Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera est décédé à Singapour des suites d’une intervention chirurgicale. Né en 1942, ce moine bouddhiste influent, supérieur du monastère de Kotte, s’était imposé sur la scène politique de Sri Lanka dans les années 1980-1990 en défendant avec virulence la cause nationaliste cingalaise contre le mouvement séparatiste tamoul. Après la défaite des LTTE en 2009, il avait pris ses distances vis à vis de la politique triomphaliste menée par le Président Mahinda Rajapaksa, puis avait mené campagne contre la corruption du régime, fédérant les mécontentements au point d’envisager de se présenter aux élections présidentielles. Il avait finalement soutenu la candidature de Maithripala Sirisena, contribuant à son succès, et avait infléchi ses positions dans le sens d’une ouverture aux revendications des minorités et d’un dialogue interreligieux constructif. Sa disparition prive le nouveau régime d’un important appui symbolique.
The Jaffna electoral district in the Northern Province has witnessed a sharp drop of over 25 per cent in the number of voters
Sri Lanka’s former president said Wednesday he would run for parliament in a bid to return to politics after he was ousted in January elections by an opposition coalition that vowed to investigate alleged human-rights abuses, nepotism and corruption.
Elijah Hoole: “It was around six in the evening. Friendship Villa in the South Eastern University was full of activity. As I made my way through the corridor in search ofdrinking water, a batch mate from Batticaloa beamed at me. He was shaking with excitement. Sinhalese students could be heard shouting from their rooms. I soon came to know the cause of all the commotion: the opposition had unveiled Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate.”
The South Asia Democratic Forum (www.sadf.eu) organized at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, 21st January 2015, a post-electoral briefing on Sri Lanka, which was attended by an international audience including South Asians, and European MPs.
We publish here the text of the intervention of Eric Meyer, who was invited to present his views in the discussion panel.
1. RESILIENCE OF DEMOCRACY
In the decades after Independence, Sri Lanka used to be regarded as one of the most advanced democracies in Asia.
Then after 1971 (the first JVP insurgency and its suppression) and 1978-83-87 (the beginning of Eelamist rebellion and civil war, the establishment and manipulation of a presidential system, foreign intervention by India and its failure), Sri Lanka came to be branded as the sick man of South Asia.
After more than 40 years of civil war, of social and political violence and of growing lawlessness, the results of the presidential vote and the conditions of the transfer of power to the new President show the resilience of the democratic system in Sri Lanka, and a democratic maturity which was unexpected a few months ago by pessimistic observers.
Sri Lankans could share the words of Radhika Coomaraswamy (former U.N. Undersecretary general in charge of the rights of children) : « the elections made me triumphantly proud of my country ». But does it mean that Sri Lanka is back at square one ?
2. DEMOCRACY AT WORK : ANALYSIS OF ELECTION RESULTS
The high voter turn out, above 81.5%, is remarkable (the highest in the history of the country), as compared with the previous presidential elections of 2005 and 2010 (73-74%); even in northern Jaffna it was more than 66%, while in 2005 it was 1.2% because the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had imposed a ban on voting, and in 2010 it was 25% in the aftermath of the bloodbath and repression of the previous year. This progress is the result of a return to more settled conditions and of a political will for change.
The overall result shows a margin of 3.7% between the two candidates, rather similar to that witnessed in well-established democracies : 6,217,162 votes (51.28%) went for Maithripala Sirisena, the common candidate of the opposition who had resigned a few months before from the Rajapaksa government, against 5,768,090 votes (47.58%) for Mahinda Rajapaksa. Regional breakdown shows that the north, east, and the large cities, voted overwhelmingly in favour of Sirisena ; that the rural areas of the South voted in favour of Rajapaksa but with a reduced majority ; and that in the Centre and Centre north, the balance was rather equal. If one extrapolates to assess the vote of the ethnic groups, it is clear that the great majority of the Muslims, of the North/East Tamils and of the Up-country Tamils voted for Sirisena ; and that a small majority of the Sinhalese, especially in the countryside, voted for Rajapaksa (about 52%).
But it is also clear that between 2010 and 2015, Rajapaksa lost in the Sinhalese majority areas about 10% of the votes – and more than 15% in urbanized areas (Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Galle) and in the north central rural districts (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa). Without this shift, Rajapaksa would have won even if all the minorities had voted against him. It is therefore inexact to affirm, as he did after the results, that he lost only because of the vote of the minorities.
