President Ranil Wickremesinghe was in the Maldives last weekend to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President of the Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.
Returning to Sri Lanka after the two-day visit, President Wickremesinghe called former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to wish him on his birthday.
When the pleasantries were over, President Wickremesinghe received a phone call from MP Namal Rajapaksa. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal told President Wickremesinghe that they had arranged a surprise party for former President Rajapaksa’s birthday. He said former President Rajapaksa would be happy if President Wickremesinghe could participate.
President Wickremesinghe, who was returning to his home in Colombo from Katunayake, changed his route and left for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Wijerama residence. When the President went to the house, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and a group of relatives and friends were present. President Wickremesinghe who joined all of them in the birthday celebrations, left without staying there for long, saying that he had come straight to the event from the Maldives.
That evening, the President participated in the ‘YPO Colombo Experience: Rediscover the Pearl’ conference at the Shangri La Hotel. The President revealed information about the country’s economy and about his trip to the Maldives.
On Monday morning, the President attended the funeral of a relative and that afternoon he went to Parliament as he had to stay there as the Finance Minister during the Budget debate. The President also met the special representative of the Chinese President that evening.
On Tuesday, President Wickremesinghe, who went to the Ministry of Defence as usual, returned to the Presidential Secretariat after the meeting with the Security Council, as several other meetings had been arranged.
The President, who met the UNP Management Committee representatives that evening, discussed the future activities of the party. UNP General Secretary Range Bandara said that it has been decided to hold a series of district meetings next month. He also said that several meetings will be held at city level in the districts with large areas and one meeting will be held in the small districts.
The President inquired about the UNP’s program to win future elections. Range Bandara said that district meetings will be held as the first part of the program. The President handed over the organisation and planning of those meetings to Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, Chairman Wajira Abeywardena and General Secretary Range Bandara.
General Secretary Range Bandara presented a tentative report related to the plan to secure victory for the party and it was appreciated by the President.
“Since the President has announced that there will be two elections next year, we have prepared a plan at the constituency level. In some constituencies, authorised representatives have been appointed at the divisional level. Appointments are given to these people and facilities are given to them to work in the division,” Range Bandara said, looking at everyone.
“Let’s continue this program and then everyone will be given some responsibility,” UNP National Organiser Sagala Ratnayaka said. It was decided to give them a letter of appointment signed by the Deputy Leader and General Secretary.
The President then made a revelation to the party representatives about cricket and the current political situation. The President also expressed his opinion about giving deeds of Mahaweli lands and the giving of deeds to the residents of Government flats.
When the UNP Management Committee meeting was over, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka had to face a strange situation. It was a face-to-face meeting between him and Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe at the Presidential Secretariat.
When Minister Ranasinghe came out from the office of President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, he met Sagala Ratnayaka who was going to his office at the same time. “How are you, Minister?” Sagala asked first. Minister Roshan replied ’good’, with a smile and left as if nothing had happened. An officer who saw it told another officer that Sagala Ratnayaka, who had nothing to do with the cricket issue, was scolding as the Minister works without properly searching for anything.
President Wickremesinghe went to Parliament on Wednesday morning because the Budget head of the President was taken up for debate that day. The President also expressed his opinion about cricket and the Constitutional Council. The President also commented on a photo displayed by the Minister of Sports.
The President also said that the President of the Court of Appeal and the family members of lawyer Asela B. Rekawa were in that photo and the photo was taken in his office on the day the Court of Appeal judge was sworn in. When President Wickremesinghe said that Asela is the son of Ariya B. Rekawa, who is a member of the UNP and a friend of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that he did not say anything about him. He also said that he thought it was Shammi Silva in that photo.
After his speech, when the President got up from his seat to leave the Chamber, Opposition Leader Premadasa who joined the debate, asked the President several times to wait and listen to his speech, but realising that the speech was not a short one, the President left because he could not waste his time anymore.
