23 September, 2018

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Full Text: President Maithripala Sirisena’s Statement On First 100 Days

On this occasion that marks 100 days since my election as President, I think it is proper that I address you as your first servant, appointed by you. Following the results of the Presidential Election on January 8 this year, you gave me the opportunity of being sworn in as the Head of State or President of this country.

In the 100 days since then, we have as a new government, taken many important steps with regard to the country’s economy, politics, development and international relations.

I think that when the people of this country voted on January 8 they clearly carried out both a transformation, and revolution with their democratic right. The manner in which the freedom and democracy obtained by this transformation and revolution has been used by certain elements in the past three months, their political decisions and activities, brings to my mind the occasions in world history when in countries that carried out revolutions were later faced with counter-revolutions.

MaithripalaWe are aware that very often it is a common occurrence in countries for counter-revolution to follow a revolution. One could see a similar scenario following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. Similarly, following the fall of Communist states in Eastern Europe, when a political transformation took place in those societies that had moved towards political extremism, there was a period of political turmoil and uncertainty until the people of these countries could enjoy their entitlement to freedom and democracy. When the great humanitarian leader Abraham Lincoln of the United States took action to abolish slavery and introduced legislations for this purpose, for some time after this some of the people in slavery stated that they preferred the condition of slavery. This is because they thought that going forward in life in slavery was better than enjoying the freedom given and building themselves on their own strength, as they were used to living under conditions of slavery. This is the reality of human society. It is therefore essential that we understand this.

Today some asked what has been done in these 100 days. I say, there was much done in these 100 days. Some of these valuable actions are neither physical in nature nor visible to the eye.

You will recall the international situation facing our country at the time I was sworn in as President on January 9th. The international community was divided over us. You will remember what took place at the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission and the Security Council. However, after January 9th, because of the faith you placed in me and elected this government, the international community that was divided over us, now place their trust in this government, and me just as you did, and believe that as Head of State I would protect the freedom of this country and its Democracy, Human Rights and Fundamental Rights.

My recent visits abroad started with our friendly neighbor India and later to Britain to participate in the Commonwealth Day events. Even more than my participation in the Commonwealth Day events was the opportunity to meet with the British Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Defense and Her Majesty the Queen, on behalf of our country. By this, it is my belief that we have the support not only of Britain, but also of the wider European Union.

My next visit was to China. As a friendly state that gave support for national development and made much investment in this country, I had the opportunity to further strengthen the friendship that existed between our two countries. I next went to Pakistan, which is one of our very close friends. I believe that trough these visits to India, China, Pakistan and Britain we have achieve a much towards winning over the entire world. Through the close friendship displayed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jingping have confirmed their trust placed in us for the protection and growth of freedom and democracy.

I remember how close the world was to us at the time of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike with the foreign policy of Non-alignment, which my government too clearly follows today. This leads to strengthening friendship with all states.

I also recall the good wishes conveyed to me when I was elected President by the UN Secretary General, whose Special Representative came to our country recently. Similarly, a large number of foreign ministers from Western countries and a large number of other diplomatic representatives visited our country and expressed their confidence in us.

Therefore, I wish to emphasize to those who question what we have done in the past 100 days that we have regained the international friendship and trust that had considerably declined under the previous government, and that my government and I were able to win over and strengthen this friendship for the benefit of the people of this country. We must greatly value this new trust we have won which will provide us with cooperation for national development, especially for development of national resources and effective participation in international affairs.

You are fully aware of the conditions under which you brought me to this office. I recall that prior to January 8 if I spoke to one of our own Pradesheeya Sabha Members by telephone they would shout and ask me not to speak because the telephones were tapped. The government officers did not speak freely. Ordinary people in the country would not speak freely. Members of the armed forces, the lower ranks of the police could also not speak freely on the telephone. None of them had the freedom to speak freely by telephone.

In the past 3 months, this freedom has been restored and strengthened. This was similar with media freedom, too. I recall how prior to January 8 those who yielded political power spoke to the heads of media institutions, news directors and news editors. That included intimidation, threats and mental pressure. Today, the media is free of all this.

Are we to transform the freedoms we have obtained to that of the wild ass? I see some of the media institutions behave today. I am surprise how they use these freedoms in a wrong manner. It must be noted that we have firmly established the democratic rights of the people and the freedom of the media.

