President Wickremesinghe’s efforts pay dividends | Sunday Observer

President Wickremesinghe’s efforts pay dividends

21 May, 2023
A section of the war heroes at the 14th National War Heroes commemoration ceremony in Battaramulla on Friday.  President Ranil Wickremesinghe was the chief guest. Pic: Courtesy PMD
A section of the war heroes at the 14th National War Heroes commemoration ceremony in Battaramulla on Friday. President Ranil Wickremesinghe was the chief guest. Pic: Courtesy PMD

On May 12 last year Ranil Wickremesinghe (now President) was sworn in as the Prime Minister. In view of the economic crisis in the country at that time, everyone thought that taking over the premiership was like wearing a crown of thorns.

But President Wickremesinghe did not hesitate to wear the crown of thorns on behalf of the people as the only member of the United National Party (UNP) in Parliament. Even though some put obstacles on his path, assuming that he will fall, the people of the country are enjoying the results of his journey wading through the obstacles. He is still moving unceasingly on the path of getting the people back on their feet by ending the era of queues.

Within a year of becoming the Prime Minister, the situation in the country was completely turned upside down. As a result, the officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are coming to the country and helping to put the economy on the right track.

The President’s diary does not have a section on working days or holidays. There is no mention of the working hours as well. When he comes to the office in the morning, he works until 7-8 p.m. As a result of that commitment, the value of the dollar came to the 300 mark, changing the economic course by 360 degrees.

President Wickremesinghe came to the office last Sunday to discuss the development of the Western Province according to a formal plan. The Surbana Jurong Company related to the development of Western Province had first presented this plan in 2004. It stalled with the change of Government and then again in 2016 through the Ministry of Megapolis but stopped again due to change of the Government. It will be restarted to develop the country according to a proper plan.

On the same day, the officials of the Ceylon Electricity Board were due to meet the President, but President Wickremesinghe assigned it to the Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and turned to another discussion.

The discussion was about the revision of the electricity tariff and Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera was also present.

The District Secretaries had informed President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake that due to the bad weather in the country, several areas in the Southern Province have been affected. The President immediately summoned Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka to look into the matter and asked him to take remedial measures because he has had very good experience in the management of natural disasters in the South for some time.

Ratnayaka, who immediately went to the Disaster Management Centre and called Chief of Staff General Shavendra Silva and other security top brass and took measures to save the people from the natural calamity. Sagala, who contacted the District Secretaries, promptly allocated the money needed to provide relief to the displaced people. The Cabinet meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday evening and there was a discussion about the economy and the Bills and proposals that will be presented to Parliament this week.

UNP ManagementCommittee meets

The United National Party (UNP) Management Committee met on Tuesday and discussed the party’s reorganisation. General Secretary Range Bandara presented a report related to the reorganisation. He also presented details related to a discussion he had started with a Tamil diaspora group.

“People representing the Tamil diaspora in several countries have come forward to support us. They want to support the President’s program,” Range Bandara said.

The President said, “Tell them to bring investments to Sri Lanka.”

General Secretary Range Bandara gave a long explanation. “Yes Sir, they want to help the country. These people do not like the traditional Tamil parties now. I have been told to come back to the North. I am going to Mullaitivu on May 27-28. The Tamil youth community is also with us now.”

The Leader gave advice to everyone: “When doing politics, do a good study of world political developments and the political developments in Sri Lanka. It’s important for everyone.”

The group started talking about the alleged swearing in of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and the strengthening of security around Colombo University.

“No one took oath in the office of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is there,” the President said, looking away.

UNP Chairman MP Wajira Abeywardena said, “Information came from within that there was going to be a clash at the University of Colombo. There are a number of problems there.”

Range Banda, looking at the President, said, “It is also heard that there is a division within the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF). Discussions are also going on to appoint a new Convener. The JVP is also trying to capture the IUSF again.”

Ruwan Wijewardene said with a smile,”Sir, it has been a year since you became the Prime Minister. Now everyone understands who the best performer is.”

Sagala Ratnayaka, chipping in, said, “Yes, there is no ceremony. The country is doing well. In the past, there were annual festivals. Even those who said that our leader should not be given the premiership have no answer today.”

Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said, “When all 225 MPs are thrown into Diyawannawa, the story that Diyawannawa will become dirty has been well received by society. Actually, the problem will not be solved if the MPs are thrown into the Diyawannawa.” All agreed to what he said.

