creates new waves
Dhammaloka Thero, Tilak Karunaratne, Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha
Thero and Ven. Kolonnawe Sri Sumangala Thero
parented the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), the momentary euphoria
experienced by Tilak Karunaratne, Champika Ranawaka and Udaya Gamanpila
was certainly short lived. The trio never dreamt they would be forced to
endure many a sleepless night as they tried valiantly to politically
nurture the infant party. Thumping themselves on the back for having had
the brainwave to field over 200 monks for the April 2 hustings,
Karunaratne, Ranawaka and Gamanpila however did not bargain for the
theatrics that would soon follow.
religious rhetoric the monks were convinced they would help draw and
instill a "new face" to Sri Lanka's volatile parliamentary
politics. Having donned a garb of political righteousness, the prelates
were more than ready - or so they thought - to make their entry onto Sri
Lanka's rocky political stage. But even they could not have foreseen
that their curtain call was a mere interval away, before they were
called upon to give the performance of their lives.
perform they have done - thrilling the locals with drama that will
certainly be chronicled when Sri Lanka's history is next updated. In
similar vein to village superstition that the full moon heralds the dawn
of madness for some, each parliamentary session when a vote count is a
necessity appears to serve as the roll call for another titillating
performance by the erstwhile monks of the JHU.
first round, two days before the election of Speaker on April 22nd, had
the whole country on edge when two out of the nine prelates went
missing. The rest of course is now history.
had the dust settled on this drama, with the JHU deciding to take
disciplinary action against the two dissidents before another show was
time round the 'missing monk' was not stage managed by conniving members
of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) of which prime suspects
are the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). But, indignant bhikkus of the
JHU took it upon themselves to serve as judge and juror.
we detail the behind the scenes drama of the missing prelate, one
significant aspect has emerged. That is the role enacted by the JVP as
far as the monks are concerned.
to have had nothing to do with the disappearance of the two monks last
month, the Marxists have this time been caught with both hands in the
till. Their crude and abusive performance in parliament last Wednesday
has only lent credibility to statements made by President Chandrika
Kumaratunga that the JVP and no other were responsible for having staged
the previous fake abduction in order to ensure two out of the nine JHU
monks voted for the government's candidate for the post of speaker.
wrath of the JVP at having the rug pulled out from beneath their
bloodied toes they made evident in parliament on Wednesday when they
yelled abuse once more at the sitting prelates. Their anger was directed
at the monks for having been one step ahead of the Marxists and ensured
Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha Thero, one of the rebel monks, resigned his
seat. The latter is one who on April 22, broke ranks and voted with the
government for its candidate for the post of speaker.
rightly pointed out by the spokesperson for the JHU, Ven. Athuraliye
Rathana Thero and the party's national organiser Ven. Kolonnawe
Sumanagala Thero "what right does the JVP have to interfere in the
actions and decisions of the JHU?"
JVP's atrocious behaviour towards the parliamentary monks only proves
the Marxists culpability in having masterminded the previous incident of
a fake abduction of two prelates. This time round the JVP was caught wet
behind the ears when, 36 hours before another parliamentary election was
due, for the post of deputy speaker of the house and chairman of
committees, the JHU in order to avoid being caught flat-footed again,
arrested the possibility of another embarrassment.
Sunday, a group of Buddhist monks arrived at the Sambodhi Vihara in
Moratuwa where Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha Thero had been residing.
According to Tilak Karunaratne who serves as General Secretary of the
JHU "a group of unknown monks, loyal to the JHU" had initiated
this visit. Whatever the truth of that statement, the monks were
influential enough to not only enter the temple premises, but also walk
through a security cordon imposed by the dissident monk for his own
protection. According to the JHU, the security personnel assigned to the
rebel monk are all die-hard loyalists of the JVP.
maybe why despite the dissident monk leaving the temple, according to
him, "of his own free will" his driver believing otherwise
took it upon himself not only to lodge a complaint with the Moratuwa
police, claiming the rebel prelate had been abducted by other monks of
the JHU, but he also directly telephoned Wimal Weerawansa of the JVP and
informed him the monk had left the temple.
in turn immediately telephoned President Chandrika Kumaratunga and
complained to her of this new development. The President then telephoned
Inspector General of Police Indra de Silva who said he knew nothing of
such an incident.
