The Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya in a statement on the Constitutional Reforms Steering Committee proposals and the alternatives if implemented would downgrade the present status afforded to Buddhism and compromise the unitary character of Sri Lanka.
The statement has been signed by the Mahanayake of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya, the Most Ven. Aggamahapandita Kotugoda Dhammavasa Mahanayaka Thera; the President of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahasangha Sabhava, the Ven. Dodampahala Chandasiri Mahanayaka Thera and the Acting Chief Lekhakadikari of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahasangha Sabhava the Ven. Dr. Pallekande Ratanasara Anunayaka Thera.
“We see as even more dangerous the proposal, mainly targeting the two provinces of the North and East, the cutting down of the existing powers of the President and the Parliament and the proposal to amalgamate the Northern and Eastern Provinces. We wish to state without any qualms that providing limitless powers to the Northern Province is empowering the divisive forces operating in the country. Taking into note the extremist views expressed by certain politicians of the North, we firmly believe that limitless power in the hands of a minor political coterie will not be of long-term benefit to the Tamil population living there. It is very clear that their sole objective is to get a federal form of government that will facilitate secession later on. From statements made in the more recent past this could be a threat that will have serious repercussions to the entire country, the statement said.
“Although the President and the Prime Minister have affirmed many a time that the proposed new constitution will not impair the well-being of the country and its people, we are of the opinion that the view expressed by members of the Maha Sangha and neutral academics that at this juncture, rather than having a new constitution, it is best to continue with the existing constitution with necessary amendments is fair and reasonable. We came to this conclusion because we observe that, on the one hand, academics in the political arena, who in the past have presented proposals that with time would lead to a division of our country on federal lines are actively engaged in the present exercise of constitutional reforms and, on the other, foreign powers and NGOs that for some time have been attempting to destabilise the country on the pretext of ensuring peace and reconciliation have shown much enthusiasm and eagerness to bulldoze a new constitution.
"Right at the outset, we wish to emphasize that the Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya is making this statement with cordiality towards the government and the peoples of this country and our sincere aim is to establish an environment for all citizens of all races and faiths to live amicably anywhere in this country and in this regard to urge not only the members of the Maha Sangha but also religious leaders of other faiths and all citizens to join hands, giving up whatever political differences there are, to overpower any errant forces that are inimical to our country and its people.
"A federal form of government is not at all suitable for a small country like Sri Lanka. Moreover, such a form of government is an outcome of a need of states or regions that had separate existences to get together (federate) for greater political stability and economic advancement. Some examples are the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Switzerland, Australia and India. The outcome of the proposals placed on the table by the Constitutional Reforms Steering Committee is to artificially create a federal state of a country, i e. Sri Lanka, that had a unitary system of governance from the beginning (by articulating a myth of 'indivisibility'). By such an action it is inevitable that ethnic problems and issues of a kind so far not experienced in Sri Lanka will arise. Accordingly, under the present circumstances, bringing a new constitution will destroy the peace and harmony that currently exist among the Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim people in general. Furthermore it will not only destabilise the country but also widely open the door for greater interference in the internal affairs of our country by foreign elements,” the statement said