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‘Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic’



International Buddhist Conference 2020

The National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) has organized the International Buddhist Conference on November 7 and 8 from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm Sri Lanka time via zoom, the organizers announced.

The theme of the Conference will be “Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic” and the Anusasana at the Inauguration of the Conference on November 7 at 2.00 pm was delivered by Most Ven Prof Kotapitiye Rahula Anunayaka Thero of the Kotte Srikalyani Samagreedhamma Maha Sangha Sabha & Main Secretary, Professor Pali and Buddhist Studies Division, Peradeniya University. The Government of Burma awarded the highest Honorary Degree “Aggamahapanditha” award to Ven Anunanyake Thero recently.

The welcome address was delivered by Prof Lakshman R. Watawala, Chairman, National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) and Vice President ACBC. Thereafter, the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and Vice President of the World Federation of Buddhists Jagath Sumathipala will deliver his address.

The first Session on Buddha’s Teachings to overcome COVID – 19 Pandemic was chaired by Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This session covered three presentations relating to the topic.

The first presentation on the Rathana Suthraya – A discourse to overcome disasters was delivered by Ven Prof Medagampitiye Wijithadhamma Thero, Prof of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The next was on the Girimananda Suthraya – Ten perceptions for Healing of Suffering delivered by Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda, Course Coordinator, Dean, Faculty of Buddhist Therapeutic Systems of Medicine, Dean Faculty of Graduate Studies, Chief Medical Officer, Buddhist ?yurvedic Counseling and Psychiatry, N?g?nanda Teaching Hospital.

The final presentation Coping with Pandemic and Overcoming Suffering from a Buddhist Perspective was delivered by Dr Tavivat Puntarigvivat Visiting Professor at the Thai Studies Program, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Bangkok on a research study undertaken by him.

Thereafter, a panel discussion followed moderated by Prof. Chandima Wijebandara, former Vice Chancellor, University of Sri Jayewadenepura.

The panelists were Dr. Rathnasiri Rathnayaka, Senior Lecturer, Department of Buddhist Thought Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Dr, Praneeth Abeysundera, Senior Lecturer of Sociology and Anthropology, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Past President All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Ven. Senior Prof. Uturawela Dhammaratana Thero, Department of Pali, Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Ven. Vajiraramaye Nanasiha Thero, Patron Servants of the Buddha, Bhante Mahinda Founder and Spiritual Director of the Aloka Foundation, Malaysia.

He is also the abbot of the Aloka Meditation Centre in Australia, founder and Spiritual Director of the Australian Buddhist Mission, Inc. and Ven. Halayale Wimalarathana Thera, President of the International Buddhist Foundation (IBF), Geneva, Switzerland.

On the second day – November 8, the conference will be held via zoom from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm 

The theme of Session 2. is Right Mindfulness and Meditation the Buddhist Way to Overcome Covid -19 Pandemic.

This session will be chaired by Deepal Sooriarachchi, Mindfulness Teacher, Post Graduate Institute of Management University of Sri Jayewardenepura, who will introduce the theme of the session.

The Keynote Address on Right Mindfulness the Buddhist Way to overcome COVID -19 Pandemic will be delivered by Most. Ven. Dhammajiva Maha Thero, Chief Meditation Master, Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya.

The next address on the Power of Meditation to relieve stress, strain and increase resilience –  Neuropsychiatric perspective will be delivered by Dr. Kumari Galboda, Consultant Psychiatrist in Old Age Psychiatry, Essex Partnership University, NHS Foundation Trust, Rochford Hospital, Essex, UK

The third address on The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path – Liberation from Suffering will be delivered by Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Head London Buddhist Vihara and Chief Sanganayaka Great Britain. 

The final address will be delivered on Right Mindfulness – A Buddhist survival kit in the pandemic by Ajahn Sujato Co-founder, Sydney.

This will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Nalaka Hewamadduma, Educator and Author, Mental Skills development. The panelists will comprise: Ven. Panadure Chandraratne Thero, Deputy Abbot, Meethirigala Nissarana Vanaya, Meetirigala, Rev. Dr. Bhante Saranapala – The Urban Buddhist Monk, Founder and President “Canada A Mindful and Kind Nation”, West End Buddhist Temple & Meditation Centre, Mississauga, Canada, Dr. Sumana Ratnayaka, Retired Senior Lecturer, Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya (studied at Kelaniya, Uppsala, Oxford, Lund and Peradeniya Universities).

She holds a doctorate on the subject of Mindfulness: An exploratory study of the Buddhist Meditation in Sri Lanka and is currently resident in Lund, Sweden, Ven. Rathanapala Mahawela. Asst. Lecturer. Pali & Buddhist Studies University of Peradeniya and Dr. Sunil Kariyakarawana, Buddhist Advisor to Her Majesty’s British Armed Services.



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There’s nothing prescribed as Parliament has failed to enact legislation for contempt of court — Sumanthiran



TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran, in an intervention in Parliament, said he was privileged to appear for Ranjan Ramanayake, a clean, honest politician in the Supreme Court and he was proud of that.

