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Tuesday, 4 May 1993
Page: 49


Senator LEES (Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats) —I support the condolence motion on behalf of the Australian Democrats and, in doing so, deplore the violent and brutal way in which Sri Lanka's President Premadasa was assassinated a week ago. Last week the world witnessed yet another tragic episode in Sri Lanka's recent turbulent history. A total of 18 people, including the President and his bodyguards, were senselessly killed when a man set off explosives strapped to his body after barging into the President's entourage. All of them were victims of this mindless violence.

  The assassination represents a personal loss to the Premadasa family, but it also represents a loss, in a very real sense, to the people of Sri Lanka. In many ways, his death is also a great political loss, as the ensuing aftermath challenges the maturity of the democratic processes of Sri Lanka and looks very closely at its political institutions.

  President Premadasa represented the unique benefits which a strong democracy can bring to any nation, having himself risen from an impoverished family background through the labour movement to the highest political office in his country. Premadasa was President of Sri Lanka for a little over five years and, despite ongoing interracial violence of varying degrees, it must be said that he presided during a period of some considerable economic stability. It is most regrettable, however, that during his presidency a solution to the ongoing racial conflict was not found.

  The Democrats wish to join with the Government and the Opposition in expressing their deep sympathy to President Premadasa's immediate family and express the hope that peace and security may soon return to Sri Lanka.

  Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.