President will rebuild country | Sunday Observer

President will rebuild country

27 August, 2023
President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a discussion with the  new High Commissioner and two Ambassadors who presented their Credentials last week.  Pic: Courtesy PMD
President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a discussion with the new High Commissioner and two Ambassadors who presented their Credentials last week. Pic: Courtesy PMD

President Ranil Wickremesinghe went to Yala last Saturday to open a star class hotel. The President also had the opportunity to observe the artificial ponds built for wild animals in the drought-stricken Yala Park.

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando and US Ambassador Julie Chung were part of the entourage.

The President said that efforts should be made to protect the forests and wild animals which is vital to uplift the tourism industry.

Minister Harin Fernando could not stop laughing when he recalled a story told about Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who often goes to Yala. When those who were standing close by asked about it, Harin said, “We are planning to build the Opposition Leader’s office in Yala.”

The President recalled the new opportunities in the tourism sector when opening the star-class hotel and came back to Colombo to get ready for his visit to Singapore.

LPL finals

The President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, contacted the President and asked if he had time to see the LPL finals at the R. Premadasa Stadium. None of the sports fans knew about it until President Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived at the stadium. The officers of the President’s Media Division immediately gave the opportunity to the cameramen when they realised that the cameramen in the stadium could not video the President from where they were.

When the footage of the President watching the match was aired on the large television screens installed in the stadium, the match commentators also announced about it and the fans had a different reaction. They switched on the “flashlights” of their mobile phones and waved their hands to a beat to display the lights. This continued for about a minute.

When State Minister of Sports Rohana Dissanayake, President’s Chief of Staff Ratnayaka, President of Sri Lanka Cricket, Shammi Silva were watching the match from the special guest room of the stadium, former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram also came near the President and started chatting with him. The President discussed the further development of the LPL with the officials of the Sri Lanka Cricket and the State Minister of Sports. When President Wickremesinghe, who had watched the match for almost an hour, was leaving, an official of the Sri Lanka Cricket told the President’s Chief of Staff a strange story.

“When we heard that the President was coming, we were a little scared because there was a time when spectators booed Presidents who came to watch the matches. But this President received an unimaginable cheer,” the official said. “Now the situation is different, sports fans know that this President will rebuild the destroyed country,” Ratnayaka replied and left.

Singapore visit

The President and his group who arrived in Singapore on a flight that left early on Monday received a warm reception. Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Adviser on Climate Change, Ruwan Wijewardene, Senior Adviser on Economic Affairs, Dr. R.S.H. Samaratunga, Director of International Affairs, Dinouk Colombage and Private Secretary Sandra Perera also joined the entourage.

Although it was a short visit, many important issues were discussed. The energy sector, climate change and the abandoned Singapore-Sri Lanka free trade agreement were also discussed. Apart from that, the security of the Indian Ocean and the sending of skilled workers to Singapore were also discussed.

The President and his team met Singapore President Halimah Yacob, Singapore Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Sustainability and Environment Minister Grace Fu Hai Yen and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

An agreement related to carbon offsetting was also signed. President Wickremesinghe and others were given a luncheon by the Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Labour. They praised the President for changing Sri Lanka in one year and said that it is an example for the world. The leaders of Singapore also told the President that they are willing to improve relations with Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe and his delegation returned to Sri Lanka on Tuesday night after completing the two-day visit.

Climate change

The next day, the President invited the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Senior Adviser to the President on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardene and his team to the President’s Office to discuss the agreements made with the Singapore Government regarding carbon neutrality according to the Paris Conference.

President Wickremesinghe started the discussion by saying, “We are facing a drought. There may be floods in the future. Both of these are climate changes caused by human activities. We need to create a Climate Change Office to deal with this.”

Presidential Adviser Ruwan Wijewardene said, “Even when the President went to the Climate Change Conference, some Opposition Party leaders asked why he was going. Some even laughed at me for being a climate change consultant. But the steps taken by the President then have been confirmed to be right today.”

The early setting up of a climate change academy and a climate change university was also discussed. The President emphasised that Asian countries which face problems due to climate change should come together and create a climate change justice system. The yearly increase in pollution of the Kelani River was also discussed.

