Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the newly-elected lawmakers to unite in the major task of introducing the proposed constitutional reforms, eschewing personal agendas and political affiliations.
Delivering the keynote address at the workshop held in Parliament to help the new entrants to familiarize themselves with parliamentary tradition, ethos, standing orders and privileges, the Premier said he could recall the day he sat in Parliament as a new MP and treated such lectures as a nuisance.
“You may also feel the same but these seminars are held to educate the newcomers on parliamentary business. I remember my father telling us that when he entered the then State Council for the first time, SWRD Bandaranaike took the newly-elected MPs on a tour around parliament,” he said. "There are 82 new faces in the new Parliament. What is most important is to be an MP who fulfills the aspirations of those who elected him or her to this House. Use the parliamentary library regularly to improve your knowledge."
The Premier said one of the significant features of this election was that no political party was able to carry out a high-spending propaganda campaign with high spending.
"There were no posters, no cutouts, no floats. No big political rallies. No processions. No transport of party supporters in buses. All those involved in the election adhered to election laws. However, the turn out of voters was 71%. Politicians must learn to love the country, have the efficiency, skill and capability to serve his or her voters to their satisfaction. If you failed in these qualities and failed in the job you have been given, voters will reject you at the next election. They will not take into account whether you had been given ports, civil aviation, clay or Tamarind. People expect work from law makers who voted them to power. They don’t care about the assignments or portfolios given to their representatives. They need only work from them," he said.
‘Don’t make your MP post or age as a bar to improve your professionalism and future prospects. I entered the Law College as an MP, after I was elected to Parliament in 1970. There was no internet or online at that time. But you have the privilege of following a degree course even from a foreign University through the internet and online. My Parliamentary membership did not act as an impediment to my studies. I was left only with the tag of ‘Lawyer’ after I was defeated in the 1977 general election. Some MPs expect a ministerial post soon after the election to Parliament for the first time. Some say they cannot serve the people without a cabinet post. People elect MPs not ministers. If any member cannot serve the people without a cabinet portfolio, he or she cannot serve the people remaining as an opposition member. A member who cannot serve the people without a ministerial post, he or she would not do any service to the people as an MP. I have done politics while in the opposition at a time people were killed like dogs and cats. The law of the jungle was in full force and the fundamental rights and human rights had been trampled. My experience, patience, capabilities and skills helped me to come back to power in four and half years in 2020 after the defeat in 2015.