‘A strong government needed for President’s vision’

Following are extracts from an interview conducted with Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera:

“The work now being carried out by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is satisfactory. We cannot judge him now. We have to do it after five years. Not even two months have passed since he came into power. He asked us to judge him after five years,” Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera said.

“We did not sleep for five long years because of the fear of a proposed separatist Constitution. Now we need a new Constitution with all good components of the existing 1978 Constitution and it should not include certain amendments such as 19th, 18th, 17th, 15th, and 13th Amendments.”

“The 13th Amendment inserted all requirements needed for separate state into the 1978 Constitution. At the moment, the Executive President protects the unitary status of the country. The whole country could have been destroyed through the 20th Amendment, if it was brought in as planned. Fortunately, it did not happen. Now, the 1978 Constitution does not exist. What exists now is something amended 19 times and has been totally weakened. A new Constitution which does not have amendments such as 19th, 18th, 17th, 15th, and 13th should be brought in. Only administrative powers should be given to the provinces and not any political powers,” Ven. Prof. Abhayatissa Thera said.

According to Ven. Prof. Abhayatissa, administrative power should be delegated to the lowest level. People should be able to get an ID or passport from an Urban Council. The public service should be effective. The provinces will not be able to create separate countries by joining together.

“The electoral system should be changed. The current system only promotes extremist politicians who take ransoms. They have the power to bargain under the current electoral system. Under this system, when a political party gets one or two hundred thousand votes from the North and the East, they can get 13 or 14 seats in Parliament. But, when it comes to the South one million or two million votes would give the same number of seats (13 or 14 seats) to a political party. As a result, the 13 or 14 who represent one hundred thousand voters suppress the views of 13 or 14 who represent one million or two million people in the South. No one can call this democracy. This disparity should be removed,” the Ven. Prof. said.

“In the election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, he clearly stated that citizens of all races will be considered as Sri Lankans. He has not given any special treatment for anyone in this concept of ‘Sri Lankans’ which is common to all Sri Lankan citizens.”

“It was Sinhala Buddhists who nourished this country and culture in the ancient times. Therefore, they have this historical right. Even the colonial British protected this right and said that they protected Sinhala Buddhism. At that time, it was called ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ and not ‘Buddhism’.”

“We question the handful of politicians who use racism to capture power to point out any right that is being enjoyed by the people living in the South that is not being enjoyed by the people living in the North. I challenge those politicians to point out one right that is not granted for being Tamil. Both Sinhalese and Muslims should build houses in the North and the East. What if people in the South start to say all Tamils should be restricted to the North and the East? Therefore, the President should control extremist politicians,” the Ven. Prof. said.

“In history, some kings did incorrect things. They helped to created Nikayas and separated the Maha Sangha. They created divisions among people using professions for them. Today, the world has changed. Today, both the employer and employee sit and eat at the same table. All are being treated as human beings. There should be one law for all. There should not be specific laws for specific groups that live in the country,” Ven. Prof. said.

“The Maha Sangha should not whitewash the politicians. The Maha Sangha does not spread carpets for them. They play the role of the carter. The carter directs the cart in the right direction. As a university professor, I always look at the incident and not at the person. If the act is right, it does not matter even if the person comes from a political party that I dislike. The Maha Sangha are caretakers of the country and the nation and not of the politicians. If a group of persons we brought into power commit any offence, we will attack them before society and guide them to the correct path immediately,” the Ven. Prof. said.

“We ousted the former Government which acted as a slave to imperialism. Now, so-called independent journalists and media personnel who serve the US and imperialism attack and block our struggle. They mainly use social media.”

“Recently, I spoke about ‘Hathe Ape Potha’ (Grade 7 handbook) which is aimed at developing and promoting sexual malignance and not sexual education. It is the same group of journalists who attacked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa before the Presidential Election who attacked me. Then they came forward and started to attack us. Those journalists in that evil camp who do not have an iota of intelligence attacked the programme of providing tabs with the Thripitaka to Bhikkus. The tabs with the Thripitaka were distributed in order to allow them to read the Thripitaka in simple words and understand the real meaning.”

“Those journalists did not stop there. They talked about my wealth and said I am worth Rs. 124 million. But my actual wealth is three or four times more than that. I donated 17 perches of land in Maharagama to the Sri Jayewardenepura University. That land was worth over Rs. 250 million. My temple has much more wealth than they said. I have a red passport and a vehicle permit because I am a professor.”

“Why do they attack me? Not because I plan to come into politics. They attack me because of my political vision and my role in the patriotic programme for this country. They want to destroy the vision and our programme for the country and the nation. Therefore, they attack the leaders of this programme,” the Ven. Prof. said.

“Unlike us, they work according to a long-standing evil plan and work little by little gradually. It was the Prime Minister's Office which housed the LGBT office. Nobody denied it. The price of beer dropped. Women were allowed to buy liquor. A lot of gay and lesbian organisations were promoted. The national anthem was sung in two languages. When one national anthem is sung in two languages, it signifies the existence of two separate countries. India has so many states and languages. But the national anthem in India is sung only in one language. The persons who demand that the national anthem should be sung in two languages should show us first if it is being practised in India. Then we Sri Lankans can do the same. Not before that.

“Those are not the real issues of the people. It is the responsibility of the President to destroy this ‘soft separatism’ and ‘social separatism’. But he cannot do it alone. We have to give him a strong Government. It is our responsibility. If not, we will reap the harvest of what we cultivate in society now,” the Ven. Prof. said.

“If we build the country which is mentioned in the election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, two main groups will lose all the benefits they receive from the beginning up to now. The first group is the persons who are funded by the Tamil Diaspora and engage in extremist politics in the North and the East. When all citizens get equal benefits, they will not be able to maintain their slogans. To stay in power, they need a clear disparity between the North and the South,” the Ven. Prof. pointed out.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will create a prosperous country for all Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims to live in. The second group who will be not happy to see such a development are certain Leftist political parties including the JVP. Their existence depends on a rotten society which has a bad smell and worms in it. As long as poverty exists in society, they can continue their politics and so-called revolution. This shameless group can exist only if our programme fails. A few people who are willing to destroy the entire country and the population to achieve their personal political goals will feel that our vision, programme and activities are poisonous. Our patriotic programme is purely poison for them. They are the group which tried to destroy us from the beginning,” the Ven. Prof. said.

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