While coming out, Government and Opposition party members met the President in the Parliament lobby. “Sir, the Opposition Leader told the biggest lie, didn’t he?,” MP Madhura Vithanage told the President. When everyone asked about it, Madhura again said, “Sir, why didn’t he see you in the picture shown by Minister Roshan Ranasinghe. He said he thought it was Shammi.” When Madhura said that everyone couldn’t stop laughing.
“Sir, what is that bread and dry rations story?” Minister Manusha Nanayakkara asked.
“No, he had asked about a court case. I looked up what the case was. I saw that it was a court case of someone who asked to give drinks and dry rations to the Trincomalee prison. Earlier, I thought it might be a cricket case.” When the President said that, everyone laughed.
The President left Parliament and came to the Presidential Secretariat as he had to attend several other discussions. That evening, the National People’s Power (NPP) demanded a vote for the Budget head of former Presidents.
Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha asked NPP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake whether they are also asking for votes for the former President’s wives as well.
Minister Premajayantha couldn’t stop laughing when Anura Dissanayake said, “Not just one person, but everyone who is maintained by public funds.”
President Wickremesinghe came to Parliament on Thursday morning to participate in the Defence Ministry Budget debate. The President had also summoned Finance Ministry officials to hold the progress review meeting of the Ministry in the Parliament complex. After hearing that the President had come to Parliament, Ministers and Government Parliamentarians came to the President’s office to meet him and talk about the current situation.
“Looking at the way the Budget was passed, it can be seen that several members of the Opposition also voted in favour,” MP Rajika Wickramasinghe said, looking at the President.
“Because there is no way to oppose the Budget, even if they say false things, they admit that to develop the economy, they have to carry out the reforms presented in the Budget.” Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said joining in the conversation.
“There was nothing to talk about regarding the Budget, so at one point, they got hung up on cricket. Now they are shouting with the judgment given that Rajapaksas have bankrupted the country,” MP Premanath C. Dolawatta said.
“Not only the Rajapaksas, a resolution can also be brought against Sajith Premadasa for bankrupting the country.” When MP Wajira Abeywardena said everyone looked at each other.
“When he was asked to take over the country when the economy was collapsing, he did not take over. When the Government collapses, the Opposition Leader takes power.” When Wajira repeated this, the President could not stop laughing.
“The Opposition Leader can perform well. That is what he is doing these days. Some of the media that he has captured is also helping him.” Everyone nodded when MP Jagath Samarawickrama said that.
“Sir, intervene and lift the international ban on cricket,” MP Rajika Wickramasinghe said.
“I tried my best. However, losing the hosting of the Under-19 World Cup is a big loss for us not only from the cricket side but also from the tourism side,” the President said.
“Now everyone has understood that Minister Roshan Ranasinghe was too hasty. Everyone thought that he would go to the Opposition. It is also heard that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya proposed to give him a Deputy Leader post, but others did not like it,” MP Dolawatta said, revealing a political secret.
“According to the Jagath Fernando report, the Sports Act is being drafted by Sagala. After that, the cricket problem can be solved according to the Chithrasiri report,” the President said and entered the Chamber to speak on the Defence Ministry Budget.
There, the President criticised the Constitutional Council again. After the speech, President Wickremesinghe returned to the office and joined the discussion of Finance Ministry officials. There he talked about the ability to pay the Rs.5,000 allowance to Government employees from the beginning of next year.
The members of the committee appointed for daily reporting of state revenue under the chairmanship of President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake also attended this meeting. At the end of the discussion, the group gathered under the patronage of President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake. There, the group gave a long explanation about the current financial situation in the country.
Prof. Ashu Marasinghe who heard it, said that according to this financial situation, Rs. 5,000 can be paid from the beginning of next year. “Pensioners can be given a hundred percent.” State Finance Ministers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Shehan Semasinghe also endorsed it.
When Kegalle District MP Sudath Manjula came near the MPs who were talking in the President’s Office In Parliament, they asked why he attempted to rouse the anger of Minister Susil Premajayantha.
“No, I went to talk about a child’s problem. He immediately lost his temper and shouted at me in front of everyone. So, I also lost my temper and spoke loudly. Then the Minister’s staff came and settled it.” The MP explained the facts.
