The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) mourns the passing away of one of its leaders, Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thera. He died in Matara of Covid-19 illness on Sunday, May 30 at the age of 69. He had his early education in Baddegama, taking to the robes as a teenager, and later at the Universities of Kelaniya (1976), where he was the President of the Student Wing and later Lancaster, United Kingdom, where he fought against apartheid.
He was a student leader with a militant history. He joined the LSSP in 1994. In 1997, he was elected a member of the Southern Provincial Council and led the party in the Southern province. In 2001, he created history by becoming the first Bhikshu to be elected to Parliament. He campaigned on behalf of the people specially when they were being exploited by officials and politicians. He espoused the politics of the LSSP with vigour, making full use of his oratorical skills, and gained a reputation for making skillful arguments, LSSP leader Professor Tissa Vitarana said in a condolence message.
Ven. Baddegama Samitha was soon elected to the leading organs of the party, the Central Committee and then the Politbureau, where he played a leading role in decision-making. As an orator and a genial personality who served the people both day and night, he was a popular figure. His political life was marked by his consistent struggle against all types of injustice against the people, specially by officials, employers and all manner of exploiters, like petty traders. He made a name as a fighter for social and political justice, the message said.
He fought against religious and racial prejudice. He established links with leaders of other religions to unite the nation. He fought against Sinhala Buddhist extremism and majoritarianism. As a member of the LSSP, he participated in many conferences both here and abroad where he effectively espoused his positions on behalf of the people and the country, it noted.
After he lost his position in Parliament in 2004, he served as an active member of the Southern Provincial Council. He did much development work and helped the people. He promoted education. Every year, he hired buses and took school children from the South to events in Colombo, like the annual Book Exhibition. He helped cultivators to overcome issues like the fertilizer problem. He helped organize the workers, specially the Tamils, and fought for their rights. He was active on national issues and was one of the first to lead a demonstration, the message further said.
While Ven. Baddegama Samitha preached the Buddha dharma, he always repeated what the Buddha said, that the listener will benefit only if he is not hungry. He therefore carried out a fight to eliminate poverty and achieve social justice all his adult life right to the end by trying to achieve these objectives right to the end as a member of LSSP and along with the political Left, like the CP, and other progressive forces like the SLFP and SLPP, Prof. Vitarana added.
May his Samsara gamana be happy and fruitful. May he attain Nibbana.
Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.
The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.
NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.
Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.
Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.
The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.
MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.
The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.
Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.
The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.
In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.
Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.
Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.
PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs
A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.
Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture
Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.
The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.
FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.
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