Putting country on right track, President’s aim | Sunday Observer

Putting country on right track, President’s aim

Ven.  Walawahangunawewe Dhammarathana Thera, Viharadhipathi and Trustee of the  Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara
Ven. Walawahangunawewe Dhammarathana Thera, Viharadhipathi and Trustee of the Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara

In an interview with our sister paper ‘Silumina’, Ven. Walawahangunawewe Dhammarathana Thera, Viharadhipathi and Trustee of the Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara, said President Maithripala Sirisena was determined to put the country on the right track through the Yahapalanaya.

As a leader who loves his country, although he pinned his hopes on doing so, he could not accomplish his mission of strengthening democracy, protecting national heritage and launching a just society within 3 ½ years. His was an odyssey which braved a litany of challenges.

In fact, he realised that the country was on the wrong path. His very utterance that even if 225 MPs supported it, he would not reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, is proof of the dangerous path the country was treading at the time.

The Venerable Thera said, giving pride of places to the word ‘Sanhindiyawa (reconciliation) the politicians dragged the country along a wrong track. The fundamentalists having prevailed upon the leadership, attempted to create communal and religious conflicts.

A Buddha statue could not be installed in certain areas of the North and the East since it was looked upon as an obstacle to reconciliation. Then, there arose the problem as to how reconciliation applies only to a particular community or religion.

The Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims live together in close harmony without any sectarian differences. Power-greedy politicians, hoping to secure their ulterior motives, attempt at destroying unity among the communities. We could identity the forces behind the moves to divide the country. The President had well understood this state of affairs.

People such as Sumanthiran (who lives a luxurious life), is an agent of the Tamil diaspora which creates problems, endangering the lives of the innocent Tamils in the North.

People such as Sumanthiran support Ranil Wickremesinghe not because of their love for the country, but in order to have a Federal Constitution promulgated. They have joined the Tamil diaspora to realise Prabhakaran’s dream of Eelam. The division of the country or to Federalise it, and is not a panacea for all ills. Why is the North and the East, a forbidden area only for the Sinhalese and for Buddhism. The law should apply to all equally, without discrimination.

Nobody could have ever anticipated the direction the country would have taken, if not for what was a right decision taken on October 26.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pattern of thinking does not fit in with the indigenous culture, customs and traditions as was observed through the past.

His political ideology was ultra capitalist, neo-liberalism which is not palatable to our country. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country with a 2,500-year-history fostered by mutual affinity and a culture based on unity in which all of us live in peaceful harmony. Other religions have been assured of their due status and respect.

It is the responsibility on the part of the rulers to ensure the advancement of religion. Throughout the past, rather than developing temples and dagobas, rules and regulations were formed to the detriment of the Buddhist places of worship.

Moves were afoot to open taverns even on Poya days and action was pursued to relax laws preventing the sale of liquor to women. Drugs proliferated throughout the country, while the indigenous culture was eroded. Laws remained muted and the country became anarchic. The bhikkhus who spoke against these were imprisoned, he said.

Even the British colonialists after their capture of the country in 1815 assigned a pride of place to the Sacred Tooth Relic and observed all traditional religious customs and practices.

However, during the recent past, rules and regulations were framed against Buddhist Peraheras and the elephants taking part in such pageants. Certain politicians did not know how to conduct themselves in the presence of a bhikkhu and there were times when the tying of a Pirith Noola was also refused.

Meanwhile, the country retrograded and there was hardly any development of roads, he said.

The Central Bank bond scam took the country to an abyss. Taxes were forced on people who find it difficult to make ends meet.

We also witnessed the attempts at selling all economic nerve Centres such as sea ports and airports. Land laws of the country were changed to suit international interests. Consequently, it became a ‘free for all’ benefiting the foreigners. The native entrepreneurs suffered setbacks.

The Venerable Thera said, ‘the President alone tried time and again to expose all these issues to the country. The country became a puppet, dancing to the dictates of Western interests.

The President who wanted to change this state of affairs, called upon Sajith Premadasa, and Karu Jayasuriya to accept the Premiership. The President never made any unreasonable decisions.

Finally, the President’s choice was Mahinda Rajapaksa who empathises with the people and respects the country’s religion, culture, the bhikkhus and other members of the clergy equally.

He rescued the country from the scourge of a 30 years-old-war. President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa are two patriotic leaders who do not want to sell the country to the foreigners.

Now is the best opportunity for us. What is incumbent on the political leaders at this juncture is to go for a general election respecting the sovereignty of the people. Sanity should prevail, and all should join hands in the larger interests of the country, the Ven. Thera said.

Translated by Michael Kittanpahuwa