There are no opinion polls age-wise or by occupation in Sri Lanka, but most observers consider that the young people who voted for the first time chose Sirisena, and the postal votes (open only to civil servants and members of the armed forces) follow the general tendency.
In a democratic election, the marginal difference is meaningful. What is the message sent by the voters who made the difference – the young people who voted for the first time, the members of the minorities who decided to cast their vote this time, the people of the large cities? Rajapaksa had at its disposal almost all the media which he had for the last six years forced into submission, but his opponent had young supporters using social networks, and many professionals such as lawyers who were outraged at his high-handed style. Family ‘bandyism’, growing corruption, unethical behaviour, lawlessness and impunity, price hikes of basic commodities were denounced by the various groups supporting Sirisena : it is significant that the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a party founded by nationalist Sinhala Buddhist monks, on one side, and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the party which before 2009 supported the Eelamists, on the other, abandoned their extreme nationalist rhetoric to focus on these common themes ; so did the well-organized Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which was behind the two revolutionary attempts of 1971 and 1987-89, and the pro-western United National Party (UNP). In addition, the atrocities committed by the Bodu Bala Sena, an extremist self-styled Buddhist Force encouraged by Mahinda’s brother Gotabhaya to outflank the Jathika Hela Urumaya, alienated the Muslim minority and many Christians.
3. DEMOCRACY AT WORK : THE TRANSFER OF POWER
According to press reports and a few independent testimonies, it seems that Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the influence of his brother Gotabhaya, was prepared, if the election was narrowly lost, to proclaim a state of emergency under the pretence of maintaining public order, to postpone the proclamation of results, and to stage a ‘legal’ coup d’état. For that they needed the support of the Inspector General of Police, the Army Chief, the Judiciary (Chief Justice and Attorney General) and the Elections Commissionner. The Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, who was with the President during the election night against every principle of separation of powers, seems to have been involved from the start, but the refusal of the Attorney General and of the other VIPs derailed the attempt.
Then Rajapaksa contacted Ranil Wickramasinghe (the head of the United National Party, whom he knew well) who decided to come to the President’s residence, where he was able to persuade Rajapaksa to finally accepted his defeat by giving him a few assurances. It may be that the visit of pope Francis four days later made it difficult to plunge the country into political turmoil. Finally, the main political actors acted with restraint and responsibility, in spite of temptations to the contrary : democracy passed its second test.
4. THE VICTORY OF DEMOCRACY IS FRAGILE
Mahinda Rajapaksa and his supporters still control of a part of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party electoral machine : they may win the legislative elections which are due in April – May, and try to reimpose their power, especially in view of the relative weakness of the UNP especially in rural constituencies. The question is whether Maithripala Sirisena will be able to get rid of the most corrupt individuals in the party (of which according to the statutes he is now the head instead of Rajapaksa), impose new leaders, obtain the support of the majority of the SLFPers, and consolidate his power. Or will Rajapaksas continue to pull the strings, claim to represent the majority, brand Sirisena as the traitor who owed his election to the vote of the minorities and was manipulated by the former President Chandrika Bandaranaïke ?
The illegal activities of members of the Rajapaksa entourage may continue. Private security firms connected with them, which employ ex-soldiers, had recently imported huge loads of firearms. In addition, various paramilitary groups (including Tamil ex-LTTE armed groups who defected to Government) are still roaming about the country. Civil disarmement is going to be a huge problem for the Sirisena administration.
Vested interests are likely to suffer high losses if the Sirisena administration succeeds in cleaning up the country – for which it was elected : new rich groups derive their wealth from building and transport contracts, but also from casinos, prostitution, drug trafficking. The army and navy are controlling a large part of the reconstructed economy and a share of the lands in the war zones of the north and east and members of the armed forces derive large benefits from it. It will be difficult to eradicate corruption in the political class.
Finally, the cost of electoral promises might prove difficult to finance : with a taxation system which allows a lot of tax evasion, the rise of the salaries of public servants, of the pensions, of social allowances, of the guaranteed purchase price of agricultural products and so on will require new resources hard to find.
5. CONTRADICTIONS IN THE SIRISENA PROGRAMME
Maithripala Sirisena was the common candidate of a very heterogeneous opposition alliance. Its programme envisioned a series of constitutional reforms by a caretaker cabinet during a 100-days period, and in a second stage after the parliamentary elections, a National government formula for at least two years. Among the immediate reforms, the repealing of the 18th amendment to the Constitution which allowed the indefinite candidature of the President in office, and gave him full control over the Police, Justice, Electoral, Bribery and Human Rights Commissions ; the return to an electoral system based on constituencies instead of the present Preference Vote system ; the revision of the current budget ; and the reestablishment of a civil administration in the former war zones.
