Published on: March 7, 2024

Cartoonists’ Depictions of the President’s Role

“Press Vs. Prez” Officially Launched.

Cartoon Portrayals a Vital Component of Democratic Expression.

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The Nelum Pokuna Theater in Colombo hosted the launching ceremony of the “Press Vs. Prez” book today (07), with President Ranil Wickremesinghe presiding over the event.

President Wickremesinghe, in his address, hailed such publications as integral to the democratic fabric of the nation, affirming that they underscore the freedom entrenched within the country. He juxtaposed this with the absence of such creations in totalitarian regimes, emphasizing the significance of the established freedom of expression. The President also expressed his humble pride in the removal of criminal defamation laws, reinforcing the government’s commitment to democratic values.

Turning to economic matters, President Wickremesinghe credited the nation’s positive economic trajectory to the resilience demonstrated in implementing challenging governmental programs. He expressed optimism that the country is emerging from its trials, heralding a brighter future.

Gratitude was extended by the President to the cartoonists whose creations brought joy during difficult times, acknowledging their contribution to lifting spirits. The book, spanning President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s parliamentary journey from June 23, 2021, to May 2023, compiles about 618 cartoons published in newspapers. Contributions from 40 cartoonists and nearly 20 journalists were pivotal in creating this compilation, with special appreciation reserved for the cartoonists and TV anchors who showcased these works on television.

Special guest Indian cartoonist Mr. Nala Ponnappa delivered a notable speech at the book launch, adding to the event’s significance. Additionally, Professor Rohan Neththasinghe provided a comprehensive review of the book, adding scholarly insight to its content.

Addressing the gathering President Ranil Wickremesinghe further commented:

“It must be noted that this collection of cartoons is in line with a longstanding tradition. I recall visiting Hon. J.R. Jayewardena’s residence and observing similar collections, as well as witnessing comparable cartoons at Sir John Kotelawala’s house. Therefore, Mr. Wajira Abeywardana has continued this tradition admirably.

Reflecting on the period between 2021 and 2023, I recall a cartoon included in this book capturing my swearing-in ceremony as Acting President. At that time, due to security concerns, the oath-taking ceremony was held at the Walukaramaya temple, amidst a tumultuous political climate where violent mobs surrounded the parliament. The intervention of the army was necessary to restore order.

During this tumultuous period, we had to take decisive steps to rebuild the country’s economy and restore peace and stability. Approximately 2000 cartoons were produced during this period, which underscores the democratic nature of our society. I am proud to have repealed the defamation law, which has further strengthened freedom of expression in our country.

Today, we enjoy the freedom to write books, produce television and radio programs and create movies without censorship. This freedom is a testament to the democratic values ingrained in our society since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1931. Despite political challenges, our country has upheld democratic principles, where parties accept election results, including defeats, peacefully—a rarity in Asia.

These cartoons symbolize the freedom and vibrancy of our democracy. As we approach the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections later this year, I anticipate an increase in such cartoons, showcasing our commitment to democratic freedom.

I assumed leadership of the country during a period of political turmoil. Despite these challenges, our collective efforts have steered the economy towards stability. In parliament, we have worked collaboratively across party lines, demonstrating the resilience of our democracy.

The positive trajectory of our economy, despite the challenges we faced, has been acknowledged by the International Monetary Fund. Discussions with private creditors are underway, and I am confident that our efforts will yield successful results.

Yesterday, MP Harsha de Silva suggested the involvement of opposition representatives in discussions on debt management. I intend to invite all leaders, including those from the opposition, to participate in these discussions with the IMF and adhere to their final decisions. Together, we can navigate this journey towards a stable future.

Amidst these challenging times, these cartoons have provided some relief and allowed us to view life with a sense of humour. Now, as we look towards a stable future, I believe that by uniting with the opposition, we can continue to advance our goals.

I extend my appreciation to all the journalists and cartoonists whose work has provided us with solace and inspiration during these difficult times.”

Indian cartoonist Mr. Nala Ponnappa,

“Mr. President, the artists who have contributed their talents to create cartoons depicting your journey have done an exceptional job. It’s a reminder that politicians, like all humans, are subject to scrutiny and interpretation, and cartoonists utilize their freedom of expression to offer their perspectives.

As we gather here today, it’s an excellent opportunity for people to gain a deeper understanding of democracy and its principles. This book, to be distributed to libraries across the nation and the globe, serves as a valuable resource for future generations to study the history of political cartoons and your tenure as President during this challenging period.

Comprising 618 cartoons crafted by nearly one hundred talented artists, this book is presented in both Sinhala and English languages. On this significant occasion, I extend my heartfelt wishes for a prosperous future for you and the people of your country. Additionally, I convey my best wishes to the cartoonists who skillfully brought your persona to life through their cartoons, ensuring their work resonates with future generations.”

Professor Rohan Neththasinghe,

“As a child, I delved into the pages of “How the Steel was Tempered” by Nicolay Ostrovski, a book that vividly depicts the process of steel tempering. The Russian word “Ostrovski” or “Osatre” translates to “sharp,” a term befitting the honourable President. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, serving as the President of Sri Lanka, alongside Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe as the First Lady, exemplify sharpness in navigating challenges with adeptness.

During this gathering, a cartoonist humorously remarked that a cartoonist possesses considerable backbone, implying that such a gathering may not have been possible if the true nature of their work was known. Yet, it is the talent and acumen of these artists that have garnered recognition from the President, who commends their contributions by inviting them here today.

Despite the occasional sting of criticism depicted in newspaper cartoons, including those showcased here, the President has honed his resilience and expertise. From these experiences, akin to the tempering process of steel, emerges strength and fortitude. I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your leadership and dedication to propelling our nation forward. May you be blessed with good health, longevity, and continued success.

Furthermore, I express my appreciation to all the cartoonists present here for their invaluable contributions.”

The event saw a notable turnout, with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, several ministers, numerous ruling and opposition Members of Parliament and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in attendance. Additionally, foreign ambassadors and diplomats, journalists and close associates of President Ranil Wickremesinghe were present, adding to the significance of the occasion.


The Presidential Media Division is fully responsible for socializing the views, actions, decisions and statements of His Excellency the President through the media. Electronic, print and new media will contribute to this through a credible and engaging approach.

The media department works as a source of information on the subject of the President’s vision and mission by maintaining good coordination with public and private media organizations and journalists.

National policies, plans and measures are explained to the people through the use of high quality media. Identify the fallacies and reveal the truth.