The MPs said that Minister Premajayantha was working without regard for the MPs. They said, “Even the most innocent MP in Parliament got angry. Then what about us?”
Supreme Court decision
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who was in his Parliament office said that attention should be paid to the creation of a program to publicise the issues arising from the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the bankruptcy of the country. It is a responsibility that must be fulfilled for the sake of the country.
Chief Opposition Whip MP Lakshman Kiriella said that the matters mentioned in the court case should be presented to Parliament as a 27/2 resolution. At that moment, the Opposition Leader told the parliamentary staff to take steps to submit the proposals on November 21.
SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that a program should be implemented to create a broad public opinion on this. Accordingly, the work was entrusted to MPs Nalin Bandara, S.M. Marikkar and Harshana Rajakaruna and they were also asked to get the support of former MP Mujibur Rahuman.
Opposition Leader Premadasa and SJB General Secretary Madduma Bandara instructed the group of MPs to a public petition signing campaign based on the facts such as the cancellation of the civic rights of the people who have been made respondents according to the court decision, the cancellation of the privileges that they are currently enjoying and requesting a special Presidential Commission to look into it.
The group decided to start collecting signatures for the petition on November 23 in front of the Colombo Fort Railway Station. Former MP Mujibur Rahuman said that the signing of the petition should be done in the afternoon, but the Opposition Leader said that he would be able to attend in the morning, so arrangements were made to sign the petition at 8 am.
Member of Parliament Imtiaz Bakir Marker said that the court has done justice and that public opinion is important in making future decisions through that decision. Therefore, they decided to sign this petition on the theme “Mandate for Justice”. Former MP Mujibur Rahuman said that the anti-corruption force distributed a leaflet with the main points of the court decision titled “Punish the country’s economic assassins.”
The Opposition Leader assigned the responsibility to the group of Parliamentarians to implement the public petition at the constituency level and forward the signed petition to the President.
He said through the Supreme Court decision, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and the Samagi Jana Sandhanaya as a party and alliance which are not greedy for money could pave the way to get compensation for the damage caused to 22 million people and businessmen in the country whose lives were destroyed due to the bankruptcy of the country owing to the wrong decisions made.
Opposition Leader Premadasa said in this series of signatures, a special Presidential Commission will be set up and through that the President will be forced to abolish the civic rights of all those who have violated the basic rights of 22 million people in the country, and their right to contest elections again and the right to vote should also be abolished.
After a long break, former MP Sujeewa Senasinghe is again participating in an operation to increase the organisational strength of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya at the grassroots level. Sujeewa’s aim is to reunite former Parliamentarians, Provincial Councilors and representatives of Local Government bodies who worked hard to launch the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, targeting the upcoming Presidential Election. A former senior MP said that Sujeewa has been relegated to the ‘Dukgannarala’ role of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya.
Sujeewa says that his main aim is to gather the people who have worked with the party and strengthen the party mechanism and grassroots mechanism to win the upcoming elections and give his best contribution to the Party Leader and the General Secretary.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa was praised by many people for his statements in Parliament last week about the President, Constitutional Council and its functioning.
Member of Parliament Nalin Bandara said that the Opposition Leader’s comments about the Executive’s attempt to subvert the Legislature drew everyone’s attention.
Deputy Chief Opposition Whip MP Gayantha Karunathilaka said that the Opposition Leader presented the speech logically and not impulsively in accordance with parliamentary traditions.
MP Ashok Abeysinghe said that the act of State Minister Sanath Nishantha by interrupting the speech of the Opposition Leader was a disgraceful incident that happened in the Parliament and the people who attacked MPs with water bottles and chairs in the Chamber during the infamous ‘52 days’ have not got away with it. Necessary pressure should be exerted to take further systematic and disciplinary action in this regard.
Opposition Leader Premadasa smiled and said that he remembered his father’s statement made in Parliament at the end of his speech regardless of the continuous interruptions made. President Ranasinghe Premadasa had said, “Honourable Speaker, I don’t care about what the children do.” This time too, such a childish act happened.”