President calls on Buddhist countries to come to Lanka’s rescue

By Rathindra Kuruwita, The Nation, June 21, 2009

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Buddhist countries can play a major role in the future of Sri Lanka and counterbalance the western powers, suggested President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a tribute organised by Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Nikaya and Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya at Independence Square, yesterday.

He said that Buddhist monks too can play an important role in Sri Lanka’s international relations by bringing these countries to support Sri Lanka.

“We need the support of other Buddhist countries and we need them to play a bigger role in the development of the country and Buddhist monks can play bigger role in rallying their support,” he said. “From ancient times Buddhist monks have played an important role in our national histories and they have done a lot in the fight against terrorism but there is still work to be done,” he added.

The president added that he plans to incorporate more Buddhist principles in the administration of the state. In order to develop a society should be built on morals the president claimed. “A moral society is disciplined and only a disciplined society can prosper,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera of the Amarapura sect said that the masses rallied around the President because of his close ties with the Sangha and Buddhism. The president is an honest and straightforward man.

“There were many leaders in the past who had no ties with the sangha. Most of them did not adhere to Buddhist principles and that is why the sangha and the masses were hesitant to rally behind them. But President Rajapaksa was always close to the sangha and people recognised him as a moral and courageous man,” Dhammawasa Thera said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Mass Media, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena claimed that this is the first time that the two sects have united to pay homage to a leader. The President has also united the sangha as well as the country he added.

“There are 12 700 monks of the Amarapura sect while there are 6,000 monks of the Ramanna sect and today they have united for the first time to pay tribute to the President. This fact alone makes this a historic moment,” he said.

The President, Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chief of Defense Staff, Air Vice Marshal Donald Perera, Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka, IGP, Jayantha Wickramarathna, Director of the Civil Defense Force and Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara were honoured at this event. Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and Air Force Commander and Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke could not participate because they were abroad.