towers are adjacent to yours and as well fortified.
    Isn’t it time that you stopped issuing these statements that, in the last analysis, amount to damn all, rub shoulders with the hoi polloi of this country who have been and continue to be the recipients of the violence and criminality that is the “Sri Lankan reality?”
    Or is that asking too much of a bunch that would in another time be described very accurately as nothing but a bunch of “Parlour Bolsheviks?”

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