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!
PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary
There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.
GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.
Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”
“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.
Hizbullah denies links with Zahran
But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.
Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.
Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.
The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.
“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.
Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.
Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.
The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.
In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.
Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.
Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.
“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.
“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.
The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.
The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.
CA annuls summons issued on President
The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.
Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.
Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.
President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.
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