Continued from yesterday
Okay, that is your political activity; nobody can complain about that. But, in order to achieve that, you are trying to stir communal tension in this country by stating that through this Constitutional process, an effort is being made to divide the country. If that was your position, why did you not come to Parliament when the Resolution was adopted and oppose that Resolution? You did not do that.
I am sorry, Sir, that this is not the way to get about resolving the problems of our people. Now, Sir, we have a situation where there has been a Resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council in October, 2015 and that Resolution in paragraph no. 16 states, I quote:
“Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to a political settlement by taking the necessary constitutional measures, encourages the Government’s efforts to fulfil its commitments on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population;..”
This is the Resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, accepted by this country. Do you want that Resolution violated? You have given a commitment to the UN Human Rights Council that you will do certain things in regard to constitutional making, constitutional measures to ensure reconciliation and peace in Sri Lanka. We know that prior to 2015, throughout 2012, 2013 and 2014, our position in the United Nations became worse. We reached a point of time when this country could have been subjected to economic sanctions and this country could have been in dire difficulties. That did not happen because under the new Government, there was a new direction. I want to ask you, are we not obliged to follow the commitment that we have already made to the UN Human Rights Council.
I want to, Sir, finally quote a statement made by the “Friday Forum” which is a civic body comprising of people of all communities – highly educated, highly respected persons of rectitude, people like Prof. Savithri Gunasekera and several others – and this is what they say in a statement they issued recently; the Statement issued on the 21st of August, 2017.
It states, I quote:
“A new constitution has been mandated by the people and law makers must give it the highest priority. Any attempt to subvert this process for cheap political gain by those elected by the people, cannot and must not be tolerated. We urge the Prime Minister and members of the Steering Committee to ensure that the draft constitutional proposals are put before the Constitutional Assembly within the next three months at least, and are also made available to the public. We also urge all representatives of the people in Parliament, both in government and the opposition, to consider the proposals positively and in the best interests of all the people of this country. We acknowledge that the task of drafting a new constitution is not an easy one, given the multi-ethnic-religious constituency of the island nation. It is nonetheless imperative that the process is followed through to the end, and the voice of the people, made clear at the last two elections, be heard.”
Before I conclude, Sir, I want to merely refer to certain matters which I think, are very important. I am happy President Mahinda Rajapaksa with whom I have had a very strong personal relationship over the years is present and will listen to me. I would appeal you to cooperate. We need your cooperation. You are a very senior political leader in this country. You command much respect amongst the people of this country and we will want you to be a party to the making of a new Constitution. I would appeal to you to support this endeavour.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power from 2005 to 2015 which is for 10 years. He was in the earlier Government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga between 1994 and 2005. So, he was in power for almost 20 years. There was a Presidential Election and there was a Parliamentary Election in 2015. The people of this country did not elect him as the President; the people of this country did not elect him as the Prime Minister. Compared to the votes he received in 2010 at the Presidential Election and at the Parliamentary Election, the votes he received in 2015 diminished considerably, diminished seriously. The people very clearly did not want him elected as President or as Prime Minister. That was the verdict of the people. That must be respected. People have elected an SLFP President; President Maithripala Sirisena. People have elected a UNP Prime Minister; Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. What does that mean? The people want the two parties to work together for the benefit of this country. The people’s verdict is the clearest indication that the people of this country want the two parties to work together and that is what they are doing. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, you are a senior Member of the SLFP. I held your father in high esteem, the late D.A. Rajapaksa because he was one man who crossed the floor of Parliament with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike when Mr. Bandaranaike crossed over. There were other senior leaders like A.P. Jayasuriya and several others in Parliament but they did not cross over with Mr. Bandaranaike. But, your father crossed over with Mr. Bandaranaike. Mr. Bandaranaike did not expect that. Mr. Banadranaike is supposed to have turned round, seen him coming and said, “I thought that was my shadow”. For that reason, from that date onwards, I held your father in the highest esteem. We would like to hold you also in the highest esteem. You must support the making of a new Constitution. I say to you, Mahinda Rajapaksa, that is your fundamental duty; you must not fail in that duty. That is something which this country needs, unless you want this country to go back into darkness. If you want this country to emerge into light and move forwards, we must make a new Constitution for this country which unites our people, makes us all Sri Lankans, enables us to live in Sri Lanka, our country, as a united people in an undivided, indivisible, perpetually indivisible Sri Lanka. You must do that.
As I said before, Sir, if you want to capture power, capture power in some other way, we have no problem. But, do not use the Constitution as a means to come to power. That should not be done. I want to make an appeal to all SLFP Members. You all belong to a party started by Mr. Bandaranaike. We have supported your party at several elections. We have supported your Presidential candidates. In March, 1960, the Federal Party voted with the SLFP to bring down the UNP Government. We did that. When J.R. Jayewardene contested Hector Kobbekaduwa – Hector Kobbekaduwa was the opponent of J. R. Jayewardene in the 1982 Presidential Election – the people of Jaffna voted for Hector Kobbekaduwa.
So, do not think we are against you. Please do not be against us. I am appealing to the genuine SLFPers, please support the making of this Constitution. That is your fundamental duty. That is something you must do in the interest of this country. Do not let this country down. Join in the making of the Constitution. All of us must get together and work for the betterment of this country to make Sri Lanka a prosperous country, which we all would very much desire.