Democracy dominates

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 01:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • PM pledges economic development and a new political culture
  • Assures national policies on auditing, Right To Information and health
  • Govt. seeks support from Parliament to establish corruption-free and good 
  • governance savvy nation by abolishing Executive Presidency and other key reforms
  • Opposition supports Government plans

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addresses the Parliament yesterday at the first session since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena who is seated on left - Pic by Sudath Silva

    By AshwinHemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent Good governance and anticorruption dominated in the House yesterday,with the members of the newly-elected Government and the Opposition occupying new seats for the first time after the presidential election. In the backdrop of the assurance from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to establish the ‘Lichchavi’ democracy, lawmakers unanimously extended support to meet the targets set for the 100 days. Highlighting the historical importance as well as the urgency to eradicate corruption and to bring in democracy, PM Wickremesinghe pledged economic development and a new political culture. “Joining hands between the two main political parties,also supported by smaller parties, we made history. This is not a journey of an individual but a journey of utmost importance for the entire nation. Sri Lanka is at crossroads burdened with a bad economy and it is politically unstable. We have many barriers and tasks ahead, which we will address by changes. We believe in the ‘Lichchavi’ method,” he said. Transfer of power from the executive presidency to an equally-powerful Cabinet and Parliament, repealing of the 18thAmendment by passing the 19thAmendment to the Constitution, and establishing the National Health Policy Act, National Audit Act, and Right to Information Act were among the list the PM brought to Parliament’s attention yesterday. Charging that MP Wimal Weerawansa had increased racial hatred, Wickremesinghe said: “Wimal, I will tell you one thing. It is you who destroyed Mahinda Rajapaksa. Please don’t destroy him further with racial hatred.” According to the Prime Minister, many other laws will be enacted to settle fisheries issues and those relating to water resources. “I seek your intellectual contributions to strengthen these bills along with constructive criticism. We will establish a Parliamentary Monitoring Committee, which will include members from most sides – ruling as well as the Opposition. We received a franchise during the State Council days from the colonial era. However, due to misconduct, the honour and recognition of Parliament was lost. It is your right to protect this Parliament. We will make use of all membersof this House for the governing process. Nepotism and corruption will no longer be tolerated,” added Wickremesinghe, who assured the live telecast of the Parliamentary proceedingswould start immediately, upholding the public’s right to information. Leader of the Opposition NimalSiripala de Silva in his response congratulated former colleaguePresident Maithripala Sirisena for the victory obtained with a majority, which was far more than the mandate former President J.R. Jayewardene received. “I thank Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and President Sirisena for the efforts taken to drive the nation towards a new era. We are convinced and in support of your plans. But we seek a time-to-time update from the Government, especially in relation to the 100-day program. We are public servants and are here for their betterment. Please don’t consider us as an Opposition that will drag our feet but as a group who will support. We never had this opportunity during the past. Forgetting our differences, both the Executive Committee and Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party reached a unanimous decision to support the Government,” said MP de Silva. However, warning the Government of the necessity to have constructive criticism for public benefit, MP de Silva said: “We will not forget our obligation to voice concerns on certain matters. But please don’t consider us as opponents. A political solution was required but was delayed for decades. The solutions provided were not agreeable. We all hold responsibility to provide apolitical settlement agreeable to all. This was long-standing and long overdue.”

 Dinesh slams Ranil’s appointment, commends MR Government

  The new political culture proposed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came under attack yesterday in Parliament. Opposition lawmaker Dinesh Gunawardena representing the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna charged that Ranil Wickremesinghe had become Prime Minister without an election. “It has to be a wide political culture to accept a wide array of thoughts. You becoming Prime Minister in this coalition is more of a funny marriage, quite different from being elected prime minister. We don’t know for how long this marriage will last in this Government you engineered. Your creativity enabled Maithripala Sirisena to become President. Regime change is common in other parts of the world and we saw the same here,” said MP Gunawardena. Commending the Rajapaksa regime, MP Gunawardena stated that it was an unforgettable period. “President Mahinda Rajapaksa finished the war. Many say that he was not democratic. We have political differences, but I challenge you to create a new political culture. I request the media to be independent. We will stand for media freedom. I thank those who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa. I request the new Government to refrain from taking political revenge from opponents. Your President is one of our members.”( AH)