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Thursday June 20th, 2024

Churches urge calm after videos of Monk attacking Christians go viral

Bishop Asiri Perera, head of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka is appealing for calm after videos of a Buddhist Monk attacking Christians in Batticaloa went viral in the past few days.

Perera, in a statement released to the public yesterday, Dec 29, exhorted Christians and “all peace-loving people” not to react “to these videos that are going viral which can cause religious tension and disharmony in our motherland, which is the last thing we want to see happening.”

The videos in question feature the controversial 50-year old Buddhist Monk, Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero, chief incumbent of the Sri Mangalaramaya temple in Batticaloa, attacking what appear to be Christian evangelicals in the city.

Already a social media star for his vituperative, obscenity-laden verbal attacks against public servants and others, Sumanarathana has re-emerged around this Christmas. He has been condemned by some, but for others, he is a hero.

A previously viral video posted on the Neth FM website

In one video he is seen slapping a man who appears to be a Church worker and in the other verbally challenging evangelicals including a man wearing what looks like the Cassock usually worn by Roman Catholic priests.

Sumanarathana is seen castigating these evangelicals for distributing pamphlets in what he calls is a Buddhist majority region.

The first reaction from the official Church to this incident came from the Catholic Church with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s spokesman Fr. Jude Krishantha saying that the Christian Priest subjected to attack in the videos is not from his church and also not from any recognized Christian denomination in Sri Lanka.

Fr. Jude Krishantha spokesman for Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

Krishantha also said that Catholics do not attempt to convert non-Christians to their faith.

Methodist leader Perera identified the man under attack as Nalaka Fonseka, a former worker in his church, who was asked to leave due to “disciplinary reasons.” Perera added that Fonseka was never ordained as a priest “during the time he served my church.”

Former Methodist Church worker Nalaka Fonseka and Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero in Batticoloa last week/WhatsApp image

The Methodist President also added that since leaving his church Fonseka “seems to have operated on his own as a freelance evangelist without being accountable to any Church body for his ministry work.”
WhatsApp video of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thero challenging evangelists in Batticoloa that went viral/WhatsApp video

Perera also condemned Fonseka’s attitude in the video. “His body language and facial expressions do not reflect a spirit of humility. He should have got down from his bike when speaking to the monk. He is not wearing a helmet when he rides the Motor Bike as if he is not under the law of the country,” he said.

Perera also commented that Sumanarathana’s “particular behaviour in this video and a few other videos which are circulating do not in any way reflect the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha, I leave it for the Ven. Maha Nayakas and Maha Sangha councils to do the needful to put the house in order.”

He noted that the viral videos are “causing embarrassment to both Buddhism and Christianity, two religions that have coexisted in Sri Lanka even in the 6th century A.D. in Anuradhapura.”

He also pointed out that in recent times “police inaction has escalated to alarming heights. The Methodist Church like several other Christian Churches has experienced and suffered certain discrimination carried out by certain law enforcing authorities, about which we have lamented but not heard much. I am also displeased with religious dignitaries of one religion taking the law into their hands to do policing over another legitimate religion that has the right to function, practice and publicly proclaim its own faith in this land.”

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Sri Lanka shares debt management experience at global forum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has shared its experiences at a forum on debt management to “provide lessons for others”, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe has said.

Semasinghe spoke on “The Role of Debt Management in Navigating Crises” at the 14th Debt Management Facility (DMF) Stakeholders’ Forum, in Livingstone, Zambia.

“I shared the experiences of Sri Lanka which can provide valuable lessons for others and explored the critical elements of capacity building and sound institutional practices in managing debt, particularly in the context of economic challenges,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“Sri Lanka’s experience demonstrates that effective debt management is not just about managing numbers but also about building robust institutions and capacities.”

The journey underscores the importance of transparent, accountable governance and the need for international support and cooperation in times of crisis, he said.

“Sri Lanka prioritized addressing gaps in public debt management by drafting a consolidated Public Debt Management Act, ensuring clarity and legal robustness and establishing a centralized Public Debt Management Office with operational autonomy.

“The role of debt management in navigating crises is multifaceted and critical. Further, by investing in capacity building, adhering to sound institutional practices, and strategically managing debt restructuring and liability operations, countries can better withstand economic shocks and pave the way for sustainable recovery.”

Developing countries face severe debt distress as they are more vulnerable to external shocks, Semasinghe said, and “managing global debt requires coordinated international efforts on debt restructuring where necessary, timely fiscal policy adaptation and help sustainable economic growth.”

The state minister also pointed out the financial impact of climate change was an emerging challenge, as countries need investment to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts, “especially through non-debt creating inflows, which would require private capital mobilization.” (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 305.10/30 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger ahead of the long weekend at 305.10/30 to the US dollar on Thursday, up from 305.40/55 to the US dollar Wednesday, dealers said, while some bond yields edged up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.45/80 percent, up from 10.35/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.00/15 percent, up from 11.95/12.35 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.12.2031 closed at 12.05/25 percent.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, JKH trade pushes turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Thursday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.19 percent, or 23.11 points, at 12,249; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.15 percent, or 5.33 points, at 3,610.

Turnover was 2 billion. Nearly half of this (Rs980mn) came from a crossing on John Keells Holdings Plc. The share closed down at 202.00.

“There were several crossings today which pushed turnover,” market participants said.

“Institutions and high net-worth activity drove the market, while the retail investors we feel are still about uncertain and adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

Melstacorp Plc was among the companies that saw active volumes (Rs194mn) in the day. The share closed up at 87.10.

Top contributors to the index included TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 41.70), Sampath Bank Plc (up at 79.50), Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 201.00). Hayleys Plc (up at 105.00) and its subsidiary Hayleys Fabric Plc (up at 46.60) were also positive contributors. (Colombo/Jun20/2024)

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