Nevertheless, Ranjan Ramanayake was convicted and sentenced. The sentence of four years’ rigorous imprisonment was unprecedented and exceptionally severe, and Parliament has a responsibility in this regard because we have not enacted a law for contempt of court, the MP noted.

At the outset, he said, “I want to flag one or two issues concerning the responsibility of the Parliament in this regard. But before I do that I am bound by law and tradition to disclose my interest in the matter. I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the Supreme Court”.

This has an implication to the article in the constitution that the Hon. Leader of the Opposition just mentioned because it says for an offense for which the prescribed punishment is two years or more. But there’s nothing prescribed, nothing prescribed in the law because for long Parliament has failed to enact legislation for contempt of court, the TNA MP said.

Although there had been in the public as well, a lot of instances where drafts have been made, we have not done that – that is one. And by failing to do that, it has been like the freedom of the wild ass; anything can be given as a sentence and that is not a good thing.  I don’t want to go into the merits of the case or anything like that, but in this case Parliament has to take steps, to enact a law, he further said.

English law is supposed to be the substantive law because we don’t have a statute law now, and in English law itself scandalizing the court is no longer an offence of contempt of court. But unfortunately the court disregarded that, and has misdirected itself – that’s my position, Sumanthiran continued.

“But I want to bring to your notice a serious lacuna in the law with regard to a statue for contempt of court that has resulted in this unprecedented injustice to an honest Member of Parliament”, he added.

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Colombo share market gallops to all time highs



The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) galloped last week with the benchmark All Share Price Index (ASPI) hitting an all time high on Monday and improving on that performance on subsequent trading days to close the week at 8,463 points on Friday. The more liquid S&P Index that normally trails the ASPI also gained sharply though less so than the benchmark index.

Brokers and analysts attributed the surge to prevailing low interest rates and said that people holding funds in fixed interest instruments have seen greater potential in the stock market and have so far not been proved wrong.

“Take the case of vehicle importers,” said one businessman. “With imports disallowed, cash that would have been once used to replenish inventory becomes available for investment elsewhere. The stock market is a magnet for such funds.”

Also, many companies have resorted to a share split strategy to make their shares both more liquid and more affordable on the market.

“Take the example of a fifty-rupee share split into two. Theoretically, it should then trade at Rs. 25 a share after the split. But often it does better than that at no cost to the company that had split the share because its stated capital remains what it was,” explained and analyst.

“It’s different in the case of bonus shares or scrip issues as they are called where reserves are capitalized to pay for the new shares priced at realistic values.”

Last week the Hayleys conglomerate announced share splits in over a dozen group companies. These ranged from each share being split into ten in the parent company (Hayleys) and thriving subsidiaries like Haycarb and Dipped Products while other companies like Kingsbury split a share into two.

Brokers and analysts said that the current market surge was largely driven by the Dhammika Perera controlled Hayleys and the Ishara Nanayakkara controlled LOLC groups.

Last week Hayleys announced over a dozen share splits including in its recently acquired Singer Group companies. The majority of these involved dividing each share into two though at Singer Sri Lanka each share will be split into three.

The biggest share split ever proposed is one that is pending at EB Creasy (EBC) where each share is to be split into 100. The seldom traded EBC share is quoted at the top end of the CSE sharelist. Analysts said the massive split is intended to pump liquidity into the share and make it more affordable.

“There’s a lot of retail play in the market right now with new investors who recently took some risk doing very nicely in this bull run,” a broker said.

The CSE hit rock bottom after a seven-week closure in March last year.



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Covid-19 has now spread geographically across SL



In small numbers to an extensive region

Pandemic situation in Western Province improves

by Suresh Perera

Though there are no big Covid-19 clusters at present, the dreaded virus has spread geographically across the country due to the unrestricted movement of people, a senior medical official said.

“The transmission of the contagion in small numbers to an extensive region was inevitable in a society which remains ‘open’ with inter-provincial travel happening on a daily basis”, says Dr. Hemantha Herath, Deputy Director of Public Health Services.

He said the spillover from the Western province was expected as there was an outflow of people to other districts particularly during the festive season.

“I am not blaming anybody, but a lockdown was not viable when taking into account the economic consequences and the livelihoods of the people. We could have imposed a curfew to restrict travel during the New Year, but we have to consider the fallout of such a measure”, he noted.

It true that geographically numbers have increased within a wide area, but the numbers are small and there are no big clusters as seen at Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda, the senior medical official explained.

Asked whether the pandemic has translated into a community spread as considerable positive cases continue to emerge on a daily basis, Dr. Herath replied, “no, that has not happened. If the Covid-19 situation was beyond control, we would have made a social and community transmission declaration”.

He said the pandemic situation in the Western province has improved with a dip in positive cases. However, the spillover is evident by the jump in figures at provincial level.

“We knew there was a risk, but we had to take it as locking down the country was not the solution

For example, if a Covid-19 patient infects two persons per day, there will be 200 positive cases within 100 days and one can imagine the critical situation that will emerge if the trend is allowed to continue, Dr. Herath continued.

“We are now managing under 1,000 cases per day”, he said, while assuring that the right mechanism is in place to identify positive cases through PCR and rapid antigen screening and place them under medical treatment, isolate and quarantine first contacts of patients”, he further said.

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