President inaugurates Parliament sans pomp and pageantry | Sunday Observer

President inaugurates Parliament sans pomp and pageantry

5 January, 2020

The fourth session of the eighth Parliament was ceremonially inaugurated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday (January 3) in a very simple manner without the usual pomp and pageantry such as the ceremonial 21 - gun salute, motorcade, Military Police and Mounted Police escorts.

It was a solemn ceremony and this was indeed the first time that a newly elected President dispensed with the massive ceremonial procession avoiding unnecessary Government expenditure and setting a new example in Parliamentary history.

The President displayed his simplicity and approached the Parliament complex alone with just one front and one rear backup vehicle plus three motorcycles. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and First Lady Ioma Rajapaksa were welcomed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and were escorted to the Chamber. Blessings were invoked on them by having a group of students chant Jayamangala Gatha.

The President arrived in the Chamber along with the Speaker and the secretaries led by the Secretary General of Parliament. He was greeted by all Government and Opposition lawmakers in the traditional manner. The President commenced his Policy Statement around 10.05 a.m. and it lasted for about 35 minutes.

All Parliamentarians listened to the President’s Policy Statement attentively and the Government lawmakers applauded the constructive policies contained in it. Soon after the President’s Policy Statement and when the sittings were adjourned until 1.00pm, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe went up to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and greeted him followed by many other former Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

Many prominent Buddhist monks and other religious leaders were in the public gallery to witness the ceremony. Ambassadors, Governors, heads of security forces and leading public officials too were among them. The proceedings were followed by a tea party attended by both Government and Opposition lawmakers, senior Government officials and foreign dignitaries.

A cross section of the Government and Opposition lawmakers who spoke to the Sunday Observer commended the President’s Policy Statement delivered in Parliament and added that it laid emphasis on a series of innovative steps to take the country forward.

The UNP Parliamentarians said that they were hoping the President would deliver on the promises made during his Presidential Election campaign. They said though they are in the Opposition, they would definitely support the President and the Government on whatever good deeds initiated by them.


Excerpts of comments by lawmakers

Minister of Foreign Relations -Dinesh Gunawardene

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who got an overwhelming mandate from the people of the country once again reiterated to Parliament and the people on Friday (January 03), the confidence necessary in an unstable political and economic situation. We should rebuild our country to r which he has brought back confidence by already giving concessions, reducing taxation and giving production incentives which are important sectors in the process of economic development.

We will also attract international support.

We will continue to give all the necessary support for the success of this program.

The President has studied his program very well before presenting it to the country during the election. It was a very well studied program and not just giving promises at each and every meeting overnight.

He gave all those promises with a sense of responsibility and instilled confidence as to how this program can be implemented.

The country awaits a new era of economic development which has to be accepted by all sectors.

State Minister of Economic and Policy Development- W.D.J.Seneviratne

The President made a very effective and productive speech.

The President in his Policy Statement has touched upon several aspects th which have been declining in our country during the past several decades. So, the President wants to revive the situation and make things better.

There are some key areas that the President has touched upon in his speech such as developing the country’s economy, foreign relations and how to improve social status of the country as well.

He has also laid emphasis on the standard of the Parliament which has deteriorated at present.

Therefore, the President said the standard of Parliament should be improved by the MPs who have been elected.

State Minister of Industries -Dayasiri Jayasekara

I have continuously represented the Kurunegala District in Parliament over the past 15 years. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his Policy Statement talked about a series of new innovative steps to take the country forward. The President in his address to Parliament laid key emphasis as to how the level of education l should be upgraded. the infusion of modern technology into agriculture as well as on how to bring the latest modern technology into the country. The President also explained the ways and means of changing the educational pattern of our youth and also how to improve the skilled labour. The President’s Policy Statement also contains a new vision and a systematic plan to develop the gem and jewellery sector. The President in his Policy Statement also gave top priority to ensuring the country’s national security and also stressed the need for making certain amendments to the Constitution to suit present day needs.

The President has also laid special emphasis on the shortcomings in the electoral system. When the Parliament is dissolved on March 03, the next Parliament would create a national force to bring forward the President’s ‘ Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ Policy Statement for the next five years.

Therefore, we should give the necessary support and strength to the new Government under the leadership of the President to create a vibrant country within the next five years.

State Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Welfare - Anura Priyadharshana Yapa

This is going to be a very important year. I hope when we take as awhole what the President stated in his Policy Statement, we would be able to transform our country into a new nation with a new vision. If everybody genuinely extends their support to the President to make this endeavour a complete success irrespective of political differences, our country would be very stable within a very short period.

State Minister of International Cooperation -Susil Premajayantha

I have listened to many statements made by Presidents from time to time. I think this time the statement made by the President is perfect and commendable.

Within 30 minutes, he said all what he had to say. So. in a way, it is a vision for the country. If the President gets a good team in Parliament at the next General Election, I think he can achieve the targets stipulated in the Policy Statement within the next five years.

It was also commendable that there were no big ceremonies such the ones we witnessed in the past.

Why do we waste public funds for such ceremonies? Without resorting to such things, the President has clearly shown to the public how simple he is and also that he is ready to work for the betterment of his people.

UNP Colombo District Parliamentarian -Sujeewa Senasinghe

Whatever criticism is made, we can see that Sri Lanka is in a good position compared to other countries in the Asian region. Above all ,I would like to congratulate the new President, Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers and the Government. We are hoping that they will deliver on the promises that they have given during the Presidential Election campaign. Though we are in the Opposition, we would definitely support the President and the Government in all good deeds.

If the Government does something bad for the country, we would criticise it as well. However, this is not to discourage the Government but to encourage it to deliver better. At the end of the day, after five years, even if we take back power, we have to have a prosperous country without poverty. Hopefully, it is a new President and he has given plenty of promises. Without having any party view on this, I wish him success. At the same time, we want to add a new dimension to the UNP. We have a team of brilliant and talented MPs in Parliament.

Therefore, we would urge the leadership and the seniors to pave the way for us to take this forward and also remind them of the glorious days of D.S.Senanayake, J.R.Jayewardene, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake. We have a similar team now but we have not been given the liberty and freedom to move forward as a party and a team. So, we would do our best to bring back the UNP into power and to bring back those glorious days again to the UNP and then the country would also benefit from that.