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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Mahinda raises controversial Anti-Conversion Bill issue

Mahinda Rajapaksa on the campaign trail

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is driving the governing party’s Parliamentary Election campaign and at the outset has taken a hard right turn.

He has also revived the discussion over the controversial anti-conversion Bill.

In the week preceding the dissolution of Parliament which happened at mid-night Monday, Rajapaksa has been seen with dozens of leading Buddhist Monks, offering them gifts and alms and on occasion appointments and honors.

Rajapaksa has been and is the undisputed political leader for the Right-wing Sinhala Buddhist community in the island and this opening period of the campaign is being spent shoring up that base.

One of the most important speeches that he made in the week that preceded the declaration of the elections was at the Annual Convention of the All Ceylon Buddhist Councils (සමස්ත ලංකා ශාසනාරක්ෂක මණ්ඩල සමුළුව).

It is a network of 324 Councils around the country responsible for running Buddhist Dhamma schools and disbursing funds for various charities and were set up during British Colonial times in 1895.

They were run on volunteer contributions until 1956 when they were granted state funds.

In his speech the Prime Minister identified the “threats facing the Sinhala Buddhist Nation,” reinforcing the notion that he is the protector.

The major threats he said was the introduction of narcotic drugs to school children and the other, the conversion of “traditional Buddhist families to other religions.”

He said he attended a wedding of a friend recently where the family which had been Buddhists for generations had converted to another religion which he did not name.

In a video widely circulated on Social Media of that speech, he also refers to “a Bill that was brought to Parliament that you have been talking about.”

It was a hint at the controversial Anti-Conversion Bill which was proposed in 2006 and has been struck down by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa told the audience that if that Bill is revived it must “have the support of all quarters. There are many that oppose it and that is why we don’t want to touch it. If you want it you must bring it forward unanimously otherwise it will be my neck on the line.” (සියළු දෙනාගේම කැමැත්ත ඇතුව ඉදිරපත් කරන්න …… නැත්තම් මගේ බෙල්ල තමයි  අහුවෙන්නේ)

This particular remark was not included in the official text version of the speech released to media, but was reported by Swarnavahini news. A clip of that apparently off-the-cuff remark is being shared widely on social media. The particular newscast that of February 26 is no longer available on the Swarnavahini.lk website.

Tatyana Rajapaksa walking into St Mary’s Bambalapitiya on the arm of her father Jerome Jayaratne for her wedding/Facebook.com

Rajapaksa’s own family is multi-religious. His wife Shiranthi is a practising Roman Catholic and one of his sons, Rohitha, is married to a Christian, Tatyana Lee Jayaratne. The couple went through several wedding ceremonies including a full Mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Bambalapitiya.  

Comments (3)

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  1. Hariharan says:

    You are living in a glass house, be careful what you throw from inside!!

    1. vijaya fernando says:

      Mr Galgamuwa you are perfectly correct. To describe a country as Singhalese Buddhist is attributing a religion to someone depending on where and to whom that person is born. If that is correct, that means at any one time,for example in this decade 19 million humans have the peculiar responsibility of preserving a religion for 7.5 billion people. How ridiculous!
      I could have been born to a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian a Jain in the UK , Italy India or Sri Lanka.

  2. Dinesh Galgamuwa says:

    Religion or belief is someone’s own preference or freedom. Do not touch it. If someone is imposing another belief by force, then it’s wrong and action must be taken. If not its up to the individual to choose.. Also if PM is bringing this Bill by being unfair to someone’s faith or religion, and it’s also for personal /political gain , of course the Wrath of the God and lamentations of the believers would be upon him or whoever that supports it. So please be very careful with these sensitive issues. Even the innocents would have to pay for these…

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hariharan says:

    You are living in a glass house, be careful what you throw from inside!!

    1. vijaya fernando says:

      Mr Galgamuwa you are perfectly correct. To describe a country as Singhalese Buddhist is attributing a religion to someone depending on where and to whom that person is born. If that is correct, that means at any one time,for example in this decade 19 million humans have the peculiar responsibility of preserving a religion for 7.5 billion people. How ridiculous!
      I could have been born to a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian a Jain in the UK , Italy India or Sri Lanka.

  2. Dinesh Galgamuwa says:

    Religion or belief is someone’s own preference or freedom. Do not touch it. If someone is imposing another belief by force, then it’s wrong and action must be taken. If not its up to the individual to choose.. Also if PM is bringing this Bill by being unfair to someone’s faith or religion, and it’s also for personal /political gain , of course the Wrath of the God and lamentations of the believers would be upon him or whoever that supports it. So please be very careful with these sensitive issues. Even the innocents would have to pay for these…

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“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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