A good many of the clergy in Sri Lanka are now directly involved in politics. We read so much in newspapers these days about the clergy wanting to confer politicians with honours . The latest recipient was Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who was honoured with the ‘Nelson Mandela Peace Prize’. He was honoured by the National Church council.
What’s encouraging about Wickremesinghe is that he doesn’t support any religion in particular and promotes coexistence among all communities. An extract from the speech he made after being conferred with the award merits being reproduced here. “We must ensure that a few persons who have strayed away from their own faiths would not be a hindrance to the closeness we have and towards reconciliation”.
Most religious leaders are wooing politicians these days sensing a change in the political landscape of the country. For the record it’s not only politicians even academic institutions are attempting to woo politicians. Recently, President Maithripala Sirisena was awarded with a honourary doctorate titled ‘Pracheena Vibudha Jana Prashadaka’, offered to him by the Sri Lanka Pracheena Bashopakara Sangamaya.
- Wickremesinghe came in for severe criticism because he failed to discipline State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake
- Any Sri Lankan politician knows that the future of a lawmaker is greatly influenced by the blessings of the Buddhist order
- Politicians winning awards won’t raise the confidence people have in them
A concerning issue with Sri Lanka is that all aspects of life are directly or indirectly influenced by politics. To sort out this issue to a certain extent academic institutes have since late stopped inviting politicians as special guests for functions.
Why do politicians need awards or be honoured? They are public servants and are paid a salary to engage in their profession. A close look at how they’ve been doing politics suggests that much is to be desired. Thuggery, arrogance, absence of transparency in their dealings and not compromising in their ways underscore some of the annoying features of present day lawmakers. This could be one reason why lawmakers Udaya Gammanpilla and Duminda Dissanayake were snubbed by two recipients of awards when they graced the 40th National Youth Awards held at Nelum Pokuna in November last year. The two award winners refused to shake hands or accept awards from the these two lawmakers.
Recently, when Sajith visited the Lunugamwehera Sri Pushparama Temple to present to the monks a newly build pagoda (Dagaba), the priests here had nice words for him
From the context of the ongoing tussle between Premier Wickremesinghe and UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa it is essential to note that the preference of Buddhist monks is to have a leader like the latter. Wickremesinghe came in for severe criticism because he failed to discipline State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake regarding the derogatory remarks he made recently against Saffron robed monks. But even though that was not stated as the main reason, a decision was taken recently to remove Wickremesinghe as the Chairman of the Dayaka Saba that caters to the interests of the Kelaniya Temple. A proposal forwarded stating that Wickremesinghe was not successful as its chairman was passed during a vote.
This is a big blow for Wickremesinghe from a political perspective. Any Sri Lankan politician knows that the future of a lawmaker is greatly influenced by the blessings of the Buddhist order. Wickremesinghe should be greatly worried given the stories that are doing the rounds that the Premier has intentions of being the UNP candidate at the much looked forward to Presidential Elections.
But political analysts point out that though Wickremesinghe has got on the bad books of the Buddhist clergy he still has the support of the minorities; especially the Tamils. He has close ties with Tamil community and we’ve heard so much about his frequent trips to Tirupati to offer poojas at the Sri Venkateshwara Temple; a place that he frequents with the same enthusiasm he has when visiting Buddhist temples at home.
Wickremesinghe’s party colleague Sajith, now his opponent, continues to nurture the relationships he has with the Buddhist temples. Recently, when he visited the Lunugamwehera Sri Pushparama Temple to present to the monks a newly build pagoda (Dagaba), the priests here had nice words for him. In fact it was conveyed to him that he would be honoured soon by the Amarapura Sangha Sabha. It’s reported that Sajith had responded by saying “He would consider it a great honour”.
Sajith has also come in for praise from Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for the dedication shown by the minister in carrying out the renovation work of the three churches which were damaged by bombings carried out by religious extremists.
Why do politicians need awards or be honoured? They are public servants and are paid a salary to engage in their profession. A close look at how they’ve been doing politics suggests that much is to be desired
Through the work he has done with regard to the repairing of the churches Sajith has opened a window to woo the Christians. But Sajith must realise that the Christians are peace-loving people and this community is labeled with the tag that of having a floating vote.
Given the present political situation and the performances of the lawmakers of this land, very few politicians could walk the streets without being booed at. These are days where the UNP is spending much on hosting dinners with the aim of strengthening its chances at future elections. It was reported that there was a dinner hosted at the residence of Ravi Karunanayake which saw the participation of many foreign delegates. The Iran Embassador had proposed that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) takes the money intended to settle dues for the petrol supplied by them to the islanders and in return give them tea. It is heartening to hear such stories where even during a time when Sri Lanka is written off as a promising business partner, there are nations which wish to do business with the island’s government. What should be lauded is Iran having faith in Sri Lanka knowing that there could be a regime change come election time.
Politicians winning awards and being presented with titles won’t raise the confidence people have in them. The average voter is educated and up to date about world trends. People are not demanding award winning politicians to make the numbers in the parliament. They are demanding lawmakers who walk the talk. Sri Lankans who have been let down so badly by celebrated politicians can take a cue from Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. Khrushchevwas once quoted saying “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers”.