Better to have Tamil prez, PM than giving regional autonomy – Ven Abeytissa

Ven. Medagoda Abeytissa Thera, representing Eliya organisation, yesterday said it would be better to have Tamil speaking leaders as President and Prime Minister than to divide the country on ethnic lines.

The Thera urged President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and those pushing for regional autonomy to consider having Tamil speaking leaders as the President and Prime Minister without further delay.

Addressing the media at the National Library and Documentation Centre, Ven. Abeytissa Thera said the government was trying to implement the 13th Amendment fully on the pretext of introducing a new Constitution.

With Parliament scheduled to discuss constitutional proposals over a three-day period next week beginning Monday (Oct 30), President Maithripala Sirisena met representatives of several organisations, including the Jathika Sangha Sabhawa, campaigning against the proposed new Constitution as well as the full implementation of the 13th Amendment with federal features.

Ven. Dr. Medagoda Abeytissa Thera, chief incumbent of the Sunethra Devi Pirivena, who represented Eliya organisation at the discussion on Monday night, said President Maithripala Sirisena was unwillingness to halt or reverse the ongoing constitution-making process.

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa leads Eliya besides spearheading Viyathmaga, consisting of professionals.

Besides Jathika Sangha Sabhawa, the Federation of National Organisations, Patriotic National Movement, Mahajana Rajjya Sabhawa and the Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) were represented at the meeting with President Sirisena.

Recently, President Sirisena received representations from the National Freedom Front (NFF) in respect of the controversial constitution making process.

Ven. Abeytissa told the media that President Sirisena had said the northerners were unhappy as they had been denied their rightful place.

The Thera was flanked by former Army Chief of Staff and former Governor of the Northern Province Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri and veteran artiste Sudath Rohana.

Referring to a statement made by deputy speaker of parliament Tilanga Sumathipala, the Thera emphasized that the parliament would be used to divide the country. He faulted the Joint Opposition for not taking a tougher stand on the proposed constitutional reforms.

Dr. Abeytissa thera said as the Tamils, too, had immensely contributed to Independence struggle and development of the country there couldn’t be any issue with having a Tamil speaking President or Prime Minister. The monk referred to the great contribution made by Lakshman Kadirgamar, in his capacity as the Foreign Minister during Kumaratunga administration.

The ongoing project to hand over two provinces comprising eight administrative districts with a two-thirds of Sri Lanka’s coastline to one community wasn’t acceptable under any circumstances, the monk said.

Sri Lanka had failed to solve the national issue because a section of the population was still not ready to quit the eelam project, Ven. Abeytissa alleged.

Retired Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri said the constitutional proposals would weaken the Office of the Governor to such an extent that both President and the Governor wouldn’t be able to prevent regional administrations from adopting laws inimical to Sri Lanka’s interests.

Chandrasiri, who functioned as Governor of the Northern Province for four and a half years, said that according to the proposed constitutional reforms, the Governor would be a figurehead and his assent wouldn’t be required for provincial statutes.

Asked by The Island whether they would request President Sirisena to act immediately on a statement made by Baron Naseby in British parliament on Oct. 12 in respect of false war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka leading to Geneva directing the country to adopt a new Constitution, Ven. Abeytissa insisted that the military hadn’t committed atrocities. When The Island pointed out that the previous government hadn’t properly countered unsubstantiated accusations, and, thereby caused unnecessary crisis, both the Thera and Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri acknowledged the need to rectify mistakes.

Sudath Rohana lashed out at artistes and academics promoting constitutional reforms for personal gain. Rohana alleged that those artistes had benefited from both the Rajapasksa government and the current administration.

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