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The ceremonies are over, now walk the talk

2 September 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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n a policy statement to mark the ceremonial opening of the new Parliament on Tuesday -- more so the ceremonial beginning of a new era and a new political culture -- President Maithripala Sirisena outlined the vision and goals of the first fully fledged National Government since Independence.

The House was packed with leading dignitaries and diplomats with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa occupying a front seat and possibly reflecting on the truth and realities of a proclamation of how the high and mighty shall be cast from their thrones, with the lowly and the humble being raised to the highest positions.


President Sirisena who was greeted with a military guard of honour and a 21 gun salute when he arrived at the parliamentary grounds was later accompanied by the new Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Serjeant-at-Arms Anil Amerasekara, with the mace and other traditional trappings that brought back memories of the Throne Speech days before 1972. It was not a ceremonial Governor General who delivered the speech this time but an elected Executive President who in April this year willingly let go of some of his powers and has committed himself to be a leader of the people with a simple and humble lifestyle or Alpechchathawaya.


President Sirisena giving details of the consensual alliance to form a National Unity Government, said reconciliation and sustainable economic development policy based on social justice would be among the priority targets. Echoing the views of great statesmen in history, the President said one of our greatest treasures was our human resources and priority would be given to bring out the full creative and innovative potential in our people, especially the younger generation. 


Thousands of highly qualified and intellectual Sri Lankans with great potential had gone overseas with valid reasons in recent decades because the situation in Sri Lanka was plagued by discrimination and violence, party politics and the destructive war. The President extended a special invitation for them to return and serve their mother country assuring them that merit, honesty and integrity would now be given high priority. 
Responding to widespread public demands President Sirisena said the Government would continue to crack down on corruption, fraud and wasteful expenditure that had reached their worst proportions during the former regime. He said the necessary institutional structures -- including the Commission Investigating Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) -- would be strengthened and those who were found guilty of criminally plundering national resources to the value of trillions of rupees would face the full punishment and be compelled to return what they had robbed from the poor people. 
Underlining the principle that Sri Lanka was moving from an era of domination to an era of sincere and sacrificial service, the President told MPs of all sides that the change must begin with them because they had been elected by the people to be the lawmakers and policy makers of the supreme legislative assembly. He has made clear on several occasions that as he was doing, the ministers and MPs also should be conscious that they were elected to be servants and good stewards of the people and the country. Anyone trying to do business in Parliament would not be tolerated anymore as part of the moves to restore this august assembly to its highest status in the aftermath of a tragedy where during the past few years the Parliament had degenerated in to a den of robbers. 


The Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s annual national convention was held in the President’s home base of Polonnaruwa yesterday and as expected it gave a unanimous endorsement to the principles of the National Unity Government with consensual and consultative politics. Today, being the 64th birthday of the President, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will move a motion in parliament for approval of the National Unity Government with a larger cabinet which is scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow. With that the hard and honest work will begin with all the elected representatives—from the President to ministers and MPs—being called upon to walk the talk, fulfill their promises and build a new Sri Lanka based on the hallowed concept of good governance, democracy and social justice.     
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