IGP had immediately contacted Mount Lavinia SSP Willy Abeynaike. The
latter also professed no knowledge of a kidnapping of a JHU monk. The
police chief then called ASP Moratuwa, Roshantha de Silva. The ASP too
said he was unaware of any such incident. It was only when Roshantha de
Silva double-checked with the OIC Moratuwa, Anura Silva, did he learn
that indeed a complaint had been lodged charging that Ven. Kathaluwe
Rathanaseeha Thero had been abducted by a group of prelates. Anura
Silva's failure to inform his boss about this incident resulted in him
being immediately interdicted.
the JHU monks who had the dissident prelate with them had convinced him
to leave the temple after having had a lengthy discussion. The emotional
monks had repeatedly asked the rebel prelate "why are you doing
this? - You came in on the votes of the Hela Urumaya so why are you now
acting this way - just resign." To which Ven. Kathaluwe
Rathanaseeha Thero finally replied he would.
rebel monk who had a few weeks previously met with Tilak Karunaratne had
indicated his desire to resign from the party following his having
instigated a parliamentary fracas on April 22. He had however told
Karunaratne he could not resign immediately as he had taken a stand
which he would have to abide by for at least one month allowing him time
to retreat gracefully. An explanation, Karunaratne on the face of it at
however the monks had other plans that differed to Karunaratne's more
pragmatic approach and were determined the rebel monk should not be
allowed to sway parliamentary votes this time round.
coerced the dissident monk into the same vehicle as theirs, the monks
then telephoned Karunaratne and told him what they had done. To which,
the latter had responded voicing irritation saying "why did you go
and do this now?"
realised damage control measures were urgently required and quickly
consulted with Ven. Kolonnawe Siri Sumangala Thero and Ven. Uduwe
Dhammaloka Thero. It was decided that the dissident monk be kept at a
temple in Colombo until parliament was convened on Tuesday, May 18. It
was further decided between them that the rebel would accompany them to
parliament on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and hand over his letter of resignation
to Secretary General of Parliament, Priyani Wijeysekera.
rebel monk had in any case maintained he could not return to his temple
at Moratuwa as he had said he was "surrounded by JVP
activists." So it was decided that until the monk's resignation was
accepted and a gazette notification tabled, the monk would remain under
the protection of the JHU at an undisclosed location.
was during this time the JVP got activated and created a stir insisting
the monk had been abducted and assaulted by prelates loyal to the JHU.
Not only did the rebel monk later confirm he was never abducted, but
that he had also not been assaulted.
on Tuesday the 18th, at around 3 p.m. accompanied by Ven. Uduwe
Dhammaloka Thero and Ven. Kolonnawe Siri Sumangala Thero the rebel monk
met with Priyani Wijeysekera and handed over his resignation letter.
Wijeysekera had asked if he was under any duress to resign to which the
dissident prelate had replied he was not.
W. J. M. Lokubandara also announced in parliament that he had asked the
monk whether he had been abducted or held captive and whether his
resignation was under duress to which the venerable monk had replied in
hell broke loose thereafter when Priyani Wijeysekera read out the monk's
resignation letter. Deputy Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi was the
first to raise objection insisting the Speaker should not have accepted
the resignation letter until a full inquiry had been conducted into the
alleged abduction. Needless to say, Sooriyarachchi can hardly afford to
pontificate given that he raised no objections when on April 22nd, the
alliance produced the two missing monks in parliament and ensured they
voted with the government.
uproar ensued with abuse being hurled at the sitting prelates while the
Speaker maintained he had to entertain the resignation of any MP who
chose off his own accord to bow out.
