By Lahiru Pothmulla
While assuring that he would not compromise the sovereignty of the nation before any other country, Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday pledged that he would take the responsibility of the security of all the citizens.
Mr. Rajapaksa said this at the the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s (SLPP) inaugural national convention which was held at a packed Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo where he was declared as the party’s presidential candidate.
At the colourful party convention, former president and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was first conferred as the SLPP Leader by its Chairman Professor G.L. Peiris.
Subsequently, in his maiden speech as the SLPP Leader, Opposition Leader Rajapaksa declared Gotabaya as the SLPP’s presidential candidate.
Opposition Leader Rajapaksa said irrespective of his decision, people have already accepted Gotabaya as their own brother and as the one to lead them. “And he has already won over your hearts,” he said.
After being named as the SLPP candidate, Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the party convention and said he was ready to fulfil the national task which was demanded by the people.
He said he was ready to maintain friendly relations with all the countries but would not compromise the sovereignty of the nation before any other country.
“Therefore, when maintaining bilateral relationships, we would restore a respected administration which will not bow down before any other country, will always safeguard the sovereignty, will maintain equal relations with all the countries and will preserve national integrity. When I was fulfilling my responsibility to the country back then, I never allowed an external force to meddle in. I never bowed down to anyone who went against my country. Even in the future, I will not allow anyone to lay their hands on my motherland’s sovereignty,” he said.
Quoting General S. Cyril Ranatunga, Mr. Rajapaksa said he was ‘An officer who takes initiative over and above the normal call of duty’ and said this quality helped him in providing strategic and administrative assistance to former president Rajapaksa to defeat LTTE terrorism in three and a half years time. “Similarly, I was able to make Colombo as the fastest growing city in Asia as the Urban Development Ministry’s Secretary and to bring in many attractive investments which changed the horizon of Colombo because I always executed my responsibilities exceeding the limits,” he said.
He said the country today needs a leadership which has a futuristic vision, a plan to develop the country, the ability to execute plans, disciplined, corrupt-free, people friendly and patriotic.
“This is the kind of leadership the people expect in a President. I have already proved by action that I can give the leadership you expect. The foremost duty of our government is to ensure the security of the country. I’m confident that we can make Sri Lanka the most safest country in the world again. I will take the responsibility of the security of all the citizens,” he said.
He said Sri Lanka’s strength should be the unity of different religious and ethnic communities. “I will create an environment which is safe for all. I will not allow racism or extremism to establish their roots in the country. We also have a proper understanding about the special expectations of the people in the North. We will find lasting solutions to their plights,” he said.
Enumerating on future plans, Mr. Rajapaksa said he would introduce a people-centric economic policy, develop human resources, develop infrastructure development, make government workers independent from political influence, promote use of e-resources at State institutions to make them efficient and corrupt-free, end haphazard urbanisation, decentralise development, provide high-speed internet facilities, encourage entrepreneurs and enhance reforestation. He said the disciplines could be seen deteriorating in the country in the recent past with people ill-treating women, driving carelessly and dumping garbage everywhere.
“Each citizen has a responsibility to live in a way which will not cause any harm or intimidation to others. We will work to create such a civilized society. The leadership of the country has to set the precedent to make this possible. We will create a country where women can go anywhere any time of the day even alone without any fear. We will also give prominence to the welfare of the differently-abled citizens and both soldiers and civilians who are disabled,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.
He said they should achieve long-term goals by rectifying the past mistakes as well as the mistakes in the journey ahead.
“From today, we will embark on an another struggle for freedom. The election campaign, which is being conducted to achieve respected objectives, should also be done in a respectable manner. Let’s give conservation of the environment the foremost place with an election campaign devoid of polythene and plastics. Let’s change the election culture which intimidate political opponents, deceive people with lies and character assassination. We should introduce an honest and a truthful political culture to the younger generation,” he said.
He said they have the vision to create a free and a prosperous country where the future generation can live respectfully. “We have already made necessary plans to achieve this. Just as I have fulfilled all the responsibilities I accepted, I’m ready to fulfil the national task everyone demand from me,” he said.
The convention was also attended by SLPP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, its Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, party leaders of the joint opposition, joint opposition MPs, some government dissident MPs, local government representatives and many others.
I never allowed an external force to meddle in. I never bowed down to anyone who went against my country. Even in the future, I will not allow anyone to lay their hands on my motherland’s sovereignty
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