In this new millennium, the Buddhist prelate who made the most significant contribution towards the rebuilding of a just and fair society was Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayaka Thera whose second death anniversary was commemorated on Wednesday, at Ape Gama in Battaramulla, with President Maithripala Sirisena presiding. After the end of the war in 2009, when the Ven. Sobitha saw that politicians were abusing and misusing public funds on a large scale and good governance was deteriorating, the prelate began the National Movement for a Just Society. He stepped forward at that time with courage and conviction. His brave mission led to the dramatic events of November 2014 when the then Minister Maithripala Sirisena crossed over, formed an alliance with the UNP, other parties and 49 civic action groups to bring about the change of January 8, 2015. Speaking before the body of Ven. Sobitha Thera who was cremated at the Parliament grounds, President Sirisena pledged he would fulfil the principles proposed in the prelate’s manifesto for a just society. These include the abolition of the Executive Presidential system, the restoration of the rule of law and tough legal action against corrupt politicians, top officials and their lackeys along with effective measures for sustainable, eco-friendly and all inclusive economic development strategies. Similar proposals and principles were outlined in an agreement signed by the prelate and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
"The President vowed that even Yahapalanaya government ministers, MPs or others who allegedly indulged in bribery, corruption, frauds or other political crimes would be brought
To what extent has progress been made towards achieving the objectives that the widely revered prelate lived and worked for? President Sirisena, speaking at the death anniversary commemoration on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to Ven. Sobitha’s principles for a just society though he honestly admitted that progress so far had been slow. The President pledged he would be taking tough action to bring to justice those who were corrupt. The President vowed that even Yahapalanaya government ministers, MPs or others who allegedly indulged in bribery, corruption, frauds or other political crimes would be brought to justice. He made special reference to the Central Bank bond issue where he has appointed a Presidential Commission to probe the allegations.The President hit out at some government members who were critical of his tough line on the Central Bank bond issue. Another important move was made on Wednesday. The new Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala moved a bill in Parliament and got approval for the setting up of a special High Court to hear cases relating to bribery, corruption, fraud and crimes related to politics. The trials-at-bar by the three High Court judges are expected to expedite the legal process with cases being completed within months instead of years.
In Parliament yesterday Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera presenting his Mangala budget proposals, outlined an economic policy that would focus on new technology, job oriented rural development mainly for the youth and other measures to bring about a just and fair society. But with corruption and double dealing taking place in most state sector institutions -- the latest being the alleged manipulation or mismanagement that caused this week’s petrol crisis for millions of people -- the vision 2025 goals would be difficult to reach if political leaders and all of us do not change our attitudes and ask what we could do for the country instead of what the country has done for us.