President Rajapaksa stresses need for collective responsibility | Sunday Observer

President Rajapaksa stresses need for collective responsibility

9 January, 2022

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed the need for all Ministers and Members of Parliament to work together as a team for the progress of the country.

Collective responsibility

He said it is a collective responsibility to manage setbacks as a team, adding that if a person only criticises the shortcomings without helping to manage setbacks, it shows the inefficiency of that person.

“I had to remove a State Minister. If a State Minister says this Government is wrong, he is saying he is wrong too. Every MP, Minister and State Minister has a collective responsibility towards the Government. If one makes an allegation against another, what that makes clear is his own inefficiency,” said President Rajapaksa speaking at the launch of the national program to upgrade 1,000 schools into National Schools at Siyambalanduwa on Friday, January 7. The President said “Those who blame others are simply trying to save their own skin. Don’t do that,” he said.

Cabinet posts

The President reiterated that he was committed to fulfilling the pledges made, over the next three years without thinking of the two years lost due to Covid-19 pandemic.

He said, “The problem is each MP has hopes for a Cabinet ministerial post. How can I give a Cabinet post to everyone? We told the public that we would not go over 30 Ministers. Today we have 30 Ministers, as per the Constitution and there are 40 State Ministers. That makes a total of 70. We cannot go beyond that. I don’t wish to fool the public and make cohabitation Governments and increase these numbers. One doesn’t need a Ministry to work.”

The President said that it was the duty of Opposition MPs to assist in implementing the decisions taken on behalf of the people. President Rajapaksa said that he would personally visit public institutions in the future to create a strong public service for the people and that the Gama Samaga Pilisandara program would be resumed and the aspirations of the people would be fulfilled soon.

Detrimental statements

The removal of SLPP Parliamentarian Susil Premajayantha from the post of State Minister turned into a hot topic within media circles during the week. The President’s Media Division said the decision was taken by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in accordance with the powers vested in him.

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said SLPP MP Susil Premajayantha had made public statements detrimental to the interests of the Government.

The Minister said, “He being a senior politician, should have known better. As a State Minister representing the Government, he has responsibilities and should have acted accordingly. He has a responsibility to protect the Government and its policies.

“If there were shortcomings in those policies there are many forums where it could have been raised. There are many occasions when the President meets the Ministers. “Premjayantha should have raised the problems or opinions he had about the Government policies then. Leave alone a Minister, anyone who has taken part in sports, knows the need to stand together as a team. As a senior politician, Premajayantha is expected to set an example to the new MPs. We are bound by our duties and responsibilities and should uphold them.

“People voted for us for that purpose. None should do the Opposition’s job while remaining within Government ranks. Such actions would only please the Opposition. We cannot allow that to continue,” the Minister said.

Disciplinary action

Responding to media speculation that a section of SLPP Parliamentarians have called for disciplinary action against Premajayantha, SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam told the media that the party Central Committee will convene and decide if disciplinary action should be taken against Premajayantha.

MP Premajayantha who was sacked from his ministerial portfolio on Tuesday, January 4 said that he considers his removal a blessing in disguise for his future political career. It is reported that the President has expressed his displeasure over the role of former State Minister Premajayantha at the Cabinet meeting held on Monday, December 3.

Former State Minister Premajayantha told the media as he left the Isurupaya building in Battaramulla, and that it is the President’s prerogative to remove any Minister and that decision could not be questioned.

He said, “Last week, when I visited the Delkanda fair, I was asked by journalists to comment on prices of essential goods. I responded that agriculture had failed and the Government’s policy decisions were a disaster. I said that the price of a kilo of chillies is Rs 1,200.

“I was speaking on behalf of the people. Losing this portfolio is not a big issue. It was in 2000 that I first became a Minister. I have held many ministerial posts under many Presidents since then,” he said.

Premajayantha said that it is difficult to rule a country or take it forward when constructive criticism is not tolerated.

He said, “We saw how highly educated persons, even including professors, vacated their posts recently. This is not a good trend for the country.”

Premajayantha said, “Certain individuals, who lack qualifications even to become a sanitary worker have been given responsibilities in the Government. They do not understand the value of education.”

He said losing ministerial portfolios is not a big deal in politics, adding that he would return to his law profession.

‘First election result’

Former President Maithripala Sirisena said that the sacking of State Minister Susil Premajayantha is the ‘first election result’ released this year.

At an SLFP event in Matale on Tuesday, January 4, he said, “Only four days have passed in the New Year, and that I heard an ‘election result’ while I was on my way from Polonnaruwa in the car this morning.”

Former President Sirisena said, “The way I see it, the Government will not be able to prevent what will happen this year by only removing one Minister.”

The SLFP leader said that the Government will have to correct itself and be better and that the Government will be able to prevent an “explosion” if it starts to “do the right thing” and understand the grief and problems of the people.

The former President said that Susil Premajayantha was sacked from his State Minister portfolio for what he said at the public market, however, State Minister Nimal Lanza who had made a far more serious statement was not sacked or asked to resign. “I know the reason why a hand is not laid on Lanza. That’s because Lanza is the man who knows everything. There is no other reason,” he said.

