All 225 MPs should take country on development path – President | Sunday Observer

All 225 MPs should take country on development path – President

14 August, 2022

President Ranil Wickremesinghe while emphasising that the nation’s tribute should go to the Security Forces for safeguarding the legislature and democracy thus avoiding further anarchy said now it was the responsibility of all 225 Members in Parliament to fulfill their duty towards the people by getting together to solve the current crises and take the country on the path of development.

The President was addressing the Security Forces during an official visit to the Defence Headquarters in Pelawatte, Akuregoda on Tuesday. Referring to the recent incidents, the President said the protesters were trying to take over Parliament and if they had succeeded, the legislature of the country would have come to a standstill and there would not have been a government if the legislature had come to a standstill.

Wickremesinghe also expressed his gratitude to the members of the security forces who took steps to carry out the operation peacefully without firing any shots. The President, who arrived at the Army Headquarters premises, was received by the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, and then the President was also presented with special military honours.

The President said, “There are three main institutions to implement people’s sovereignty. They are the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. If these three institutions are not functioning, this country will not have any proper governance. The Constitution will collapse. Democracy will be lost. It was in such a situation that you defended the Parliament”.

President Wickremesinghe said now the MPs need to take Parliament forward and win the people’s trust. “Your step is now complete. Everyone in the Parliament should work together to solve the problems.” The President said the government is trying to bring in Constitutional amendments, take steps to bring new parliamentary reform proposals and set up an all-Party rule.

Debate on Policy Statement

The three-day Adjournment Debate on the President’s Policy Statement was held in Parliament August 9, 10 and 12. President Ranil Wickremesinghe presented his Policy Statement on August 3 during the ceremonial opening of the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament.

The Adjournment Debate was moved by Chief Opposition Whip MP Lakshman Kiriella. The Opposition requested a debate on the Policy Statement at the Party Leaders’ Meeting and it was considered by the Speaker.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the only principle on which the country can get out of this serious national crisis is for the President and the House to work together. The Premier was speaking during the second day of the debate on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

Premier Gunawardena said, “The President stated that the country has the ability to be self-sufficient, and we must embark on a clear path to build such a country. It has been specifically pointed out by the President that the economy should be modernised and that another crisis should not occur in the country and the economy should not be turned into a weak one.

It was also mentioned that the Government is already preparing blueprint for this effort. The foreign exchange crisis has escalated. Not only the ruling party but also the Opposition admits that we need to have a proper plan to resolve this issue. We need all parties working together in consensus. We will be committed to working with the IMF. We are committed to achieve it. All of us must work together for this. That is the principle on which to get out of this serious national crisis.”

SJB ready to assist Govt

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that the SJB is ready to assist the Government wholeheartedly without accepting any ministerial portfolios. Speaking at a recent public gathering organised by the SJB party members at Deraniyagala, the Opposition Leader said that during his meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, he assured that he and the other SJB MPs are ready to extend their fullest cooperation to the Government’s request if only the Government can revive the country’s lost economy and bring down the cost of living to reduce the prices of essential commodity items for the benefit of people.

The Opposition Leader said if he had tried earlier, he could have easily become the Prime Minister. “But I am not a person who thinks of my own personal benefits as my sole objective is to serve the people in the country by bringing economic progress for the benefit of 22 million people.”

Positive feedback

Minister Harin Fernando told Parliament on Wednesday this is the first time in the history of Sri Lankan politics, that a President’s Policy Statement has received so much positive feedback across all political divides. He said that some claim to be visionary leaders but I see President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s speech as that of a true visionary leader.

The Minister said, “The first challenge before Wickremesinghe was to identify the crisis affecting the country and to find a short-term solution to the problem together with a long-term program. That is where former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa went wrong. He had no idea as to what sort of a crisis the country was facing, no short-term solution and no long-term plan.” Minister Fernando said that the country’s ‘struggle’ actually started in 2019 and that is where the youth of this country drew murals on walls and hoped for change. However, when they did not get the changes they anticipated, that is when they came onto the streets again to correct the mistakes.

He said that there are two main factions those who endure all criticism and continue to work and others who relentlessly criticise others but don’t do an iota of work themselves. “That is why the people are fed-up with all politicians because even when the country is facing such a huge crisis, what is the point if these politicians cannot unite to resolve this crisis.”

‘Messed-up’ Parliament

Former President Maithripala Sirisena said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has decided to support any good step taken by the Government to get the country out of the difficult situation it is facing. He told the gathering at a recent event, the question is not “whether the President is black or white. We need to give ourselves some time to work freely to get concessions nationally and internationally. Those international financial institutions and international economic powers help us by looking at our political stability. If we are a collapsing Government, they will not give us money.”

Sirisena said he has never seen such a ‘messed up’ Parliament in his 30 years in politics and that the Parliament of 225 members has now split into some 10-12 factions. He said the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has split into 5-6 groups and that it is visible that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) also has several internal issues. The SLFP Leader said even his own party recently saw five of its 14 MPs leave despite repeated requests from him for them to stay with the party.

