President Maithripala Sirisenatoday urged all parliamentarians to ensure freedom for the people by voting in favour of the 19th Amendment and to be contributors to this act of ensuring democracy in this country.
Addressing the nation on electronic media last night, President Sirisena said that when the people of this country voted on January 8, they clearly carried out both a transformation and revolution with their democratic right.
“The manner in which the freedom and democracy obtained by this transformation and revolution has been used by certain elements in the past three months, their political decisions and activities, brings to my mind the occasions in world history when countries that carried out revolutions were later faced with counter-revolutions.
“We are aware that very often it is a common occurrence in countries for a counter-revolution to follow a revolution. One could see a similar situation following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. When the great humanitarian leader Abraham Lincoln of the United States took action to abolish slavery and introduced legislation for this purpose, for some time after this some of the people in slavery stated that they preferred the condition of slavery. This is because they thought that going forward in life in slavery was better than enjoying the freedom given and building themselves on their own strength, as they were used to living under conditions of slavery. This is the reality of human society. It is therefore essential that we understand this,” he said.
He said the ruling given by the Supreme Courts should be followed and one should not go beyond it.
The president said there were obstacles in the path of the 19th Amendment when it was taken up in parliament recently.
“The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court that in keeping with my advice the executive powers should be removed. My Constitutional Advisor also informed the Supreme Court that these powers should be removed. We took a political decision on this. The Supreme Court has given a decision on this.
“I have not heard of any leader in the world who desired that his powers should be abolished but I am not boasting,” the president said.
“I trust that all MPs will consider that it would be an honour for them to vote in favour of the 19th Amendment. You will earn yourself an honour which will go down in the history, he said.
He said he also intended to get the Electoral Reforms Bill enacted just as he intended to get the 19th Amendment enacted.
He said many had criticised him calling him a weak leader as he did not use his executive powers during the hundred day programme.
Also he said that some alleged that he had given lands to the terrorists by removing the security forces from the North. “This allegation is made by the extremists,” he said. He recalled that lands even in Colombo were acquired by the security forces during the war and asked whether handing them back to the original owners was an offence. He said the land surrounding the presidential palace was also acquired during the war.
The president said a task force had been appointed to recover government property. He said state assets which had been deposited in bank accounts would be reclaimed by this task force.
He said all possible steps would be taken to curb corruption. But he said he had never made a single telephone call to any officer in the Bribery Commission.
The president said that the number staff members was 1575 when he became president and it had been reduced to 600. He said he had decided to contest the last presidential election despite putting his life in danger. He said he faced this danger even today.
He added that his government followed a balanced foreign policy and ensured that the country’s security would not be jeopardised at any time.
“When we are taking action against corruption and all these threats to society, there are people who like the slaves in America who were against the abolishing of slavery and said they preferred to remain as slaves. They seem to prefer a corrupt system and therefore mislead the public when action is taken to eliminate corruption and fraud.”