By Malinda Seneviratne –
The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya, the Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero was spot on about proposals to change the constitution. The Venerable Thero is reported to have observed the following: ‘Causing unnecessary fear among the people on the Constitutional proposals and then saying tall tales is unacceptable and unhealthy.”
The observation had been made to a delegation of the National Freedom Front (NFF) which included Wimal Weerawansa. The Venerable Thero had further informed the NFF that “President Mairthripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had assured him that any proposal that encourages separatism won’t be included in the Constitution.”
If the word of politicians is what has prompted the Venerable Thero to chide the NFF it is indicative of an innocence about the ways of the prthagjana at odds with the erudition expected of a Mahanayake. The Constitution, after the illegal and preposterous (given history as well as demographic, geographic and economic reality) imposition of the 13th Amendment is in fact a document that is unitary in claim but federalist in effect.
To this day neither the President nor the Prime Minister has mentioned the rectification of this error when speaking of constitutional reform. Assurances on the non-inclusion of anything that encourages separatism, therefore, can only be purchased by the politically naive. Add to all this the various ‘reports’ crafted by federalist cheerleaders of this Government and there is ample reason for concern, even if one were to dismiss the NFF’s ‘fears’ as being wrought of political rather than ideological preferences. The better audience for the Mahanayake Thero’s remarks is therefore not the NFF but the assurance-givers.
Let’s make it clear — this constitution certainly does need reform and not only because of atrocious pieces of legislation such as the 13th Amendment and the carelessly written 19th Amendment. With the proposed 20th Amendment (on Electoral Reform) turning out to be yet another empty election pledge, a complete overhaul is better than any tweaking by politicians who have amended for self interest on 15 occasions (the 6th was an exception but one that was subverted by the Delhi-imposed 13th; the 17th was an incomplete corrective effort as was the 19th).
The entire exercise has been framed by the need for reconciliation among various communities, a laudable project but one which has unfortunately been hijacked by individuals and groups so fixated by a particular narrative (Eelamist) due to manifest antipathy to all things associated with Sinhala and Buddhist, and (therefore) a clear privileging of myth over history, fiction over reality.
What we’ve seen so far is an effort by the Yahapaalanistas to market their preferences after what was essentially an eye-washing, legitimating exercise of gathering a range of opinions on these matters. It offers a veneer of democratic discussion but the intent and machinations are quite visible. Interestingly it is the absences in the entire exercise that reveals most.
If constitutional reform is about addressing anomalies and relevant grievances then it has to be preambled by an enumeration of these. Such an enumeration must be weighted with evidence. Drop substantiation and you get political rhetoric. Only aberrations that can have serious repercussions including the subverting of the stated intent of reconciliation can result from this kind of planned carelessness in constitutional drafting. Throw it into a vote and a defeat is most likely; a defeat will open another can of worms which these very architects will describe as ‘Sinhana-Buddhist Majoritarianism’ (or worse!).
There are basics that have to be adhered to and the yahapalanistas are deliberately dodging. Reform should ensure a better and more efficient system for both the democratic airing of grievances and the effective addressing of the same. Basic. Whatever grievances there may be, their resolution should be appropriate. For example, it is clear that legislation exists for resolving language-related issues but there are more than hiccups in implementation caused in part by the lack of political will and the absence of resources including human resources, which in turn indicate insufficient training. There are many such grievances that have been articulated which can effectively be resolved by the effective decentralization of administration.
The more complex grievances. These have often been coupled with aspirations for reasons of ‘political expedience’ that ironically result in both the grievance baby being tossed out with the aspiration bathwater. A sense of belonging and ownership in the nation, for example, that goes beyond the petty arguments over national anthem and national flag, need to be addressed. It’s here that the contentions are mostly resident and it is the machinations related to this particular issue that gives rise to concerns or even fears, to use the word of the Venerable Mahanayaka Thero. This is where we see a continuing of the season of pernicious myth-modeling and ‘solutions’ proposed based on these. ‘Devolution’ is the answer, we are told by the Yahapalanists.
Any devolution that seeks to address a belonging-deficit based on ethnic identity must assume several things. The vast majority of the particular community that is aggrieved should live in an identifiable, distinct geography. Not so in the case of any community living in Sri Lanka. Devolution OUT on this criteria. Secondly, the claim of historical habitation and therefore traditional/historical homeland, should be substantiated. The evidence shows that at best it is a highly decorated narrative and one that comes with aspirations that are best described as a land-grabbing exercise. Devolution OUT on this criteria as well.
Devolution cannot be at odds with national development objectives. The key elements of the devolution discourse certainly run counter to economic logic. It can be argued that what the state does is in effect getting the Western Province to subsidize the other provinces, considering wealth-creation. You can devolve power but if you do that you cannot at the same time have the state play Robin Hood or Saradiel. Only a re-demarcation of provincial boundaries would satisfy this particular criteria. Yahapalanist devolution OUT on this.
