Newly elected Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan today suggested that substantial power be devolved to three to five regions in the country to enable their Chief Ministers to serve the people in the best possible manner.
The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today appointed the TNA Parliamentary Group Leader as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
Speaking in parliament after being appointed Leader of Opposition on Thursday, Sampanthan said: “I was thinking to myself this morning, rather than having so many ministers at the Center, why can’t we have 3-5 regions in this country vested with substantial powers of governance? There are many young members of parliament who can be excellent Ministers and Chief Ministers in those regions. Give them maximum power and allow them to rule various parts of this country in such a way that the people’s interest is best served.”
He pointed out that India has 29 States and yet that country is united.
“India stays together because the people’s aspirations are respected, honored and implemented by the States which have been constituted in such a way as to preserve linguistic interests, cultural interests, religious interests and so on,” Sampanthan said.
He said that the TNA will be loyal to Sri Lanka, but its primary duty will be to ensure that there is an acceptable solution to the Tamil question.
“There are issues that need to be resolved in the national interest. Amongst them are the long-festering Tamil question. We would like to work closely with everyone to resolve this question. While we will be loyal to this country and to the people to this country, I must emphasize that it is also our primary duty to ensure there is an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question,” Sampanthan said.
Sampanthan assured all political parties and members in the opposition that his party will not hesitate to work with them unitedly to serve the cause of the opposition and to be an effective and efficient opposition against the government whenever that is required.
“There are issues that need to be resolved in the national interest. Amongst them are the long-festering Tamil question. We would like to work closely with everyone to resolve this question,” he said.
“While we will be loyal to this country and to the people to this country, I must emphasize that it is also our primary duty to ensure there is an acceptable resolution of the Tamil question.” He said.
Making some comments on the bill being discussed in Parliament regarding the increasing of ministerial portfolios of the national government, the Opposition Leader said that a national government in the present context in the country may be a national need.
“The two main parties working together could be in the national interest. This is the first time in the country’s history that the two main parties have decided to come together to constitute a government.”
“This is also in consonance with the two democratic verdicts delivered by the country recently and also in keeping with the 19th constitutional amendment. It is in keeping with the amendment that this resolution is brought to this house today,” he said.
However, he emphasized that the increase in the number of ministries to achieve this does not seem in conformity with good governance.” It would have been much better if the two parties would have been able to t come together without an increase in the number of ministries.”