But the components of the coalition differ on several basic issues which will come into the fore sooner or later. As regards economic policy, the UNP, which controls the key ministries in the caretaker cabinet, has a history of favouring free enterprise and foreign investments ; while the JVP and the JHU, although with different ideological/moral arguments, converge in their radical critique of global capitalism and multinationals and will put pressure on the government.
As regards the political reforms long promised by successive governments but never really implemented to give the linguistic and religious minorities better rights, especially the regional devolution envisioned by the 13th amendment to the Constitution, the position of the monks of the JHU (and of its present lay leader, Champika Ranawaka) is or was the opposite of that of the left-oriented intelligentsia (illustrated by the interview with the Indian press of the new Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera who promised to fully implement the 13th amendment)
On other issues such as the role played by the army in the reconstruction of the North East, the place of Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the polity, the activities of International NGOs in the country, opinions also differ.
The National Advisory Council just set up by the President, is going to be the forum to discuss and hopefully settle some of these issues. It comprises : Maithripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Prime Minister, leader of the UNP, Chandrika Bandaranaike, the former President (1994-2005), Champika Ranawaka, leader of the JHU, Anura Dissanayake, leader of the JVP, General Sarath Fonseka, who led the Army against the LTTE, lost the election of 2010 against Rajapaksa and was emprisoned by him, R. Sampanthan, the leader of the TNA, Rauf Hakeem and R. Bathiuddeen, leaders of the main Muslim parties.
Rebuilding democracy after one of the bloodiest civil wars in Asia, and decades of authoritarian rule and attack on human rights is a difficult exercise which is being undertaken by the Sri Lankans themselves. The burning issue of war crimes committed during and especially in the final phase of the conflict is constantly raised by the Tamil diaspora and by Human Rights organizations abroad. The Sirisena programme does not elude the question but considers that it must and can be tackled by the Sri Lankans themselves*. The sensible but too limited proposals of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) set up by the Rajapaksa regime were never seriously implemented. Whether the Sirisena administration will be able to do it will be the third and most difficult test of democracy. European democrats should give it enough time and support to pass it, while monitoring the progress of human rights in the country and keeping a tab on undemocratic activities abroad.
* « Since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome statute regarding international jurisdiction with regard to war crimes, ensuring justice with regard to such matters will be the business of national independent judicial mechanisms »
Nous reproduisons ci-dessous l’article publié dans le blog de DBS Jeyaraj par Radkika Coomaraswamy, célèbre juriste sri lankaise, militante des droits humains, et jusqu’en 2012 sous-secrétaire générale des Nations Unies chargée de la question des enfants dans les conflits armés.
“Why The Elections Last Week Made me Triumphantly Proud of my Country”
There are times in one’s life when one becomes very proud of one’s country. For many it is when we win in cricket or in war. This is triumphant pride where we defeat someone else- an external sports team or an internal enemy. For this kind of pride we need “an other” whom we compete against or dislike without restraint. It is a mixed blessing, filled with pride, but especially in the latter case also fear and hate.
pic by: Anura Srinath – www.anurasrinath.com
pic by: Anura Srinath –
However there are times when pride can transcend the obsession with “the other”. In Sri Lanka it could be when we are immersed in its astounding natural beauty or when we live up to our own values and expectations. For me the elections last week were a very important moment- at least for my own personal connection to this island.
Democracy in Sri Lanka had taken a bashing for decades but especially since 2009. We saw things that were absolutely surreal- like something out of a bad Fellini film. And yet we were constantly warned against change, pointing to the possibility of chaos that an Arab spring could bring such as in Libya, Egypt and Syria- no-one of course mentions Tunisia where its has been a great success.
What saved us was the courage of individual politicians who by acting jointly have given us the following moments to savour in our lifetime -no matter what happens in the future: –
Firstly, our public servants, including our rule of law institutions and the security forces showed us what they can do if there is proper leadership and an atmosphere which even holds out a prospect where their professional independence is respected. :- a judiciary that refuses a last minute effort to break election laws by state media institutions; an Elections Commissioner who is proactive in ensuring a free election, constantly surrounding himself with monitors and the press so that no-one could “get at him”; a police force that finally does its job arresting those who did wrong and thwarting many acts of violence and intimidation, an army that refused for the most part to allow soldiers out of the barracks and if stories are true refused to pervert democracy and shoot its own people. (Egypt, Libya and Syria failed because the armed forces did not show this restraint unlike in Tunisia) Also if reports are true, an Attorney General who refused to push for the Proclamation of Emergency. We must also remember the countless public servants who made this election a success. This commitment to democracy by our public services and institutions more that anything will convince the world that given the proper leadership we are not a failed state or a banana republic- the image the rest of the world presently has about us and that brings shame to many of us working in this field.
