Priorities must remain the main focus | Sunday Observer

Priorities must remain the main focus

23 January, 2022

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged all citizens to support the Government in its endeavour to fulfill the commitments that have been made by the Government. All decisions that have been made are for the betterment of future generations.

Delivering the Government Policy statement at the opening of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament on Tuesday, January 18, the President called on all Government and Opposition parties to unite inside and outside Parliament to overcome the challenges faced by the country. He said that politicians who incite the people against each other for narrow political gains should stop such moves at least now.

President Rajapaksa was received at the Parliamentary Complex by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake.

The ceremony was held sans pomp and pageantry with a cultural salute with the participation of the Police Cultural Division without the traditional gun salutes or vehicle parades, on the instructions of the President. Students of President’s Girls’ College, Sri Jayewardenepura lined up for the recital of Jayamangala Gatha at the main entrance of the Parliament Building in welcoming the President.

Delivering his Policy Statement, the President said in this difficult time of global catastrophe, all people’s representatives have a national responsibility to work together to rebuild the country and despite the pledges made to fulfill responsibilities within five years, the global pandemic resulted in various obstacles and emphasised that the government has never forgotten to fulfill its basic responsibilities.

The President also said that despite the economic difficulties, the Government has taken steps to give priority to the health of the people and to bear all the expenses.

He said that for Sri Lanka to move forward, all factions irrespective of race, religion and other differences must unite to work for the betterment of the country.

“We all ultimately wish for the good of the country. During this difficult time of a global catastrophe, we all have a national responsibility as people’s representatives to work together and build this country. I invite all of you to join us in fulfilling this responsibility,” he said.

President Rajapaksa said while successfully encountering short-term problems, our primary responsibility is to continue to implement the long-term development program presented by us to the people, and endorsed by a majority.

“The sustainable future of the country is built on it,” he said, adding that the priorities must remain the main focus. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured that he will not allow human rights violations to take place in Sri Lanka during his tenure, adding that his Government has not supported any rights violations.

He said the Government is determined to rectify the false narratives being circulated internationally about Sri Lanka’s human rights. President Rajapaksa while acknowledging that all communities suffered due to terrorism, said they succeeded in defeating terrorism in 2009 and liberated the country.

However, he said that the Government wishes to leave the dark past behind and move forward ensuring a safe and secure country for all communities.

The President stressed that his Government rejects racism and is focused on safeguarding the rights of all citizens. “This country belongs to the people living in the present as well as those who will live in the future. We are simply the current guardians of this country. The future of this country depends on how we act today and stressed that we are all responsible to future generations.”

Two more years

Parliamentarian Diana Gamage told the Parliament on Friday that a resolution should be brought to use the two-thirds majority in Parliament to give the President the two years lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. MP Gamage also said that another resolution should be brought to extend the term of Parliament by two years.

At the Adjournment Debate on the President’s Policy Statement, she said that the expressway network in the country could have been completed earlier as two years was wasted due to the pandemic.

She said the world has been affected due to this global pandemic adding that queues for food and fuel were reported in Australia and the USA and that cost of food had also gone up in those countries.

MP Gamage said the President should be supported by everyone to face this global pandemic and added that he could not do it alone.

Enemies upset

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is being attacked inside and outside the Government adding that Government’s enemies were upset and angry with the President because he does not tolerate corruption or fraud.

At a ceremony to mark the commissioning of the Second Phase of the Central Expressway, Minister Fernando said, “The President had taken a vow that he will rule this country without fraud and corruption. He not only made that promise but also lived up to it. This has antagonised many including some in the Government ranks.

“They sling mud at the President since they are frustrated. Being attacked is not something new to us. Come what may, we shall protect the President and stand up for him unconditionally, because we know that he is doing the right thing,” he said.

Minister Fernando said that this country has a political history of killing civil society leaders, members of the Maha Sangha and innocents to achieve political goals.

“Some of those killers are still alive and masquerading as ‘champions of democracy’. We see one of them who got his ‘six reduced to three’ posing on Facebook as the next President of the country. None of our villagers would vote for Anura Kumara Dissanayake as President. The 6.9 million who had voted for the President are ready to protect him,” he said.

Minister Fernando said it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who gave leadership to save this land from terrorism. Similarly it was Gotabaya Rajapaksa who gave the leadership to save people from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the President did not have time to focus on politics during the past two years. “His main and only concern was to complete the vaccination drive and inoculate all the people with Covid vaccines. While he was trying to save the lives, we had an Opposition Leader who went around prescribing Plaquenil for Covid.

“The Opposition has no able leaders but only critics who are mere windbags. Their main objective whenever they are in power is to take revenge. They came to power in 2015 and stopped the work on expressways. We renewed the contracts,” the Minister said.

