New foreign policy to be finalised soon | Sunday Observer

New foreign policy to be finalised soon

20 August, 2023
President Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the chief guest at the Anula Vidyalaya prize-giving, presents an award. Pic: Courtesy PMD

This was not the first time President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in the opening ceremony of the annual feast of the Madhu Church in Mannar. He attended the Madhu feast when he held the portfolio of Prime Minister and as the Opposition Leader. The relationship between President Wickremesinghe and the Madhu Church was established through late Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene.

President Wickremesinghe was also invited to the opening ceremony of this year’s Madhu feast, bringing the relationship established that day to the present day. Not only was the President invited, but for the first time in history, he also had the opportunity to make a speech.

Vatican Apostolic Nuncio of Sri Lanka Rev. Dr. Brian Udaigwe also made a speech appreciating the service rendered by the President.

The President outlined plans on how to make Mannar an energy hub, instilling hope in the minds of the people present. President Wickremesinghe started last week by participating in the 150th anniversary celebration of St. Thomas College, Matale. After the ceremony, a small student came close to the President without any hesitation and directly asked in English, “How are you Sir?” The conversation started with the President replying “I am doing well” and extended up to the future hope of the student.After the student said that he wishes to become a scientist in the future, the President explained the necessary environment.

General Shavendra Silva, a former student of the college, overheard this conversation and told those around him about the boldness of the child and the simplicity of the President after the President had left the venue.

President Wickremesinghe, who did not forget to interact with the children, also appeared for group photographs with the teachers, former students and Head Prefects. Later the President returned to Colombo and joined several other discussions.

Foreign policy

On the same day, the President went to the Ministry of Defence along with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry PC and Foreign Ministry officials and President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka to join a discussion about the draft of a foreign policy.

The new foreign policy was discussed and the President instructed the officials to prepare and finalise it as soon as possible. It was decided to appoint Shenuka Seneviratne, a senior officer of the Foreign Service, as the new High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India and another senior officer as the new Ambassador to China.

The Cabinet meeting which used to be held on Monday evening was held in the morning on that day. There was a discussion about the lease of National Television’s “Channel Eye” to the private sector and in the face of the opposition of the majority, it ended with a notice to submit a revised Cabinet paper.

The President, who went to Anuradhapura that evening, went to Madhu Church in Mannar, the following morning to join the annual Madhu feast as the chief guest.

UNP Management Committee meeting

After the Madhu feast, President Wickremesinghe came to Colombo to attend the United National Party (UNP) Management Committee meeting that evening. The discussion was held in relation to the party convention and UNP National Organiser Sagala Ratnayaka presented the details of the discussion held by the convention committee on Monday. Minister Harin Fernando gave a long explanation to the President about how to conduct the party convention. He also pointed out to the President that the stage and the convention ground will be prepared in such a way symbolising the position on how the future Sri Lanka should be brought together.

The President instructed party seniors to show how Sri Lanka will gradually progress in five years. Finally, it was decided to hold the party convention on September 10 evening at the venue in front of Lake House.

The Constitutional Amendment to appoint a High Post Committee to the UNP was also discussed. General Secretary Range Bandara presented a report about the party Bala Mandalas to the Party Leader President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The report pointed out as of this week, holding 147 Bala Mandalas countrywide will be completed and 13 are unable to be held. Among them, the Bala Mandalas cannot be held in two electorates in Colombo, five in the North and some electorates in Kegalle and Badulla districts due to lack of discipline among electoral organisers and Bala Mandala representatives.

The President advised the General Secretary to reconsider holding them only if the electoral organisers and the Bala Mandala representatives work together. General Secretary Range Bandara gave permission to hold Bala Mandalas in two electorates in Badulla and Kegalle districts on the basis of unity.

Following an invitation to participate in the 129th Annual Conference of the Colombo Tea Traders Association, President Wickremesinghe and Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka arrived at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Tuesday night.

