Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Bimal Rathnayake
Q : There is a view that in the new constitutional proposals, the Buddha sasana being given the foremost place and the unitary nature of the State have been neglected. What is the JVP’s view?
Basic draft proposals pertaining to a Constitution and proposals opposed to such have been put forward. There is no proposal among the proposals which would cause an adverse impact on Buddhism. Our view is that all those who follow a religion and do not follow a religion should have equal rights. This is a sign of any democratic country.
Q : The Mahanayakes state that through these proposals the foremost place afforded to Buddhism would be affected adversely. Therefore, this statement cannot be merely set aside, is it not?
In countries that are not Buddhist, temples, churches and mosques, and kovils have come up. Buddha statues and temples are being constructed in countries such as the United States of America, Italy and Germany. Churches and mosques too are being erected. That is because those countries are democratic. In Sri Lanka, everyone should have the right to follow a religion of their choice. Also, fostering Buddhism is a responsibility of the Government. In the Constitution, no clause or provision pertaining to Buddhism has been changed.
Q : Then, what is this rumour?
This false propaganda is not being propagated by the Buddhists or Sri Lankans. It is being done by the sil redi thieves and ultra-extremist, politically bankrupt scoundrels who in the name of Buddhism engaged in theft and have connected their extremist views with the Constitution. They are highlighting lies by bringing out things which are not even mentioned in the discussion minutes and notes. The Buddhists of the country are not perturbed by this. Only the group of scoundrels has.
Q : Are you saying that this is only an act of incitement by a group of political and religious extremists?
Yes. No one has stated that the position given to Buddhism should be changed. The Government is economically destroying the country. Having come to power by stating that they would catch thieves, they are themselves engaging in theft. Because of this, there is much disillusionment about the Government. One has to think logically. No religious or political leader has told the Government that the position that Buddhism has should be denied. In such a context, a group of idiots are fueling racism. We do not think that the Government will attempt to lose its power by doing something that no one has asked for. The Parliament is represented by over 150 MPs who follow Buddhism. None of them have got perturbed. We challenge the sil redi thieves to prove the things they are shouting about. Such actions are harmful to the country. It is dangerous to oppose the Government on the basis of false details and information. What Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Vigneswaran is doing in the North, beggar bowl/alms bowl thieves and sil redi thieves are doing in the South.
Q : What do you make of the statements of the Mahanayakes?
They had answered the Joint Opposition and stated that Buddhism should be saved from the group of scoundrels who daily break the five precepts, maintain liquor licenses and defraud public property.
Q : What are the JVP’s proposals to the Constitution?
The present Constitution has been amended 19 times. The basic law governing the people of the country has never been approved in the country’s history. Not one Constitution brought since 1948 has been approved by the people. We accept that a Constitution which the people approve of is required by the country. The basis for us supporting this is the abolition of the Executive Presidency, establishing a fair electoral system and the protection of the people’s rights. It is on the basis of these main aspects that we joined the constitutional council. We have presented nine observations which address ideas about the Constitution and also contain criticisms, and points on which we agree and disagree. We are also opposed to any attempt to replace the Executive President with an Executive Prime Minister.
Q : What is the JVP’s view of the proposed merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces?
Although in the report submitted by the Tamil National Alliance such a premise is not mentioned, in their annexures, a merger is mentioned. We have very clearly said that no two Provinces should be merged. It is our proposal that in the context of the Executive Presidency being abolished, the powers of the Governors should be further strengthened. It is also one of our proposals that when Provincial Councils take policy decisions, the Central Government should have some power over the matter. As mentioned earlier, although the Constitution was amended 19 times, there are only two people friendly Amendments. Everything else took place as per the dictatorial wishes of the party in power.