Let us take the Judiciary. You are aware of how the rule of law was so badly damaged. Did the people have confidence in the Judiciary? The Commission on Bribery or Corruption, the Supreme Court and all these institutions were subjected to telephone calls of those who were in power. You know very well how persons associated with various crimes obtained freedom at that time; how judgments in cases were obtained. Did the Attorney General have the power at the time to act according to his office? Today, with the appointment of the Chief Justice, the Commander of Army, all who serve in those sections have a clear acceptance that these appointments had been made on seniority and suitability for such positions. Therefore, we have strengthened the Rule of Law, which is essential for freedom and democracy.

National Security has now been strengthened. I informed the Tri-Forces and the Police at the Security Council that we need a new plan of action on national security. That work is now being done better than it was done earlier. This is only a beginning. We have to go much further in this regard.

My dear people, there is another thing I wish to bring to your notice. Some have made various criticisms about my performance during these 100 days. Some say I lack strength. Some say it is weak. Some say I am no leader. However, I wish to tell all such critics, and you, my people, that my behavior in the last 100 days was not to use the unlimited powers that are available to this office. Why, because you elected me to distribute this power. I came for that purpose. I came to remove the unlimited powers of an Executive President. There could be many analyses about this. I wish to state clearly that my election manifesto stated very clearly that my election would be to remove the unlimited powers held by Executive President. I wish to mention how flexible I have been on this matter.

From the time the 1978 Constitution was adopted, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had been opposed to the Executive Presidential system. Therefore, since 1994 at every Presidential Election our candidates stated in their manifestos that the unlimited powers of the Executive Presidency would be removed. Yet, no one was able to do that.

Similarly, the SLFP has from the beginning opposed the ‘Manape’ electoral system that came with the 1978 Constitution. The Leftwing and progressive political parties are opposed to both of these. As I recall in 1999 the United National Party adopted a resolution at their convention against this. The UNP has been opposed to this since1999. This dialogue prevailed among the common people that went together with their knowledge, wisdom, understanding and experience. Therefore, this must be done. This is the 19th Amendment.

In order to build a democratic and civilized society, it is necessary to prevent the emergence of dictatorship and taking control of state power, state assets, the judiciary, parliament and all of this to one’s own control that comes from the Executive Presidential system.

This should be immediately changed. I have worked towards this in the past three months. I am not aware of any leader in the world who had obtained an office with all these powers but has been as flexible in trying to get rid of those powers that had been bestowed on such a leader.

The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court that in keeping with my advice these powers should be removed. My Constitutional Adviser also informed the Supreme Court that these powers should be removed. We took a political decision on this. The Supreme Court has given a decision on this.

It is now necessary for us to act in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court. We cannot go beyond this. Therefore, in the past few days there were certain obstacles with regard to presenting of this 19th Amendment to Parliament. It is my respectful appeal to the honourable representatives of the people to consider this as a historic occasion that has come to you. Voting for this will bring respect in history to you. Therefore, in order to ensure that we build the country that protects the people’s freedom, democracy, promotes civilized society and helps build a disciplined country, it is my belief that every one of you will vote to adopt the 19th Amendment. I call on you to use your valuable vote for this and be a partner in firmly establishing freedom and democracy in this country.

In addition to the 19th Amendment, a draft bill has been presented to the Cabinet to change the electoral system. Action is being taken to present this to Parliament for adoption.

In keeping with the promises we gave to the people, we have appointed a Presidential Task Force to inquire into corruption and fraud and work on this matter is proceeding effectively.

In order to build a strong democratic and equitable nation it is necessary to promote unity, friendship and coexistence among those who follow different religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and also among communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers, we need ensure reconciliation and brotherhood that will eliminate mistrust, doubt and fear among people. The developed countries of the world that are democratic and give an important place to freedom have many different races, religions, languages and are multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies. It is therefore necessary for us to understand that while protecting the historic dignity and respect of the Sinhala Buddhist people, it is also necessary to ensure the brotherhood, friendship and coexistence among all communities and move towards a just society that will ensure the rights of the people.
Moving further towards reconciliation, we have now appointed a Presidential Task Force and a Presidential Office for Reconciliation.

Having understood the internal problems, we face as a country we must take every action to prevent situations that led to the armed conflict that lasted three decades. For this, the friendship among all people is essential. However, it is regrettable that our political opponents are using the Internet and some media to spread false information that the armed forces are to be reduced or removed from the North. That land had been given to LTTE terrorists in Sampur. That more rights had been given to the Tamils and Muslims than to the Sinhalese. Such stories are entirely spread by extreme racists. Please do not give such false information to the world. This leads to large-scale misleading of Sri Lankans living abroad.

