The Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs Ministry is to introduce a new law seeking action against publications, either in print or online, that defames the original teachings and traditions of the major religions, officials said yesterday.
As a first step in this effort, the Ministry has drafted a bill that provides for the establishment of a Buddhist Publications Regulatory Board with authority to regulate any publication that is in violation of Buddhism, its philosophy or traditions.
The Board, if established under the proposed bill, will have two ex-officio members -- the Ministry’s secretary and the Commissioner General of Buddha Sasana. Besides these, there will be other members: one member will be nominated by each of the Mahanayakes of the four chapters (Malwatta, Asgiri, Amarapura and Ramagna), each of the heads of the departments of Pali and Buddhist Studies of four major universities will also nominate one member, and the subject minister will nominate another two.
Ministry secretary M.K.B. Dissanayake said that this bill was now with the Attorney General pending approval.
“After approval by him it will be sent to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval,” he said.
Mr. Dissanayake said the Board would have the authority to specify standards, norms and criteria that should be adhered to in written and oral Buddhist publications. It would also have the power to examine any Buddhist text to see whether it conforms to the Buddhist teachings and traditions practiced in Sri Lanka.
Once the new bill is enacted to deal with publications regarding Buddhism, another law is to be introduced to deal with publications that are contrary to the original teachings of other religions. (Kelum Bandara)