Secondly, after years of being ruled from the top by people with a monarchical dispensation, it was wonderful to see dialogue and discussion slowly begin to take the place of threats and scaremongering. Particularly interesting has been the slow transformation of the rhetoric of both the TNA and the JHU. From bottom line thinking, inflammatory language and vitriol, both sides have publicly begun to affirm the need for discussion, dialogue and understanding. For many of us who have been watching the political scene for decades this has been extraordinary development. It is also interesting to see the slow transformation of the rhetoric of the UNP and the JVP- the former beginning to speak of limitations to neoliberal policies and the JVP agreeing to serve on the Advisory Council. The JVP and the JHU’s indefatigable struggle against corruption will hopefully continue holding the feet of the present government to the fire as well to ensure that this election is not another recycling of the spoils. These are all good signs, moving us away from the bottom line, boycott politics of the 1970s and 80s that got us into this mess in the first place to a more deliberative democracy focusing on process and substance. If this holds we are truly moving toward becoming a modern democracy.
The inauguration of the 6th Executive President was an absolutely chaotic affair. For some, freed from years of repression and intimidation, it was nostalgia and an affirmation of freedom and spontaneity- a carnival for a people’s president. Others, having been accustomed to years of a disciplined Colombo, were mortified- believing that this was a sign of things to come and that the coalition will lead us down the road of chaos and disorganization away from the “stability” of the last few years. The Cabinet appointments as well as the appointments of Secretaries and Governors should dispel such fears. These are appointments for the most part- though not all- based on merit and competence. We hope at least they will contribute toward effective governance.
There are still many obstacles are ahead and the promises and the expectations may never be fulfilled. In addition, the discourse and rhetoric of fear, rumour, darkness and hatred is still trying to make a comeback. It is true that the minorities did make a difference in this election but we must also ask why the former incumbent’s share of the Sinhala vote dropped from 65% to 55%- that is what made him lose the election since the minorities have always voted against his policies. It is the split in the Sinhala vote more than the minority vote that delivered this election to M. Sirisena. To see it as anything else is to deliberately obfuscate the issues.
We have also not resolved the ethnic issue and a lot of political landmines remain in that area. Yet we must ask- “how can the terrorists and violent rebellion ever come back?”. There is no leader, the people of Jaffna have no stomach for violence and even the irresponsible and self-absorbed diaspora are strangely talking about Mahatma Gandhi. The western countries and India, especially after this election, will not tolerate fund raising or clandestine mobilisation. Where is this threat? The issue is not military- it is political- how do we find a political solution, how do we win hearts and minds, develop the economy and livelihoods and treat people with respect and empathy. The appointment of a civilian governor to the northern province with familiarity on these issues is a step in the right direction.
We still do not know if any of the pledges of the Coalition will be fulfilled in the next 100 days. We have two active, political parties- the JHU and the JVP as well as a reinvigorated civil society that will now have the freedom to be vigilant to make sure it happens. If the pledges are implemented, we will have fundamental transformation in our political system and our rule of law institutions- hopefully they will ensure that democracy is entrenched no matter what happens after April.
At this time we must also remember all those who are not with us who would have also savoured this moment- among them- my mentor Neelan Tiruchelvam and his wife Sithie, Charlie Abeyesekere , his daughter Sunila and her son Sanjay- and also, though we had very divergent political views especially on the ethnic question, HL de Silva and SL Gunesekere who in their life time fought very hard for democracy and the rule of law. As Sunila’s daughter Subha wrote in a moving piece,
“So you see, democracy is not just a system, a structure. It is also a feeling. It is a feeling within each one of us; a desire to be led by the things we believe in and the people we see those things in. It is a desire to stand up, to feel powerful in our own way, to wield that power in the face of despair and frustration. It is a feeling that inspires other feelings; it gives us courage, it gives us hope”.
The arrival of the most popular religious figure in the world the day after the appointment of the cabinet of ministers seals this moment we can savour. We may not all be of the same religion or even religious at all but this is the Pope who has said that religion and religious institutions are not all that matters- it is one’s own spirituality and doing what is right that is the most important. May his blessings entrench our gains, help us transform hope into reality and vengeance into justice with mercy.