Poor reading habits

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament on Wednesday that the MPs’ poor reading habit had led to deterioration of their conduct in the House and made their speeches full of unparliamentary language. The Speaker said that it was very embarrassing to note that all 225 MPs had borrowed only 330 books from the House library during the whole of last year

The Speaker made a statement at the commencement of the sittings. He said Members of the House should take note of their conduct during the debates. “After you have crossed the bar of the House you are considered honourable members of the House of Parliament. The honourable title demands that you speak and behave accordingly in a respectable manner which in turn reflects back on the House. When I first spoke in Parliament I did so after weeks of preparation.

“Today, very few members prepare before making speeches. According to the information furnished to me by the library, only 330 books have been borrowed by the MPs during the year 2021, and 122 of them were fiction.

“Ninety-four of the books borrowed were on political science and 27 on sociology, only 11 books on economics. Five books on science, four books on law and three books on technology, one book on education, and one book on Sinhala literature among those books borrowed by the MPs,” he said.

The Speaker said “For a House of 225 members this is embarrassing. This lack of knowledge and preparation on subjects have led us to insufficient awareness, false allegations, in speeches. Most of the speeches are to score political points. This has led to shameful, unparliamentary conduct. As the Speaker it is my duty to conduct the House affairs productively and ensure the rights of all its members.” The Speaker said “The members must understand that it is their sacred duty to uphold the dignity of this institution.

If people lose faith in this House that means they lose faith in democracy. Repercussions of such a situation would be a grave danger for all political parties and citizens of this country. People expect the members of the government and Opposition to act responsibly.”

First meeting for the year

The first meeting of the ruling SLPP Parliamentarians for this year was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday, January 18. The Government’s Policy Statement was also delivered by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the inauguration of the second session of the ninth Parliament on Tuesday morning. Subsequently, the meeting of the ruling SLPP Parliamentarians, chaired by the Premier was convened at the Parliament complex.

During the meeting, Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando requested the Prime Minister to allocate an additional day for the Adjournment Debate on the policy statement. Previously, at the Party Leaders meeting convened under the patronage of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, it was decided to hold the Adjournment Debate on January 19 and 20.

The Chief Government Whip was instructed to inform the Speaker to allocate Friday, January 21 as an additional date for the debate. During the meeting, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila had briefed the Government Parliamentarians on the agreement signed for the joint development of Trincomalee oil tank farm with India.

“Should be thrown out”

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said SLPP Parliamentarian and former President Maithripala Sirisena should be thrown out of the SLFP for making the party a junior partner of the SLPP.

Former President Kumaratunga said on January 19 night after appearing before the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry (SPCoI) appointed to implement the recommendations of the final report of the PCoI into alleged Political Victimisation.

She alleged that Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had destroyed the SLFP. The former President said that she had urged Sirisena not to join the SLPP as that would be the end of the SLFP.

She said, “I repeatedly told him this and Sirisena removed me from the party’s Central Committee and stripped me of my organiser’s post in retaliation. Now, Sirisena is saying the same things I said about the SLPP. Even during the battle against terrorism, I managed to get the economy up and running. Look at it now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Kumaratunga was also critical of the SPCoI, stating that she had not been summoned before the PCoI on Political Victimisation for her to respond to the allegations against her.


SLFP National Organiser State Minister Duminda Dissanayake said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested that the SLFP be strengthened.

He said, “When State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Dayasiri Jayasekara and myself called on the Prime Minister to greet him for the New Year, the Premier asked me to work hard to strengthen the SLFP since he too started his politics from the SLFP.”

He said that 30 years of terrorism was permanently ended under the leadership of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which was a turning point of our history.

Dissanayake said, “Former Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Maithripala Sirisena implemented large scale economic, cultural, agricultural and industrial development programs to develop the country. The world’s first female Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike volunteered to sacrifice thousands of acres of fertile ancestral land belonging to her to be distributed among the landless under the Land Reforms Commission Act instituted by her own Government.”


He said the SLFP is a strong party based on values which will emerge despite temporary setbacks. Even today the present Government has been able to secure a two-thirds majority thanks to the SLFP. We are at present duty bound and obliged to form a Government of our own as every political party does, in keeping with the pure Bandaranaike policies which would suit the country’s political, economic, social and cultural environment. The SLFP will always work for the benefit of the country and the people.

UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena said that the country, which was ravaged by fraud, needs to be re-established with truth and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has plans to do so. He said that the present regime has plunged the country into a catastrophe and that a national election that can bring about national change is needed to rebuild the country from this catastrophe.

Abeywardena was speaking at a meeting with activists of the Akmeemana electorate regarding the reorganisation of the party.

He said, “We plan to hold a protest on January 25. Leaders of all political parties have been invited to the event. The UNP has presented a national program for the country and it has been decided to go ahead with it. The Government says all the current issues will change in due course but they have no plan for that. Only the UNP has a plan for that.”