Tamil National Alliance’s spokesperson, M. A. Sumanthiran has contradicted a statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who recently claimed that all parties in Parliament had agreed to recognize Buddhism as the foremost religion in the country under the new Constitution.
Sumanthiran said that, “A steering committee has been appointed, but we have not discussed this matter. Our stand is that there should be a secular constitution where there is no special identification for a single religion, and instead all religions should be given equal status in the country.”
Addressing a religious event over the weekend, held at the Sedawatta Weheragoda Temple in Kolonnawa, Wickremesinghe said, “everyone in Parliament, including the TNA has agreed to give the foremost position to Buddhism in the new Constitution.” He added that not only political parties but also Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, as well as Hindu and Muslim religious leaders are in agreement to continue to recognize Buddhism as the foremost religion in the new Constitution and therefore this clause will continue even in the new constitution. “No one should make this an issue,” Wickremesinghe said.
It is not clear how Wickremesinge came to such a decision. Even the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reform submitted several recommendations in May this year under the Religion Chapter.
The recommendations were;
i. Retain Article 9 (Chapter II) of the current Constitution with no change
ii. Heading of Chapter II of the current Constitution should state ‘Religions’ and not Buddhism and retain Article 9 as it is with no change
iii. Reformulate Article 9 of the current Constitution as follows:
“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give all religions equal status. The State shall protect and foster Buddhism and the Buddha Sāsana while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1) e of the current Constitution.
iv. Sri Lanka shall be a secular State
v. Sri Lanka shall be a secular State while recognizing the role of religion in the spiritual development of people
vi. Heading of Chapter II of the current Constitution should State ‘Religions’. The clause should be revised as follows:
“The Republic of Sri Lanka will give all religions equal status”
Read the chapter 4 in the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reform here