the forefront of the verbal filth directed at the JHU monks were Wimal
Weerawansa and Nandana Gunatillake. So much so, that at one stage the
Speaker ordered for an abusive statement made by Gunatillake to be
expunged from the Hansard while he banned the media from reporting it.
here comes into focus the role played by the JVP's Nandana Gunetillake
where the monks are concerned. It is he who was assigned by the JVP to
handle Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha Thero while Vijitha Herath was
assigned to handle the other dissident monk Ven. Aparekke Pannananda
Thero of Gampaha.
the April 22 election for speaker, Nandana Gunetillake chose Muditha
Samarakkody who is the JVP urban council member for Panadura to handle
the logistics involving Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha Thero.
lost two brothers during the 1988-1989 JVP insurgency. Identified as
hardcore JVP militants they were killed by government forces. A cousin
to Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan who is a lecturer in transport economy at
the Colombo University, Samarakkody borrowed Dr. Gunaruwan's car on
April 20th saying he required it for some urgent work, promising to
return it within the day. He however kept the vehicle with him until
April 24th. It was in this vehicle that Ven. Kathaluwe Rathanaseeha
Thero was driven to Parliament on April 22nd.
Gunaruwan in fact lodged a police complaint reporting that his car was
missing after having lent it to his cousin Muditha Samarakkody.
parliament erupted in an uproar on April 22nd, and the monks having made
their entry that day into the house were thrown into disarray as a
result of the two rebel monks breaking ranks, Udaya Gamanpila and
Champika Ranawaka rushed to the House to advice the monks on a fall back
action when the election of the Speaker was called for a second and then
a third and final round.
the JVP's Nandana Gunetillake and Wimal Weerawansa had seen Gamanpila
and Ranawaka they had said, "vade kawa." (its all over).
Previously, Weerawansa had told Premier Mahinda Rajapakse that he had
nothing to fear, that the JVP had ensured the government would have 108
votes to support the candidature of D. E. W. Gunasekara. He changed his
mind however when he saw that Ranawaka and Gamanpila had arrived.
had been visibly annoyed telling the JVPers their actions had been
counterproductive and in fact lost the government the fiercely contested
seat for speaker.
sentiments were later corroborated by the President herself who when she
spoke with Gamanpila on the Premier's parliamentary phone stated
repeatedly that the JVP was responsible for the fake abduction of the
two rebel monks.
obviously believed that her frankness had not lost her brownie points
with the monks and on Saturday, May 15th, she paid the political
prelates another high-powered late night visit accompanied by the Prime
Minister. Her visit was aimed at lobbying their votes in the House to
support a government nominee to the post of deputy speaker and chairman
JHU however was this time round more politically savvy and put forward
three main demands. The first was for the President to ensure the two
rebel monks resigned from the JHU. Second on the list was that the monks
be allocated on state television two hours before May 17th to inform the
masses of their policy decisions. And third on the list was a demand for
an apology or at the very least regret announced by the alliance and the
state media with regard to their uncouth and shocking behaviour towards
had maintained she could not make any promises immediately, but that she
would respond via a messenger. In return she had asked if the JHU would
support the government's nominee for deputy speaker as well as give full
support to the proposed constitutional changes she intends to make.
monks replied their support would depend on their conditions being met.
Kumaratunga later sent word that the second and third conditions maybe
possible, but not the first which was to ensure the resignation of the
two dissident monks.
monks meanwhile put forward 10 other conditions if the President wanted
their support for a constitutional change among which was to maintain a
unitary status of the country as well as ensure a bill is passed banning
unethical religious conversions.
Alliance's Susil Premajayanth and Anura Priyadharshana Yapa met with the
monks again on Sunday, 16th, but no firm guarantees were given and so
the support of the monks hung in the balance. Which is why Kumaratunga
at the 11th hour struck a deal with the main opposition United National
ever Sri Lanka's political destiny is to be re-fashioned or refreshed it
will be now. The nine Buddhist monks created political history on April
22, when they took their seats in the House when Sri Lanka's 13th
parliament was convened. Presently, the youngest political party in Sri
Lanka the JHU is certainly set to create waves.