We are indebted to President for eradicating terrorism - Governor
Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara completed the full tenure of his office in
the sixth Parliament until he was succeeded on April 22, 2010 by Chamal
Rajapaksa with the unaniomous vote of the Parliament. Impressed by the
policies of Mahinda Chinthana, Lokubandara joined the UPFA after the
dissolution of the Parliament and his name was included in the UPFA
National List. Instead of being an MP, he was sworn in as Governor of
the Sabaragamuwa Province on April 21.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, the new Governor
says that it was only a temporary appointment until the Constitutional
changes are made to reintroduce the Senate as contemplated by the
Q: How do you review your political career?
A: I have been in active politics for 33 years. I entered the
Parliament in 1977 as the MP for Haputale electorate. President J.R.
Jayawardene appointed me as the project Minister for Indigenous
Medicine. Later I was appointed Cabinet Minister of Cultural Affairs and
Indigenous Medicine. President Ranasinghe Premadasa appointed me the
Education, Cultural Affairs and Information Minister. During Presidency
of D.B. Wijethunga I was also in charge of the Technical Education
Ministry. In 1994 I was elected the Chief Opposition Whip. When the UNF
came to power in 2001 I was appointed Minister of Justice and Buddha
Sasana whilst being Leader of the House. In 2004 I was elected Speaker
and held the office till the dissolution of Parliament in April, 2010.
Q: You began your political career as a member of the United
National Party. Now you have joined the SLFP. What made you to change
A: It was the significance of the Mahinda Chinthana that
inspired me to change the party. It was the Mahinda Chinthana policy
that helped liberate the country from the clutches of terrorism.
Q: But you continued to be a member of the UNP whilst being
A: The office of the Speaker is an independent one. As such my
role too had to be independent. I never attended any political meeting
when I was the Speaker.
It was only after the dissolution of the Parliament that I attended
political meeting at Badulla where President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed
my son as the Haputale SLFP organiser. I was never present in any
political platform until the dissolution of the Parliament.
Q: Your name was included in the UPFA national list. But you
have been sworn in as the Governor of the Sabaragamuwa. Are you happy
with the new appointment?
A: My name has been there in the UPFA national list that was
sent to the Elections Commissioner. When allocating the National List
seats, the party leadership had to set apart slots for constituent
parties of the Alliance.
There were problems when allocating seats for political parties.
However, I accepted what the President offered to me. I was also assured
that I would be appointed President of the Senate once it is
Till such time, I shall function as the Governor of Sabaragamauwa.
Q: Does it mean that this new position is a temporary one?
A: Yes, this is a temporary position for me till the Senate is
Q: Are you confident that the Government can go ahead with
A: Certainly yes. The UPFA government is a strong one with
near two third majority in the parliament. President Mahinda Rajapaksa
achieved all those victories when there was no absolute majority in the
parliament. With this near two third majority he can go ahead with the
required Constitutional changes. The Speaker was elected unanimously.
Therefore, there is no doubt that the President can go ahead with the
Q: Your son also entered parliament from the Badulla district.
Does it have any connection with your new appointment?
A: No, certainly not. My family believe in the Mahinda
Chinthana. My son firmly believe in the Mahinda Chinthana. He
appreciated the President for eradicating terrorism. We are all indebted
to the President for it. As a mark of respect I voted for him at the
Presidential election. As the Speaker I was also targeted by the LTTE.
The President increased my security. I have always allowed my children
to peruse their own thinking. That was why he decided to join the
Q: On Thursday the parliament unanimously elected Chamal
Rajapaksa as the Speaker of the seventh parliament. In 2004 you were
elected Speaker with only one majority vote. How do you see the new
A: In 2004 I was the candidate from the United National Party.
Chamal Rajapaksa has been elected Speaker after the overwhelming victory
of the government at the recent election.
The Government has a near two third majority in parliament. When I
was contesting for the Speaker from the UNP the entire Government and
the then President was against me. Today the situation is entirely
Q: Are you satisfied with the role you performed as the
A: Certainly yes. I cultivated the virtue of equanimity, 'Upeksha'
throughout the period when I was functioning as the Speaker. I studied
the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the parliament.
When I went through the Standing Orders a noteworthy fact I found is
that the Standing Orders are formed for the government to have its way
and the Opposition has its say in the parliament.
I as the Speaker irrespective of party, religious and ethnic
differences guaranteed the MPs of their right to speak. With the consent
of the House I also allowed the question and answer time to run upto one
full hour. Earlier it was 30 minutes. With this, the Opposition was
provided adequate time to question the Government on issues they were
interested in. I did not face any no confidence motion during my tenure.
I enjoyed the full tenure of the Speaker from April 22, 2004 to April
22, 2010. Very rarely Speakers have completed their full term. I also
safeguarded the rights and privileges of the MPs. My attitude was
completely non-violent because I am a religious person. I always
followed 'Calama Sutra' when conducting the parliament.
As Speaker, I took steps to promote national integration ever in the
parliament by celebrating Vesak, Christmas, Saraswathie Pooja and Ifthar
as annual events. Another important thing I did during my tenure was the
compiling of the history of the Jayawardenapura era with special
emphasis to Jayawardhanapura new parliament. It was done by the eminent
bilingual writer Tissa Abeysekera and translated into Sinhala by Prof.
Q: What would be your prime focus as the Governor of
A: My attention will be certainly focussed on the world famous
Adam's Peak which is worshipped by the devotees of the four major
religions. For Buddhists it is Sri Pada, for Hindu's Siva Nadi Padam,
for Muslims Baba de Male and for Christians, Adam's Peak. It is of
national importance to cultivate religious harmony among the people of
Certainly I shall promote the religious and spiritual advancement of
the people in Sabaragamuwa.