President Maithripala Sirisena, in what many analysts saw as a landmark speech to mark the 100th day of the new Yahapalanaya government, underlined some important facets of wisdom that we need to learn from world history.In a 30-minute speech broadcast to millions of people live on television and radio, the President referred to one of world history’s greatest events -- the legendary Abraham Lincoln’s liberation of millions of Afro-American people from slavery. Mr. Sirisena pointed out that though President Lincoln enacted many laws to give liberty to the Afro-American slaves, many of them preferred to remain in slavery. What was the reason deep within the hearts and minds of these slaves? With freedom and human rights, there also comes a need to fulfill responsibilities -- not only in the family or workplace but also to bring about justice, democracy and good governance in society.
President Sirisena, showing rare qualities or servant leadership where power is not abused but used to sincerly help and serve the people, said he saw a parallel between what happened in Lincoln’s America and what was happening in Sri Lanka today. The President lamented that some sections of politicians and the people, appeared to prefer to remain in the political slavery imposed on them during the past 10 years. They had little by way of rights or freedom, but they appeared to prefer that authoritarian family domination, largely because they could not or did not want to carry out the selfless and sacrificial civic responsibilities that are linked to such rights and freedom.
President Sirisena announced that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had decided to unanimously support the crucial “19th Amendment” when it is debated and voted on in Parliament next Monday and Tuesday. He said the 20th Amendment outlining electoral reforms would also be presented in Parliament soon after a consensus was reached through consultations among all parties. With the approval of 20A and the Right to Information Bill, the President said he hoped to dissolve Parliament and call a general election. The two main parties, the SLFP and the United National Party would contest separately but he believed that after the elections they would come together as a National Government to work out long-term national policies on vital issues for the common good of all the people of Sri Lanka.
President Sirisena, in his characteristic low profile style said he had quietly but deeply observed what was happening in the country since the people’s silent rainbow revolution on January 8 this year. He said he was fully aware of criticism that he was not strong and lacked leadership qualities. The President reminded such critics and the people that his style of leadership was based on the deepest spiritual values of selfless, sacrificial and sincere service to the people. He had not and would not abuse such power for his personal gain or glory for prestige or popularity and to accumulate wealth.
The President said the main pledge in his election manifesto was the abolition of the executive presidency which gave absolute power to an individual and paved the way for a dictatorship. The 19th Amendment was the first vital step towards that mission and vision to restore democracy and good governance, social justice and accountability in Sri Lanka. That was why he believed that all MPs should raise both hands for 19A when it came up in Parliament next week.
President Sirisena pointed out that since the executive presidential system was imposed in 1978, the SLFP and many others including the socialist parties had strongly opposed it and vowed to dismantle this dictatorial system. In 1994 President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had pledged to abolish in 24 hours what she described as the “curse” of the executive presidency. But she did not or could not do so. At the elections in 2005 and again in 2010 President Mahinda Rajapaksa also pledged to abolish the executive presidency but he did not do so and instead the executive presidency was given absolute power through the 18th Amendment. Even the UNP at a convention in 1998 had decided to abolish the executive presidency. The President said that what the others had failed to do he was doing now and he believed this era of a change in the political culture would be written in Sri Lanka’s history in letters of gold.
Comments - 6
Dayawathie Saturday, 25 April 2015 01:23 PM
Very impressive speech. I hope he gain more and more strength to lead this country for a better future. Though difficult he should get rid of all those corrupt Ministers from his cabinet. Please Mr Sirisena find out how some of these Ministers became multi millionaires so soon. From where did they get the money to build mansions, buy properties etc.
nihal Saturday, 25 April 2015 08:39 AM
Here is a president who does not want to grab and increase power, but divest himself of power to install a democracy of the demos= people. That was what King Carlos did in Spain. But the big question is whether the people are ready and willing to accept the responsibilities and confusion that results from finding a way ahead and moving forward together step by step. I hope this will be achieved. But ... where were the people when Sarath Fonseka was being harrassed? where were they when journalists were harrassed? It is the people that must cry out against this. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for freedom!
Aba Jayasekera Sunday, 26 April 2015 06:57 PM
Best speech I have ever heard from a ruler. He is sticking to his principles and promises. But what about Ranil. That upstart is behaving as if he is an elected president !
bala Saturday, 25 April 2015 09:22 AM
We Sri Lankans must be proud to have elected a President like HE Mithripala Sirisena. It clearly shows that the majority of people in Sri Lanka were right. The rest were probably blinded and led astray by false propaganda, corruption, and radicalism fueled by racism.We salute you Mr President. All right thinking citizens will stand by you !Let us unite under one Flag!
asanka mallawaarachchi Saturday, 25 April 2015 08:17 PM
Brilliant, you have right thinking. Most important thing is the way our leaders think. you have very sensible understanding regarding our country and people.Well done. we all are bind you.
carlion Saturday, 25 April 2015 09:40 PM
After Maithri what? Ranil? God bless Sri Lanka!
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