With the legendary Ameradeva’s ‘Rathnadeepa Janmabhumi, Lankadeepa Vijaybhumi’ and the ever-inspiring National Anthem being sung, Sri Lanka yesterday reached a landmark of the new journey, transformation or the people’s silence revolution which began on January 8 this year.
The newly-elected Parliament on Thursday had overwhelmingly approved Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s motion, in terms of the 19th Amendment for the setting up of the National Government with a 48-member Cabinet, 18 more than the stipulated number. Accordingly, the new Cabinet Ministers were sworn in at a solemn ceremony, telecast live nationwide, at the Presidential Secretariat.
President Maithripala Sirisena who had emerged from the backstage on November 21 last year to lead Sri Lanka towards a new era and a new political culture, summed up the event in a statesman-like manner. Addressing the new Ministers and the nation, President Sirisena said the members of the new Cabinet had a special responsibility in charting the destiny of Sri Lanka. He reminded them that though they belonged to different political parties they had the solemn responsibility of working in the spirit of unity in diversity to lead Sri Lanka’s journey. The nation would have also remembered the Bard’s vision: “But most shall we sing of the Lanka, in the bright new days that come; when the races all have blended and the voice of strife is dumb; when we leap to a single bugle, march to a single drum”.
The President expressed confidence that the new Ministers had the intelligence, vision, capacity, commitment and experience to face challenges and work as a team to take the country forward. When that happens most people believe, we will then see a new Sri Lanka built on sincere, multi-religious and multi-ethnic unity where plurality and diversity are preserved, promoted and moreso celebrated. The President who has repeatedly expressed the hope that Sri Lanka would become a centre for the spreading of the Buddha Dhamma, said Gauthama the Buddha did not even have sinful thoughts. Therefore the Ministers and other politicians must not only refrain from corruption, but also refrain from even the thought of corruption.
Quoting from the Buddha’s wisdom in saying ‘happiness is the greatest wealth’, the President said some MPs might not be happy about the ministries they got and the MPs who did not get portfolios also might not be happy. However he told them there would be important roles and responsibilities for them.
Premier Wickremesinghe, also reaching new heights by insisting there would be no room in Parliament for robbers or thugs, explained the Yahapalanaya government’s vision of opening the doors for the whole Parliament to actively take part in the sustainable development process and the building of a new Sri Lanka. Speaking at the same memorable event, the Prime Minister said the Parliamentary Committee process would be strengthened in such a manner that all parties would be able to get involved in the government.
Mr. Wickremesinghe recalled that such an all-party process had been started with the Donoughmore reforms of 1931. He said district development coordination committees would also be set-up whereby all MPs could play a practical and proactive role in consolidating good governance, democracy and social justice.
The formalities and ceremonies to install the new National Government ended yesterday. Sri Lanka’s people, who played the dramatic and decisive role in the silent revolution of January 8, are now watching. Indeed even the international community also is watching. The President, the Prime Minister, the Ministers and MPs must now deliver and fulfill the promises made in the manifestos of all the major parties. The culture of murder and plunder must end. Give us a bard, says Lanka, a bard of the good and golden years to come.