- Says electoral reforms vital to ensure Parliamentary stability
- An unstable Parliament under influence of extremism doesn’t suit country
- A strong Executive, Legislature and Independent Judiciary can ensure stability
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
Changes should be made to the existing Constitution to safeguard security, sovereignty, stability, and integrity of Sri Lanka, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said yesterday.
Inaugurating the fourth session of the eight Parliament, President Gotabaya said electoral reforms were needed to ensure stability of Parliament and to ensure the direct representation of the people while preserving the positive characteristics of the proportional representation system.
“Even though elections can be won through numbers, an unstable Parliament that cannot take clear decisions and remain constantly under the influence of extremism is not one that suits the country,” he said.
“Success of a democracy rests upon the constitution. The 1978 constitution which has since amended 19 times, has given rise to many problems at the present time because of its inherent ambiguities and confusions. We can solve this problem through constitutional reforms that will establish a strong Executive, legislature and independent judiciary that can ensure the sovereignty of the people. The people of this country gave me a clear mandate at the Presidential election held on 16th November 2019. That mandate was granted because of the trust the people had in me. I, together with my Government, stand committed to honour the trust of the people and implement the programme of developing a prosperous nation that we promised to them,” the President said.
He said people who elected him desired a profound change in the political culture.
“The people who elected me to office desired a profound change in the political culture of this country. They rejected political agendas founded on race. The majority of the people proved that it is no longer possible for anyone to manipulate and control the politics of this country by playing the role of kingmaker. I invite the politicians concerned to understand this reality. I call upon all to join together in the national undertaking to develop this country, and to reject the politics based on petty agendas that have sown division in our society in the past. We must always respect the aspirations of the majority of the people. It is only then that the sovereignty of the people will be safeguarded. In accordance with our Constitution, I pledge that during my term of office, I will always defend the unitary status of our country, and protect and nurture the Buddha Sasana whilst safeguarding the rights of all citizens to practice a religion of their choice,” he said. “This Parliament should become an exemplary institution where real issues of the people are discussed, where matters concerned with national policy are subjected to debate, and where the responsibilities of the legislature are duly fulfilled. The responsibility of ensuring that the Parliament once again becomes an institution winning the respect of the people lies with the Members who are in this House.”
- Sri Lanka’s unique geographical location had resulted in attracting considerable attention in the global geopolitics
- I will defend the unitary status of our country, protect and nurture the Buddha Sasana while safeguarding the right of all citizens to practice a religion of their choice
The President said Sri Lanka’s unique geographical location had resulted in attracting considerable attention in the global geopolitics in recent times and the government would follow a neutral foreign policy.
“We must strive to maintain friendly relations with every country . However we can never give up our independence,” he said. “We will never allow other countries to take over our economically significant geographic regions or physical resources. It is my aspiration to ensure that Sri Lankan people will become a proud people with a global standing. We can overcome all obstacles in our path to reaching that goal if we unit as a nation. I love my country, I am proud of my country, I have a vision for my country. I invite all of you to join and work with me to achieve the responsibility that has been assigned through history of our present generation.”
The President stressed the need for Sri Lanka to meet the challenges of 21st century which he said is known as the knowledge-centric century.
“ New technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, roboctics, 3D printing and internet of things among others are continuously changing the world. Most developing countries have grasped this reality. They are spending substantially to attract technology centric investments. We mist pay attention to this in the formulation of our investment policies. We must understand what type of investments we need to spur future economic development. We must provide special incentives and concessions to encourage investors who are capable of introducing new technologies. Even though I was not actively engaged in politics, I have experienced what service to the people is, from an early age,” the President said.
The President said:
“I invite the politicians concerned to understand this reality. I call upon all to join together in the national undertaking to develop this country, and to reject the politics based on petty agendas that have sown division in our society in the past.
We must always respect the aspirations of the majority of the people. It is only then that the sovereignty of the people will be safeguarded.
