President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday requested that the honorary title Athi Garu (His Excellency) or Uthumanan (Your Highness) which were commonly used over the past years to address Presidents, not be used with reference to him.
He also asked not to use the term Aryawa when referring to his wife. He made these observations participating in the Maithri Pilisandara interview conducted by veteran writer Upul Shantha Sannasgala and telecast over Rupavahini and ITN on Saturday.
Viewers said President Sirisena expressed valuable opinions on how he would act in his position as the President, the nature of his political journey suffused with challenges and difficulties, the nature of the recent election campaign and how he faced it, the content of his manifesto, the new positive political culture that is enforced and what needs to be done to protect it, the nature of national government, rule of law and culture and aesthetic appreciation etc., during the one and half hour interview.
The President said he does not intend to lead a luxurious life at the expense of the public.
He said the existing Presidential palaces built around the country would be used for some other meaningful purposes, adding that the Presidential Palace in Colombo would be used only for state functions.
Making a special revelation on the super-luxurious plane valued at approximately Rs. 2,080 million to be brought down to Sri Lanka for the use of the President as per directive of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, President Sirisena said the deal was immediately cancelled by him after discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, adding that the money would be used to buy spare parts needed for the civil aviation sector of Sri Lanka. He said he totally objects to the helicopter culture that wasted the country’s money, adding that neither he or his family members would use helicopters except for very important official work.
The President also instructed not to line up schoolchildren at ceremonies that he attends.
He also recalled how schoolchildren were inconvenienced during the state ceremonies over the past years. President Sirisena said he had instructed that publishing advertisements in the print and electronic media spending public money on the President’s birthday and various other occasions be terminated.
He also requested not to exhibit cutouts and digital screens containing his images on road sides, or in cities. The President also underscored the fact that his victory was made possible thanks to all groups of people who cast their vote for him.
“Some are of the wrong opinion and are attempting to show that I did not get the support of the Buddhist majority. This is false,” he said.
President Sirisena analysing the votes cast in majority Buddhist electorates, observed that the vote base of his opponent drastically eroded and was in his (President Sirisena’s) favour. “People belonging to all ethnic groups spread throughout the country favoured my political manifesto which assured good governance, democracy and good moral society. Various goods were distributed and people were bribed to obtain their votes. Despite thuggery and political and use of military power by the opposition camp, the people cast their vote for trust and confidence favouring what was said in my manifesto,” he said.
President Sirisena also paid tribute to Dr. Pandit W.D. Amaradeva for his contribution to keep the Sri Lankan flag flying high in his chosen field.
The President also appreciated the roles played by artistes and musicians. He highly valued the musical knowledge, language skills, the talent and the ability of singers and artistes who kept their fans entertained.
President Sirisena said he was also impressed the way Rathnadeepa Janma Bhoomi was sung by Pandit Amaradeva for which the lyrics were by the late Mahagamasekera.
The President while recalling his love and affection for his mother, referred to the song Adaraye Ulpatha Wu Amma sung by Victor Rathnayake.
The song was played on the request of the President.
President Sirisena also said bestowing on him the SLFP leadership was a victory for his government and the state.
“This was something needed for the stability of my government and the state,” he said responding to a question by Sannasgala.
“If we are to successfully complete the 100 day programme, we need the majority in Parliament. That comes to the government provided the Alliance led by the SLFP supports the government. I understood this well and I assumed the SLFP leadership to ensure stability of the government,” the President said.
He said to make this a reality, he had a brief but a straightforward discussion with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was also the former Party President.
“He agreed to hand over the SLFP leadership to me at the discussion. I also informed him that I would have officials of my choice to take the SLFP forward,” he said.
President Sirisena referring to his assuming Presidency on January 9 as the new President, taking oaths before a senior member of the Judiciary, Justice Sripavan, assuming SLFP leadership on January 16 at the SLFI, appointing Justice Sripavan as the Chief Justice and he taking oaths before him on January 30, said they were all a new chapter of the political culture and had nothing to do with fate. “It is undoubtedly a political miracle,” he added.
He pointed out that the removal of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaike was illegal and now the Supreme Court has been back on the right track.
He said steps would be taken to severely deal with those who plundered and embezzeled state funds and misused state lands without giving any consideration to their status or party affiliations.