President Sirisena’s duty assumption speech

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Chief Incumbent of the Amarapura Shree Dharmarakhitha Maha Nikaya Most Venerable Ananda Anunayaka Thero

Venerable Girambe Ananda Thero

Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero

Venerable Keenagama Palitha Thero

Venerable Dambara Amila Thero and other venerable Theros

Reverend religious leaders of Hindu, Islam and Catholic

Political party leaders gathered here

Members of Parliament, Provincial Council and all the other public representatives

Distinguished invitees

Secretary to the President Mr. Abekoon

It gives me a great pleasure to be here with you when I assume duties as the President at the Presidential Secretariat on this beautiful morning. At the outset I would like to express my gratitude to most reverend clergy, and other religious leaders who invoke blessings on us for guiding us to secure a great victory at the Presidential Election. I also thank Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other political parties as well as those who work tirelessly for our victory and the beloved citizens of this country who voted for us and those who did not. We cannot forget the role played by the Elections Commissioner and his Department for the smooth transition of power, Police, Tri Forces and other government officials. I extend my gratitude to every one of them.

We in our election manifesto pledged for the changes that should be taken in the country. We are committed to implement them within the pledged period of time of 100 days. I call upon every political party represented in Parliament to join hands with us to form a multi-party government. I invited them for a national government for the benefit of our people and our Motherland. I am certain that no one will hesitate or reluctant to bear this responsibility when plans are mooted to establishing good governance in the country aimed at facing numerous challenges ahead of us especially to eradicate poverty of our people by building a strong national economy.

Hence I once again invite all the political parties represented in Parliament to support us for a national government to carry out our missions forward. When I assume duties at the Presidential Secretariat I must make some comments on our public services. The example we set out for a task is very important.

The Buddha had preached that when a leader is righteous most of the remaining things will become virtuous. As public servants we, who engaged in governance are committed fulfill a number of objectives of good governance. Thus we in the new government are truly dedicated for a real revolution in this country. We have to fully understand all the responsibilities from top to bottom. Hence, the leadership should set the example for the others to follow. Primarily, from the Secretary to the President and Ministry Secretaries should be able to give that example for a good governance. It is regrettable to say that the public service in this country saw the unprecedented deterioration during past few months. Ministry secretaries were forced to appear in television canvassing for a candidate. Similarly intellectuals and the veterans in other sectors as well compelled under threats to speak to vote for a candidate.

Everybody knows I am a person who speaks straightly. I do not change my ways as I became the President of this country.

The first appointment I gave was for P. B. Abeykoon as the Secretary to the President. Then I appointed Mr. Basnayake as Defence Secretary. Most people began to comment on these appointments. They said the new secretaries delivered money among some people, during the time of the election, and also appeared in media asking for people to vote then President. I properly know that they did so. But, I am aware of what government servants faced, during the period of then government. When I checked with the list of the senior government servants, I could not find any such clean character to appoint as key persons in the public sector because, everybody had to act according to the instructions of powerful persons. After 1947, that was the worst period of the past few decades in our political history when government servants, state resources and property, as well as public property were used to win an election.

Previous government distributed each Rs. 2500 among Samurdhi beneficiary families. Also they distributed many kinds of goods for the services in some ministries. They used the money of the treasury on this purpose. That was what people have meant ‘delivering money’. Everybody knows how they used the money from treasury to give bribery for votes.

The specialists of other fields as well complained about this situation. They had to participate in television programmes to promote the government. The honor of the government service collapsed due to that situation. Hence, the political leadership and the government service have now the responsibility to build up good governance in this country. Therefore, from the President’s Secretary to the Secretaries of the Ministries and then to the other ranks under them should be exemplary on this regard.

Hereafter, we will not allow anybody to use public servants as tools to win elections. We; the Prime Minister and party leaders will discuss of enforcing rules to ensure that the public servants will not be used for political needs. That is among the prominent matters we expect from independent commissions.

We should make the public service a great one, through rebuilding and transformation. We should perform our responsibility not only for the period we are in power, but also for the future.