New Governors

The President appointed three new Governors last Wednesday. P.S.M. Charles was appointed as the Governor of the North, representing the Administrative Service and Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena as the Governor of the North Western Province, representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. Senthil Thondaman, who has close ties with India, was appointed as the Governor of the Eastern Province. Senthil was also the first Tamil Governor to be appointed to the Eastern Province.


The President instructed the officials to continue implementing dengue control programs. When a group of MPs came to meet the President on Wednesday, the story of Pastor Jerome Fernando insulting the Buddha was discussed. “I received a complaint about this. I forwarded it to the Criminal Investigation Department,” the President said in reply to the MPs’ question.

The Opposition says that this was also brought to avoid focusing on the country’s problems. They are saying that there is no talk about the ‘X-Press Pearl’ ship now. MP Madura Withanage said.

“It is wrong. The case is being heard in the Commercial Court of Singapore. The next court date is on June 1,” Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka replied.

“Yes, that’s right. But the Leader of the Opposition, who did not speak a word about Jerome, issued a statement as soon as P. Harrison asked why he did not speak about Pastor Jerome,” Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said with a smile.

During the meeting with the Secretaries of the ministries, the President asked them to get rid of the old methods and conduct state administration under new methods to develop the country.

IMF officials meet President

Officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met the President several times and mostly interacted with the President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka.

Last Thursday, the representatives of the IMF came to the Ministry of Finance and held several rounds of discussions with the President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and the President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake.

“The President started negotiations with the IMF last September. By this September, the country will be completely turned upside down,” Minister Shehan Semasinghe said when the President came to the Ministry of Finance.

“A year ago, the dollar left the 300 mark. Now it has come down. A year after the start of the IMF talks, it will be different,” Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said.

“But the Opposition says that the IMF representatives were surprised by the amount of taxes imposed on the people during the discussion held with them,” said an officer present there.

“What a lie. How many countries have higher taxes than this? They appreciate our program. They say that the Government’s income is still insufficient,” Shehan replied.

“They also support a plan to gradually ease import restrictions,” said Sagala Ratnayaka.


The 14th National War Heroes Commemoration was held on Friday evening at the War Heroes Commemoration Monument near the Parliament Stadium.

“This has always been a political celebration, not a war hero celebration. Therefore, this should be done by giving priority to war heroes,” Presidential National Security Adviser Sagala Ratnayaka told the Tri Forces chiefs.

Sagala advised them to conduct the war heroes’ celebration in a graceful and dignified manner and the President also praised Sagala for organising the celebration without politics.

SJB WorkingCommittee meets

Last week, the Working Committee of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) took two serious decisions while the fake news that the SJB is joining the Government is continuously spreading everywhere.

That is the SJB will not join the Government in any way and they will present a Presidential candidate at the next Presidential Election. But after that, there was a discussion among the seniors of SJB regarding some special decisions to be taken.

A Working Committee meeting of the SJB was held to take a decision on several critical issues. Members of the SJB also participated. The meeting started at 5 p.m., but before that a special event happened.

The Working Committee meeting was due to start at 5 pm, but a guest arrived at the Opposition Leader’s office twenty minutes before that. It was Sujeewa Senasinghe who had not attended the Working Committee meeting for almost two years. Sujeewa, who had been away from political activities due to setbacks in recent elections, participated in the SJB election campaign meetings as a special speaker one and a half months ago. But he did not participate in Working Committee meetings. Therefore, his participation in this meeting was special.

However, Sujeewa who came to the Opposition Leader’s office did not meet Party Leader Sajith Premadasa or General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara. He came directly and sat in the guest room adjacent to the hall where the Working Committee meeting was held. His presence on the one hand and his behaviour on the other hand caused the curiosity of many people. Sujeewa is generally known as a straight forward and outspoken person.

“Sujeewa, let’s go upstairs.” Several people including members of the Working Committee Lakshman Fonseka and Harshana Rajakaruna asked him but instead he stayed in the guest room until the meeting started with some youths of the Working Committee. Again Laxman Fonseka came and spoke to Sujeewa.

“No, Lakshman, when I was sidelined from political work, it was you, the Leader and the General Secretary who called me back. I got back on stage when I couldn’t escape from you all. I can’t turn back now. There must be an answer to the rumours going around in various places and there should be an end to it. Today, I came to the Working Committee to ask them to make a decision about it.” Even though Sujeewa said that, it was a puzzle to many people.

