TISL recognized Kotte Naga Viharadipathi, Rev. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero of his lifetime commitment to promote good governance, integrity and anti – corruption with the National Integrity Award of Excellence at the NIA 2015 presentation.
It was posthumously awarded to the highly respected Sobitha Thero by Maithreepala Sirisena the President of the Democratic socialists Republic of Sri Lanka. Chairman Lakshan Dias, former chairman J.C.Weliamuna and Executive Director of TISL Asoka Obeysekere accompanied the President.
The award was jointly received by Rev. Uduthalakande Ariya Rathna Thero and Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya Convener of organaisation on Social Justice
In a parched political, social and economic landscape thirsty for integrity, fair play and justice, Sobitha Thero defied all odds and dedicated his life improves good governance in the country. Following is a short citation of the Thero.
Venerable Maduluwave Sobitha Thero
Maduluwave Sobitha Thero gained both honour and acceptance among the Sri Lankan Buddhist community over a long period of time. Among the common people of the country he earned a name for himself as an impressive dhamma teacher. He had the gift of presenting before the people even the most abstruse teachings of the Buddha in the simplest language. He was a communicator par excellence, a remarkable intellectual with an imposing presence who spoke to the people with power and authority and in a style of his own.
In times of national crisis and disaster he went among the people with noble intentions aimed at the public good and welfare: bahu jana hithaya, bahujana sukhaya, as the Buddha taught.
The Venerable Thero’s intervention in matters political is well-known. When the country faced critical times he mobilized various national forces and intervened fearlessly for the public good. What is striking about Sobitha Thero is that he had absolutely no interest in power for himself and took no interest whatever in being a part of any political power struggle. He did not barter his charismatic soul for any political mess of pottage. That was his most outstanding character trait. He rose above political party affiliation and narrow national or religious small-mindedness.
He had an abiding conviction that corruption was a huge impediment to the country’s forward march and was committed to its eradication. His voice in this regard was loud and clear.
He was also steadfast in his opposition to the executive presidential system, which he regarded as unsuitable for our country and contributing to many of our crises as a nation. He campaigned relentlessly against this system over a long time.
He played a pioneering role in mobilizing public opinion against the abominable 18th amendment that exacerbated the evils of the executive presidency and vitiated the voice of dissent and undermined democracy. The indefatigable thero was determined to face the formidable challenge of mobilizing all democratic forces in the pursuit of bringing about a change in a system that was inimical to national progress and taking the country along a path to destruction.
It was Sobitha Thero’s unshakable conviction that Sri Lanka’s future lay in abolishing the executive presidency and introducing a fundamental political reform package based on a new constitution. He also believed that power should not reside in a single person but instead a political transformation be effected on the basis of democratic principles. His National Movement for a Just Society that he formed with the support of many democratic forces was a lasting outcome of that vision.
The People’s Agenda for a Better Tomorrow and the Ten-Point Manifesto of that Movement provided a clear road map for extricating the country from the looming crisis. It is widely acknowledged that it was this historic step taken by Sobitha Thero that led to the peaceful revolution with the election of a Common Candidate at the Presidential Election that ensued.
Although a strong consensus had developed that Sobitha Thero should be the Common Candidate for the Presidency he stayed clear of such an alternative. The venerable monk was the spiritual mentor who gave national leadership to the greatest people’s movement since Independence that transcended ethnic, religious, class divisions.
The grief that gripped the hearts and minds of not only Sinhala Buddhists but of all religious and ethnic communities at his sudden passing was eloquent testimony to the extent of the honour the country bestowed on him.
Although Sobitha Thero is no longer among our people in body, his spirit will forever remain in the consciousness and the hearts of the people that he filled with the desire for good governance in a country free of corruption.
The name of the Venerable Sobitha Thero will last forever as the epitome of transparency.