Salient features of 1978 Constitution should remain - Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera | Sunday Observer

Salient features of 1978 Constitution should remain - Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera

* President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will herald a prosperous country for all. The groups that will not be happy to see such development are the Leftists, especially the Front Line Socialist Parties

* Under the current electoral system, when a political party gets one or two hundred thousand votes from the North and the East, they can get 13 or 14 seats in Parliament. But, when it comes to the South one million or two million votes would give the same number of seats to a political party.

The writer met Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, to seek his views on how the country could effectively change the 1978 Constitution and such other issues.

Extracts from the interview:

“If we build the country as per the election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, two main groups will lose all the benefits they now enjoy.

“The first group consists of persons who are funded by the Tamil Diaspora and engage in extremist politics in the North and the East. When all citizens enjoy equal benefits, the Tamil Diaspora will not be able to maintain their slogans,” the Ven.Thera said.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will herald a prosperous country for all communities to live in. The groups that will not be happy to see such development are the Leftist political parties, especially the Front Line Parties.“Their existence depends on a rotten society which has a bad smell and worms in it. As long as poverty exists in society, they can continue their politics and so-called revolution.”

Shameless group

“This shameless group can exist only if the President’s program fails. This group who is willing to destroy the entire country and its population to achieve its political goals feel that the President’s vision, program and activities are poisonous. They are the group that tried to ruin the country from the beginning,” the Ven. Thera said.

“The work being carried out by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is satisfactory. We must not judge him now. We can do that after five years. It’s not even four months since he came to power. He has asked us to judge him after five years. We did not sleep for five long years because of the fear of a proposed separatist Constitution.

“We need a new Constitution with the salient features of the 1978 Constitution embedded into it. It should not include Amendments 19,18,17,15 and 13. Amendment 13 introduced all requirements needed for a separate state into the 1978 Constitution.

“At present, the Executive President protects the unitary status of the country. The whole country could have been destroyed through 20A, if it was brought in as planned. Fortunately, it did not happen. The 1978 Constitution does not exist. What exists now is something amended 19 times and totally weakened. Only administrative powers should be given to the provinces and not political powers,” the Ven. Thera said. According to Ven. Abhayatissa Thera, administrative powers should be devolved at the lowest level. People should be able to get an identity card or passport from an Urban Council. The public service should be effective. The provinces should not be able to create separate countries by joining together. The electoral system should be changed.

“The current system only promotes extremist politicians who take commissions. They have the power to bargain under the current electoral system. Under this system, when a political party gets one or two hundred thousand votes from the North and the East, they can get 13 or 14 seats in Parliament.

“But, when it comes to the South one million or two million votes would give the same number of seats to a political party. As a result, the 13 or 14 who represent one hundred thousand voters suppress the views of 13 or 14 who represent one million or two million people in the South. No one can call this democracy. This disparity should be removed,” the Ven. Thera said. “In the election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour, its clearly stated that citizens of all races will be considered Sri Lankans. He has not given any special treatment to anyone.

“It was the Sinhala Buddhists who nourished this country and culture from ancient times. They have a historical right to do so even now. The British protected this right and said that they protected Sinhala Buddhism. At that time, it was called Sinhala Buddhism and not Buddhism.

“We question the handful of politicians who have used racism to capture power, to point out any right that is being enjoyed by the people in the South not being enjoyed by the people in the North. I challenge those politicians to point out one right that is not granted to Tamils.

“Both Sinhalese and Muslims should build houses in the North and the East. What if people in the South say all Tamils should be restricted to the North and the East? Therefore, the President should control extremist politicians,” the Ven. Thera said.

Divisions among people

“In history, some kings did wrong things. They helped create Nikayas and divided the Maha Sangha. They created divisions among people. Today, the world has changed where both the employer and the employee sit together at the same table. All are treated as human beings. There should be one law for all. There should not be specific laws for specific groups in the country,” the Ven.Thera said.

“The Maha Sangha should not whitewash politicians. We need not lay carpets for them. A politician plays the role of a carter who drives his cart. As a university professor, I always look at the deed and not at the person. If the deed is right, it does not matter even if the person comes from a political party that I dislike.

“We, the Sangha are the caretakers of the country and the nation and not of politicians. If a group of politicions we brought to power does any wrong, we will censure them and guide them on the correct path,” the Ven. Thera said.

“We ousted the former Government which was a slave to imperialism. Now, independent journalists and media personnel who serve the US and imperialism attack and block our struggle. They mainly use social media.

“Why do certain journalists who play the role of the traitor to the motherland, attack me? It’s not because I want to come to politics but because of my political vision and my role in the patriotic program for the country. They want to destroy the vision and the program, so they attack the leaders of the program,” the Ven. Thera said.

Evil plan

“Unlike us, they work according to a long-standing evil plan. It was the Prime Minister’s Office which housed the LGBT office. Nobody denies it. The price of beer dropped. Women were allowed to buy liquor. A lot of gay and lesbian organisations were promoted.

“The national anthem was sung in two languages. When a national anthem is sung in two languages, it signifies the existence of two separate countries. India has many states and languages, but its national anthem is sung only in one language. The persons who demand that the national anthem be sung in two languages should show us first that it’s being done in India, so we too can follow.

“These are not the real issues of the people. It is the responsibility of the President to put an end to soft separatism and social separatism. He cannot do it alone. We have to give him a strong Government. It is our responsibility. If not, we will have to reap what we have sown,” the Ven. Thera said.

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