By Latheef Farook –
Around 6 in the morning on Sunday 8 November 2015, I received an SMS message informing that Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero passed away in Singapore though he looked okay and walking on TV few days ago.
That was the most depressing news I got for some time.
Popularly called Sobitha Thero, Ven. Maduluwawe, is one person whom I always respected for his brave and historic role in bringing about the political change in the country though the mood within months today is one of dissolutionment among the people.
Thus one cannot say he died a contented person. Instead he may have been deeply disappointed as the performance of those whom he fought to bring to power to clean up the political system and administration were themselves accused of inaction and protecting those accused of crime, corruption and plundering nations’ wealth.
In the not so distant past under former President Mahinda there was an atmosphere of fear in the country. People were afraid to speak out due to fear of being kidnapped, tortured, and killed and what not.
It was under such a frightening atmosphere that Ven Sobitha Thero came out and spoke against the crime, corruption and injustice of the ruthless government despite threats to his life.
In fact at the early stage his was the sole struggle against injustice, crime, corruption and mismanagement of the country. His leadership was given a much needed shot in the arm when President
Maithripala Sirisena crossed over from the government and began his campaign for” good governance” which is in turmoil today.
Thus the tide was turned and the unexpected, defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, took place paving the way over night for the change of political environment where jubilant people began breathing fresh air of freedom with great expectation from good governance.
However numerous controversies in the government which Ven Sobitha helped to bring to power certainly would have disappointed him as he had indicated by many of his statements and his silence during the past few months.
In him I found great human qualities to emulate.
In this corrupt, criminalized and communalized political and social environment Ven Sobitha has been a ray of hope and a rare source of inspiration, irrespective of race and religion, to all those who cherish family, religious and cultural values and firmly believe and dream of a decent government, corruption free administration and a peaceful country where all could live in harmony.
He left the scene and orphaned the country at a time when there is the need for not one but hundreds of Ven Sobithas to uplift the country from the morass into which the two main political parties-United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party- brought with their short sighted racist politics.
He was respected by the island’s Muslim community in view his liberal policies genuinely representing the true teachings of Lord Buddha.
If history is written in its proper perspective he will remain a legend in the hearts and minds of all those who long for a decent country where civilization could flourish.
This is the very reason I always compare Ven Sobitha to the role played by Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Ayatollah guided the people to remove the American-Israeli backed oppressive
Pahlavi Monarchy in Iran while here in Sri Lanka Ven Sobitha Thero played the lead role to defeat the corrupt autocratic Rajapaksa family regime.
With his death the light and flame have gone and the country is engulfed in darkness.