The statement made by President Maithripala Sirisena on April
On this occasion that marks 100 days since my
election as President, I think it is proper that I address you as
your first servant, appointed by you. Following the results of the
Presidential Election on January 8 this year, you gave me the
opportunity of being sworn in as the Head of State or President of
In the 100 days since then, we have as a new
government, taken many important steps with regard to the country's
economy, politics, development and international relations.
I think that when the people of this country voted
on January 8 they clearly carried out both a transformation, and
revolution through the use of their democratic right. The manner in
which the freedom and democracy obtained by this transformation and
revolution has been used by certain elements in the past three
months, their political decisions and activities, brings to my mind
the occasions in world history when in countries that carried out
revolutions were later faced with counter-revolutions.
We are aware that very often it is a common
occurrence in countries for counter-revolution to follow a
revolution. One could see a similar scenario following the collapse
of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. Similarly, following the fall of
Communist states in Eastern Europe, when a political transformation
took place in those societies that had moved towards political
extremism, there was a period of political turmoil and uncertainty
till the people of these countries could enjoy their entitlement to
freedom and democracy. When the great humanitarian leader Abraham
Lincoln of the United States took action to abolish slavery and
introduced legislations for this purpose, for some time after this
some of the people in slavery stated that they preferred the
condition of slavery. This is because they thought that going
forward in life in slavery was better than enjoying the freedom
given and building themselves on their own strength, as they were
used to living under conditions of slavery. This is the reality of
human society. It is therefore essential that we understand this.
Today there are some who asked what was done in
these 100 days. I say, there was much done in these 100 days. Some
of these valuable actions are neither physical in nature nor visible
to the eye.
You will recall the international situation facing
our country at the time I was sworn in as President on January 9th.
The international community was divided over us. You will remember
what took place at the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission
and the Security Council. However, after January 9th, because of the
faith you placed in me and elected this government, the
international community that was divided over us, now place their
trust in me and this government, just as you did, and believe that
as Head of State I would protect the freedom of this country and its
Democracy, Human Rights and Fundamental Rights.
My recent visits abroad started with our friendly
neighbor India and later to Britain to participate in the
Commonwealth Day events. Even more than my participation in the
Commonwealth Day events was the opportunity to meet with the British
Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Secretary of Foreign
Affairs, Secretary of Defense and Her Majesty the Queen, on behalf
of our country. By this it is my belief that we have the support not
only of Britain, but also of the wider European Union.
My next visit was to China. As a friendly state
that gave support for national development and made much investment
in this country, I had the opportunity to further strengthen the
friendship that existed between our two countries. I next went to
Pakistan, which is one of our very close friends. I believe that
trough these visits to India, China, Pakistan and Britain we have
achieve a much towards winning over the entire world. Through the
close friendship displayed by British Prime Minister David Cameron,
Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jingping have confirmed their
trust placed in us for the protection and growth of freedom and
I remember how close the world was to us at the
time of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike with the foreign policy
of Nonalignment, which my government too clearly follows today. This
leads to strengthening friendship with all states.
I also recall the good wishes conveyed to me when
I was elected President by the UN Secretary General, whose Special
Representative came to our country recently. Similarly, a large
number of foreign ministers from Western countries and a large
number of other diplomatic representatives visited our country and
expressed their confidence in us.
Therefore I wish to emphasize to those who
question what we have done in the past 100 days that we have
regained the international friendship and trust that had
considerably declined under the previous government, and that my
government and I were able to win over and strengthen this
friendship for the benefit of the people of this country. We must
greatly value this new trust we have won which will provide us with
cooperation for national development, especially for development of
national resources and effective participation in international
You are fully aware of the conditions under which
you brought me to this office. I recall that prior to January 8 if I
spoke to one of our own Pradesheeya Sabha Members by telephone they
would shout and ask me not to speak because the telephones were
tapped. The government officers did not speak freely. Ordinary
people in the country would not speak freely. Members of the armed
forces, the lower ranks of the police could also not speak freely on
the telephone. None of them had the freedom to speak freely by
In the past 3 months this freedom has been
restored and strengthened. This was similar with media freedom, too.