If opposition leaders are to live up to the hopes ignited by the Sirisena presidency, it is now crucial to prioritise a mode of governance marked by the new President’s stamp. The worst-case scenario is indeed a government in which President Sirisena will be relegated to passively adopting a Wickremesinghe or Bandaranaike agenda.
“The new Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, has a chance to make some changes, but only if he can keep an uncertain coalition together. Resetting relations with Delhi and Washington will be an important part of this – and his country’s friends need to give him some space.”
Millions of Sri Lankans learnt only by late Friday morning that the major thrust by Opposition political parties brought an end to the near ten year rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. As the counting began in centres countrywide after polls ended on Thursday, families and friends sat around their television sets for the results. There was fear in the minds of most. Only a day earlier, in the main cities, shops and supermarkets were crowded by people panic buying stocks of food to cope with a possible post-poll curfew on Friday, marred by violent incidents. There was no cause for such a move. The reason – there were brave men in the security forces, the judiciary, the Department of Elections and other establishments — who literally placed their lives on the line of fire to make a free poll possible.
“This incredible electoral manoeuvre with a massive minorities vote worked to dislodge the Rajapaksa regime and open up democratic space, but the Opposition’s campaign was silent on a number of crucial issues including, demilitarization, the national question and an equitable economic programme. The critical question is whether a credible political process could be initiated to address the grievances of the minorities. But a sustainable political solution will require a national consensus. The picture of the Sri Lankan electoral map show a clear North-South divide in the districts voting in majority for Sirisena and Rajapaksa. In this context, any political process has to address the concerns of the Sinhala South as much as the grievances of the minorities.”
“Sri Lanka is falsely framed as a country solely polarised by ethnic divisions between Sinhala Buddhists and Tamils, and that framing has been shattered by the alliances created with nominations for Presidential Elections one month ago. The election victory, which became possible with the overwhelming support of the minorities, including the Up-Country Tamils, Muslims and Tamils in the North and East, is testament to the potential for the ethnic minorities to work with sections of the majority Sinhala community, when the fate of the country is at stake.”
Maithripala Sirisena a été élu Président de Sri Lanka à une courte majorité (51,28%); les élections n’ont pas donné lieu à des incidents majeurs et le taux de participation a été élevé (environ 70%). On trouvera sur le site de Ada Derana une présentation détaillée des résultats: www.adaderana.lk/presidential-elections-2015/
Nous reproduisons ci-dessous le programme des cent premiers jours du candidat vainqueur, ainsi que la liste des réformes socio-économiques qu’il a promis de mettre en oeuvre.
100 Day Work Programme After Maithripala Sirisena Becomes President – Detailed diary description
Saturday January 10
The new President, Maithripala Sirisena, will take his oath of office
Sunday January 11
A Cabinet of not more than 25 members, including members of all political parties represented in Parliament, will be appointed with Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister
Monday January 12
In order to strengthen democracy, a National Advisory Council will be set up inclusive of representatives of parties represented in Parliament as well as Civil Society organizations.
Parliament will meet Tuesday January 20
The Standing Orders will be amended and, in terms of Proposal 67/10 now tabled in Parliament, Oversight Committees will be set up comprising members of Parliament who are not in the Cabinet will be established and their Chairmanship will be given to representatives of all Ministers in consultation with the leaders of all parties represented in Parliament.
Wednesday January 21
The process will begin of abolishing the authoritarian executive presidential system and replacing it with an executive of a Cabinet of Ministers responsible to Parliament, and of repealing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with legislation to establish strengthened and independent institutions, including a Judicial Services Commission, a Police Commission, a Public Service Commission, an Elections Commission, a Commission against Bribery and Corruption and a Human Rights Commission. This will be through a 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which will be presented to Parliament and passed as swiftly as possible.
Wednesday January 28
An all party committee will be set up to put forward proposals to replace the current Preference Vote system and replace it with an Mixed Electoral System that ensures representation of individual Members for Parliamentary Constituencies, with mechanisms for proportionality.
Tuesday January 29
A Vote on Account will be introduced in Parliament to implement special measures to provide relief to the people by reducing the rising Cost of Living.
Thursday January 22
A Code of Conduct will be introduced for observation by all representatives of the People.
Wednesday January 30
Salaries will be raised and direct and indirect taxes on necessary goods and services will be reduced.
