President tells Commonwealth Parliamentary delegates:
‘Learn about the real Sri Lanka’
* Barrage of lies to discredit
* Separatist elements influencing
politicians to act against SL
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday called on the visiting
Commonwealth Parliamentarians to make use of the opportunity to learn
about the real Sri Lanka in its post- conflict era, when the highest
priority is given to nation building through reconciliation.
“Your presence in Sri Lanka gives you a good opportunity to see for
yourselves the progress of democracy in our country, after the major
threat it faced under terrorism. This is important in the context of the
barrage of lies being spread about Sri Lanka today. As you will see,
there is full freedom of travel to any part of the country. You can also
speak to anyone, from the government or the Opposition and different
communities. I urge you to make use of this opportunity to learn of the
real Sri Lanka, in its post-conflict era, when the highest priority is
given to nation building through reconciliation,” President Rajapaksa
said inaugurating the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in
The President told the gathering it was unfortunate that today, many
impressions of Sri Lanka in foreign countries are based on unverified
facts, and wrong or deliberately manipulated disinformation, carried out
by those who once supported the forces of terror.
tradition in Sri Lanka- Speaker
Lanka maintains a vibrant and robust unbroken tradition of
Parliamentary democracy with regularly held elections and
political power alternating between different political
parties since independence was achieved, Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association President and Speaker Chamal
Rajapaksa said. He made this observation delivering the
welcome address at the opening ceremony of the 58th
Parliamentary Conference at the Nelum
Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre yesterday after reading
Queen Elizabeth’s message.
Queen Elizabeth in her message said Sri
Lanka is a country with rich traditions, culture and
“ The majority of Sri Lankans practise
Buddhism for more than 2,300 years which concentrates on
tolerance. In Sri Lanka, the Buddhist temple, Catholic
Church, Hindu Kovil and Muslim mosque are situated close to
each other in perfect harmony,” the Queen said.
Delivering the welcome speech, Speaker
Chamal Rajapaksa said this is the third time Sri Lanka is
hosting the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which
reflects the strong commitment of Sri Lanka towards
Commonwealth and Parliamentary Democracy. He said member
countries have shared the history of British Colonialism
that ran as a thread to bind them altogether to set up this
Association to promote Parliamentary democracy and good
Speaker Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka received
universal franchise in 1931 when it was still a colony.
“Since we achieved independence in 1948,
we have maintained an unbroken tradition of Parliamentary
democracy with regularly held elections and political power
alternating between different political parties. Since then,
Parliamentary democracy remains vibrant and robust in this
part of the world.”
He said it was because of this commitment
to Parliamentary democracy and the Commonwealth that Sri
Lanka was hosting this meeting.
The Speaker said Sri Lanka has been a
member of CPA for long years and functions as the regional
He said for 30 years, Sri Lanka had to
fight terrorism that severely destroyed the social fabric of
the country. Speaker Rajapaksa said he admires the
resilience and courage of the people to endure the hardships
of the conflict.
“It is our firm intention to strengthen
the bonds of friendship among all communities to ensure that
their children will grow up in a culture of peace and co
existence. All our actions today are directed towards
building a nation where discrimination will not be
tolerated,” he said.
|Sri Lanka, an
inspiration to other C’wealth nations - Sir Alan
holding of the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Conference in Colombo is an epoch making one because it is
being held in a member nation which is rising rapidly after
emerging from the ravages of terror, CPA Executive Committee
chairman Sir Alan Haselhurst said.
He also identified Sri Lanka as an
inspiration to other Commonwealth nations. Sir Haselhurst
was addressing the opening ceremony of the 58th CPA
Conference held under the patronage of CPA
Vice Patron President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Nelum Pokuna
He said it was a historic moment to hold
the conference in Sri Lanka because they can witness the
rejuvenation, reinvigoration and rebirth of a country that
has risen ‘Phoenix’ like from the violence of “terror and
“Sri Lanka could be seen as an
inspiration. It is one of the most literate among emerging
nations, it has an economy which has grown over eight
percent in the last few years and has low unemployment and
an expanding education system, nano technology and banking.
Tourism too is booming,” he said.The UK Parliamentarian said
there were a lot of positives for Sri Lanka to be proud of
an added that however the country’s greatest pride should
come from peace.
“It is peace that has driven this momentum
of change, growth and innovation, supplemented by the
efforts of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
This will inspire us because we too in the CPA should move
ahead with renewed energy and innovation,” he said.
He urged legislators from member nations
to use the diversity of knowledge, experience and expertise
around them for the future benefit of their countries and
“The true purpose of the CPA comes out
when one sees representatives from all over the
Commonwealth, over five continents coming together,
respecting each other and learning from each other. What we
have in common is what binds us together,” he said.
Delivering the vote of thanks at the
opening ceremony, Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, MP Vice
President CPA and chairperson of the National Council of
Provinces, South Africa welcomed all countries present to
visit the next annual conference slated to be held in his
country. A stamp to mark the occasion too was issued. The
CPA deliberations will be held at the BMICH until Friday.
These same elements continue to sow the seeds of division and
separatism through various media, and also influence politicians in
their new countries of domicile, to act against Sri Lanka, based on such
He said these are people who claim to speak for Sri Lanka or a
section of our people, while slandering the country from their shelters
“They do not bother to contribute to the reconciliation and
development taking place here. But worse, they do not even contribute to
the progress of the people whose cause they claim to champion, from
their activities abroad. You can now see the truth and return to your
countries with a deeper and richer understanding of Sri Lanka.”
President Rajapaksa said in seeking to advance democracy in the
world, which is the commitment of the CPA, it is also important to
appreciate the different cultures and values of each country where
democracy has been rooted, or is growing.
The Commonwealth is a rich diversity of nations with the common bond
of democracy. It is also a rich diversity of cultures, traditions and
values. There are countries where culture and heritage date back to many
“There are others with shorter histories and traditions. Democracy
will truly blossom when these differences are best understood and
respected in all our dealings with each other, he said. The President
said democracy, or representative democracy, is today competing for
headlines with various emerging national or regional springs.
“There is also the hum of drones that seek to bomb democracy into
place with a carpet of destruction. We must be cautious of all these
strategies that experience shows have not helped real democracy to take
root and thrive. It is necessary to bear in mind that democracy does not
foster hatred within societies, among communities and among nations and
countries. Democracy stands for unity of purpose in a spirit of mutual
understanding,” he said.
“In conclusion, I wish to state that having your conference in a
vibrant democracy, where the will of the people has been cherished, and
protected for eight decades and more, there is every hope that your
deliberations, amidst the well springs of democracy that prevail in our
land, will produce the best results for parliamentary democracy in the
Commonwealth and the world, ” he said.