The Working Committee meeting started sharp at 5 p.m. under the patronage of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa. Sajith saw Sujeewa as soon as he arrived in the meeting room. After General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, presented the last report, Sajith addressed the meeting.

“The Working Committee meeting was called today to inform about some special matters and get approval. On the one hand, we as the main party of the Opposition are implementing a program to gather all the parties of the Opposition against this oppressive program of the Government.

“On the other hand, we are preparing the background to form a broad alliance by gathering groups that can take our vision together with the program. I like to tell you if we form an alliance, there can’t be several agendas. Views cannot be expressed at various places which would go against the policies of the party and the alliance.

“Let’s create a broad alliance instead of running after other things. We also need to be strict about discipline. I will take up the internal and external action needed to build an alliance. I will also appoint a committee consisting of the General Secretary, National Organiser and the Chief Opposition Whip to take decisions regarding discipline.

“I also want to say something special. Sujeewa Senasinghe has come here today after a long time. He is one of the people who made immense efforts to build this party. I accept him with great respect.” When Premadasa said that, everyone applauded.

While Sajith was continuing his speech, the young representatives of the Working Committee were very excited. Suddenly, Anuradha Wimalaratne stood up and said, “Sir, last week the Working Committee approved that a candidate of the Samagi Jana Balawega will contest for the Presidential Election. There is no way for various candidates to contest. You are our candidate.” WhenRehan Jayawickrama, Ajith P. Perera and many others tried to stand up in support of that idea, it was Sujeewa Senasinghe who stood up at the same time.

Senasinghe said, “Leader, after a long time, I came to the Working Committee meeting. If I did not attend this today, I would have had to have a big fight with my conscience. Leader, we formed this party after a great struggle. When Ranil Wickramasinghe took over the United National Party and ignored popular opinion, we had to create a new force by taking the past glory of the proud United National Party in this country. That is the Samagi Jana Balawegaya.

“We built this party by putting aside the dangers we had to face. Overing great challenges, we made you the Presidential candidate in 2019 and contested an election that even the devil could not win, but you secured 5.8 million votes. The last election was the first election you faced.

“Within three months of forming this party, you won a record 52 seats in Parliament. We don’t see a Leader like you elsewhere. It is not you who should promote yourself; it should be done by the others who are around you. We have a clean team. If that group gathers around you, this country can be built. Let’s dedicate ourselves to that. Let’s give an answer to these false stories that some people are circulating. We have formed this new party to go on a journey with you,” he said.

While Sujeewa Senasinghe expressed his views in an emotional manner, there was a pin drop silence in the Working Committee.

“I came to say this. Don’t even think of joining the gangs that have bankrupted this country. If we do that, then the people of this country will curse us too. You are the Presidential candidate of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. There are no other candidates. I propose you as the Presidential candidate of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and Samagi Jana Sandhanaya,” Sujeewa said and sat down.

Along with Sujeewa’s comment, there was a big competition among the members of the Working Committee to second Sajith as the Presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Harshana Rajakaruna, who stood up, approving Sujeewa’s idea said Sajith Premadasa must be the Presidential candidate of Samagi Jana Balawegaya.

Rehan Jayawickrama said, “We, as local councillors, wrote a letter to Ranil Wickremasinghe for the first time asking him to give you the party leadership and make you the Presidential candidate. We contributed as much as we could for the building of this party. You should definitely be the next Presidential candidate.”

Upul Jayasuriya, PC said, “Within two months, a new party was formed and the main parties were reduced to zero and nearly 52 seats were obtained under your leadership. There are no other leaders. You are the candidate of Samagi Jana Balawegaya.”

Chaminda Wijesiri said, “I also have to say, Leader, there is no double game with Chaminda Wijesiri. If someone joins the Government, that is for money. No one can get away by committing that crime.”

Sujeewa Senasinghe and General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Harshana Rajakaruna proposed that Sajith Premadasa should run for the upcoming Presidential Election with the Samagi Jana Balawegaya led Samagi Jana Sandhanaya and it was unanimously approved by the Working Committee.

Chaminda Wijesiri, Harshana Rajakaruna, S.M. Marikkar, Rehan Jayawickrama, Upul Jayasuriya, PC and others expressed their appreciation for the proposal.