NDF candidate Sajith Premadasa’s supporters brief media on Premadasa’s election manifesto. From left: Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha de Silva, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka, and Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Ajith P. Perera - Pic by Chamila Karunarathne
- Premadasa to declare war on three fronts: drug menace, corruption and religious extremism
- Premadasa’s Cabinet to exclude family members, those accused of corruption
- Women-centric policies to increase political representation
By Chandani Kirinde
A presidency under Sajith Premadasa will focus on curbing three social evils, namely, the drug menace, corruption, and religious extremism, while bringing about a socio-political revolution in the country not seen in decades, a group of senior members from the NDF candidate’s inner circle said yesterday.
Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka, State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, Non-Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha De Silva, and Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Ajith P. Perera, who briefed the media on Premadasa’s election manifesto, released last week, declared that the country is poised for the dawn of a new era under a Premadasa presidency. “Since 1931, our people have used the franchise not only to change Governments, but several times to bring about massive social, political, and economic changes. It happened in 1956 with the election of (S.W.R.D) Bandaranaike, who ushered in an era of the common man, in 1977 with President J.R. Jayewardene who brought in a new Constitution, new electoral system, and massive economic changes, as well as in 1994, when President Chandrika Kumaratunga brought in a new political order. Now in 2019, Sajith Premadasa is poised to bring about massive socio-political changes to the country that will be revolutionary,” Ranawaka said.
He said Premadasa will declare war on three fronts, namely, on the drug menace, the cancer of corruption that has engulfed both the State and private sector in the country, and the new threat of religious extremism. “There are certain cancers in our society which he will remove, and instead create a healthy political order and system, where people will have confidence in politics as well as politicians,” he said.
Ranawaka said that there will also be major economic changes that will not only address issues such as the high cost of living, but refocus attention on new areas which can be developed.
“Under Mahinda Rajapaksa, they created a credit bubble which only gave an aura of economic development, the repercussions of which we had to face after coming to power in 2015, with massive loans to pay off. The economy has been stabilised now, and we will be moving towards creating a technology-based economy, in which entrepreneurship will be the driving force, while traditional revenue sources such as tea, rubber, coconuts, and the garment industry too will be strengthened,” he said.
State Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva said that while illegal drugs have become an unimaginable problem in some areas in the country, Premadasa’s strategy will be to deal with addicts in a way they can be rehabilitated and absorbed into society, while drug dealers will be dealt with in the harshest possible manner.
“We will set up separate courts to deal with drug offenders, and strengthen the Police Narcotics Division while giving proper training to the officers. Drug dealers will be given life sentences with no chance for parole,” he said.
Part of the program will also include re-examining the licenses issued for manufacturing ethanol while the issue of wine stores licenses will be completely stopped.
Dr. De Silva said that the war on religious extremists would include framing of new laws to punish those who incite communal violence and push people towards extremism, while hate speech and fake news will become punishable offences.
State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne said that along with good policies, Premadasa has a team that is well equipped to implement them.
“Not only will he have a good team, but he will personally give leadership to the implementation process,” Wickramaratne said.
He added that the NDF candidate has gone on record stating that those with allegations of corruption will not be appointed to his Cabinet, nor will anyone from his family be in the administration.
“Sajith Premadasa has been a MP for 19 years, and during that time he has proved his mettle. Since 2015, we have built a good foundation, and it is on this his polices will be built upon,” Wickramaratne said.
He added that Premadasa’s policies will also be women-centric, with new laws to be framed to increase women’s representation in Parliament and all elected bodies to 25% while ensuring the same in the National List.