Sri Lanka has united once again as the national anthem is being sung both in Sinhala and in Tamil at functions in all parts of the county, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe observed yesterday.
The Prime Minister expressed this view at the launch of the ‘Sirikotha Gamata’ programme in Bandaragama yesterday evening. “Both Sinhala and Tamil speaking people say in their respective languages ‘We are all children of one mother’ when they sing the national anthem.
We did not see such a thing in the past. All ethnic groups in Sri Lanka agreeing to sing the national anthem in their own tongues is an act of marching towards reconciliation,” the Prime Minister said. He said his government had revived the nation and the world had begun to accept Sri Lanka once again.
“We have launched ‘Sirikotha Gamata’ from Kalutara. 'Sirikotha' came to the villages as an opposition party in the past. Today we have come as the ruling party. We have come after doing much for the people in this country. The former regime is questioning as to what we have done during our tenure in power. What have they done? In 2009, the former President went to Geneva claiming all Sri Lankans would be charged with war crimes. Then he formed the government again in 2010 claiming he was going to develop the country. He could not serve a full term. He borrowed over and over again.
The country could not even pay the interest on the loans they took. No one trusted Sri Lanka and refrained from lending money to us. Health, education and several other sectors came to a standstill. We only saw development in the media. All media institutions showed how development is being achieved only as lip service. Our government also works but we are not given publicity.I hope the media will give publicity to the government even now. No one trusted Sri Lanka during the time we took over. Borrowing was not possible.
The country was divided into ethnic lines. There was no democracy until we came in. However, we started our work, we introduced the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, we established the Police Commission and we made the judiciary independent, we established the Human Rights Commission and introduced the National Audit Commission. We have increased women’s representation in local bodies. It was the independent judiciary which helped re-establish the government of the people in December last year.
We established the FCID and brought about special courts. There are 30 cases pending before it now. The government was able to fight drug dealers as a result of steps that have been taken to preserve the independence of the police. The debt trap was a major issue. Although we faced many difficulties economically, we managed to settle debts and pull the economy through. We were criticised. The SLPP was voted in at the local government elections. However, we did not give up. The results of this can now be seen. We managed to earn an export revenue of US $ 18,000 in 2018. They are asking as to what we have done. We would like to tell them that we did not scrape coconut during the last four years.
The Hambantota Port will become a successful port before long. The Mattala Airport will be a viable joint venture between the Sri Lankan and Indian aviation authorities. We have started development work. These will be done gradually like businesses. We will develop the north as well. There will be tourism zones and tourism will get a boost in the country in order for this to happen. Fuel is being supplied to the public at prevailing market prices, the allowance for senior citizens has been increased from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000. We are also looking to restart the program to distribute lap tops to G.C.E advanced level students", the Prime Minister listed out the achievements of the government in this manner. (Yohan Perera)