President sets record in attending parliament | Sunday Observer

President sets record in attending parliament

22 January, 2023

A conversation between two ruling party members: One said, “The people from the Opposition who made a big hue and cry earlier that the President would not come to Parliament now shout back saying the Executive is trying to suppress Parliament when President Ranil Wickremesinghe comes to Parliament now.”

Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga overheard the conversation in the lobby and apprised the President.

“Everyone requested a President who is answerable to Parliament. What can I do if they say that giving replies to their questions are also wrong,” President Wickremesinghe said with a smile.

The President came to Parliament last Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions from lawmakers. He has not missed a single session of Parliament since becoming President. He was in Parliament for 29 days from July 20, 2022 to January 18, 2023 after he was elected the President.

Everyone nodded when MP Sahan Pradeep said, “Sir, since the day you became President till today, you have come to Parliament 29 days and this could be a record.”

While the President was walking to his office in Parliament, several Opposition MPs who met him in the lobby asked whether the Local Government elections would be held or not be held?

“I will not interfere in the election. The Election Commission has said that the election will be held,” the President said.

“No, sir, even though the Opposition asked for an election, we don’t want to go to an election.” When the Opposition members said this, the President smiled and shook his head and said nothing.

Then MP Wajira Abeywardena asked whether MP Mujibur Rahman would resign from his position to come to Colombo. “I don’t know the exact date yet.” When they said that, Wajira raised a point that no one had thought of. “He is in a big muddle now, isn’t he? If the election is postponed after his resignation, it will be a problem for his political career. But if he doesn’t resign, it will give the impression that he didn’t resign due to fear.”

President Wickremesinghe went to the Parliament Chamber to answer the questions raised by the Opposition members. When he came out of Parliament that day and arrived at the President’s office, he came to know that the debate on the Regulation of Elections’ Expenditure Bill had been postponed by one month.

Although it was to be debated on January 18, it was informed at the Consultative Committee meeting of the Justice Ministry that the debate has been postponed by a month.

Then the President immediately called the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and asked about this. This Bill, which was a demand of civil society, cannot be postponed. Talk about this and make a decision. The President instructed the Prime Minister to call a Party Leaders meeting.

Except for a few parties, all other parties attended the Party Leaders meeting held under the patronage of the President. It was decided to take up the Bill for debate on January 19 and pass it. Then the argument put forward by the Government lawmakers was as to why the Opposition was opposed to this Bill which would reveal the sources of receiving money for the election expenditures.

“This bill is a very good bill. You can find here how money was given to the candidate and the party in the election. The election corruption that everyone talks about will stop here.” That was the majority opinion presented at the Party Leaders meeting.

Thai Pongal

President Wickremesinghe spent last Sunday in Jaffna to participate in the Thai Pongal festival. Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake was also present at this event. Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda had organised the event. Another group had organised a protest on that day and the President was informed about it by Minister Devananda.

“Sir, Thai Pongal is one of our highest festivals. No protest should be held on a day like this. But one group puts politics in front and destroys our culture.” When Devananda said, the President smiled and shook his head.

The President who arrived in Colombo on Monday morning, attended the Cabinet meeting and the Government parliamentary group meeting in the evening. The economic situation of the country was discussed at length in the Cabinet meeting. The Ministry of Finance had submitted a report to the Cabinet of Ministers on the existing problems regarding the payment of government employees’ salaries, pensions and Samurdhi allowances.

Salaries of public servants

It was also revealed that the payment of salaries of the Government staff level officers will be delayed. At the Government parliamentary group meeting, the MPs asked about the Local Government election and the President said that the parties will do it as he is not involved in the election campaign. Ministers who met the President in Parliament on Wednesday started talking about the economy.

The President said, “We are guaranteeing a price of Rs. 100 per kilo of paddy, just as we have provided fertiliser.” There is also a rice surplus so we provide 10 kilograms of rice to two million low-income families per month. India, China, and Japan have also agreed to help us with our debt restructuring.

“So everything is done in accordance with IMF agreements.” We are allocating Rs.10 billion to purchase paddy. Farmers will have to decide if it will be put to an election and reduce the price.” This is how Minister Siyambalapitiya also added something to the President’s speech.

“Now you can also go to the village and speak on the political stage about the concessions given to the people by the President,” Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said looking at the MPs.

“The Government began at zero and is now on the rise.” As a result, there is no issue about the election. “However, if the Opposition parties do not receive 50 percent, that is a problem,” he said.

Minister Susil Premajayantha also spoke during the event. “The Election Commission has informed the court that it has sufficient funds to conduct the election. Sir, do you have money to spare? State Minister Chamara Sampath asked.

No money

“The Secretary of the Ministry of Finance has given an affidavit to the court that there is no money. The Petroleum Corporation has also informed the Election Commission that it does not have enough funds to provide fuel. According to the IGP, there is a shortage of officers. Now the Election Commission must sell the building, chairs, and tables and use the proceeds to fund the election,” said Minister Bandula Gunawardena and everyone burst out laughing.

New Ministers

The leaders of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Ceylon Workers’ Congress met on Wednesday to reach an agreement regarding the President’s appointment of two ministerial positions.

As a result, Pavithra Wanniarachchi of the SLPP and Jeevan Thondaman of the CWC took their oaths as Cabinet Ministers on Thursday morning. At the end of the swearing-in ceremony, Jeevan Thondaman approached the President and thanked him, while the President recalled a wonderful historical story.

