Today our country completes 69 years of the freedom from colonial rule. I am very pleased with this occasion to hold this 69th independence celebration with high dignity, pride and glory.
When we celebrate the freedom, we should talk about what the real freedom is. As far as I know more than 6000 languages are spoken by various nationalities living in the countries across the world. In all those languages the word ‘independence’ is considered as a significant, incomparable and unconquerable word.
There is a difference between the ideas come into minds when we talk about the freedom during the time our country has been under foreign invaders from 1505 to 1948 and the freedom in the current era.
In 1948 D. S. Senanayake and contemporary national leaders who represented all communities; Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim gave a giant strength to the national struggle for freedom.
During that struggle, there were occasions when our national leaders were imprisoned. Thousands sacrificed their lives for the country and the freedom from 1505 to 1948. On this Independence Day we should remember the sweet fragrance of the noble sacrifices made by the heroes in that historic era who sacrificed their lives and shed their blood in the fight against colonial rulers.
During the decades of 1930 and 1940, as a result of the demands made by the leaders of this country, we got rid of some major grievances through the Donoughmore and Solbary Commissions. We succeeded in winning the freedom on the 4th of February 1948.
When we talk about the freedom it is essential to remember the valiant war heroes who fought to save our country from L. T. T. E. terrorism throughout 30 years. They sacrificed their lives. They lost their limbs. They became disabled and their families suffered heavily. Economy was ruined. About 100,000 people including civilians lost their lives. Thousands became disabled. Are the people who lost their lives in the 30 years long war were losers? Are those who saved their lives are winners? I believe that we, who saved our lives from that tragedy, should remember the lessons we learnt.
Today we talk about freedom in a more complex manner than it was discussed in the past. All of us know, at present when we talk about freedom primarily, we talk about a freedom blowing across the sky, including our human freedom, media freedom, the right to expression, right to thought and the right to assemble.
In the process of building our great Motherland as a modern state which is compatible with the twenty-first century, we have to work, giving priority to the political stability and the social development. All of you know that to achieve those goals, it is necessary to strengthen the national as well as religious reconciliation in the country. Specifically, I have to mention that we, as a Government, have given priority in this regard.
I clearly state that even though we receive accolades from locally and internationally for our commitment and determination to establish national reconciliation and peace in the country, there are some opportunistic elements who act against those noble efforts of the Government. I describe those opportunist forces as a section of society who acts against the country.
Today, all of us should commit ourselves to ensure the economic freedom of our country, when we define the word freedom. The knowledge and the ability of the intellectuals and scholars in the country, innovative skills and capabilities, and the efficiency of the skilled workforce as well as the strength of labour of all the people including the farmers and workers plus their commitment is essential to gain economic freedom to our country.
I believe this era as a period where our new generation is extremely interested in obtaining knowledge and the skills in the field of the high technology. I must mention that always as a Government we are giving priority to provide requisite guidance to our young generation to acquire new knowledge to conquer the world also to build this country based on the concept of the knowledge economy.
All of us agreed that to ensure full democracy in the country in this 21st Century, first we should achieve the economic prosperity. In that context, we give priority to our new generation. I should specially mention here the inheritors and custodians in the process of building an innovative economy based on the knowledge, is our young generation.
I request all the intellectuals and academics in the country to give their contribution in providing guidance to our young generation in associating all different economic processes, concepts like knowledge economy, innovative economy, green economy, digital economy, oceans economy into our national economy. When we work as a country, we have given priority to the economic freedom of our country and work with commitment. All of you know we declare the year 2017 as a year that the country will be freed from poverty.
We expect the commitment and the sacrifices of all the public and the intellectuals, academics, politicians, public officials in implementing national sustainable development policies and strategies and freeing the country from poverty. I believe everyone will fulfill their respective duties in achieving noble national goals.
We are a strong, talented and efficient nation. People in our country are educated and intelligent. Therefore, we should accept that we have that knowledge, resources and ability to move forward as a nation. I request all of you to unite to build our nation.
Everybody acknowledges the imperative need for eliminating corruption, bribery, malpractices, waste and fraud. It is essential for the politicians and public servants to work honestly and with commitment.
When we attempt to achieve economic prosperity, it is essential for the politician to be a character of honesty and commitment. Furthermore I trust the politicians and public servants fulfill the responsibilities and duties honestly and with commitment to build the Motherland.
When we talk about political science and economic theories, there are strengths and weaknesses in social democracy and market economy. We should understand those strengths and weaknesses and current international economic conditions in order to adopt a mixed system by obtaining positive segments of both the systems.
I am pleased that the 69th national independence celebration was held in a dignified and successful manner. I respectfully thank all who contributed to the success of this program of celebration.
On this 69th national freedom celebration, I request all to build our beloved motherland as a great and prosperous nation by acting with purity and honesty, achieving victories fortified and strengthened with economic prosperity and knowledge, and wining the goodwill of the international community.