By Yohan Perera
The government yesterday expressed its willingness to study the pros and cons of the Gaming Bill which is to be debated in Parliament on Tuesday as the religious leaders and opposition parties were opposing the proposed Bill.
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne gave this assurance at a ceremony held at Nalandarama Nugegoda to mark the opening of the new Dharma Shalawa last evening.
Gaming is allowed in specific places in some countries though it is banned but we can discuss and see what we could do,` he said stressing that factors such as gaming could not be eradicated totally. He said it was the same with narcotic drugs. Our government is keen to ban the use of drugs but it is not possible to eradicate it totally, he added.
Mr. Jayaratne said it was more appropriate to build a society based on religious values than a society based on political ideologies. Religion is more important than political ideologies, he said.
The Prime Minister revealed that the government was planning to re-establish the traditional village, tank and temple (Weva, Dagaba, Gama and Pansala) concept to mark the 2600th Sambuddha Jayanthi. He said leaders of other religions would also be involved in implementing this concept based on their respective religions.
He also stressed the need for economic development explaining that Buddhism focused on that subject as well.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
in his speech called on the government to postpone the debate on Gaming Bill which was to be taken up in the House on Tuesday, He said there were other important Bills that could be taken up including the Bill to abolish PERC and the Tax Amnesty Bill could be taken up instead.
Mr. Wickremesinghe suggested subjecting the existing casinos to some legal requirement and banning the opening of new ones.
Ven Ittapane Dhammalakara Thera who gave an anusasana said gaming should be banned all together and not to bring any Bill to legalize them. Several Buddhist Monks including the most Ven. Bellana Ganawimala Nayaka Thera of the Amarapura Chapter and Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and Archbishop Emeritus Rev. Oswald Gomis preached at the ceremony.