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No number of appointments could shut me up: Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera

  • Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera says he always stands with the people
  • Calls Budget 2022 useless
  • More university teachers condemn appointment

BY Pamodi Waravita

Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, who was recently appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Colombo, said yesterday (14) that no number of appointments could prevent him from speaking for the rights of the people, as he refuses to be “forcefully shut up”.

“Giving appointments will not shut me up. Even if I am put in charge of the entire country, I only speak the truth. I have always stood on the side of the people. We must look after our people – appointments will come and go,” said Ven. Ananda Thera, addressing a press conference held yesterday (14).

The monk opined that the new Budget, which was presented by Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa last week, is “useless”, as the daily cost of living has reached insufferable heights.

“The people have to stand in lines to buy the basic essentials now. Everything from sand to sugar prices have increased,” the Thera said.

On Saturday (13), the University of Colombo Science Teachers’ Association (UCSTA) condemned the recent appointment of Ven. Ananda Thera as the Chancellor of the university, saying his political affiliations will not serve in the interests of the university.

“We are greatly perturbed by the recent appointment as we believe that the Thera’s association with a well-known trade union and his political affiliations will not be helpful for advancing the universities’ interests with the local, national, and international spheres, and express our extreme disappointment in this appointment,” a statement by UCSTA, led by its President Dr. Hiran Jayaweera, on Saturday noted.

The UCSTA said that as the oldest higher education institute in the country, the University of Colombo is reputed for being the centre of academic excellence in Sri Lanka and as such, the Chancellor’s role should be fulfilled by someone who has a flawless track record of professional and personal integrity.

Last week, the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s statement that said Ven. Ananda Thera helped the Government to come to power, a few days after the Thera was appointed as the Chancellor at the Colombo University, is “dangerous” and raised concerns over the respectability of the chancellor position.

Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) also wrote to the President, saying that the Association is “highly disturbed” by the aforementioned appointment, as the Thera does not have the required academic background for the post and thus urged the President to reconsider the appointment.

Ven. Ananda Thera has been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Colombo with effect from 17 November. The Thera’s Abayaramaya Temple in Narahenpita was used by incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as his political headquarters, following his defeat in the 2015 presidential elections. Ven. Ananda Thera also campaigned for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) during the 2019 presidential election and the 2020 general election, although he has been critical of the current Government in the recent past.

Furthermore, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Chief Incumbent and Senior Prof. Ven. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkitha Thera was appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya on 6 November.