Credentials of a new High Commissioner and two Ambassadors who had arrived in Sri Lanka were accepted that morning.

President’s Parliamentary Adviser Prof. Ashu Marasinghe and a group of ruling party MPs met the President on Wednesday evening to discuss parliamentary affairs. The indecent behaviour of the Opposition in Parliament in the morning of that particular day was also discussed.

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said, “The Opposition is obstructing the work of the Government in Parliament. No work is being permitted. They don’t allow us to bring in Bills which are important to the people.”

Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said, .”The first hour for questions drags on for two or three hours. Then there is no time to do other work.”

MP Madhura Withanage said, “On the other hand, today’s attempt proved that the Opposition members have no control over the Opposition Leader. It looks as if the Opposition is simply going on a journey without any strategy to waste time,”

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga making another point said, “The Leader of the House and the Prime Minister are controlling the ruling party. But that does not happen with the Leader of the Opposition. When you were the Leader of the Opposition, that control was there.”

The President said, “We have nothing to do with the Opposition. But take a decision at the Party Leaders’ meeting about the time management of Parliament. Inform in writing to all 225 MPs of the Parliament.”

The President was due to leave for Trincomalee on Thursday morning, but before that he had reserved time for several other meetings. Before going to the District Development Committee meeting, the President met several Ministers at the President’s Office to discuss the political and economic situation in the country. Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said, “There is no response from Anura Dissanayake to Duminda Nagamuwa’s speech about Malta. But he has sent a Letter of Demand to Sagara Kariyawasam and Tissa Kuttiarachchi.”

Minister Chamara Sampath said, “Our Minister Tiran Alles has instructed the CID to investigate it. But Anura Dissanayake has not done anything about this matter. At least he didn’t even talk about this in Parliament.”

Everyone burst out laughing when MP Wajira Abeywardena said, “After a Letter of Demand is sent, it will take about 10 years to investigate the case and make a decision. There is news that it is not only the money in Malta accounts, but also money given by Rajapaksas.”

MP Madhura Withanage said, “Even though we laughed, there is something to note here. Ananda Wijepala was the Head of the Anti-corruption Office set up during the tenure of the Yahapalana Government. He came out as a leader of the National People’s Power at the last election. The Anti-corruption office was under him.”

MP Premanath C. Dolawatta raised a question saying, “Yes, Weliamuna, who was in the Anti-corruption office, has left the country. Jayampathi Wickramaratne is also not in the country. Legal action was taken against former Director of the CID Shani Abeysekera who investigated the complaints following the request by the Anti-corruption office. But it is something to think about the fact that Ananda Wijepala is out.”

Prof. Ashu Marasinghe said, “The best thing for you to do now is to ask the CID through the Minister to investigate the matter as Minister Tiran Alles has asked the CID to investigate this incident.”

Despite listening carefully to all this, President Wickremesinghe did not say anything. Finally, the group of MPs decided to inform Minister Tiran Alles about the matter in the coming week. On that day, the President sent a message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated him on becoming the fourth state to land on the moon.

When the Parliamentary session started on Tuesday, August 22, all members of the ruling party had been called to the Parliament complex at 8.30 am. That is to inform about the parliamentary activities of the week. The activities included the adoption of orders under the Antiquities Ordinance Act, regulations under the Tourism Act, regulations under the Import and Export (Control) Act. Many Government officials also presented the facts in this regard.

In the orders under the Antiquities Ordinance Act, it was planned to get approval for giving gifts to protect antiquities. Several MPs said, “There are many issues to be resolved about this.” Accordingly, it was decided to call a separate meeting with the Minister in charge of the subject to resolve those issues. A member of the ruling party said, “After these officials leave, we have some things to talk about.”

At that time, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and the Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Minister Vidura Wickremanayake, State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and the President’s Parliamentary Affairs Adviser Prof. Ashu Marasinghe were at the main table. MPs Tissa Kuttiarachchi, Samanpriya Herath, Jayantha Katagoda, Milan Jayathilaka and D. Weerasinghe came to the front of the committee room to present their questions.

“Certain Ministers in the ruling party are ignoring us . We are not able to vote for the budget heads of the Ministers who ignore us in this way,“ they said, presenting their grievances to the Prime Minister.

MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi said, “Certain Ministers have ignored the lists that we have given in relation to giving foreign jobs.”

MP Samanpriya Herath said, “We can’t go to the villages as the people scold us. It is not only the Ministers but also the Governors and the officials who are ignoring us. The Provincial Secretaries are working without seeking the opinions of the members of the Government who are the Chairmen of the Coordinating Committees.”

The meeting heated up when MPs Gamini Lokuge, Jayantha Katagoda, Milan Jayathilaka, D. Weerasinghe and State Ministers Piyal Nishantha and Chamara Sampath expressed their views.

Premier Gunawardena who listened carefully to the questions of his parliamentary group said, “Governors have been clearly instructed to work with Coordinating Committee Chairmen and Divisional Secretaries.”

The back row MPs said, “We need a meeting where you and the President are present.”

Premier Gunawardena replied, “Okay, let’s have a discussion with the President and I will also participate. Also, let’s talk with Secretaries and officials.”

But as the discussion dragged on and the MPs presented their grievances, the Prime Minister decided to remain at the meeting without going to the Chamber at the opening of the Parliament at 9.30 am.

At that time Prime Minister Gunawardena came to know that there was a tense situation in the Chamber due to a problem in the Elkaduwa Estate. “There is a problem inside the Chamber. We all need to go there. We will work to solve the problems of our MPs,” said the Prime Minister and went to the Chamber along with the remaining members of the ruling party.

Drinking water problem

Prime Minister Gunawardena has given instructions to officials to consider the need of drinking water in the country as an emergency and prepare a quick program through an active committee.

A discussion chaired by the Prime Minister was held at the Parliament Complex on August 22 which was attended by Irrigation Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, Water Supply Minister Jeevan Thondaman, Prime Minister’s Secretary Anura Dissanayake and many senior officials of the Ministry of Irrigation, Ministry of Water Supply and the Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority.

Under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Secretary, this emergency committee comprising the Secretaries of the Ministries of Water Supply, Irrigation, Public Administration and Home Affairs and Provincial Councils and Local Government. Prime Minister Gunawardena has instructed all relevant institutions to get involved in this process. The discussion was also attended by State Minister of Water Supply Sanath Nishantha, Members of Parliament Vasudeva Nanayakkara, A.L.M. Athaullah, Sudarshana Denipitiya, Jagath Samarawickrama and many high officials related to the subject.

Moon landing

A day after India made history by becoming the first country to land a spacecraft on the south pole of the moon, the Rover sent to the moon took its first step on the lunar surface last week.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa was the first to congratulate India from Sri Lanka regarding this. Chandrayaan-3, which was launched on July 14, completed its journey and reached the South Pole of the Moon and India became the only country to make such a successful landing. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that he extends his warm wishes to the Government of India.

Broad alliance

The Opposition, including the Samagi Jana Balawega (SJB), is now ready to create a broad alliance to end the Government’s rule.

MP Nalin Bandara said, “The country’s status leaves a lot to be desired. The whole country has been destroyed. This Government must be driven out.”

MP Gayanta Karunathilake said, “This is a false and slanderous Government. If we go this way, we will not be left with something called a country.”

Ranjith Maddumabandara said, “We need to form a broad alliance immediately to stop this journey.”

Sajith Premadasa gave his consent to the group of MPs saying, “There is nothing to postpone. Let’s gather the progressive groups and build a broad alliance.”

The parliamentary group passed the motion unanimously. In the next few days, the SJB has decided to create a broad alliance that brings together all the progressive forces of the country.


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa raised his voice in Parliament regarding the fate of cricket in the country. The Opposition Leader said that due to the election system and influence, corporate politics and traditional politics have entered the cricket game in the country. As a result of this, the cricket in the country has fallen to a low level and therefore, there must be a change.

The Opposition Leader said that a system should be developed at village level to encourage the youths, who are good at cricket, but there is no proper program at school level and priority has been given to some players selected due to political interference.

At that time, Premadasa was told that the electricity had been disconnected at the Dimbulagala Aranya Senasanaya. He immediately intervened in this matter and raised his voice in Parliament.