Work, his priority | Daily News


Work, his priority

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision not to accept invitations for events outside his official duties indeed is fully in keeping with his resolve to give priority and pride of place to the people’s needs and aspirations. According to a Presidential Media statement President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will henceforth not attend occasions such as weddings, prize givings and tamashas, and, instead, will devote this time to attend to the burning issues confronting the people for which they have entrusted him with a tremendous responsibility.

This though should not be misunderstood since the President is all too aware of the love and respect showered on him by individuals who consider it a unique honour and privilege to have him as the chief guest and attesting witness at weddings and grace similar events with his presence, the statement added. However, the President has decided to devote his time towards fulfilling his responsibility towards the people, particularly by attending to the needs of the grassroots segments. Therefore the President has decided not to attend events such as weddings, parties and prize givings etc. and has asked people not to extend invitations to him for these occasions. It is the expectation of the President to dedicate every single moment outside his official duties towards the well-being of the ordinary people.

No citizen of this country, who has been observing the President’s style of Governance since assuming office will doubt his bona-fides on this score. Also those observing the passing scene would, no doubt, have noticed that President Rajapaksa not being a professional politician, though immensely popular with the electorate, does not like to bask in the glory and limelight at public or private events.

What the public has been seeing is a leader with simple habits whose priority has been to attend to the needs of the public and deliver on his promises, with less fanfare than we have been seeing from most other politicians. From the very outset, President Rajapaksa dispensed with all his official trappings, doing away with elaborate ceremonies as one witnessed on the two occasions he came to Parliament for its inaugurations with no vehicle escorts. He also ordered the removal of his portraits from all Government offices. His hands on approach won many accolades from the public like when he took to task officials of the state banks and the Central Bank for being remiss in the delivery of relief to small-time businesses during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. His handling of the health crisis came in for high praise from US Defence Secretary Mark Esper in a personal telephone conversation on Sunday. Over the weekend, he walked nearly three Km in remote Lankagama, listening to the people’s woes.

Besides, there is no time to waste, with almost one year of the President’s tenure already consumed by the pandemic response and there is a lot more to be done. The Coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the economy not to mention all aspects of life with job losses and closure of businesses posing serious problems. There are also other multifarious issues connected to rural life like the lack of drinking water, farmers’ woes and the human elephant conflict that the President wants resolved completely within the next two years. The President also has to focus attention on the proposed new Constitution that will hopefully hand him the requisite powers to implement his programmes without let or hindrance.

Not just President Rajapaksa, the entire Cabinet and Government ought to be on the ball to fulfill the people’s mandate and their gigantic expectations. There is no time for honeymooning. True, the Ministers will have to demonstrate the quantum of work they put in and they would naturally court publicity for this exercise. But ceremonies should be kept to a minimum as these are wasteful expenses that could be put to better use. In this respect we once commended then Education Minister Dullas Alahapperuma who vowed not waste time attending school functions, and, what is more, causing agony to the children by keeping them in the hot sun. Hopefully, this attitude will rub off on the new Cabinet and State Ministers who are advised to carry out their duties with less fanfare. They have been shown the way in this respect by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, no less. The Ministers should also do away with luxury lifestyles and pomposity and adopt simple habits and qualities that will endear them to the people. People still view our politicians with a jaundiced eye chiefly due to their extravagances and questionable conduct. Hopefully, the Cabinet of Ministers will emulate the President not just in adopting simple ways and shunning the limelight but also by being true servants of the people in every way.

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