Government leaders yesterday recalled the pivotal role played by the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera in bringing about the Jan. 08 regime change. They were speaking at his funeral on the parliament grounds yesterday.
All of them promised to take forward the campaign to restore democracy and social justice led by Ven. Sobitha Thera.
Addressing the funeral ceremony President Maithripala Sirisena said that Ven. Sobitha Thera had launched the campaign which had enabled him and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to come to power and form a national unity government.
The Thera’s demise was a great loss to the country, said the President, noting that the he had campaigned hard to scrap the executive presidency, effect electoral reforms and bring about social justice. “We promise at this funeral that we will work to fulfil the Ven. Sobitha Thera’s goals,” President Sirisena said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Ven. Sobitha Thera’s death was an unbearable loss. He, too, promised to carry forward the late Thera’s campaign and ensure that his goals were achieved.
Thousands of people attended the funeral while state dignitaries including President Sirisena, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and ministers also took part.
Minister of Budhdhasasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe also addressed the funeral ceremony.
Funeral procession started from Kotte Naga Viharaya around 1.00pm and it reached the Parliament ground around 3.00pm. Funeral sermon was conducted by the Mahanayake of Kotte Kalyani Damma Maha Sanga Sabha Dr. Iththepane Dammalankara thera.
More than 5,000 buddhist monks also attended the funeral.
Ven. Sobhitha Thera passed away around 5.50 am (3.20 am Lankan time) last Sunday at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, where he had been treated at the intensive care unit for three days. His remains were brought to the Sri Lankan High Commission at No 76 of Andrew Road in Singapore around noon on the same day.
He was born on May 09, 1942 at Maduluwawa in Homagama entered Buddha Sasana in 1955 and obtained higher ordination in 1962.
By Dasun Edirisinghe