“Your grandfather, Minister Savumiamoorthy Thondaman was in my Cabinet when I became the Prime Minister. Your father Arumugam Thondaman was in the Government Cabinet where I was the Prime Minister. Now, when I am the President, his son is in my Cabinet.” When the President spoke, Minister Jeevan Thondaman bowed his head and paid respect to the President.

Female Minister

After the two Ministers were sworn in, the President who came out met the Director Information Dinith Chinthaka Karunaratne, Director General of the President’s Media Dhanushka Ramanayake and Media Director Sanuka Karunaratne, The Director Information inquired about the two ministers’ taking oaths.

He said, “Because you all said that there are no women in the Cabinet. Therefore, a female Minister was appointed before the 75th anniversary of Independence. There is also someone of Indian descent in the cabinet.” saying that, the president left.

Dr. Jaishankar meets President

Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar met the President on Friday. Their discussions were centered on old friendships, Indian and Sri Lankan economic affairs and India’s consensus on debt restructuring. A number of trade agreements were also signed.

UNP to contest all LG bodies

The United National Party has decided to contest all Local Government bodies in the upcoming Local Government elections. The nomination papers were signed over the past week under the patronage of UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, Deputy Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Chairman Wajira Abeywardena, National Organiser Sagala Ratnayake and General Secretary Range Bandara. Finally, deposits were made to all districts and the deposits for the Colombo district’s made last Thursday under the leadership of Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene and National Organiser Sagala Ratnayake.

Hand symbol

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has decided to contest under the ‘Hand’ symbol for most of the institutions in all the districts at the upcoming Local Government Election. This decision has been taken on the consent of the vast majority of the party’s Polit Bureau, which met under the patronage of former President Maithripala Sirisena last Sunday.

All SLFP candidates will obey the party’s decision and act accordingly. For some of the institutions, the SLFP will contest under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol on the consent of the party. SLFP Media Spokesman, Weerakumara Dissanayake said the political bureau which met last Sunday decided to place deposits for the election for all the institutions as the SLFP.

He said, “We had decided to contest under an alliance but there were some problems when preparing the list of nominations.” He said there were some attempts to completely destroy the SLFP and they have come to know about those conspiracies.

Leadership dreams

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary, MP Sagara Kariyawasam said the political alliance under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol poses no challenge to the SLPP at the upcoming Local Government Election. He told the media at the SLPP headquarters in Battaramulla on Monday, that those who formed the alliance under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol are a group of politicians who have robbed the votes cast in favour of the SLPP by the people and are going behind their own leadership dreams.

He said, “They do not have a leader yet. Everyone in the group is expecting to become the leader. Can such an alliance lead the country?” he said.

He said public agitation against the SLPP is a fabricated one and there was no such opposition from the grassroots level. The public has faith in the policies of the SLPP.

Broader political force

The 43rd Brigade led by MP Patali Champika Ranawaka and the Nawa Lanka Freedom Party (NLFP) led by MP Kumara Welgama entered into an agreement on Monday to jointly contest the upcoming Local Government (LG) elections, for several LG bodies.

Following the event MP Ranawaka told the media that a broader political force would be created following the LG Elections. He said that the LG Elections would provide an opportunity for the public to show their anger and displeasure at the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, for leading the country to bankruptcy.

Ranawaka said, “The upcoming LG Elections is a democratic opportunity for the people to voice their displeasure against the corrupt coterie, which is responsible for the downfall of our economy. Even though the people took direct action to chase away the Government led by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2022, the same group is still trying to cling on to power, disregarding the public anger towards them.”

He said, “We did not create the 43rd Brigade as a political party, but considering the current state-of-affairs in the country we have decided to convert it to a new political party. However, time is not enough to do that before the LG Elections. Therefore, we hope to launch it after the elections.”

Describing MP Ranawaka as an intrepid politician, MP Welgama said that his Party is glad to work in unison with the 43rd Brigade, adding that their common goal is to unseat the SLPP.


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said he is capable of obtaining the support for the country from the leader of any country by speaking with them in English. At a recent SJB political meeting, he said he is an all-rounder in several sports such as cricket, football, American football and basketball. Stating that he has the plans to bring dollars to the country, he said it is the public who should decide whether they are going to give him the opportunity for that.

Heavy vehicle licence

State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage questioned in Parliament on Thursday whether Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has the heavy vehicle licence to drive buses. She said, “The Opposition Leader Premadasa distributes buses to schools. He drives these buses too. In order to drive buses, one needs a heavy vehicle license. I wonder whether the Opposition Leader has the relevant license to drive buses like that.”

Speaking on the Bill to regulate election expenditure, State Minister Gamage pointed out that people are not requesting an election. This difficult year should be dedicated to uplifting people’s lives. Meanwhile, she criticised the Opposition Leader for taking up too much time in the House. She said that Premadasa stretches his speeches taking up more than an hour of the morning session. He is like a Mike Tyson, MP Gamage quipped.

Heated argument

A heated argument ensued in Parliament on Wednesday between former President Maithripala Sirisena and Field Marshall MP Sarath Fonseka. MP Fonseka pointed out that attempts were underway by the former President to collect money from the public to settle the Rs.100 million compensation to be paid to the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks as ordered by the Supreme Court.

MP Fonseka said that the country will have to face several issues if people like this who are collecting funds via tills in Pettah are elected as the President of the country.

Responding to him, former President Sirisena said that a person who could not safeguard the Army headquarters from a bomb attack does not have the right to make any comments about him.

Former President Sirisena said that if money is being collected to assist him to pay the compensation, he will accept such collections. He reminded MP Sarath Fonseka, that he was the person responsible for Fonseka to be released from prison and reappointed as Field Marshall.