There’s history. There’s national security. There is the context of virulent chauvinism by parties that were aligned with a bunch of terrorists and still celebrate the fact. That ‘context’ does not exactly make anyone salute Yahapanalist devolution proposals. Devolution OUT on account of context, therefore.
It is the absence of this ‘basics’ in the Yahapalana ‘reconciliation’ narrative that generates concern about constitutional reform. This is exactly why this exercise can further distance and not reconcile communities that mistrust and fear one another. It will not deliver ‘belonging’ or ‘ownership’ but could very well create further tensions, not to mention a sense of deliberate and constitutional un-belonging of a kind that groups such as the NFF have picked up on.
The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya, the Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero is correct, let us repeat. It is unacceptable and unhealthy to cause unnecessary fear among the people with respect to constitutional reform and also to churn out tall tales. The Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero should convey this to the Yahapalanistas, I offer, most respectfully.
*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. Blog: malindawords.blogspot.com. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: malindasene
Native Vedda / September 15, 2016
“The Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero should convey this to the Yahapalanistas, I offer, most respectfully.”
Why can’t you yourself convey this to Yahapalanistas if you are a fearless campaigner?
No need for you to hide behind a saffron robe.
Be a man, come forward, we will be right behind you.
I suggest you consult a modern constitutional expert, not an aging safforanista.
Samuel Jayaweera / September 15, 2016
You are dead right.
This man MS has always been in this mode.
He can never call a spade as spade. Just beating around the bush in favour of any ultra nationalists has been his agenda.
No worth to do so, if his was well shaped by Harward. I simply feel why the kind of lanken academic seem it difficult to grasp it. NFF nationalists for their political survival would continue their kind of rabble rousing. Without hang on MR, NFF willhave no chance to in lanken politics, besides, they the lead dont seem to have the least knowledge about internal or external politcs. When noose is going to be tight around their necks, they just do anything and everything to save their bums.
This govt has done a greater mistake, not yet having arrested the NFF leader going through all the high abuses his mediation had made during the 2 nd term of the previous regime. And teh fact this man is said to have not a cent at the time joined lanken politics, but to own huge sums being abusive going through the same path of Rajapakshes is beyond all the basics of NFF or JVP.
How can one ever think this man was primarily produced by JVP.
If any foreign degenetary visit is read by the bugger as an invasion
If any talks against the war is read by the bugger as they are going to harm lanken brave soldiers.
If any talks for investments would be seen as foregin invasion
Ballige putha knows nothig but makes every efforts to be in good books of their guru Rascal kING Rajapakshe.
Sam Fernando / September 15, 2016
you may ask so, but it will end up like talked to a wall.
This man MS is a sicky person. He though owns the talent to write things in a fine way, but no means gut to become as you suggested.
Please recheck his articles. Always has been close to the mind sets of those idiotic men – that have been making noises not thinking about the country and nation but about themselves.
So keeping it in mind only, I add my two cts worth to this mans articles.
He has done nothing to this nation – in terms of awareness programs.
He is given teh chance to do so, as an another auditor, but what has he done ?
NFF leaders s knowledge about EXTERNAL Affairs is beyond appalling levels.
Please interview the man in public TV channels with professionals sitting in there, that can reveal a lot. (University dons would be welcome to do the job)
Just as a school droper to add his kind of rabble rousing rhetorics is now taken ground in lanken society. His foul langauge go viral to the poor uneducated masses- so as a jathaka plays for Vesak, people seem to be enjoying his. That is being abused by MOST DEVIOUS POLITICIAN OF THE DAY Mahinda Rajapkahse to maintain his publicity.
Dunken Leutheuser / September 15, 2016
Malinda is suffering from Incontinence. He seems tobe unable to concentrate himself to the point right at this crtical juncture.
So why do we need the kind of Haward graduates.. I have not informationa bout his harward University exp.. anyways, some have reported him to have earned his PG at Harward… is that not a shame to the prestigous academy to have given a birth to the kind of journos … Let alone today, these men should tend to see it right.
Mahanayake thero realizes it… thanks god.. he respect the current rulers more than the previous man who behaves like mad dog to the end of 2014. All powers led him so intoxicated – as nothing much towards reconcilaition could be achieved. As a result he got good defeated but being unable to bear the defeat yet – he has been on merry go round with all the loosers and uneducated low lives.
Anyone with a little little brain would get it but not that are guided by MALINDA or fomer Presidents men.
KA Sumanasekera / September 15, 2016
Have Batalanada Ranil and Bodhi Sira signed a MOU with the Very Rev Chief of the Malwattu Nikaya?