In accordance with our Constitution, I pledge that during my term of office, I will always defend the unitary status of our country, and protect and nurture the Buddha Sasana while safeguarding the right of all citizens to practice a religion of their choice.
I remember my father being at this Parliament, during my childhood. I often u
sed to watch Parliamentary proceedings from the public gallery. The Parliament we had then was exemplary. The discourse that took place in it was of great importance. The debates were replete with logic and rich arguments. School children and adults were eager to come to Parliament to listen to those debates. Members of Parliament always behaved in a way that upheld the dignity of the Parliament and the office they held. The people then had great respect for the Parliament. They respected people’s representatives. Unfortunately, latterly, that respect gradually waned.
This Parliament should once again become an exemplary institution where the real issues of the people are discussed, where matters concerned with national policy are subjected to debate, and where the responsibilities of the legislature are duly fulfilled. The responsibility of ensuring that the Parliament once again becomes an institution winning the respect of the people lies with the Members who are in this House.
There is a social, economic and political crisis in the country today. Even after 70 years of Independence, we cannot be satisfied with the country’s development. We all have a responsibility to change this situation. We must be prepared to make the sacrifices required for this.
The primary responsibility of a people’s representative is service to the people. We should all remember that the offices we hold are not privileges, but responsibilities.
To develop the country, the right vision and plans are needed. The Policy statement, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”, placed before the people at the Presidential Election by me contains a national programme that was crafted during a period of nearly four years by incorporating my vision with the ideas and recommendations of national organisations such as Viyathmaga, the findings of the “Conversation with the Village” programme conducted by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the discussions held with other political parties, and the ideas contributed by the general public.
In accordance with that programme, we have already taken several steps including the easing of taxes that were unduly burdening the public, introducing a high degree of transparency and efficiency to the government administration, and curtailing unnecessary government expenditure.
In our policy, National Security occupies the foremost place.
We have already taken steps to strengthen the national security apparatus. Talented officers have been given appropriate responsibilities again. We have taken steps to ensure proper coordination between the Armed Forces and the Police, who are collectively responsible for maintaining national security. The network of national intelligence agencies has been reorganized and strengthened.
We will take all necessary steps to make our motherland a safe country free of terrorism, extremism, underworld activities, theft and robbery, extortionists, the drug menace, disruptors of public order, and the abuse of women and children.”
I stand for the ‘Kurahan Satakaya’ philosophy
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwadana
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said yesterday he stood for the philosophy symbolised by the Kurahan Satakaya (maroon shawl) which he did not wear though his other family members did.
“Even though I do not wear this shawl, I stand for the same profound philosophy of constant dedication to the poor that is symbolized by the maroon shawl,” he said in his policy statement in Parliament yesterday. “From the first day the honourable D.M. Rajapaksa, known as the Lion of Ruhuna, appeared in the State Council, he wore a maroon shawl. What he symbolized through this maroon shawl were the millet farmers of Giruvapaththuwa. Following D. M. Rajapaksa, my father D.A. Rajapaksa and each member of the Rajapaksa family who was elected to Parliament wore the maroon shawl,” he said. “It is this same philosophy that is embodied in the Policy Statement I presented during my presidential election campaign. I served this nation as an Army Officer for twenty years and as Secretary of Defence for another ten years. Even though I was not actively engaged in politics, I have experienced what service to the people is from an early age.”
The President said his father’s elder brother D.M. Rajapaksa, began his political journey in the State Council in 1936, representing the Hambantota electorate and after his demise in 1945, the people of Hambantota elected my father D. A. Rajapaksa, to the State Council. “Later, he was elected through the popular vote as a Member of the country’s first Parliament. From that time until now, many members of the Rajapaksa family, hailing from the rural village of Medamulana in Giruvapaththuwa, Ruhuna, have served as elected public representatives. There have not only been Members of Parliament, Deputy Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, a Deputy Speaker of Parliament, a Speaker of Parliament, a Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister, but also two Presidents elected to office by the people, who reposed their trust in us,” he said.