Monday February 2
An Ethical Code of Conduct will be introduced legally for all representatives of the people.
Thursday February 4
Independence Day will be celebrated with re-establishment of Democracy and Good Governance and the Sovereignty of the People.
Thursday February 5
Special Commissions will be appointed to investigate allegations of massive corruption in the preceding period
Friday February 6
A Bill to implement the National Drugs policy will be tabled, following adoption of the Policy by Cabinet.
Wednesday February 18
Independent Commissions will be established and required appointments made
Thursday February 19
The National Audit Bill will be introduced and passed within 3 weeks
Friday February 20
The Right to Information Bill will be introduced and passed within 3 weeks
Monday March 2
New elections laws will be prepared in accordance with the proposals put forward by the all party committee
Tuesday March 17
Amendments to change the system of elections will be placed before Parliament and passed as swiftly as possible
Wednesday March 18
The National Drugs Policy will be passed by Parliament
Thursday March 19
The National Audit Bill will be passed by Parliament
Friday March 20
The Right to Information Act will be passed by Parliament
Monday March 23
The Constitutional Council will be set up and the process of making appointments to and establishingIndependent Commissions will begin
Monday April 20
A Parliamentary system will be put in place instead of the Executive Presidential system.
Thursday April 23
Parliament will be dissolved and free and fair elections held under a caretaker government. Following that election, the Prime Minister will be appointed from the party getting the highest number of seats at such election, with a Deputy Prime Minister from the party getting the next highest number.
A National Government of all parties represented in Parliament will be established to govern for a period of at least two years.
Under that government a National Policy Framework will be formulated to deal with the principal challenges the country faces, and a political culture will be developed to act in accordance with that Framework.
The nation is suffering from authoritarianism, and decisions taken by a few family members with no consultation of or care for the people. The destruction of ethical and socio-cultural values has led to grave suffering, through massive waste and abuse and corruption and absolute impunity. We need therefore to provide immediate relief to those who are oppressed, and embark on social and economic reforms that will restore normalcy and lead to prosperity for all.
Projected socio-economic reforms
The salaries of public servants will be raised by Rs 10,000 a month. Immediate relief will be provided by a payment of Rs 5,000 in February. A consolidated salary scheme will be put in place then, to cover all arrears
Full relief will be provided on the loans given to public servants for the purchase of motor cycles. Those who have paid previously will be refunded.
Graduates from whom virtual slave labour is obtained will be given regular appointments in a systematic fashion, and opportunities for promotion will be provided in accordance with suitable criteria.
An allowance of Rs 5,000 will be paid to pensioners, pending adjustment of anomalies in pensions.
Rs 1 million of the deposits in State Banks of each pensioner will receive interest of 15%.
The Samurdhi Allowance will be increased to 200% of the present rate to a maximum of Rs 2,000.
Pregnant mothers will be given an allowance of Rs 20,000 to supplement nourishment.
Excessive taxes will be lowered to reduce prices on ten essential food items. At the same time, special provisions will be put in place for protection of those producing such goods locally.
The current excessive taxes on fuel, amounting to around Rs 40 billion a year, will be removed and the benefits of this reduction in cost will be passed on to consumers.
The efficiency of both state and private transport services for the public will be improved through providing appropriate incentives to the transport sector.
The price of a cylinder of domestic gas will be reduced by Rs 300.
The guaranteed purchase price for a kilogramme of rice will be Rs 50.
The guaranteed purchase price for a kilogramme of potatoes will be Rs 80.
The guaranteed purchase price for a kilogramme of tea leaves will be between Rs 80 and 90.
The guaranteed purchase price for rubber will be Rs 350 per kilogramme.
The guaranteed purchase price paid to dairy farmers for a litre of milk will be raised by Rs 10 from the present Rs 60.
Relief of 50% will be provided on loans taken by farmers, and the remainder will be compounded to allow for payment on easy terms.
The low quality fertilizer that threatens life as well as soil and produce will be replaced by fertilizer of better quality that conforms to regular standards
Instead of low quality fertilizer tea smallholders will be provided with fertilizer of better quality that conforms to regular standards
Compensation of Rs 1 million will be paid to fishermen who lose their lives at sea through an insurance scheme with state contributions
An insurance scheme for crops will be introduced for farmers with state contributions
A new pensions scheme will be introduced for farmers and fishermen.
A pensions scheme will be introduced for Three Wheeler Drivers, Masons and Carpenters and those engaged in small scale retail trade and other informal occupations.
