Address by the Hon. Speaker at the Opening Ceremony on 11th September, 2012

posted on: 30-10-2012

Your Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Vice Patron of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,

His Excellency Commonwealth Secretary General,

Vice President CPA,

Chair Person Executive Committee,

Vice  Chair Person Executive Committee,

CPA Treasurer,

Chairperson CWP,

President CWP,

Members of the Executive Committee,

Secretary General, CPA

Parliament Speakers,

Distinguished Delegates,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Sri Lanka Branch  of  the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I am honoured and privileged  to welcome you all  to the opening ceremony of the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.

This is the third time we are hosting this meeting in Sri Lanka  and that is a reflection  of the strong commitment  Sri Lanka and our people have towards the values  of the Commonwealth and our dedication for  Parliamentary democracy which form core values  of this association.

Members  of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association  are bonded by a shared history : the history of  British colonialism.

This shared history runs as a thread  that binds us together and undoubtedly  it has enabled us to create this association and to promote  Parliamentary democracy  and good governance/ among our member states.

We, Sri Lankans received universal franchise in 1931,  over eighty years ago, when we were  still a colony.

Since  receiving independence  in  1948  the country has had  an unbroken tradition of multi-party democracy  with regularly held elections  and  political  power  alternating between  different political parties.

We are intensely proud  of the democratic tradition  we have nurtured  over these 64 years since gaining independence  and will continue  to ensure that Parliamentary democracy  remains  vibrant and robust in this part of the world.

It is because  of this commitment  to Parliamentary democracy  that the Commonwealth  has  bestowed  on Sri Lanka,  the honour of hosting  the Commonwealth  Heads  of Government   Meeting   in 2013.

The Sri Lanka branch  has been an active member  of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association  for many years.

It has played  a positive role in the main forum  and  within  the Asia Regional group.

Currently,  our Branch functions  as the Regional Secretariat for the Asia Region and  hosted the CPA  Regional Conference  in 2011.

Our Branch also sits  as the  representative  of the  Asia region  in the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians  Steering Committee.

These are all testimony  to our unreserved  commitment to the Commonwealth  and to its future  progress.

Let me say   how proud we are,  to be hosting this meeting  at a time  when peace in all parts of our country  is irreversibly  established

For thirty years  Sri Lanka had to fight  the worst of terrorism.

It simply destroyed  the social fabric  and  almost divided the Sri Lankan nation into pieces.

I admire the resilience,  courage and patience of all our people  who had to endure tremendous hardship  during the long period  of the conflict.

It is our firm intention  to strengthen  the bonds of friendship  among all communities  that inhabit  this island  and ensure  that their children will  grow up in a culture  of peace and co-existence.

All our actions today  are directed towards building a harmonious nation  where/  discrimination will not be tolerated.

As a people  we are thankful  to the Commonwealth  for the continuous support  member nations  extended to us  and for the understanding  you showed  at a time of need.

My country is proud  of its history,  its people  and   its tradition  of   constitutional democracy.

Dear Friends,

While in Sri Lanka,  may I  humbly invite you to   savour the natural beauty and the splendor  of our motherland  and to engage with her people,  among the  most hospitable people  you will find  anywhere  in the world

Ensuring a Relevant Commonwealth for the Future is the theme of this meeting.

During these few days  you will discuss topics  relating to  health and education,  democracy,  rule of law  and human rights,  the role of parliaments,  conflict resolution / and peace building,  gender responsive governance,  terrorism, youth unemployment and  the role of social media.

All these topics are  of great relevance  to democracies around the world  and no doubt  your deliberations  will strengthen   constitutional democracy  and good governance  in the CPA’s member states.

The CPA  is currently engaged  in a study to  look at how the Association could provide  better support  to Parliaments / from member states.

Our Branch has expressed  its views  through our Regional Representative  and we  are concerned to ensure  that the CPA remains  vibrant and relevant  in the years to come.

Before I conclude,  I would like to express my profound gratitude  to His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka for the support, guidance and encouragement  extended to us  in organizing this event  and your presence this morning has encouraged all of us.

I must also acknowledge  the support  we have received  from the Rt. Honourable Sir Allen Haselhurst,  Chairman  of the Executive Committee  of the CPA,  Dr. William F. Shija  Secretary – General of the CPA,  and from the staff /of the CPA Headquarters.

May you have  a rewarding meeting,  may you forge  stronger bonds  among your fellow Parliamentarians,  and may your deliberations  contribute to  strengthening democracy  in all parts  of the Commonwealth.

I do hope  that you will carry warm memories of Sri Lanka  to your home country.

Distinguished Delegates,  Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privilege and great pleasure now  to call upon  His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa,  President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,  to   formally declare open the  58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.


May the Noble Triple Gem Bless you.

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