Unitary state and state protection for Buddhism
Posted on October 23rd, 2017

By HEMANTHA WARNAKULASURIYA Courtesy The Island

President’s Counsel Jayampathi Wickramaratne and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have stated that the new Constitution will be formulated with unitary status of Sri Lanka and the foremost place for Buddhism being retained. President Maithripala Sirisena is a leader, respected by the majority of the minorities and a good percentage of the Sinhala Buddhists. They, the President and Prime Minister have met the Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter and given the latter an assurance that the new constitution will not in any way lead to a separate or a federal state or abolish the foremost place given to Buddhism.

The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter, whose sympathies to the UNP are only well known, has made a public statement that there is no reason to oppose the new draft Constitution and that he will trust the two leaders elected by the majority of Sri Lankans. He has made a statement on the basis that the rightful place given to Buddhism will be protected. The people have taken umbrage against the Mahanayake, and some have been bestowing the ultimate insult to the Prelate by suggesting that the next person to enter Parliament through the national list of TNA would be the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter. Be that as it may, if there is no federal state, and this Constitution is to be framed with the state remaining unitary, and Buddhism given the rightful place, I, as an amateur in Constitutional Lawyer, would ask Wickramaratne and others, why they cannot keep the term, “unitary state” and the place given to Buddhism. For the readers’ reference, Article 2 says, “the Republic of Sri Lanka is a unitary state”. Article 9 says, “the Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place, and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Shasanaya.

Undoubtedly, for the Prime Minister, it is a great achievement that the TNA has accepted the draft format of the Constitution, wherein, according to the Government the unitary character and protection afforded to Buddhism is protected. Then, how does it differ or what does it matter if the Constitution and the provisions relating to Article 2 and Article 9 as stated above in the Constitution remains intact? What I and the ordinary people do not know is what is the ‘Catch 22’ of the Constitution, and why should the TNA, backed by the Tamil Diaspora, disagree with the present Article 2 and Article 9 and want it amended?

The question that pokes the inner sensibilities of the majority is why the Government, instead of concentrating on devolution, is trying to stifle the rights of the majority with regard to the concept of a unitary state and the rightful place given to Buddhism? As Sarath N. Silva has said, in a recent article, the Government should refrain from removing very sensitive articles from the Constitution, which would cause outrage among the majority. The common refrain of the majority is that what the Tamil Diaspora could not achieve by supporting the Eelam war, they are now squeezing the testicles of the government to obtain the concessions that they failed to get after sacrificing nearly 30,000 of their comrades. This may be a theory purported by Sinhala extremist, who like the Tamil Diaspora is suffering from myopic jingoism against any devolution. The reason for these demands is vocally demonstrated by no less a person than the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, Wigneswaran.

Mr. Wigneswaran, when he was holding positions in the Government, was one of the most amiable persons who never showed any inclination towards racism. He was one of the few people selected from the Private Bar, by that great Chief Justice, Neville Samarakoon, to serve the judiciary. He was having a very lucrative practice as an Instructing Attorney and most of the Counsels he retained were mainly Sinhalese. But, today though he is denounced by the TNA, which is virtually trying to ostracize him for his attitude against corruption and his political mandate, which is open and not hidden like the mature and cunning TNA politicians. He has quite forthrightly stated that the original inhabitants were Dravidians and the DNA shows that Sinhalese were the progenies of the original Dravidians, and Devanampiyatissa was a Tamil King and his name was Devanani Nampiya Theesan. Though this may have shocked many Sinhalese, we must take very serious note of his pronouncement.

This did not surprise me, as this is not the first time I heard that Tamils were the original inhabitants of the island, and that some vagabonds came, drew the peaceful cultured Dravidians into the North, and occupied the entire country. I came to know this theory when I was Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Italy. In the Province of Sicily, the capital of which is Palermo, there is a large settlement of Tamil people who have come in boats from Sri Lanka. In Sicily, there is an old custom where any ship close to the beach of Sicily becomes a wreck, the inhabitants of the shipwrecks have to be given Italian citizenship. Tamils who were very clever used this age old law and custom to obtain citizenship of Italy. Whilst most Sri Lankans in other parts of Italy do not possess proper immigration papers as they had arrived illegally, the Palermo Tamils have obtained permanent residency. When I went to the island of Sicily, there were many people who came and showed us the text books printed and distributed and given to the Tamil children by the LTTE. Other than the heroics of Prabhakaran, it had a story and maps to show how the innocent Tamils were driven to the North by a vagabond, mercenary Prince called Vijaya. I went to meet the community with a Tamil interpreter, and most children repeated what they were taught. Though a Tamil Catholic Priest was trying to pooh-pooh these sentiments, they firmly believed what was taught to them. But I found that most of them were neither racist, nor had they any xenophobia towards the Sinhalese. The Embassy had neglected them. They neither knew English or Italian. They were fleeced by agents who brought their documents to the Embassy in Rome at a very high price. I decided to open a consulate and have a mobile service to help them. Like Tamils resident in other parts of the country, they believed that the embassy would do everything possible to arrest them and send them back to Sri Lanka. When they found out the truth, they became great friends and hosted the entire staff to Jaffna crab curry and rice. They have been exploited by the LTTE and had to pay protection money to the Tigers for their survival. If the money was not paid, their relations living in Sri Lanka were in danger. But, what had been taught to the children as Gospel truth will remain in their minds. They never had the LTTE map of the Northern and the Eastern Province as their land, but had the entire map of Sri Lanka.