I wish to clearly state that during the time of the armed conflict the armed forces took private land for their use not only in the North and East, but also in the city of Colombo. Therefore, is it wrong to give these lands back to their original owners? Should we not return the large extent of private property acquired in Colombo Fort near the President’s House, around Temple Trees without any compromise on national security or weakening of and security camps? However, there is wrong publicity given about this.

We have a clear policy on this regard. A special Presidential Task Force has been appointed to regain State assets. Similar action is taken to recover the State properties transferred to others and funds belonging to the country placed in foreign banks. Action is being taken to obtain cooperation both within the country and abroad for this purpose.

If we consider development, our country imports food worth Rs 400 billion from abroad annually. Therefore, are we self-sufficient? With the building of roads and other constructions under the development of physical resources, this question of self-sufficiency is not solved. The national economy must be strengthened.

Our country is one with a beautiful environment. The natural resources, climate and weather are blessings to this land. With such assets, we do not need to import Rs 400 billion worth of food. We have the objective to strengthen the local agricultural economy.

Similarly, we are taking steps to strengthen the conditions of the public servants, workers and employees in the private sector. By addressing the needs of all these sections of the society we make our commitment to Good Governance as stated in our manifesto.

The freedom and democracy that comes with Good Governance should not be abused for personal gain. However, our responsibility towards people of the country and for the children born tomorrow must be fulfilled.
Every action will be taken to reduce and eliminate corruption and fraud. To this moment I have not made a telephone call or spoken to any officer in the Commission on Bribery and Corruption. I have not spoken to any officer in the judiciary. That is a necessity in good governance. The State sector should be an example to the people.

When I took office, the number of employees in Presidential Office was 1575. Now it has been reduced to 600. Reduction of a 1000. That is our example.

I very respectfully tell my people that I am committed to fully carry out the promises given in my election policy statement. I will leave no room for corruption, fraud, theft or waste. As I stated earlier when we are taking action against corruption and all these threats to society, there are people who like the slaves in America who were against the abolishing of slavery and said they preferred to remain as slaves. They seem to prefer a corrupt system and therefore mislead the public when action is taken to eliminate corruption and fraud.

I have kept my faith with the people. I know that the people will take the correct decision. We cannot allow the law of the jungle to supersede a good legal system. I do not hesitate to take required decisions. I will take every step possible, especially to protect and strengthen the people’s freedom and democracy and through these means eliminate corruption and fraud, and thereby protect the genuine rights of the people. It was with the possible sacrifice of my life that I contested the election. That was like a leap into the ocean with the lives of my children myself at stake. I am so even today.

I will conclude with the call to all my people to join in brotherhood and friendship to achieve the goals for which the people gave their mandate on January 8 and, therefore go forward to establish the society we seek for today and tomorrow.

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Latest comments

  • 19
    24

    Kevin-Shashni-Sopi-J.Muthu-Smart Patriot-From USA-Wasantha Rajapakse

    All your comments sound so distasteful, degrading, and sounds from jealousy persons.

    Here we have a President, who is true to Buddhist tradition, conducting his affairs in a most respectable manner. He has created a great recognition for our country through his conduct and behaviour . He has sown the seeds to create a peaceful atmosphere for SriLankans to live unitedly.
    He is not using family bandism as it happened upto January 8th. He is trying to have a low key life
    and never misused his position of power to take plane load of people around the world as done previously at substantial cost to the citizens of this country.

    Further, he is trying his best to fulfill all promises in such a short period. It was very evident how much people were relieved with the reduced cost of living and had the pleasure of celebrating the
    NEW YEAR this season.

    As humbly mentioned by him he is one of only Leader in the whole world who is fighting hard to get the powers vested on him under the constituition, REDUCED, though there are road blocks and sabotage to block him. In contrast, do you all remember how the 18th Amendment was passed as an urgent bill to increase the powers of the president in 2010 under MR making him eligible to continue contesting for presidency eternally. Whereas Maitgree has also through 19a amendment reduced his period of governance from 6 to 5 years, Whilst MR is trying to creep in through even through a back door though people have discarded him.

