The Sunday Leader

A Constitutional Draft Of The Mahasangha?

by Gamini Weerakoon

A common rule well observed in Sri Lanka’s political grammar is: Horrendous mistakes and lies made or uttered by opponents in the past is open licence for those in power to repeat them.

That constant refrain we hear from politicians now in or out of power: ‘What did you say and do in your time?’ is a good example.

This, for better or worse, is the prevalent mood among our constitutional makers as they hitch up their sarongs and bawl out their profound thoughts on constitutional law to draw up or quash proposals for making of the principal law that could lead Sri Lanka to glorious vistas imagined in the past and in the present.

Mahinda for JRJ Constitution

Among those in the tussle of constitutional making is Mahinda Rajapaksa, Executive President for nine consecutive years who was elected twice on a mandate to do away with the Jayewardene Constitution of 1978 but continued happily with powers vested in the executive presidency even when he manipulated a two-third majority enabling him to amend the constitution. Rajapaksa forgot this vital pledge on constitutional change and so did Sri Lankan voters reputed for their amnesia

In his third bid for presidency he enacted the 18th Amendment that would have enabled him to be president for life with a Supreme Court having a political appointee as Chief Justice approving the amendment. In his third but unsuccessful bid for presidency in his election manifest to ‘Mahinda’s Vision’ he pledged to introduce a new constitution within one year of being elected but retaining the executive presidency with amendments being made to remedy the weaknesses of the parliamentary system.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, having swung with the oscillations and vacillations of the political pendulum in accordance with political fortunes, is now not speaking of a new constitution as stated in his last manifesto ‘Mahinda Vision’ but saying that the much reviled Jayewardene Constitution will do.


Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is a vital actor in dramatic personae of constitutional making. She identified the cause of Sri Lanka’s woes – in her acerbic Sinhala – to Jayewardene’s ‘Bahubootha Constitution’. She was welcomed in Jaffna during the most critical time of the insurgency with mementos of Prabhakaran and herself in the same folder distributed. Chandrika, the University of Paris student in the 1960’s at the barricades of students riots against Charles De Gaulle, was perhaps in the same quandary as Ann Sang Suuki of Oxford now is, a supposedly de-facto head of state being held responsible for controlling the Rakhine riots. Academic idealism and politics of handling racial riots differs vastly. Chandrika’s constitutional proposals ended up being torn to shreds and burnt in the well of parliament by UNPers

Nonetheless as one of the three main founders of the Yahapalanaya government her input is called for.


Maithripala Sirisena broke away from the SLFP breathing fire against the Executive Presidency and vowing to abolish it and creating a new constitution. But now he is on reverse gear attempting to resurrect the party he left behind.

The call for a new constitution goes back to the mid-fifties with the Tamils opposing the Sinhala Only moves as a state language, calling for federalism and later attempting to create a separate state by the force of arms. They have now dropped the demand for separatism and appear to be willing for a ‘united’ or ‘unitary’ Sri Lanka with wide devolutionary powers for the North and East.


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, over the years, has not called for a new constitution but now appears to be backing the idea of new constitution having pledged his support for the abolition of the powers of the executive presidency during the 2015 presidential election. But he and his party keeps an open mind. Let the parliament decide and if it approves with a two-thirds majority, let the people decide at a referendum, he says. An extremely strategic movement worthy of his uncle JRJ who was aptly called the 20th Century Fox.
The same politicians or politicians with the same political lineage are now attempting to forge a constitution that is supposed to last for ages.


The reason for the half century old fiasco in constitutional making is – to a very great extent – the supposedly non-political but most potent political force – the Sangha. In 1956 and thereafter for some time the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (EBP) of Buddharakhitha played a dominant role in the resolution of communal issues. Bhikku organisations under various names for decades were at the forefront scuttling attempts to the racial problem. Now they are once again playing the key-role.

The monks trace their involvement in politics to the early days of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as advisors to monarchs in affairs pertaining to the state. Whether it is in the role only as advisors in protecting Buddhism or general affairs of the state is not clear. But it is likely that the role was only in an advisory capacity for these monarchs were mostly autocrats.

Now in the 21st Century 2000 years or more after the advent of Buddhism this right to advise the monarch has been transformed as the right to advise a democratic state.

Whether there is a legal right for these monks to advise the state or not is not moot point. They are telling Sinhala political leaders what to do and it has by and large been followed during the past seven decades. A vast section of monks are now demanding that the J. R. Jayewardene constitution will do and a new constitution is not needed – almost the identical demand made by ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, trying to get on once again to the bandwagon.