Now, the government seems to think that a miracle will happen if the word ‘unitary’ and the special place given to Buddhism in Article 9 are changed. Instead of reconciliation, there would be bloodshed and war, which will result in definite fragmentation of this country. Wigneswaran is certainly not alone in his thinking.

5 Responses to “Unitary state and state protection for Buddhism”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Mahanayake of Malwatte is an acolyte of Ranil – no two words about it. He believes as many idiotic Sinhalese did that Ranil is ‘Mr Clean”. Now it is proven beyond any doubt that the driver behind the Central Bank Bond Scam is nobody else but Ranil. He is the one who took over the Central Bank under his wing, he is the one who appointed Arjun Mahendran a non Citizen to the post of Governor of the Central Bank – (our monetary notes carry his soiled signature now to boot), and he is the one who arranged the Bank of Ceylon funds for the Bond Scam by extending the period of the Bond Auction on 27 Feb 2015.All this happening within the first 50 days of Ranil coming to power through the back door!

    The sordid affair of so called “Good Governance – Yahapalanaya is a US led enterprise is now very clear. It is they who are engineering the New Constitution to balkanise Sri Lanka so that they can get hold of Trincomalee and have hegemony over the Indian Ocean trade routes as well as South Asia. The American poodle India has no idea what they are getting into for India too will end up balkanised if this American enterprise succeeds. US like a Black Star will feed on all weakened states which fall into the American version of Democracy and Human Rights!

    On the part of the Southern polity who are opposed to the dabbling in the present Constitution, they must proclaim loud and clear for all to hear that granting of Land Powers and Police Powers will never be in any discussion with the Separatists. These two aspects are the main stay of keeping Sri Lanka a peaceful and reconciled nation.

    Any border that come into existence in any quasi federal, federal or Eelam situation can never be peaceful. Even at present borders of the ultimate Racist Tamil dream Eelam has moved southwards in a pincer movement to encircle the rest of Sri Lanka. Eelam map of 1980 and the current one are entirely different. Resulting water wars – not very different from Mavil Aru will be the first salvos to devastate any dream of peace in the future in Sri Lanka.

    Granting of Land Powers will severely compromise jurisdiction over the 12 Mile Seaboard and the 200 Mile Economic Zone which extends from almost 2/3rd of Sri Lankan seaboard. With this we will loose all gas, oil and other mineral rights too.

    Granting of Police Powers will enable terrorists to commit crimes in the South and escape to the North where they will be found sanctuary by the likes of Vignesewaran and Sambandan and their terrorist acolytes. South where more than 55% of the Tamils live will be kept constantly destabilised and as a land on which they can feed on and carry out scams – The Central Bank Bond Scam which was repeated on 29 March and 31 March 2016 are just the tip of the iceberg!

    Traitorous Colombians will collude with any in power to keep their status quo!

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    While VERY IMPORTANT, the unitary nature and state sponsorship of Buddhism ARE NOT the MOST IMPORTANT of the issues with the New Constitution.

    The DEVOLUTION of EXCESSIVE POWER to SEPARATIST MINORITIES IS the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE with the New Constitution.

    ThIS LEVEL of DEVOLUTION of POWER COMPLETELY UNDERMINES and NEGATES those PALLIATIVE Statements EMBEDDED in the New Constitution to placate the IGNORANT among the Sinhala Buddhists, including the Malwatte Mahaayake Thera, whose mypic view is NO DOUBT seeded by liberal financial bribes!

    Those PALLIATIVE words assuring the Unitary Nature and Protection for Buddhism are CONFUSING and MISLEADING in that the words used in Sinhala, Tamil and English mean completely different things, as pointed out by many patriots.

    MY OVER-RIDING CONCERN is that there is LITTLE DEBATE and ORGANIZED OPPOSITION to the VERY NOTION of DEVOLVING POWER to DEMONSTRATED SEPARATISTS just a few years after the conclusion of a SEPARATISM-DRIVEN WAR!

    In my VIEW, this is a PRESCRIPTION for NATIONAL SUICIDE, that DISMANTLES the LAST BARRIERS and yields to the SEPARATISTS the LAST OF THE AMMUNITION they need for a UNILATERAL DECLARATION of Independence with the blessings of the Western Supporters of the Tamil Diaspora, including their PUPPET United Nations!

    This attempt to HOIST a New Constitution, crafted by SEPARATISTS, MINORITY COMMUNITIES and the NeoColonial West, MUST BE DEFEATED, and PREVENTED from seeing the LIGHT of DAY!

    This DESHA-DROHI Yamapalana Government OF the SEPARATISTS, BY the SEPARATISTS, FOR the SEPARATISTS ,attempting to DISMANTLE and DESTROY Sri Lanka must NOT be allowed to SURVIVE this 2017 year , and MUST BE OUSTED at the earliest possible opportunity!

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    The People of Sri Lanka do NOT TRUST RW. His own 40 yr political record is the reason why. Cold War politics always enables RW to float to the top.

    Anything RW touches turns to tears for the masses of Lanka. It appears that he does not have the touch to win the Hearts & Trust of the People, however much ribbon cutting he does now for photo ops.

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    The fact of the matter is, in a Federal, set up, giving the foremost place to Buddhism becomes meaningless eventually and just words only!.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Sri Lanka is solving foreign problems without solving the problems of the People of Lanka.

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