A pensions scheme will be introduced for migrant workers, and the interest on their NRFC deposits will be increased by 2 ½%.
A programme will be put in place to ensure support and protection for the families of migrant workers in the Middle East and elsewhere who provide an invaluable service to the country through their labour
Relief will be provided on the interest and penalties payable on pawned gold items upto a value of Rs 200,000
Measures will be taken to provide relief to those caught in a debt trap though falling prey to various promises made by finance companies, credit card scams and pyramid schemes
New laws will be put in place to prevent abuse of women, abuse of children and sexual harassment of women and measures taken to ensure that women and children can live without fear in Sri Lanka, with responsibility undertaken to enforce the laws effectively
Measures will be put in place to protect those of all races widowed during the conflict, and their families.
So as to increase the participation of women in political decision making, legislation will be introduced to ensure at least 25% of women’s representation in Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies.
To fully overcome the unemployment problem that affects our young people, we will put in place a million jobs programme for local and foreign employment and for self-employment
We will strengthen provisions that enable young people to hold opinions and express them freely, and illustrate them creatively, and to freely enjoy the rights associated with youth
Wi-fi will be made available free of charge in Centres in every town to facilitate Internet access
The Youth Parliament will be given financial powers to implement projects relating to youth proposed by the Youth Council and other youth organizations, and will receive an allocation of Rs 250 million for this purpose for 2015
Those engaged in Small and Medium Industries who have fallen into a debt trap and been blacklisted by CRIB, and those who suffer the same because of credit card debts, will be relieved from this through an easy repayment scheme.
Instead of the hijacking of the economy by a few individuals engaged in deals with regard tocasinos and drugs and ethanol, we will develop a national business sector working towards the prosperity of the country, in particular by establishing schemes of credit on easy terms for Small and Medium Enterprises.
To develop more jobs and increase exports we will regain the GSP+ provisions that were lost
We will review the current programme to integrate finance companies and banks
An institution will be established to regulate and develop micro-finance
A Bureau will be set up to protect Small Enterprises
To promote the Trishaw business, a government office will be set up inclusive of Trishaw drivers and the banking sector
We will set out to raise to 3% the current 1.8% allocated for the free Health Service.
All drugs needed by patients attending government hospitals will be made available without shortages in those very hospitals.
An intensive programme will be implemented to swiftly get through the waiting lists for patientsat government hospitals.
Government hospitals will offer services to out patients until 10 pm every day.
We will put a stop pending investigation into import of fertilizer and chemical substances suspected of contributing to kidney disease, while immediately preparing plans for short term and long term measures to deal with the problem, and ensuring their implementation.
Steps will be taken to put in place an effective institution to regulate trade in food items,cosmetics, drugs and other essential items
Steps will be taken to strengthen ayurvedic health services
Measures will be taken to efficiently coordinate services in Western, Eastern and Indigenous medicine and provide a unified service to the people
We will set in place a programme to systematically eliminate the drug menace, that includes heroin and ganja, and institute with international support a comprehensive, quick and effectiverehabilitation scheme for youngsters addicted to these substances
A special consolidated Task Force will be set in place to deal with drug abuse
Pictorial warnings with regard to the dangers of smoking will be increased to 80%.
Casino businesses which were granted excessive tax relief in opposition to the advice of the Mahanayakes and the views of the people will have their licenses revoked
We will put a stop to the Ethanol scam which avoided payment of required taxes
We will set out to raise to 6% the current 1.7% allocated for free Education
Powers with regard to universities which are now exercised by the Minister will be restored to the universities through the University Grants Commission, and the politicization of the universities will be halted.
Mahapola scholarships at universities will be raised to Rs 5000.
Provision will be made for all those who qualify in three subjects at Advanced Level to study towards obtaining a degree or diploma
A fair scheme for admission to Grade 1 will be instituted and implemented transparently. Those who have suffered from abuse in this regard will be provided with immediate relief.
Delays in admitting students to schools will be stopped and all students will be guaranteed entry to Grade 1 at the beginning of the school year
The Circular regarding religious education in schools will be made applicable to all schools, and a committee with representation of all religions will be established to monitor its implementation
International schools will be made subject to monitoring by the State
Current excessive taxes on fishing boats, nets, equipment and engines will be removed
We will put a stop to the incursions of foreign boats into our national waters
Measures will be taken to revive the European Union market from which our fish is now being excluded.
A Meteorological Inquiry service will be established to provide accurate information immediately to fishermen with regard to storms and other dangers.
