Speakers at Sobitha Thera commemoration meeting decry President Sirisena's actions
Say he has dealt a death blow to democracy President who was invited for meeting conspicuous by his absence
President Maithripala Sirisena, who was propelled to the office of President in January, 2015 by the campaign initiated by the National Movement for a Just Society pioneered by the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, was a notable absentee at the event held to commemorate the third death anniversary of Sobitha Thera held in Colombo on Thursday.
Although he was invited to the event by the organisers of the Ven. Sobitha Thera Commemoration Foundation, the chair allocated to him remained vacant even though many of the major players of the National Movement for a Just Society pioneered by the late Thera were present. These included Speaker Karu Jayasuirya, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, former MPs Champika Ranawaka, Rajitha Seneratna and several others.
One could sense a mood of anger and disappointment among the crowd who had gathered for the meeting, which was addressed by Professor Sanath Wijesuriya who along with Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha thera pioneered the Movement and campaigned tirelessly for the victory of common candidate Maithripala Sirisena of the January, 2015 presidential poll.
Speaking at the event, Professor Wijesuriya said that it was a blessing in a way that Sobitha Thera had passed away before seeing the massacre by President Sirisena of all the ideals on which the “Just Society” campaign had been built.
He accused the President of dragging the country back to the repressive pre January 2015 days and putting democracy in grave danger.
“When we look back, I can recall the words of the Venerable Thera. With his immense wisdom, the Thera knew that President Sirisena was a person with no gratitude. The Thera told me on the day the President decided to take over the SLFP leadership, he had put his party position over the leadership of the coun- try and forgotten the noble principles on the basis of which he was elected.
He accused the President of blocking investigations against the Rajapaksa family and others connected to them from early on as well as against others who were involved in criminal activities.
He said the person whom the president appointed as the new Justice Minister is one against whom a probe was begun by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division but later stopped by the President. “This shows we are heading towards very dangerous times. Criminals are out and so are the corrupt people. Isn’t it our great misfortune that such a person is the leader of this country?” he said.
Professor Wijesuriya said that the President had used one of his henchmen, an MP he brought in through the National List, as a frontman to attack f o r mer Pre s i d e n t C h a n d r i k a Kumaratunga in a very low manner. “He has dealt the death knell to democracy in the country. He does not have basic decency. Why does he visit temples? Every time he observes the five precepts, his sins become bigger,” he said.
Professor Wijesuriya also apologised to voters who voted for President Sirisena based on the campaign led by him and others like the Venerable Sobitha Thera.
Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda who delivered the commemoration lecture said that Venerable Sobhitha Thera was a visionary leader who had always stood for democracy , even if it meant standing alone. However, he said that the latest crisis is unprecedented and threatened to dwarf all previous struggles.
One could sense a mood of anger and disappointment among the crowd who had gathered for the meeting, which was addressed by Professor Sanath Wijesuriya who along with Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha thera pioneered the Movement and campaigned tirelessly for the victory of common candidate Maithripala Sirisena of the January, 2015 presidential poll
A minute's silence for Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. Pix by Ishanka Sunimal
Professor Wijesuriya addressing the gathering