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Karu: Promises made to Sobitha Thera have gone unfulfiled

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Former Speaker and Chairman of the National Movement for a Just Society (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the death of the founder of the movement, Venerable. Sri Sobhitha Thera on Sunday (08) called for a just society that values democracy.

 

Following are the remarks by NMSJ Chairman on the occasion:

Today is an opportunity to commemorate a Most Venerable Thero, who has worked tirelessly with sheer determination in recent times to protect the democratic rights of the people of this country and to create a society where justice and fairness reigned.

It has been five years since the death of the Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero. His honorouble character was full of sublime qualities that demonstrated his infallible rectitude.

We can identify him as a great follower of the Buddhist philosophy who had a colossal impact on our motherland in recent times, espousing the many qualities displayed by revered theros of the bygone era such as Wariyapola Sri Sumangala, Migettuwatte Sri Gunananda and Walpola Sri Rahula.

Throughout his lifetime, he has acted with a sincere sense of nationalism, and whenever he was faced with challenges, be it national, religious or cultural, he always stepped up and represented the national aspirations of the country without any hesitation.

One such instance was the political transformation that took place in this country in 2015. The people of Sri Lanka managed to change a powerful regime that had then gained a two-thirds majority. This was a result of him placing the country at the forefront irrespective of race, religion or party affiliation and leading the people towards that change. His voice was instrumental in awakening the minds of the people. It was due to the resounding admiration and appreciation he received from the people in this country.

The Venerable Thero never pursued wealth, power or fame. At the very least, he was even unwilling to accept any of the religious titles bestowed upon him. He lived an exemplary and humble life. We revered, respected, and followed him because we valued those noble qualities.

We also participated in the 70th birth anniversary celebrations of the Most Venerable Sobitha Thero that was held on 29 May 2012 at the BMICH. At that time, the very fabric of our democratic heritage was under threat and personal freedoms were in complete disarray. Justice was undermined and injustice prevailed. Disappointed at these developments, the Most Venerable Thero, at that moment, pledged to raise his voice against these injustices.

On that day, the main theme of his lecture was on how the executive presidency, a political system that was unique to Sri Lanka which possessed unlimited power, had turned into a parasite.

As such, we recall how he made an emotional appeal to all segments of the clergy, other religious leaders as well as all patriotic communities in the country to support him in his endeavor to abolish the executive presidency and to safeguard democracy.

On the same night, the Venerable Thero was visited by his followers. The fact that he was assured of their unwavering support and commitment to make the movement a success while submitting various proposals was a testament to the trust they had placed in him. It was also the country’s good fortune that a large number of people had come forward to support him.

A few days later, about 60 Buddhist monks representing the Maha Sangha arrived in Colombo and with their blessings, the ‘National Movement for a Just Society’ was born. This is how a national movement that was able to create a regime change was formed.

From that time until the 2015 Presidential Election, we respectfully and devoutly remember his great commitment, visiting all corners of the island, with the full support of the Maha Sangha, uniting various ideological and political movements in this country and amalgamating the patriotic people under one banner.

Furthermore, we should also mention the myriad of occasions when his life was under threat. We cannot forget how his life was placed in danger once as the vehicle in which he was travelling was subject to a hit and run. We can’t forget the failed attempt to poison him.

With today’s press briefing, while commemorating the Most Venerable Thero, we hope to apologise to him for the many insults and injustices he had endured.

The Most Venerable Thero,

Due to your advice, guidance and leadership, there was a regime change. Many people secured various positions because of you. It is a known fact that after your death, pledges were made to fulfill the promises that were yet to be realised. Talking about it hurts us too. Some have completely forgotten you. As there were prior instances of people who had ruined the political lives of Anagarika Dharmapala, one of the most revered figures in our country and Sir CWW Kannangara, the father of free education, it was not a surprise. But such things can no longer be tolerated.

However, it was due to your philosophy that Sri Lanka was lauded by the international community, including the United Nations and world leaders, for having one of the most exemplary democracies in the world during the first two years of that administration from 2015-2016. But you were not able to see that.

Thereafter, we were saddened by the unfortunate situation that arose in the country due to the disagreements within the government. We were shocked. We apologize to you for that.

After your demise, it has been clear to all how politics has degraded the values of our country, how some misled the masses by exploiting race and religion, how religious centers were used to propagate petty political agendas by spreading various misinformation, and how people were deceived by the snake king that manifested inside a bottle. Today, it is the Maha Sangha that exposes such incidents.

We know that the truth can never be suppressed and will come out one day. It is with great humility that I inform you that the aforementioned facts are being brought to light by the thousands of members of the Maha Sangha and the general public in remembrance of your great name.

The Most Venerable Thero, although we wish that you attain nirvana, your philosophy is very much required to restore a society that has been hoodwinked by lies, injustice and deceit.

Therefore, we are hopeful that the people who are aware of these developments and value a just society will soon accord him the respect that he deserves.

Venerable Thero, may you help us to fulfil that noble aspiration. It is for the generation that is yet to be born. May this endeavour of ours be a tribute to his name!



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code

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by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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