Immediate steps will be taken to repair irrigation channels that have fallen into disuse.
Immediate steps will be taken to clear up reservoirs that have silted up.
The heroic members of the armed forces who are deployed in menial work such as cutting grass, sweeping roads and clearing drains will go back to only fulfilling the regular duties appropriate to the forces
The present politicization with regard to promotions in the police force will be replaced with a transparent scheme based on capacity, skills, commitment and efficiency
The seniority of officers of the regular police force will be safeguarded and any irregularities arising from integration of the auxiliary police force into the regular police force will be corrected
There will be an immediate stop to using members of the armed forces for the protection of Ministers and politicians and their family members. Police protection will be provided in accordance with clear specifications, and the practice of Ministers and politicians inconveniencing the public by travelling with security vehicles will be halted
Steps will be taken to provide land ownership and proper housing to plantation workers instead of their current confinement in line rooms
Facilities will be provided in schools for the children of plantation workers in the Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Matale and Kegalle Districts to have access to education in the Tamil medium upto university level including in Science
Relief will be provided to all those illegally displaced for various reasons from their homes and lands
The value will be calculated of the housing and land of which residents of Colombo have been deprived, and that will be deducted from the housing loans they are now paying
A programme will be implemented swiftly to provide housing to the hundreds of thousands who have no shelter
A democratic civil administration will be put in place in North and South
Through legal and social means steps will be taken to prevent actions and speech that lead todenigration of other races and religions and of religious leaders, and spread hatred between those of different races and religions
Protection will be provided to all places of religious worship
National and Local Councils of religious leaders will be set up to promote reconciliation between those of different religions and work effectively against the spread of religious animosities
Measures will be taken to preserve and protect archaeological sites
Outlets for alcohol will be removed from the vicinity of places of religious worship ncluding the Temple of the Tooth, and car races in those areas will be stopped.
Proposed amendments to the Buddhist Temporalities Act will be finalized after consultation of the Heads of Buddhist Orders to obtain their advice and guidance and approval.
A programme will commence to develop pirivena education and train teachers for religious instruction
The foundation will be laid for an International University which will also work towards raisingeducational standards at pirivenas to international standards
Laws will be passed swiftly to put a stop to ill-treatment of animals
Hindrances to the work of Civil Society groups concerned with economic and socialdevelopment, environmental issues, and with issues of Good Governance and Human Rights, will be removed
A culture will be established that safeguards and values the independence and artistic integrity of practitioners of the arts
Both immediate and long term measures will be taken to safeguard the independence of media personnel and institutions
The Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression will be strengthened
Parliamentary proceedings will be telecast live
Since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome Statute regarding international jurisdiction with regard to war crimes, ensuring justice with regard to such matters will be the business of nationalindependent judicial mechanisms
Their positions and rights will be restored to victims of political revenge and punishments, including former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, and 43rd Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
A respected Foreign Service free of political interference will be re-established
Areas designated by law as Environmentally Protected Lands will be protected and care taken to safeguard their boundaries
Areas of environmental importance which are now subject to threats of destruction will be further identified and necessary steps taken to protect them
Steps will be taken, using contemporary international technological knowledge, to restore areas of environmental importance that have been harmed or are suffering threats
The Wild Life Protection Ordinance will be effectively implemented without fear or favour
It will be compulsory to have an Environmental Assessment Study at the very inception of any development projects
A historic election and a historic victory. But why is it so historic..?
Not one, but there are several reasons for it to be significant among other Presidential Polls held in the country. The first is its national outreach. In fact Maithri could be proud of being the first President to be elected through a true national election. The participation of North – West – East and South as one electorate was unique in its own dynamics. Probably this could be the first ever indication of national reconciliation in post-conflict Sri Lanka.
“For the first time since 1982, Tamils in the North are voting free,” journalist Parameswaram told me on Thursday when I inquired about polling patterns in the north. Polls were free and fair in every part of the country, too, but North and East were noteworthy as it was a different case for the past three decades.
No argument that there was a clear division in the votes for the two main candidates. Mahinda championed in the Sinhala Buddhist platform while Maithri performed well in both minority as well as majority community areas. But one could easily argue that Maithree’s victory was mainly due to the minority vote.
The Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa has conceded defeat in an election he had been widely predicted to win before a member of his own party defected to run against him, the presidential office has said.
“An emergency cabinet meeting has been summoned at which the President is expected to announce dissolution. As sitting President, Rajapaksa is empowered to dissolve the parliament until the Elections Commissioner declares the final result.”