Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has observed that if one could treat victory and defeat in the same spirit, then one could tread successfully. He also urged observance of discipline, tolerance, hard work.
He made this observation responding to the felicitation extended to him on the Floor of the House, when Parliament was convened to mark his 40 years in Parliament. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya chaired.
During his address, he said: “I can give you some advice from my experience. Firstly, to be disciplined, to be tolerant, to do your work without being jealous of others, accept both victory and defeat equally. I had to work my way up from a Member of Parliament, a Deputy Minister, a Cabinet minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and serve as Prime Minister several times. Today I urge all to go forward. Peace and economic development have joined hands. Firstly, we should have a Sri Lankan identity with a common front. We should join hands with the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena. We should reach that political solution in this Parliament.
During the last 40 years, both globally and locally, many changes took place and continue to take place. It is no longer a world with two powerful nations. Marxism has come to an end in the same countries where it was prevalent before. Once again Asia is developing. We got large development programs underway, a free economy, and also the 1983 riots as well as terrorism in Sri Lanka. We had the Indian Peace Keeping Force here, had faced an impeachment against a President, an insurgency took place in the South, and a President was assassinated.
It was former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranathunga who made the first attempt for peace. Then I came forward to a peace agreement as the then Prime Minister. We saw how a Presidential candidate was imprisoned. For the first time, a common candidate was brought forward and was able to win an election. Two key political parties were able to establish a Government. This is the background to my political voyage.
Today there are two other members in this Parliament who were with me 40 years ago. They are the Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothiam Sampanthan and Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife Gamini Jayawickrama Perera. But they were unable to be in Parliament for 40 years straight due to political reasons.
I was brought into politics by late President J. R. Jayawardena. I got the chance to working with President R. Premadasa. Eventually we learned to go back to the Opposition. It was similar to King Walagamba withdrawing into the forest. So, we know what it is like to be in the Opposition. Based on my experience, you should take the advice of elders and learn from your own experience. That was what enabled us to move forward. I thank everyone who helped me including my parents, my wife, my staff, and all party members who helped get here.”