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Artistes pledge support to President

Several renowned artistes pledging their support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming presidential elections, called for all to support the President for an era of peace and prosperity.

Rohana Weerasinghe, Sumithra Peries, Malani Fonseka, Neela Wickramasinghe, Douglas Siriwardena, Ravindra Randeniya, Somaratne Dissanayake and Jackson Antony addressed the media at the Mass Media and Information Ministry yesterday. Veteran actor Ravindra Randeniya declared their unanimous decision to support the President.

“Just six months ago, the whole of Sri Lanka lived in a state of fear. We didn’t know whether we would return home at night. Freedom was the dream of all. It took 30 years to achieve due to there being no proper political leadership,” he said.

Randeniya stated that the President’s patronage to cinema was unparalleled to that of any other leader, as he took an active interest in the pertaining issues.

Announcer Renuka Balasooriya called out to the people to open their eyes to the great fortune that the past year had brought forward.

“I never thought I’d see the country as it is today. We should not forget what we underwent during the past three decades.

A lot of people have forgotten this. Before thinking of their mouths and stomachs, they should first think of being alive, a freedom which we have regained after many years,” she said.

Film Director Somaratne Dissanayake denying allegations that artistes were being used as pawns, said the accusers should first query the reason of being pawns.

He said being pawns for a mission of wisdom, knowledge and culture, was one they did both willingly and proudly.

Noting that it was his first political press experience, actor, director and producer Jackson Antony noted that he had decided to become politically involved due to the revolution the President had brought forward.

President had proved himself as a charismatic authority, a leader of the people, one who did not bow down to western dictatorship.

He is one on par with the likes of Gandhi, Castro and Lenin; a legend for the future, crowned with ‘godliness’, the ‘diyasen kumaraya’ of the people, he said.

Award winning actress Malani Fonseka emphasized the need of patience.

The battle over terrorism was a great victory, one which demanded a great input of resources. There is much more left to be done, yet it cannot be achieved overnight, she said.

“We should extend our support to the President at this moment. If we do not so, the calamity we will have to face, may be worse than the gravity of the war we had to face for 30 years,” she said.

Douglas Siriwardena posed questions on the gravity of the political situation the country faces today.

“It is a democratic election that we face today. But the question is whether the one who gains power is a democrat.

We should question whether the present candidate is one with any political experience. The battle over terrorism is not merely the General’s work.

What could have been done without the Navy, Air Force and Police, and most of all without corerect political guidance?”

Rohana Weerasinghe said the decision artistes had taken in 2005 in support of the President had proved itself worthy and fruitful. “Today, the numbers joined together are much greater, with artistes hailing from different political fronts joining in their cause,” he said.

Geetha Kumarasinghe said that it was a common notion that Sri Lankans had a poor memory this would be proven wrong in the upcoming presidential elections.

Answering questions posed by media concerning a recent news item stating that each artiste had been paid Rs. 500,000, the artistes stated that such an accusation was both ridiculous and baseless.

They challenged the Opposition to bring forward such a number of artistes support for their candidate.

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