Since there is no agreement even among Buddhists on constitutional change and Sri Lanka is not a theocratic state, shouldn’t the Maha Sangha forward their own constitutional draft rather than a copy of some political party for the people to decide


And what of the ‘principled left’ and those jabberwockys hanging on to the satakaya of Rajapkasa? The ‘principled left’ is now left with only one principled stand: Support Rajapaksa for political survival.

As for the non-stop jabberwockys, they seem to suffer from a new intestinal disease: Irritable Vowel Syndrome – a variant of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They are suffering from unstoppable Verbal Diarrhoea and seem to be in trouble having discharged their muck in the courts of justice. GMOA medical advice will not suffice because some of their leaders too seem to be afflicted with this Irritable Vowel Syndrome, says a specialist gastro-enterologist.

7 Comments for “A Constitutional Draft Of The Mahasangha?”

  1. US Embassy Spy

    Yes, we have heard of the jabberwockys, It seems to affect a 80 year old fat blob walking on a gold-plated walking stick donated by the US embassy for his life-long betrayal of the country, by employing Tamil terrorists spies in decent newspapers he was lucky get employment in. Nearing the grave, his Sunday ebulitions are the best stinking evidence of the jabberwockys, Inhale deep you filthy animal.

    • Robert

      Can not understand this non sense from US embassy spy joker.
      His nonsense almost like muttering of a schizophrenic person

  2. What Mahasanga – call them Sangha.There is no Maha in them.They behave like cockroaches, destroying everything that they touch.

    They were the people who destroyed this country.From my memory, they started this rot somewhere in the 1954 and had been continuing.
    Down with the jokers.

  3. There is no entity called the Mahasanga. At best they could be called Saanga and since they enjoy the same things that the laymen enjoy, women,cars, palatial mansions and live in luxury, ther is nothing wrong in calling them MACHANG

  4. Trevor Jayetileke

    The trouble with Sri Lanka is that without the WHITE MAN even after 70 years of Independence we lack the capability to do anything and Nothing has CHANGED.
    Constitution Making has become a serious nightmare since the JRJ one of 1978.
    The Economic Policy of has been churned out four times since 2015.
    We don’t have a self reliant Economic Base or Balanced Base Load Electricity.
    I have been writing on ENERGY related matters for a long time to all the National News Papers and highlighted the need of a Integrated Energy Policy and Plan but no one is bothered or listened and I have spent my time and money in vain. If the WHITE MAM was in CHARGE like during the 450 years before 1948 everything would have been sorted out without a whisper like the 9 Provinces put in place by the British to control with Government Agents and Collect TAXES without decent.
    The Elite of Sri Lanka since 1948 set themselves in Colombo where the Old Parliament stood with the Colombo Harbor in close proximity and held CENTRAL control since and let the other eight Provinces decay ( out of sight out of mind policy ) by giving very little from the PIE., and doling out SHOE STRING Budgets.
    But to its Credit the the PUKKA SAHIBS the Welfare system left by the Masters rolled on for Health and Education and even Free Rationed Rice was given.
    However by strange turn of events since the dawn of the 21st century we have become the CENTER of ATTRACTION of THE WORLD and on the 29th of October 2017 the US Navy’s NIMITZ Carrier strike Group made its 1st Visit since 1985. With the Eagle’s Landing and the Hambantota Port Deal with China signed ans sealed on the 29th of July 2017 Sri Lanka has entered a “Golden Era” and all the PEOPLE of SRI LANKA must shed petty differences and UNITE under the present Regime to enjoy the new found Rewards for our patient, endurance and Resilience till now.
    This is our last chance and we must all grasp the nettle at least for Posterity.
    God Bless Sri Lanka and the Triple Gem shine on ALL our Sons and Daughters.

  5. Robert

    Since 1918 Sanga has made this country a hell of religious and racial animosity .
    So many killings and deaths; Do you want the same for your future?

    Lord Buddha is not interested in a religion based on might and killing for Buddhist religion.
    Please preach peace or you will be irrelevant for the future world.

  6. Park

    If Mahasanga have rights to get involved in politics, then all the other religions also have the same right. Buddhism is only one religion that is practiced in SL. Let each religion have a seat in the Parliament. Let the majority rule. When Mahasanga cannot even control the Buddhist Priests who are sending women to middle east by taking bribes what right do they have to control the nation.

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