Sobhitha Thero – under the bridge of the dirty


A section of MPs in the well of Parliament during Thursday’s battle between UNP and JO members(Pic courtesy an MP)

The revolting bedlam that took place in parliament this week is certainly the subject of much concern, as it showed the depths of bad behaviour the people’s elected representatives have moved into, making the sovereign legislature a House of the Vulgar, with the privilege of vulgarity.

Those considering whom to vote for in the coming local government polls would do well to give thought to whether any member of the blue and green parties, whether showing a hand, a betel leaf, a flower bud or elephant deserves to be elected to any of our local bodies. These parties are all the mockery of Democracy.

As the contemptible situation in parliament bothers the people, it is also necessary to think of that exercise in another scoffing of the people’s will, shown by none other than President Sirisena, as he celebrated the third anniversary of his election as Executive President, on January 8. It was the decision to name the Fly-Over at Rajagiriya in memory of the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera.

President Sirisena has to be commended for not naming the Moragahakanda Dam and Reservoir and the Rajagiriya Fly-Over after him. It was certainly unlike Mahinda Rajapaksa, who, with a shameful determination to engrave Rajapaksa name in the memory of the people, gave his name to everything he opened or launched, in full or in abbreviation.

Yet, together with that credit, comes the immense vilification of Ven. Sobhitha Thera, who gave the leadership to the campaign to strengthen democracy, and ensure the electoral victory of the Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, with the pledge to abolish the Executive Presidency.

The mockery of all the pledges given to Ven. Sobhitha Thera and the people in the campaign for the January 8 victory over Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen today in the attempt by President Sirisena to clarify legal doubts whether he could continue as President for six years, and not the five years adopted through the 19th Amendment. If the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, declares that his term is six years, and not five, it is one more year of the Executive Presidency, the abolition of which was the campaign slogan of Ven. Sobhitha Thera.

Remembering Sobhitha Thera through his much-respected name placed on a fly-over, said to ease traffic congestion, shows how far the government of ‘yahapalanaya’ has moved away from the path of good democracy and any commitment to do away with the Executive Presidency. The Law being an Ass, the President could have a six-year term, but does it not mean the very distortion of all that the Ven. Sobhitha Thera stood for, in campaigning for the Common Candidate?

Does the present record of this government on fraud and corruption, showing all signs of going beyond the crookedness of the last regime, not show another major shift from the aim of a Just and Free Society that was the goal of Sobhitha Thera; who before his demise had already seen the shift away from the declared policies of the Common Candidate, by the moves to control and lead the SLFP?

We are given loud promises of how the President will use his sword to fight corruption. He is making a big show of the Treasury Bond Scam with the exposures of the Presidential Commission. He warns candidate in the local govt., polls that his government will ensure clean governance, and defeat corruption. Sounds very good, but is it not sounds only?

Where has the sword struck so far? How many of the corrupt are surrounding him in the blue camp, some having crept to ministerial office after having lost in the election… those who crept into office to strengthen him in the presidential office?

"Eheth Horu – Meheth Horu"

is his latest slogan as laughs at the mockery in parliament, but is the exposed Bond Scam the only show of corruption?

How far has this presidency moved towards bringing about a new constitution, with a wider commitment to democracy, which was an important campaign call of Sobhitha Thera?

We are now in a situation where Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa says that any decision to let President Sirisena serve six years, would give him the right to seek election for a third term, deprived by the 19th Amendment. His position may not be correct, but it certainly underscores the reality that politically, and not the Law, a six-year presidency for Maithripala Sirisena is the very reverse of the campaign of and for the Common Candidate. This is the reversion in every sense of what Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera stood for when he gave leadership to the Campaign for a Just and Free Society.

The politics of so-called Yahapalanaya can certainly go on, with loud but unrealistic proclamations of a genuine fight against corruption, and a wholly unreal commitment to serve the people. Such a government proposing anything as a permanent memorial to the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera is a trait of both the stupid and the rash.

This great member of the Maha Sangha deserves to be remembered with a more firm commitment to Democracy than we see today. Naming a flyover after him, in fact, pushes his memory down to the dirt and grime of the highway traffic of today, and not to the heights of glory that he should always be remembered with. He is pushed under the bridge of the dirty, by the unclean!


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