We know Batalanada Ranil has a MOU with the Vellala Tamil Party, the sole Representative of the Jaffna Tamil population worldwide, since Mr Pirahaparam passed away..
Has Bodhi Sira counter signed it?.
Because this is confusing..
UNP London,UN Bedouin, and the mighty West didn’t plan and implemented this Yahapalanay to just do a tinkering job on the Mavawamsa Constitution.
It is a full panel modification and respray in baked enamel, considering the amount of money and other resources the Diaspora, West and the UNP London spent on rolling the war winning previous regime.
TNA second in command, the Anglican Faction Leader Abraham from Colombo categorically stated on public TV in Prime Time that Buddhism bust be expunged from the Constitution.
Vellala CM who was hand picked by the TNA, is already running the North as he has already got the Federal Status.
Army as been forced to dismantle all their camps, even without the new Constitution being drafted , if we are to believe the spin doctors in Kotte.
National Anthem and National Flag have already become obsolete in Batalanada Ranil and Bodhi Sira’s Yahapalana Celebrations.
OMP is place and War Crime Trials are soon to be introduced. according to the Yahapalana FM..
Army Military intelligence unit which played the key role in demolishing the Tamil Terrorist outfit are now being charged for murder for a body which has been never been found, but seen in some parts of the West.
In light of these developments how can the Very Hon Mahanayaka Thero be so cool?….
And say to Wimale, “No worries, Batalanada Ranil and Bodhi Sira are not going to harm or punish any Army soldiers”.
By Jingo / September 15, 2016
Malinda, you say “There’s history. There’s national security. There is the context of virulent chauvinism by parties that were aligned with a bunch of terrorists and still celebrate the fact.”
Which “bunch of terrorists” are you speaking of – the LTTE or the State Sponsored Terrorists that were so ‘in your face’ with MR and Gota at their helm? There’s also that “virulent chauvinism by parties that were aligned” with them – like Weerawansa’s bunch and those BBS goons, etc??
Looks like you are still mired in that chauvinist mindset that has been your hallmark from the start!
Hiran / September 15, 2016
All is well and good if proposals are discussed and debated, unfortunately the people do not get this opportunity, issues on many fronts, no substance for discussion democratically speaking.
THE SG OF THE UN HAS THE AUDACITY TO COME TO THIS COUNTRY AND GIVE INSTRUCTIONS ON VARIOUS ISSUES, CLEARLY INDICATING OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE -HENCE BEING PROACTIVE IS WISE.
nishan / September 15, 2016
wow! suddenly so concerned about the constitution. when MR was destroying it with his amendments how much did Malinda write? this is not a personal attack. it is a refelction on his lack of journalistic intergrity and why he cannot be taken seriously!
Non PhD / September 15, 2016
Symphony Orchestra of comrades Vimal, Mr&Mrs DJ, Malinda, Gomyn and the likes are playing to the gallery the same music of race,language and religion to bring back MaRa regime.
Hope majority of the Sri Lankan’s from all the communities don’t fall prey to this trick that has been practiced by both UNP and SLFP coalitions since 1947.
Will the minor parties like JVP, JHU, CP get a mandate to contribute more to resolve the national issue on a permanent basis?
SF / September 15, 2016
Dear Mahanayaka. Pls give your position to Soratha Thera.
Seelawathie Jayasinghe / September 15, 2016
why Mahanayake is right asking NFF extremists not to exaggerate in that regard, yaka is no black as being made by them. Their target is political survival being condom supporters to MOST abusive Rajakapkshes. Rabble rousing has been the number one task of Wimal Buruwa – unfortunatley, people are not fed with facts by media men, so media is indirectly supporting NFF or the like men. So has it been sofar in this country.
Lately Dr Dewasiri was telling that Mahawansa has no further being accepted by thepeople -it is also undrestandble, that is a script wihtout being subjected to any reforms. Why to give it that priority.
All these chapter priests are well aware of that, but low lives such as NFF man or the like cant know it. They are hungry men from their backgrounds waiting to make their survivials rather than seeing as a national problem.
Kettikaran / September 15, 2016
The author is hardly the man whose pronouncements can serve the cause of wider unity in a badly divided country not far from disintegration. He is a product of the vilest form of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism – the toxic mixture of the latter and the secretive machinations of majoritarian Sinhala extremist forces that have now infiltrated the ranks of the forces.
Note his divisive comments “Secondly, the claim of historical habitation and therefore traditional/historical homeland, should be substantiated” What a gem from a junior journo who has elevated himself to editorial position in a weekly whose readership is in the low thousands. No Writer possessed of sound mental faculties will ever ask Tamils to prove their credentials of stay in the Island – which, in many instances of history, saw them ruling in many parts of the country – North, East, West and South. Need more evidence.
