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NEW CONSTITUTION NEEDED - Malwatte Prelate

The delegation led by Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne, Ravaya Editor K.W. Janaranjana, Saman Ratnapriya, Gamini Viyangoda and Ven Mahagalkadawara Punnasara Nayake thera meeting Most Ven. Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Mahanayake thera of the Malwatte Chapter. Picture by Asela Kuruluwansa

Can devolve power, without dividing country

The country needs a constitution which devolves power without dividing the country and does no harm to the nation and religion.

The misunderstanding certain groups have that power devolution amounts to a division creates a wrong picture to the outside world, Most Ven. Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Mahanayake thera of the Malwatte Chapter said.

The Malwatte prelate made this observation when a delegation of the National Movement for a new constitution called on him at his Aramaya in Kandy on October 3.

The delegation included Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne, Ravaya Editor K.W. Janaranjana, Saman Ratnapriya, Gamini Viyangoda and Ven Mahagalkadawara Punnasara Nayake thera.

Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne expressing his views on the occasion said they had arrived in Kandy that day to participate in a ‘satyagraha campaign’.

Certain groups were making misleading statements alleging that the proposed new constitution was harmful for democracy and Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism had gained world repute and recognition since some predictions made by the Buddha had been approved scientifically today. If people resorted to tribal behaviour it would be anti-Buddhist.

Dr Karunaratne said they had fruitful discussions with the Malwatte prelate. The Mahanayake thera also took the position that the constitution needed to be changed.

The prelate also pointed out the need for a discussion among the Maha Sangha on this issue. Some Parliamentarians were making false public statements quite in contrast to the stand taken by them in Parliament and the Steering Committee stages. The standpoint taken by the Malwatte prelate when Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardene called on him was a great source of strength for those campaigning for a new constitution which was the need of the hour.

Translation of the proposed interim report to other languages may involve certain misinterpretations which could be ironed out. But the fact remained that the country needed this new constitution, Karunaratne said.

Gamini Viyangoda said they were conducting the satyagraha in Kandy after staging a similar campaign in Colombo. Their objective was to ensure the fulfilment of election pledges given by the Yahapalana government and appreciate the pledges fulfilled already. Devolution of power to the peripheries and the abolution of the Executive Presidency were absolutely necessary, he said.

The incidents experienced in 1978 proved the dangers involved in the Executive Presidential system. The President had promised to abolish the Executive Presidency.

“Our other objectives are to secure a change in the system of elections and devolution of power. Saman Ratnapriya said certain elements were trying to arouse communal and religious passions through greed for power. Ravaya Editor K.W. Janaranjana said they have planned their next satyagraha campaign in Anuradhapura. Copies of two books titled ‘New Constitution’ and ‘Power Constitution’ and ‘Power Devolution’ were presented to the Malwatte prelate by K.W. Janaranjana and Ven Mahagalkadawara Punnasara thera respectively.