State funeral for Sobitha Thero, good governance crusader and democrat

Monday, 9 November 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Govt. declares day of national mourning for scholar monk on 12 November
  • Good Governance activists hope Sobitha Thero’s legacy will be protected, his vision for Sri Lanka fulfilled
  • Revered Buddhist monk fought tirelessly for abolition of the executive presidency, corruption-free country
  • Finance Minister travels to Singapore to receive monk’s remains
  • US Embassy says late Thero was respected for efforts to ‘protect and nurture democracy’



By Dharisha Bastians

The architect of the ‘common candidacy’ and the spiritual leader of the 8 January struggle to restore democracy in Sri Lanka, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero passed away in Singapore yesterday, where he was receiving medical treatment.

Doctors at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital could not save the ailing Buddhist monk, who was airlifted to Singapore for emergency medical care last week. His condition was declared “critical” on Saturday night.

The deceased Thero’s remains were moved to the Residence of Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Singapore and were escorted to Colombo by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, on a SriLankan Airlines flight.

“I am deeply saddened by the demise of Ven. Sobitha. The greatest honour we can give him is to make his vision for Sri Lanka a reality,” President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted on his official Twitter account yesterday.

The Government has declared a day of National Mourning for the scholar monk, whose lasting legacy will be his crafting of the ‘common candidacy’ idea that sparked a massive democratic resurgence in Sri Lanka and led to the fall of the increasingly authoritarian Rajapaksa regime on 8 January this year.

Sobitha Thero, chief incumbent of the Kotte Nagavihara, also laid the groundwork for the enactment of the historic 19th Amendment to the Constitution, who saw the repeal of several Draconian provisions contained in the 18th Amendment which offered absolute power to the office of the President, and restored a modicum of independence to state sector institutions with the establishment of independent commissions. The Thero hailed the passing of 19A, which he said had fallen short of expectations, but was nevertheless a major milestone in the path to restoring democracy and justice in Sri Lanka.

The scholar monk will be granted a funeral with full state honours at the Parliamentary grounds on Thursday (12), in recognition of his contribution to the country.

The civil society group led by Sobitha Thero, National Movement for Social Justice, said it was the responsibility of the President and the Prime Minister to implement the political changes and social expectations that the Thero had aspired for.

“All we can do is work towards the just society the Thero dreamed of,” trade union activist Saman Ratnapriya said at a press briefing at the Kotte Nagavihara yesterday.  Ratnapriya said the Movement would continue to represent and struggle to achieve all that Sobitha Thero had stood for in his lifetime.

The elderly monk was a tireless campaigner for good governance, who pledged to take the fight even to the new Government he had helped to install in power if it lost its way and failed to live up to its promise.

US Ambassador Atul Keshap extended his condolences on the passing of Sobitha Thero yesterday, on behalf of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Keshap said the late Thero had been respected for his efforts to nurture and protect democracy, promote respect for people of all faiths and improve the lives of all Sri Lankans. 

“On behalf of the men and women of the Embassy of the United States of America, I extend condolences to the people and Government of Sri Lanka on the passing of the Venerable Madhuluwawe Sobitha Thero,” his statement said.