- In policy statement after inaugurating second session of 9th Parliament, President Rajapaksa strikes conciliatory note
- Says all MPs ultimately wish for good of the country and invites all people’s representatives to join together in fulfilling national responsibility
- Points to Govt. being only present custodian of the country and seeks support from all to face challenging times
- Stresses SL has ability to overcome challenges; Govt. working to achieve definite growth in agriculture, industry and services and needs support of MPs and the people to make plans a success
- Says goal is to make Sri Lanka one of the fastest-growing countries in the region in the next few years
- Rejects racism and says Govt. accountable equally to all citizens
- Vows to safeguard dignity and rights of all citizens
- Reiterates commitment to human rights, justice for missing persons
- Says people need to set aside dark memories of the past and focus on building a better future
- Appeals to MPs from North and East to set aside various political ideologies, and support efforts to improve living conditions of people in their areas
Striking a conciliatory note, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday called upon all Members of Parliament to support building the country which is facing its most challenging time as a result of the pandemic as well as other external and internal issues.
“The representatives belonging to various political parties in this august assembly have various political views, policy differences. However, we all ultimately wish for the good of the country. During this difficult time of a global catastrophe, we all have a national responsibility as people’s representatives to work together and build this country. I invite all of you to join us in fulfilling this responsibility,” the President said in his policy statement after inaugurating the second session of the 9th Parliament yesterday.
“I, who have been elected President by the people’s vote in this democratic system, am accountable to all the people in this country. There is no difference in such accountability with regard to the people who voted for me or who did not during the election,” the President said, wavering from his usual emphasis on the 6.9 million who elected him to office.
“As the President of this country, I urge all of you to extend your support to duly conduct the responsibilities of the governing and opposition parties both in and outside the Parliament to overcome the challenges that the country faces today,” Rajapaksa emphasized.
He said that the most serious challenge Sri Lanka is facing in economic management is the current foreign exchange problem. “Today we are encountering the climax of a problem for which a number of Governments have failed to provide a lasting solution,” he added.
“We have the ability to overcome the challenges we face even at this moment. I am ready to give the necessary leadership for it. We are implementing the plans required to overcome the current challenges and build the prosperous country that the people expect.
“Our goal is to make Sri Lanka one of the fastest-growing countries in the region in the next few years. To this end, we are working to achieve definite growth in all three sectors – agriculture, industry and services. I need the support of you and the people to make our plans a success,” the President reiterated.
He said that the country belongs to the people who live in the country today as well as those who will do so in the future. “We are only the present custodians of this country. The future of this country depends on how we act today. Hence, we are all accountable for future generations. Therefore, I hope that all those who love the country will extend their support at this time,” President Rajapaksa emphasised.
In an hour-long address in which he presented the Government’s Policy Statement to the House, the President also spoke on the economic challenges faced by the country, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, his commitment to green agriculture and legal reforms.
Rajapaksa also said his Government wants to safeguard the dignity and rights of all citizens. “We reject racism. The present Government wants to safeguard the dignity and rights of every citizen in this country. Therefore, I urge those politicians who continue to incite people against each other for narrow political gains to stop doing so.”
The President also referred to the three decades when all communities in this country suffered due to terrorism.
“What we need now is to set aside the dark memories of the past and build a secure country where all sections of the community can co-exist in peace. We must all unite for this purpose, irrespective of ethnic, religious or political differences.”
He said the issue of missing persons in war is not something unique to a particular group and the Government will do its best to get justice on behalf of all such persons.
The President said since taking office he has taken action to pardon and release a group of LTTE members who have been in detention over a long period of time and steps are being taken to make relevant amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act that had been in force since 1978.
He made a special appeal to the Members of Parliament representing the people of the North and East to set aside various political ideologies, at least temporarily, and support the Government’s efforts to improve the living conditions of the people in their areas.
The President said his Government is always ready to respond positively to observations made by the international community while giving priority to the country’s sovereignty and national security and reiterated his commitment to human rights.
“We are a nation that respects international laws and conventions. We need to correct the misconceptions that have been taken to the international community in the past regarding our human rights. I say with responsibility that during my tenure, the Government did not support any form of human rights violations. We will also not leave room for any such act in the future. We do not condone such actions in any manner.”
He also spoke on the proposed new Constitution for the country. “I appointed an Expert Committee, with the approval of the Cabinet, to study this subject in depth, broadly consult public opinion and prepare a preliminary draft for a people-friendly Constitution. I hope to submit the recommendations of this Committee to the Cabinet and the Parliament for broad discussion.”