I recall how prior to January 8 those who yielded political power
spoke to the heads of media institutions, news directors and news
editors. That included intimidation, threats and mental pressure.
Today, the media is free of all this.
Are we to transform these freedoms we have
obtained to that of the wild ass? I see some of the media
institutions behave today. I am surprise how they use these freedoms
in a wrong manner. It must be noted that we have firmly established
the democratic rights of the people and the freedom of the media.
Let us take the Judiciary. You are aware of how
the rule of law was so badly damaged. Did the people have confidence
in the Judiciary? The Commission on Bribery or Corruption, the
Supreme Court and all these institutions were subjected to telephone
calls of those who were in power. You know very well how persons
associated with various crimes obtained freedom at that time; how
judgments in cases were obtained. Did the Attorney General have the
power at the time to act according to his office? Today, with the
appointment of the Chief Justice, the Commander of Army, all who
serve in those sections have a clear acceptance that these
appointments had been made on seniority and suitability for such
positions. Therefore, we have strengthened the Rule of Law, which is
essential for freedom and democracy.
National Security has now been strengthened. I
informed the Tri-Forces and the Police at the Security Council that
we need a new plan of action on national security. That work is now
being done better than it was done earlier. This is only a
beginning. We have to go much further in this regard.
My dear people, there is another thing I wish to
bring to your notice. There are some who have made various
criticisms with regards to my performance during these 100 days.
Some say I lack strength. Some say it is weak. Some say I am no
leader. However, I wish to tell all such critics, and you, my
people, that my behavior in the last 100 days was not to use the
unlimited powers that are available to this office. Why, because you
elected me to distribute this power. I came for that purpose. I came
to remove the unlimited powers of an Executive President. There
could be many analyses about this. I wish to state clearly that my
election manifesto states very clearly that my election would be to
remove the unlimited powers held by Executive President. I wish to
mention how flexible I have been on this matter.
From the time the 1978 Constitution was adopted,
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had been opposed to the Executive
Presidential system. Therefore, since 1994 at every Presidential
Election our candidates stated in their manifestos that the
unlimited powers of the Executive Presidency would be removed. Yet,
no one was able to do that.
Similarly, the SLFP has from the beginning opposed
the 'Manape' electoral system that came with the 1978 Constitution.
The Leftwing and progressive political parties are opposed to both
of these. As I recall in 1999 the United National Party adopted a
resolution at their convention against this. The UNP has been
opposed to this since1999. This is a dialogue that prevailed among
the common people that went together with their knowledge, wisdom,
understanding and experience. Therefore, this must be done. This is
the 19th Amendment.
In order to build a democratic and civilized
society, it is necessary to prevent the emergence of dictatorship
and taking control of state power, state assets, the judiciary,
parliament and all of this to one's own control that comes from the
Executive Presidential system.
This should be immediately changed. I have worked
towards this in the past three months. I am not aware of any leader
in the world who had obtained an office with all these powers but
has been as flexible in trying to get rid of those powers that had
been bestowed on such a leader.
The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court
that in keeping with my advise these powers should be removed. My
Constitutional Adviser also informed the Supreme Court that these
powers should be removed. We took a political decision on this. The
Supreme Court has given a decision on this.
It is now necessary for us to act in accordance
with the decision of the Supreme Court. We cannot go beyond this.
Therefore, in the past few days there were certain obstacles with
regard to presenting of this 19th Amendment to Parliament. It is my
respectful appeal to the honourable representatives of the people to
consider this as a historic occasion that has come to you. Voting
for this will bring respect in history to you. Therefore, in order
to ensure that we build the country that protects the people's
freedom, democracy, promotes civilized society and helps build a
disciplined country, it is my belief that every one of you will vote
to adopt the 19th Amendment. I call on you to use your valuable vote
for this and be a partner in firmly establishing freedom and
democracy in this country.
In addition to the 19th Amendment, a draft bill
has been presented to the Cabinet to change the electoral system.
Action is being taken to present this to Parliament for adoption.