After the ceremony, the tea exporters who met the President thanked him for his sacrifices for rebuilding the collapsed economy. They pointed out that during the tenure of the former Government, they said that tea would be provided to Iran and in return Iran would provide fuel due to the lack of money to pay for the fuel. But that promise has not been fulfilled so far.

President Wickremesinghe thanked the Iranian leaders who were present for the help provided by Iran during Sri Lanka’s difficult times and assigned the responsibility of solving the problem to Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka. He solved it the very next day.

Patrol aircraft

On the instructions of the President, Chief of Staff Sagala went to Katunayake Air Force Base to receive the Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from India. India had agreed to provide three such aircraft to Sri Lanka and gave its first aircraft a few months ago. It had gone to India for maintenance and the second aircraft was received by Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka.

On Wednesday evening, President Wickremesinghe went to Anula Vidyalaya Nugegoda to attend its annual prize-giving as the chief guest. Everyone started talking about Gen Z and Gen Alpha that the President spoke about. This statement made on behalf of the children was also praised by the teachers and parents present.

Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Wildlife, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Governor of Western Province former Air Force Commander Roshan Gunathilake were also present at the prize-giving of Anula Vidyalaya, Nugegoda.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe and other guests attended the tea party which was prepared at the end of the prize-giving. President Wickremesinghe did not forget to talk about his school days while enjoying the tea ceremony.

“Looking at everyone here, we are all children who went to schools in the Colombo district.”

“I went to the Royal College. Pavitra went to Anula Vidyalaya. Bandula went to Lumbini College and Susil went to St. John’s College, Nugegoda. “Ah... this Roshan went to St. Peter’s College,” said the President, pointing to Western Province Governor Roshan Gunathilaka. “The President still remembers the school we went to,” said the Ministers.

Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said, “Society appreciated the President’s speech at the Anula Vidyalaya prize- giving. I think most of the adults did not understand what the President said about Gen Z Gen Alpha, but the children understood it.”

The President gave a long explanation, “No, I mean politicians are still in the past. But these children are in the present. Children have been categorised according to year of birth. Children in the upper grades of the school are called Gen Z. First graders are called Gen Alpha. Children have also been classified as Gen M and Gen Y. I said that since politicians are in the past, they should be brought to the present. But the fact is that it is easy for the children of the present to go to the future.” Everyone listened to it seriously.

On Thursday, the President came to the Ministry of Finance as usual and inquired about the fire that broke out there the day before. The fire broke out on the second floor where the office of the Finance Minister and the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance was located and it was revealed that it was an electrical leak caused by a bulb. Parliamentarians and several politicians participate in this discussion with the President which is held once a week.

“The Frontline Socialist Party people say that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) money has been invested in Malta. That is what society is talking about now,” Minister Shehan Semasinghe started the conversation.

Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said, “If the JVP Leader had made a proper statement to the people, there would be no problems. Did they really put the money? If so, whose money was it? If he said that, this problem would be solved. If they didn’t invest money, they have to say so. The problem is that they don’t say anything.”

New Ambassadors

The appointment of new Ambassadors to India and China was also discussed and the President said that senior Foreign Service officers who can have direct contacts with him will be appointed.

The President went to the UNP headquarters, Sirikotha on Thursday to discuss the party convention and the new party constitution and take a final decision. However, the Working Committee agreed to meet again on the eve of the party convention and take final decision.

Dinner party

The participation of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa in both dinners given by Prof. G.L. Peiris to several Opposition MPs was a matter of discussion in the political arena.

Both dinners were held at the private residence of Prof. Peiris where some tough decisions about the future activities of the Opposition were discussed and apart from the Opposition Leader, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddum Bandara and Lakshman Fonseka were also present.

A group of MPs including Dullas Alahapperuma, Nalaka Godahewa, Wasantha Yapa Bandara and Lalith Ellawala participated in this dinner on behalf of the group of Prof. G.L. Peiris. Ranjith Madduma Bandara participated in one of these two dinners and businessman Lakshman Fonseka, a friend of the Opposition Leader, attended both dinners.

Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe is dealing with a group of members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa suggested that the Dullas group should join the SJB as soon as possible. He pointed out that these transactions will come to a halt when the Opposition becomes stronger.

According to political sources, Sajith Premadasa has indicated that after coming together as a broad alliance, opportunities will be given to the Dullas group in the affairs of the party and Parliament and Ranil’s group can be distanced little by little. The members of the Dullas group who were present told this to the SJB members and the SJB members responded with a smile.

“For a Disciplined Society”

The Galle district summit of the Bhikku Upadeshana Sabha organised by the SJB was held recently on the theme “For a Disciplined Society”. Hundreds of members of the Maha Sangha attended and many leaders of the SJB including Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Mrs. Jalani Premadasa were also present. Premadasa outlined the idea of establishing the ‘Bhikku Upadeshana Sabha’ some time ago.

Sajith handed over the responsibility to Party General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, National Organiser Tissa Attanayake and Gayantha Karunathilaka. They dedicated a lot for this task and did not forget to speak to many temples personally.

However, it was Karunathilaka who took the entire responsibility for the Galle District Summit. Gayantha worked day and night for it and Premadasa spoke to Gayantha on several occasions and inquired about the progress of the program. “If Gayantha does a job, there is nothing to look back on. He does it to the best of his ability,” Premadasa said.

WB officials meet Opposition Leader

A group of representatives from the World Bank (WB) visited the Opposition Leader’s office recently . Many financial and credit problems faced by micro, small and medium businessmen were discussed.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Premadasa intervened and gave an opportunity for micro, small and medium scale businessmen and entrepreneurs and representatives of the Asian Development Bank to meet and discuss the problems and issues faced by them.

As another step, representatives of the World Bank and micro, small and medium businessmen and entrepreneurs met together. Another World Bank delegation joined it online.

During the discussion, the businessmen said they were unable to run their businesses properly during the Covid-19 due to the inefficient governance of the previous government and their businesses suffered losses and therefore, it was difficult to pay back the loans they had taken and they requested that a positive program be provided to pay off the loans.

They pointed out that micro, small and medium businessmen and entrepreneurs scattered all over the island, including themselves, have become helpless due to the inhumane implementation of the Parate law by financial institutions.

Representing Parliament, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Nalaka Godahewa, Lakshman Kiriella, Eran Wickramaratne and Harshana Rajakaruna also joined the discussion. The Opposition Leader’s Committee held a discussion with the businessmen under the patronage of Opposition Leader Premadasa.

The Opposition Leader said that he believes in the concept that not only the rich but also the common man should own small shares in the stock market and that the youth community will become part of the economic journey and it should also be implemented in our country and the working people should have a share of the profits.

Meanwhile, SJB Parliamentarian S.M. Marikkar in a recent statement confirmed that Sajith Premadasa is the Presidential Candidate of Samagi Jana Balawegaya. “Sajith Premadasa has been nominated as the candidate of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and Samagi Jana Sandanaya. Prof. Ranjith Bandara, a close friend of Basil Rajapaksa had said that they will field a candidate as well. Then, when the National People’s Power puts Anura Kumara Dissanayake, there is no main party for the President to contest.

“That’s why I am emphasising to you all again and again that a General Election is coming first. As I said, the General Election will come by the first quarter of next year. The reason is because of the fear of the Budget. We would like to make it very clear that the broad coalition of the Opposition will be formed soon. We will put all the groups who have become independent in Parliament and are disappointed with the Government together as a broad alliance led by the SJB,” Marikkar said.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, recently joined the protest against the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam who held a media conference on August 14 at the party headquarters said, “The people of this country do not expect the President to devolve power at this time. The people expect only one thing from the President. That is, that he stabilises the country’s economy and strengthens democracy.”

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya also commented on this. Nalin Bandara said, “The President is enacting a false drama by talking about an irrelevant issue such as the 13th Amendment.”

Ashok Abeysinghe said, “People don’t get caught up in those dramas. They are waiting for the election.”