Parliament yesterday moved a vote to felicitate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on his completion of continuous membership of the House over a period of 40 years and appreciating the selfless and dedicated service rendered by him for the betterment of Sri Lanka in general and Parliament in particular.
Conveying his best wishes to Ranil Wickremesinghe by wishing him success in all his future endeavors, Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella opened the floor.
Wickremesinghe, having listened to all well-wishers, offered some advice to his fellow MPs. “I can give you some advice from my experience. Firstly, to be disciplined, to be tolerant, to do your work without being jealous of others, accept both victory and defeat equally. I had to work my way up from a Member of Parliament, a Deputy Minister, a Cabinet minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and serve as Prime Minister several times. Today I urge all to go forward. Peace and economic development have joined hands. Firstly, we should have a Sri Lankan identity with a common front. We should join hands with the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena. We should reach that political solution in this Parliament,” he said.
PM Wickremesinghe first entered Parliament on 21 July 1977, having won the Biyagama seat. He took oaths as a new MP on 4 August 1977. Wickremesinghe went on to say that the world has changed drastically over the last 40 years.
“During the last 40 years, both globally and locally, many changes took place and continue to take place. It is no longer a world with two powerful nations. Marxism has come to an end in the same countries where it was prevalent before. Once again Asia is developing. We got large development programs underway, a free economy, and also the 1983 riots as well as terrorism in Sri Lanka. We had the Indian Peace Keeping Force here, had faced an impeachment against a President, an insurgency took place in the South, and a President was assassinated. It was former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranathunga who made the first attempt for peace. Then I came forward to a peace agreement as then Prime Minister. We saw how a Presidential candidate was imprisoned. For the first time, a common candidate was brought forward and was able to win an election. Two key political parties were able to establish a Government. This is the background to my political voyage,” he said.
Acknowledging the two other politicians who entered the Parliament in 1977 with him the Prime Minister said: “Today there are two other members in this Parliament who were with me 40 years ago. They are the Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothiam Sampanthan and Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife Gamini Jayawickrama Perera. But they were unable to be in Parliament for 40 years straight due to political reasons.”
Extending his gratitude to all, the Prime Minister said: “I was brought into politics by late President J. R. Jayawardena. I got the chance to working with President R. Premadasa. Eventually we learned to go back to the Opposition. It was similar to King Walagamba withdrawing into the forest. So, we know what it is like to be in the Opposition. Based on my experience, you should take the advice of elders and learn from your own experience. That was what enabled us to move forward. I thank everyone who helped me including my parents, my wife, my staff, and all party members who helped get here.”