In keeping with the promises we gave to the
people, we have appointed a Presidential Task Force to inquire into
corruption and fraud and work on this matter is proceeding
In order to build a strong democratic and
equitable nation it is necessary to promote unity, friendship and
coexistence among those who follow different religions such as
Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and also among
communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers,
and by this means ensure reconciliation and brotherhood that will
eliminate mistrust, doubt and fear among people. The developed
countries of the world that are democratic and give an important
place to freedom, have many different races, religions, languages
and are multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies. It is therefore
necessary for us to understand that while protecting the historic
dignity and respect of the Sinhala Buddhist people, it is also
necessary to ensure the brotherhood, friendship and coexistence
among all communities and move towards a just society that will
ensure the rights of the people.
Moving further towards reconciliation we have now
appointed a Presidential Task Force and a Presidential Office for
Having understood the internal problems we face as
a country we must take every action to prevent situations that led
to the armed conflict that lasted three decades. For this the
friendship among all people is essential. However, it is regrettable
that our political opponents are using the Internet and some media
to spread false information that the armed forces are to be reduced
or removed from the North. That land had been given to LTTE
terrorists in Sampur. That more rights had been given to the Tamils
and Muslims than to the Sinhalese. Such stories are entirely spread
by extreme racists. Please do not give such false information to the
world. This leads to large-scale misleading of Sri Lankans living
I wish to clearly state that during the time of
the armed conflict the armed forces took private land for their use
not only in the North and East, but also in the city of Colombo.
Therefore, is it wrong to give these lands back to their original
owners? Should we not return the large extent of private property
acquired in Colombo Fort near the President's House, around Temple
Trees without any compromise on national security or weakening of
and security camps? However, there is wrong publicity given about
We have a clear policy on this regard. A special
Presidential Task Force has been appointed to regain State assets.
Similar action is taken to recover the State properties transferred
to others and funds belonging to the country placed in foreign
banks. Action is being taken to obtain cooperation both within the
country and abroad for this purpose.
If we consider development, our country imports
food worth Rs 400 billion from abroad annually. Therefore, are we
self-sufficient? With the building of roads and other constructions
under the development of physical resources, this question of
self-sufficiency is not solved. The national economy must be
Our country is one with a beautiful environment.
The natural resources, climate and weather are blessings to this
land. With such assets we do not need to import Rs 400 billion worth
of food. We have the objective to strengthen the local agricultural
Similarly, we are taking steps to strengthen the
conditions of the public servants, workers and employees in the
private sector. By addressing the needs of all these sections of the
society we make our commitment to Good Governance as stated in our
The freedom and democracy that comes with Good
Governance should not be abused for personal gain. But our
responsibility towards people of the country and for the children
born tomorrow must be fulfilled.
Every action will be taken to reduce and eliminate
corruption and fraud. To this moment I have not made a telephone
call or spoken to any officer in the Commission on Bribery and
Corruption. I have not spoken to any officer in the judiciary. That
is a necessity in good governance. The State sector should be an
example to the people.
When I took office the number of employees in
Presidential Office was 1575. Now it has been reduced to 600.
Reduction of a 1000. That is our example.
I very respectfully tell my people that I am
committed to fully carry out the promises given in my election
policy statement. I will leave no room for corruption, fraud, theft
or waste. As I stated earlier when we are taking action against
corruption and all these threats to society, there are people who
like the slaves in America who were against the abolishing of
slavery and said they preferred to remain as slaves, who seem to
prefer a corrupt system and therefore mislead the public when action
is taken to eliminate corruption and fraud.
I have kept my faith with the people. I know that
the people will take the correct decision. We cannot allow the law
of the jungle to supercede a good legal system. I do not hesitate to
take required decisions. I will take every step possible, especially
to protect and strengthen the people's freedom and democracy and
through these means eliminate corruption and fraud, and thereby
protect the genuine rights of the people. It was with the possible
sacrifice of my life that I contested the election. That was like a
leap into the ocean with the lives of my children myself at stake. I
am so even today.
I will conclude with the call to all my people to
join in brotherhood and friendship to achieve the goals for which
the people gave their mandate on January 8 and, therefore go forward
to establish the society we seek for today and tomorrow.
Courtesy : President Media Unit