If a new Constitution is the vehicle through which it is hoped to achieve national unity, the two main Mahanayakas may have a role to play. After all, it was their surreptitious politics that divided the united country along language and racial lines in the 1950s resulting in racial hate, bloodshed, division, the invitation to foreign armed forces to save the country and finally 30 years of internal war. If these Mahanayakas take an audit of what they have gained for the Sinhala people and the country by their divisive politics in the past seven decades, they will get back to the calm confines of the Temple enabling them to concentrate on teaching their people the finer features of a religion centered in the search for Truth, Peace, Kindness, Compassion and all those gentle features of humanism.
Riyas / September 16, 2016
It is better to create a new culture for having discussion without the presence of Media. Discussion with Mahanayaka Theros is the one and only occasion where discussion to enlighten the Clergy or to get advised from the clergy is done in the presence of a third party.
That is why the last president never heeded to the avavaada anushaasana of the mahanayakas when it came to the cases of general Sarath Fonseka, CJ Shirani bandaranayaka and even the Car race organized by Carlton Sports.
Perhaps MR would have thought the Mahanayakas are groping in the dark on matters of nationally important.
sinhala_voice / September 16, 2016
YES ! I am for DEVOLUTION.
DEVOLVE POWER TO THE SINHALA (Buddhist and others).
In areas other than Northern and parts of Eastern province to be attached to the MAIN SINHALE.
YES WE ARE ALL FOR DEVOLUTION GO FOR IT !!!!!!!!!!
Nimal Wijetunga / September 16, 2016
Tall stories or whatever is basically coming out about the proposed new constitution because of the Ranil and gang and their unpatriotic behaviour in critical times of Sri Lanka recent past.
If Mahanayake can understand and analyse those comments by this gang specifically made during the war against LTTE TERRORIST, he would never trust them at all.
Basically successive UNP GOVERNMENTS FAILED TO PROVIDE THE NECESSARY POLITICAL LEADERSHIP to defeat LTTE TERRORISM and that fact everybody knows. Besides, Chandrika failed miserably because of lack of whole hearted approach to defeat LTTE TERRORISM.
Only time the war efforts got the genuine political leadership was following 2005 where government of Sri Lanka led by Mahinda Rajapakshe and I would like to recall a famous saying that “People makes the Difference”.
Mahanayake has conveniently forgotten these events in the very recent past unfortunately.
In the meantime, I would propose the Mahanayake to discuss this constitiution matter with so called Yahapalanaya give a concrete statement as an assurance to the Sri LNAKAN MASSES the there will be no effort to divide sri Lanka on ethnic lines, no special status to any province in Sri Lanka specifically on Land and Police powers, maintenance of the Privilege status to Buddhism in Sri Lanka, No Federalism of any sort.
I am sure that the above is the besy way forward if the Malwatte Chapter shall do to drive away fears and that sort of action may allow people not to make an tall stories about subject matter as Mahanayake envisaged.
Seelawathie Jayasinghe / September 16, 2016
The reason why the successive govts failed to go against terror was
they were all more human – not bearing killing mentality, they had every effort to save any civilian casulaties than anything else…
No even they were intentionally on the mindset of allow soldiers and civilians were killed by war.
But like hang men would do Rajakashes and – some fractions of the society would never see it right to stay thinking but to do the job as butchers react – that is the difference. Even safron wrapped monks are so aggresive by their manner when it goes to destroy the enemies. Even today their reactions prove this to us.
And Kadirgamar under CBK achieved a lot more than anyone to get teror men banned -continuously banned on those rich soils. That was though a mammoth work:
Had they been no banned they would have done lot against lanken millitary- by supplying illegal weapons or anythign they could – since Tamil Diasphora has huge sums collected for on going war related issues.
Nimal Wijetunga / September 16, 2016
Above comments suggest to us that when Prabhakaran kills innocents to take sil in temples by armed forces who are here to safeguard the country from internal and external security threats.
No t a single innocent civilians killed by Sri Lankan Armed forces. all the people killed in the battle field are people who fought with LTTE TAMIL TERRORIST.But, Tamil terrorist killed all innocent civilians all over the country.
They killed their own people and politicians cold blooded as everybody knows.Yes, Hon. Kadiragamar did a lot. But because of Chndrika, he also failed in Military efforts because of no patriotism by Chandrika and finally he had gone to India and beg for support to evacuate entire Army from North.
So, pls do not talk bullshit about the ware efforts and final annihilation of Tamil Terrorist outfit LTTE.
If somebody wants the same path, they will face the same fate and therefore, look up on to develop the areas rather than federalism or land or police powers or special status to North or any part of Sri Lanka.This is the best way forward as SRI Lankans. Besides, Sri Lankan Tamil Masses do not want any of these as they want economic development for more opportunities as any other in this country.