“Remove SLFP”

State Minister Dilum Amunugama said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was not a major player in the last Presidential or General Election victory. He said that the best thing to do now is to remove the former President and his party because they are likely to break away from the Government.

Amunugama said, “Hundreds of devotees were killed in churches when President Maithripala Sirisena was the Defence Minister, despite repeated reports from Indian intelligence Service and he was unable to avert the attack. Therefore, former President Maithripala Sirisena has no moral right to point a finger at the Government.”

At a press briefing in Kandy recently, he said that the SLFP won 13 seats in the last General Election because it contested with the SLPP and if they had contested alone, they would have suffered the same fate as the UNP. State Minister Amunugama said that no one could be in the Government and act to the detriment of its unity and that if someone wishes to criticise the Government, they should leave the Government and do so.

“Situation will worsen”

UNP Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has spoken for the first time about former President Maithripala Sirisena during an interview with the state-owned radio channel, the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).

UNP Leader Wickremesinghe said that Sirisena was elected as the President thanks to the United National Front but had started attacking the party in 2020 in support of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Wickremesinghe said former President Sirisena had now started attacking the SLPP, adding that in the future Sirisena might end up attacking his own self.

UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara has called on the people to team up with the UNP in the New Year under Ranil Wickremesinghe who has extensive experience and international connections and can work in a planned manner to oust the Government.

He said that the UNP had saved the country every time it fell under Leftist Governments, adding that Ranil Wickremesinghe had rebuilt the country in 2001 and 2015, not as President but as Prime Minister.

At a media briefing held at the UNP Headquarters, Sirikotha recently, he said, “Last year was a difficult year for the people in terms of education, health, the economy and society. There is no doubt that the situation will worsen in the New Year. Queues are all over the country.

“There is a shortage of all the essentials. In the New Year, we have a Treasury deficient in Dollars. Under these circumstances, the Government has to take loans not only from India, but also from Bangladesh and Afghanistan.” He said that the New Year will be one where people are under immense pressure without the essentials.

He said, “We call on the people to team up with the leader who can work to save the people from the immense pain they are undergoing, the party which can make people alive. We need a leader with international connections. All those who want to save the country from the Rajapaksa administration should unite. I urge everyone to team up with the UNP for this.”

Weakness in management

State Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said a number of crises have been created in the past 24 months, however, that is not the legacy of the current administration.

The State Minister said that the relevant crises were inherited due to the weaknesses in the management of the country for a long period, which worsened with the pandemic.

The cost of living has increased in many countries, State Minister Wijesekera said adding, that such crises are beyond their control.

Mass Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said that the political authority and the public service have become defendants in face of the society as both parties must be responsible for the state of the country.

At an event on Wednesday, January 5, the Minister said that accusations from society cannot be avoided. The Minister said in the country’s 73 years since Independence, sadly the public service was used as a tool for retail politics.

Calls on the Mahanayakas

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa called on the Mahanayaka and Anunayaka Theras of the Malwatta and Asgiri Chapters on Wednesday, January 5 and received their blessings. The President visited the Malwatta Maha Vihara and called on the Most Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera to invoke blessings for the New Year.

The President had briefed the Mahanayaka Thera on the steps taken by the Government for the protection and conservation of historical sites of archaeological value. The Mahanayake Thera presented a memento to the President. President Rajapaksa had also inspected the construction work of the new Vihara Mandira building at the Malwatta Temple premises.

He then visited the Asgiri Chapter Mahanayaka Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratana Thera at the Asgiri Maha Vihara and received blessings. Visiting the Asgiri Gedige Rajamaha Vihara, President Rajapaksa has paid a courtesy call on the Anunayake of the Asgiri Chapter, Most Ven. Wendaruwe Sri Upali Thera.

He engaged in a discussion with the Thera and inquired about the progress of the construction work being carried out at the temple premises. President Rajapaksa had subsequently called on the Chief Registrar of the Asgiri Chapter Ven. Medagama Dhammananda Thera and received blessings.


Several Ministers expressed their views regarding a possible Cabinet reshuffle which is due to take place soon. Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that the President can carry out a Cabinet reshuffle at any time as it is the responsibility of the President.

He said, “If the President thinks that a Minister is not working properly, the President will remove him and he should take such decisions.”

Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said that he is of the opinion that if he is unable to carry out the responsibilities entrusted on him, or has misused State power, his Ministerial portfolio should be stripped, and this change should take place not only in the Cabinet but also in Government bodies.

“Yes, the President has the power to change the Cabinet and no one can demand it. I hope the President will make that decision prudently,” the Minister said.

Minister of Education, Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Cabinet reshuffle is simply a media fable, and the Constitution of Sri Lanka allows the President to change the portfolio of any Minister of any subject at any time.


However, SJB Parliamentarian Tissa Attanayake said that shuffling the Cabinet would not solve any of the problems the country faced and said that the people are asking that the whole Government resign, and not to shuffle portfolios.

He said, “This Cabinet is useless. It is now clear that they are puppet Ministers in this Cabinet through their public statements.”

Convener of the Voice for Anti-Corruption, Wasantha Samarasinghe said that people are now aware that their problems cannot be solved by playing a game of changing heads.