People-centred Constitution - President
Text of the speech by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa at the 59th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party held at
Temple Trees on September 2
Today, we are not celebrating the usual anniversary of the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party. When considering the establishment of the Party in
September 1951, we have been able to build a strong and an outstanding
Party to celebrate its 59th Anniversary today. Thus, we need to recall
the history at a time when our Party is at its greatest epoch.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the 59th anniversary
of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at Temple Trees on September
2. Picture by Sudath Silva
The Working Committee of the United National Party rejected the
proposals agreed upon during the Sinhala Mahasabha Meeting in Madampe in
1951. The Chairman of the Sinhala Mahasabha was S W R D Bandaranaike. On
July 11, 1951 Bandaranaike reminded about these proposals to Dudley
Senanayake who was the leader of the UNP.
Yet, Dudley Senanayake did not accept the proposals of the Sinhala
Mahasabha. Therefore, Bandaranaike decided to leave the UNP.
This was not a preplanned conspiracy to leave the UNP. Some Members
of Parliament were among those who comprised the Sinhala Mahasabha. Even
the MPs who voted for the proposals did not leave with Bandaranaike. Not
even the friends and relations of Bandaranaike accompanied him. But,
photographic evidence shows that my father worked with good
understanding with Bandaranaike.
In 1952, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party contested for the elections
first time after its establishment in September 1951. Eight among the
then Members of Parliament contested under the Party. They were S W R D
Bandaranaike from Attanagalla, George R De Silva from Colombo North, D S
Gunasekara from Udugama, Thamara K Ilangaratna from Kandy, A P
Jayasooriya from Horana, Jayaweera Kuruppu from Balangoda, H Sri
Nissanka from Kurunegala and D A Rajapaksa from Beliatta.
Among them, only two persons were able to enter Parliament in 1952.
They were the founder of the Party S W R D Bandaranaike and D A
Rajapaksa of Beliatta.
During 1956 election the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) and Sri Lanka
Freedom Party (SLFP) united and defeated the United National Party (UNP)
for the first time in the history of this country. Since then the UNP
and SLFP came to power in turn, in alternative elections.
Never in history did our party conspire to topple a government. There
were always conspiracies against the regime of Sri Lanka Freedom Party
even though the party did not conspire against any element. Regime of
Sri Lanka Freedom Party had faced conspiracies such as, Press Bill in
1964 and military conspiracy against the government in 1962. Even today
these kinds of conspiracies exist against the regime of Sri Lanka
Even at today the children of those people, who tried to change the
Government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike with the implementation of Press
Bill in 1964, are trying to change the present government as well. I
believe that we have to be awake to these realities.
As a political party we suffered worse defeat in 1977. Civic rights
of Sirimavo Bandaranaike also abolished. In the past we were not able to
bring thousands of people to the streets. It was after 1977 that our
Party had to face such major struggles.
Great political party
From the leader downwards, we were attacked. Houses were burnt down.
Subsequent to 1977, vicious characteristics were incorporated to the
history of the Sri Lankan politics. Election violations and fraudulent
voting systems were introduced to this country.
We all remember that during the Mulkirigala by election, how we as a
Party faced the thuggery of those from the underworld transported from
Colombo and also suffered imprisonment.
When the party office was abandoned, when 60,000 innocent youth were
killed we were able to organized the longest Pada Yatra in Sri Lanka,
Janagosha and human chains and reorganize the party. We withstood all
pressures for 17 years and stayed firmly without leaving the Party. I
would like to say modestly that the strength thus gained has helped
immensely in the fight to unite the Nation.
In 2004, when we were contesting for the General Election, it is not
wrong to say that there was no party called Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
What is the result of that? Number of our MPs went down to 57.
That is the fate of this great political party when some are working
on their personal agendas.
A party should not work according to private agendas. It has to be
strong as a party. We must be ready to forge ahead with the policies of
the party and with the leadership of the party.
The situation in the country was quite unfortunate when I was
contesting for the Presidential Election in 2005. For the first time in
its history, not even a single leaflet was distributed by the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party in support of its candidate. Our Secretary General
Minister Maithreepala still reminds of that. When we took the reins of
the government what we had was a Government party which cannot even
elect a Speaker. That was the reality.
Everyone say the biggest shock is the way we defeated the most
ruthless terrorist organization in the world. It is also said that it
was not possible to set up a government with a 2/3rds majority under
this Constitution. Today this party has obtained two third majority and
formed the strongest government in Asia.
Constitutional experts thought it is not even possible to have a
clear majority under the present Constitution. But by strengthening the
party, we have obtained two third majority. The constitution should not
remain unchanged until the sun and moon exist. The time has come for us
to change these things.
If we cannot meet the aspirations of the people through this
Constitution, it is our responsibility to obtain required strength to
form a stable government.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party has given leadership to the people of this
country always. You are aware what has happened in the past. What has
happened to the national assets built up during late Sirimavo
Bandaranaike’s time? They were sold for despicable prices in a shameful
manner by the UNP regime. Separatist sentiments were spread clinching
into NGO ideologies.
Giant leap forward
There were people among us who wanted the Party to distance from
sentiments such as this is our country, our nation or our religion.
But all these were changed by the Mahinda Chintana. Sri Lanka Freedom
Party succeeded in giving the nation a Sri Lankan identity. We have
joined with the other progressive forces and instilled a sense of
anti-imperialism, courage, nationalism and values in the party while
getting all races to align with it. There was a time when we did not
have a Tamil leader in the party.
Today, the Tamil and Muslim leaders are recognizing our party
rallying around it in their areas. It is not possible for one particular
group to build a party. All communities should join.
They should come to our party from various parties. New young faces
should come to our party. Then only the party will be modernized and
built strongly. During the last six years we were able to secure a two
third majority for the government led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
As a nation, Sri Lanka has taken a giant leap forward. This
Motherland has taken a giant leap forward. Now the time has come for the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party to rise as a giant.
But we cannot do the politics of this country alone. Left parties and
various progressive political groups always joined with us. We should
learn to work with them in co-existence. We should never try to belittle
the small political parties thinking that now we are the strongest
political party in Sri Lanka.
We have brought before the people, a new Constitution. It is a
people-centric Constitution. This constitution is for the development of
the country. This is not to extend my Presidential term. That is wrong.
It is an opportunity to contest an election.
The 92nd paragraph outlines those ineligible to contest. They are
mental patients, persons guilty of bribery or bankrupt. They are not
eligible. In this category, those who were elected twice cannot contest.
The people will decide. The people will choose who should be elected.
Instead of the legislature outside the Parliament, this will include
the Speaker, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and two from Tamil
and Muslim representatives, not representing ethnicities of the first
three. The people will give power to the Parliament. The Parliament is
the highest body. You need to be aware that the tragedy projected here
is utterly false. The people need to be made aware.
We have united this country. Now my task is to take it towards
prosperity. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party must strongly contribute in this
This is what we expect of you. Let us develop this nation reviving
the villages and strengthening our Party. We have a duty towards our
future generations and our unborn children, to develop this country and
hand it over to them. Let us fulfill this task. We need your
contribution and commitment towards this end.