resident Maithripala Sirisena, acting fast to fulfil a solemn pledge he made before the sacred body of the revered Sobitha Hamuduruwo on November 12, yesterday presented to the Cabinet comprehensive proposals to abolish the executive presidential system and to restructure the electoral process.
These two goals, had been the highlights of Sobitha Hamuduruwo’s vision and mission. Reports said that during the past few months and especially in the last weeks of his grave illness, the prelate had expressed deep concern if not heartbreak over the failure to reach these two goals. Responding to growing public pressure, President Sirisena in his farewell oration at Sobitha Hamuduruwo’s funeral, pledged he would act urgently to move towards the goals for which the prelate had lived and died. Often in history great personalities had to die for a noble vision to be achieved. This was another such golden instance in history.
The President’s move came a day after the second meeting of all political party leaders to reach a middle path consensus on how Sri Lanka should respond to the Geneva resolution and also find a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the decades-old ethnic conflict and the consequent religious conflicts also.
The President’s decisive action, apparently inspired by the noble values and virtues of Sobitha Hamuduruwo, came amid one of the gravest international conflicts which some analysts are warning could boom in to a third world war. Last Friday night, Friday the 13th for the superstitious, ISIS terrorists acted like brutish beasts and savages who had lost their reason. They launched the bloodiest peacetime attack on Paris, the city of light leaving about 130 innocent people slaughtered, more than 350 injured and virtually the whole world in darkness.
In a swift reaction, France’s President Francois Hollande declared war on the terrorists and during the past few days French fighter jets have launched an unprecedented bombardment on what could be ISIS-controlled areas in Syria. Adding to the catastrophe Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also on Wednesday declared a full scale war on ISIS after it was confirmed that a one kilo bomb placed by an ISIS spy had destroyed in midair the Russian Metro passenger jet carrying more than 220 passengers from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg in Russia on October 31.
This Armageddon scenario and related conflicts provide a clear message to the international community including Sri Lanka. For more than 70 years Sri Lanka has been plagued by ethnic and religious extremism and conflicts which sent the country plunging into a 25-year war, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead or injured with material damage beyond calculation.
President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have repeatedly pledged that the vision of the National Unity Government is to carry Sri Lanka towards the hallowed middle path of multi-ethnic and multi-religious unity in diversity. Essentially while we practice our own religions teachings and cultural values, we need to respect the faith, beliefs and the culture of others. In this way we could protect, promote and respect plurality or diversity -- and even go to the dimensions of celebrating it.
The government leaders have warned that extremism, in the North or the South will not be allowed and there is also likely to be a ban on hate speech, starting from Parliament. President Sirisena said at the all-party leaders meeting on Tuesday that the new government was open to perceptions and views supportive of its policy and even dissenting views. History has shown that to reach the path of accommodation and consensus, all parties need to make a paradigm shift or change of perception. History has also shown that anyone who thinks that his or her perception of any issue is the absolute picture and not relative, he or she is suffering from dangerous mental delusions which drove Adolf Hitler to do what he did and is now driving terrorists like the ISIS to do what they are doing.
Gauthama the Buddha and other spiritual leaders have told us repeatedly that violence ceases not by violence but by dialogue and justice.