“Will get the country out of the crisis”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday said that despite facing a huge economic crisis, he will definitely get the country out of the crisis with the blessings of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Gods. The President also said that everyone should move forward with new hope for a new economy that will ensure a better life for all.

President Wickremesinghe said that the country has faced an unprecedented economic downturn and the people from all walks of life have felt it. He stressed the importance of ending this situation in the country soon. The President was speaking at a ceremony at President’s House in Kandy on Friday afternoon to mark the successful completion of the historic Kandy Esala Perahera Festival. The President received Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela, Nilames of the Satharamaha Devalayasa and Pitisara Devalayas at the entrance of the President’s House.

Thereafter, the Diyawadana Nilame handed over the scroll containing the Sandeshaya informing the President of the successful completion of the Perahera. The President commended the Diyawadana Nilame for fulfilling the noble responsibility of conducting the festival successfully. He said “The Kandy Esala Perahera festival was organised with pomp after a lapse of two years.”

Different rules

SJB Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva told Parliament on Tuesday that while the youth who entered President’s House and sat on the President’s chair has been arrested, no action was taken against the MPs who behaved violently in the House and damaged the Speaker’s Chair and other equipment in Parliament.

He told Parliament that a committee was appointed by the then Speaker to look into the incident and urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to publish the report of that committee. He said, “No action was taken against the MPs who acted violently in Parliament. We have no idea as to what action was taken against the MPs who spilt water on it and damaged the microphones. Where is the report? We like to have the report.” Dr. de Silva said that if such behaviour is allowed to happen, they would have to face dire consequences in the future.

Youth misled

SLPP Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara told Parliament that some political parties misled the youth involved in the ‘Aragalaya’. Joining the Adjournment Debate on the President’s Policy statement, MP Bandara pointed out that initially the youth involved in the protests were peaceful. However, when certain political parties infiltrated the protests, the nature of the protesters changed. He said, “These youths were taught that we have robbed them. They thought that we robbed their money, got rich and built houses. They were enraged. They felt jealous. So they came to our homes and burnt them down. If these youths were educated, if they were encouraged to work on their own, and work hard to achieve goals, they would not have turned violent.”

22nd Amendment

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the House by Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe on Wednesday. The Minister said that a new anti-corruption law and an assets and liabilities law would be established in par with the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. Dr. Rajapaksa said, “In 2015, along with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, we were in agreement to establish the United Nations Anti-corruption Law in our country as well. However, it did not see the light of the day. Now, we have drafted this law and it is before the Cabinet. We are also establishing a new Commission in place of the existing bribery or corruption commission. We are also going to establish a new law instead of the available Assets and Liabilities Act.”

TNA may split

TNA Vanni district Parliamentarian Selvam Adaikkalanathan has said that the party may split due to the activities of two TNA politicians who are trying to take advantage of the political crisis. However, the TNA member did not reveal the identities of the two persons he referred to.

Speaking to the media recently, the MP said that the Tamil National Alliance, an alliance of several parties should be registered as a single political party under the name TNA. He said services to the public too should be expanded. He also said that although the Tamil National Alliance is not divided now, looking at the current events, there are signs of a decline in the party in the mindset of the Tamil people.

Adaikkalanathan said that the reason for this is the statements made by two members of the party with ulterior motives trying to gain petty advantage of the current situation. He said that the people who have broken away from the TNA for various reasons should forget everything and rejoin the party to make it a stronger political force.

“Only a dream”

National People’s Power (NPP) Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said considering the Government’s approach towards an all-party administration, forming it would only be a dream. Joining day-three of the debate on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Policy Statement on Friday, Dissanayake said that if the Government is ready to come up with positive suggestions, the NPP is ever ready to consider joining an All-Party Government (APG). He said that the Government only wants other parties to join an APG but not to form one and be active participants.

Dissanayake said, “People seem to believe that the lack of a proper economic plan is the major reason behind the crisis we are suffering. Yes, to some extent it seems the case. Lack of a long term economic plan does have an impact. However, the basis of this crisis is the political culture. If we want to get out of this crisis, we need to change the political culture. Without that change, there is no way out from the crisis we are in. This political culture is filled with corruption, fraud, waste and power hunger.”

“Social media - a powerful force”

Former President Maithripala Sirisena said that social media was the deciding factor that elected me as the President and what ended my rule. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the media unit of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, former President Sirisena said the ‘Aragalaya’ which ousted a strong President should be taken as an example to show how powerful the media, especially the social media is.

He said, “I once was the Polonnaruwa correspondent for Lake House. The nature of media has gone through serious changes during these fifty years. It is fair to wonder who actually rules the world, politicians or media. If we look at the ‘Aragalaya’, was there a political leader for people to gather around? No. There were about thirty-five youth groups but no one to lead. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as the request to do so came to their mobile phones.

“Media can make or break a Government. They can project a good Government as a bad one, and a bad government as a good one.” He said “When I became the President in 2015,the main force behind me was social media. There were many organisations, political groups behind my election campaign and social media played a vital role. Ironically, what broke me too was social media. It destroyed my image. It made me an unworthy person in the eyes of people. So, when we rule, we need to have a good understanding of democracy and media freedom,” he said.