    In real fact, if he continues in similar fashion he would even qualify for highest recognition for Nobel Peace prize.

    He will be well blessed by all Gods for good health, long life and of course lead the country with peace, harmony and prosperity.

    • 3
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      For those who would further support the Maraurders Rajapakshes, you are just a puppet, for us that respect fair justice and dignified you are a leader who sacrificed your life. Towards the end of Nov 2014, I had been visting my parents. All what I GOT to see in my country – I felt whether it was Mubarak’s Egypt or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe I can understand how you felt yourself in the period from 21Nov 2014 to 09Jan2015. I kindly ask our commentators to see it right let alone today- what an era we had been having until 8th of Jan. The worst is even if all the prima facie eveidence related to all high profile frauds are being revealed, former Prez has balls to deny them – sine the man is well aware of the mentality of gravity of the stupidity of his supporters.

  • 6
    2

    Mathri is a breath of fresh air but can someone please tell me why he appointed his brother SLT chairman within two weeks of taking office?

  • 3
    18

    It is unclear under what context he made this observation re: slavery and what message he wanted to give the people of this country by this.
    My reading of this it makes me to understand that we Sri Lankans still have not got rid of our being under colonial rule mentality after over 60 years of independence from the British and we still prefer being under the influence of the US led Western countries. This is because we think that going forward in life in subjugation is better, as we were used to living under conditions of colonialism and slavery than enjoying the freedom given and building ourselves on our own strength. This is the reality of some sections of Sri Lanka society even after the social revolutions of 1956 and 2005. It is therefore essential that we understand this.
    Is this the basis for our foreign policy under this government?

  • 12
    17

    I may have not understood every word he said in his speech, but to me, Maithripala Sirisena leaves Mahinda Rajapakse for dead, when it comes to credibility. His precise and concise delivery is something this country has been starved of. All we had in the past is a succession of actors playing their roles for the public. This man gives the viewer confidence that he is willing to walk the talk. By re-establishing international relations with the able assistance of Mangala, he has reinforced our credibility internationally. By bringing down the cost of living and also raising Govt sector salaries and pensions, while reducing fuel and gas prices drastically, he has had a terrific impact on society. With Ranil by his side, he cannot fail. Irrespective of who wins the General Election, it is my wish that these two can carry on for five years and take Sri Lanka to that Promised Land.

    • 12
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      Suresh Murugesar

      Well said. If atleast 5 year rule with Maithree and Ranil at the top, certainly this country would reach the next level in the world standards.

  • 6
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    Suresh Murugesar

    Well said. If atleast 5 year rule with Maithree and Ranil at the top, certainly this country would reach the next level in the world standards.

  • 5
    1

    people can not live on your classic speeches alone.Can make good speeches… They itself does not create an economic reality.

    Do not get blown away by accolades and forget your promises to the North and the Country.

    Lets have a stable government first before the President become a puppet through ammendments.

    • 0
      0

      “”.Can make good speeches… They itself does not create an economic reality.””

      Perhaps, a hyena howling for the moon;

      But it doesn’t provide a better quality of life.

  • 1
    0

    Right to recall is not included in anywhere to talk about 100 days of performance. If MR wins the parliamentary election he won’t be a humble premier but will try his tricks to impeach the president. Such attempts would precipitate things and destabilize the nation. The unity government means, not necessarily a compromise with non-co-operative people. The president can call the nation every hundredth day to evaluate, the real inference should be made at the end of the tenure. Until then only a guesstimate can be made by pundits rushing to judge instantly. Which way he will steer, west or east or will he be truly non-aligned? That is going to be a trillions dollar question! The concept laid as a basis is good though Tamils as a whole unsatisfied with the progress. ‘Sinhalese only’ people fear the resurgence of secessionist violence. So to reduce defence positions in the North; the tendency to demand more and more should cease, if there is some sort of welcome sign the president can succeed otherwise carping on, the tamils indirectly help the south to go against the president’s plans to unite the nation. Sinhalese hardliners should forget about the past and the fears of separatists raising head, creating false phobia that there will be a security lapse if there is friendliness with Tamils and Indian fishermen etc. Taking loans substantially be reduced only by self sufficiency, not by taking more loans, for that defence expenditure shouldn’t escalate. The demand of pay rise keeps the government in an awkward position in this economic crunch hardly sufficient foreign reserves for the import of essentials. Judiciary is independent, no attempts of contempt of courts should be tolerated!

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