Heed His Eminence’s advice | Daily News


Heed His Eminence’s advice

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith's proposal to the Government for the appointment of a probe Committee comprising Buddhist clergy into the Easter Sunday terror attacks should be given serious thought to by the President. Such a Committee, no doubt, could be depended on to be impartial, and, what is more, investigate all the allegations that led to the security lapses including the involvement of politicians who is said to have mollycoddled terror suspects. Already two local level politicians have been taken into custody in this regard. The Cardinal was insistent that every aspect of the security lapses be investigated including the alleged release of terror suspects after they were apprehended, at the instance of politicians. His Eminence was firm that he would lead his flock in agitation if proper investigations are not carried out to bring all those involved to justice.

Addressing a media conference at Bishop's House in the company of the Ven. Ittapane Dhammalankara Maha Nayake Thera, both expressed dissatisfaction on the direction the investigations were heading and also the appointment of a Presidential Commission to investigate the attacks. Both, the Cardinal and the Ven Ittapane Thera said, instead, they would welcome the appointment of a committee comprising members of the Sangha in this regard. The Cardinal also said he was not informed of the appointment of a Presidential Commission to look into the security lapses that led to the multiple attacks, and, in fact, expressed reservations in this respect.

Many would agree with the position of His Eminence as to the appointment of Commissions - Presidential or otherwise- given past experience. In most instances they are time buying exercises and often a devise to hoodwink the public. Many would also say that the Easter Sunday carnage is too big a calamity for time to stand still while Commissions delve into the issue. The country is under a cloud of a grave security threat with deadly explosives, arms caches being recovered with each passing hour. What is needed are immediate solutions to pull the nation out of the present danger rather than wait for the deliberations of Commissions.

Of course a committee of Buddhist clergy looking into the security lapses of the Easter Sunday massacre could also have many positives. It will be the first time that a group of Sangha in this country will sit in conclave to probe an attack directed on the Christian community. It will not only be a symbol of interfaith unity but also go a long way in promoting religious harmony. It could also help better understanding between the two religious groups and a mending of fences, especially in the context of recent attacks on some denominational churches, in some instances led by Buddhist monks.

Of course there can be little doubt that the Easter Sunday attacks drew the collective sympathy of the Buddhists towards the Christian community. This was amply demonstrated by the Bodhi poojas held in the various temples and other venues countrywide mourning the victims. Perhaps never before had such empathy being witnessed at the plight of a single community. Of course, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has been very close to the Mahanayakes and popular with most Buddhist clergy and Buddhists themselves for his sentiments on the Buddhism and also often enjoining his flock to accept they were living in a Buddhist country not to mention his strong advocacy of retaining the preeminent status granted to Buddhism in any proposed constitution. Besides, the findings of the Sangha probe committee is bound to be acted upon by the President, if for no other reason than being accused of belittling such findings and acting disrespectful of the Maha Sangha, by ignoring them. We say this because many Presidential Commissions were hitherto deemed only as fact finding exercises and the findings consigned to the forgotten things of limbo. Perhaps, this may have been one of the reasons for His Eminence's reservations.

Meanwhile, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has also called for a moratorium on elections and the formation of an interim Government comprising all parties at this critical juncture. Well, the Presidential Election is only a six months away and how things will pan out until then is difficult to fathom. The security factor, no doubt, will hold the key in this respect and also whether the constitution provides for postponement of election in an emergency situation. True, there can be no getting away from the fact that the Government has courted the wrath of public for its inattention to the security lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday carnage. But it is equally true that the public are in no mood for elections at this juncture when the nation is practically poised on a knife edge.

Besides, the hurly-burly of an election and the sound and fury of an election campaign will certainly not accord with the sombre mood of the nation which is in virtual mourning today and the devastation inflicted would take a long time to heal. Hence, the best course would be for all parties to unite heeding His Eminence's call, in the short term, to see off the grave threat facing the nation. Elections can wait until such time.

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