Honoured Royal Guest who accepted our invitation as a member state of the commonwealth to the United Kingdom and the Royal family, Other Honoured Foreign Invitees, Hon Prime Minister, Hon Chief Justice, Attorney General, Hon Ministers and Members of parliament, Your Excellencies, Special Guests, Chief of Defence, Commanders of Tri Forces, Inspector General of Police, Officials and my dear fathers, mothers, children and friends.
Today, we celebrate our 70th anniversary of independence from colonial rule with dignity, pride and glory. The experiences gained during the past 70 years are very important for us to strengthen our future progress. I strongly believe that all the governments, all the Head of State, public servants, security forces and citizens have fulfilled their responsibilities properly for the country to overcome many challenges we faced since gaining independence in 1948.
The country had to fight a 26 year long battle to free Sri Lanka from the grip of brutal and separatist terrorism of LTTE. This conflict not only brought about adverse effects on the economy, but also caused some regressive circumstances that hindered the progress of the nation. However, drawing experience and inspiration from our glorious past, the nation’s intellectuals, professionals and the citizens are fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure the country’s success. For this task, we should understand our main challenges and our duty to the nation. We have to commit ourselves to implement a noble mission to build the future of our nation. We must embrace such a mission and give life to it.
All of you are aware of the economic difficulties we are faced with at present. However, as a government we are totally committed to achieve economic progress. Poverty is one of the main challenges we are faced with. All governments that were in power have implemented various poverty alleviation programmes and obtained some positive outcomes. However, we need a more efficient and enlightened programme to free our people from the shackles of poverty. I believe we can overcome the challenge of freeing ourselves from poverty in the future.
We have to identify the national priorities for national development. I regret to state here, however, that development work that were carried out in the past few decades ignoring such national development priorities, merely to suit political or personal agendas, have brought about adverse outcomes for the national economy. Hence, undoubtedly it is necessary to identify economic proprieties in the development process and to take actions according to those priorities by the political leadership, public servant, public administration and management and the financial management.
A strong nation’s future depends on the number of smart scholars, and a stable country is always full of educated, intelligent, smart people. It is our duty to accomplish such status. To achieve that, efficiency in educational reforms as well as proper educational policies and plans suitable to the modern era are needed and reforms must be enacted and implemented with dedication. Here, in a high technological world, with new economic strategies, it is essential for us to gear ourselves for an innovative and green economy. I believe that we need to prioritize skills development and vocational training in for us to reap benefits of an innovation economy and a green economy.
To increase the efficiency in the public service of our country, it’s essential to reform the archaic monetary and administration regulations. Even though certain changes have been made in past decades, you are aware that there are still some regulations, ordinances and provisions that are centuries old. They are a barrier to our future development plans. We must reform them soon to achieve efficiency in development and create a disciplined government service.
Similarly, we have to pay attention to some important constitutional institutions. There is a need to establish a descent political culture by democratically reforming political institutions such as provincial councils, local government institutions, parliament, legislature and presidency. As corruption in politics has become a major threat, barrier and a challenge to the progress of the nation, there is an imperative need to ensure political reforms from top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top, from local governments to Presidency and from Presidency to local governments. I underline the need to implement systematic development policies that reflect national priorities and fostering a generation of disciplined politicians in the country’s march towards the future.
While facing development challenges and the challenges before the future of the nation, the honesty of the politician is very important. It is honesty that help win the confidence of the people and help mobilize them to develop the country. Hence, on this occasion of the 70th anniversary of independence, I see commitment, honesty, cleanliness, purity of the politician as an imperative need of the era for our mother Sri Lanka.
We all know that the freedom of existence is essential not only to the territory or its people but also to trees and animals that inhabit such land. The fauna and flora, rivers and canals are precious treasures of our nature where we all should know that when we talk about freedom, no difference exits between the freedom mankind and the freedom of nature. We must commit for that with determination. Freedom is a broad and complex idea that transcends mere human freedom. I see the necessity of learning and committing ourselves to this extended meaning of freedom as school children and beyond.
Prosperity of a free society is necessary for a happy life. People aspire for economic growth and prosperity. Thus, in order to strengthen independence in all fields and to raise prosperity, we should work responsibly, to ensure the desired growth while fostering our industries, our agriculture and everything ours and protecting their identities and culture.
Our nation need to incorporate the knowledge and advanced technology of more developed countries; but while we will do so, we will not let go of our indigenous heritage, local thinking or national aspirations. As our nation celebrates a history that spans over two millennia, the story of our development shall be written while protecting our culture, identity and our priceless heritage. This is an endeavour that requires the constant attention of the leadership of the state as well as private sectors, while always keeping the nation’s challenges in mind.
The fight against corruption is the self-defence of a nation. Strengthening the attitude for anti-corruption and implementing it is the self-defence of the nation to ensure its progress. When economic freedom is emerging on the soils of our motherland, we must stand against corruption, bribery, and waste. Corruption has become one of the main impediments to the progress towards prosperity, which is the aspiration of all citizens. In this endeavour, it is the need of the hour that all the politicians fulfil their duties in an exemplary manner.
We must rid ourselves of laziness, lethargy or sluggishness and works towards the progress of the economy and the enlightened governance with efficiency, courage, fearlessness and a fighting quality.
Taking lessons from the experiences of the last few decades, there is a need for national harmony and reconciliation in order to develop the nation and ensure that everybody in the country could live in peace and there would not be another communal conflict in future. That should be ensured by every section of the people. We all must ensure national reconciliation through harmony among divers ethnic groups, religions, and languages is critical to ensure reconciliation of all Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher communities to build the nation where all could live with confidence.
We should commit ourselves for all these tasks. On this 70th anniversary of our independence, I urge all the politicians as well as public servants including every head of departments fulfilling the responsibilities towards the people to act with utmost financial discipline. Patriotism gets different definitions in different eras. Financial discipline is the new patriotism today. Everybody, from politician to public servants to the last citizen succeed by adhering to it, I emphasise with respect.
There is a requirement of a broad national movement to promote financial discipline against corruption, in order to establish a clean political culture. My appeal on this 70th anniversary of Independence come together to form a collective national movement that will mobilize the people, with the participation of the intellectuals, learned people with wisdom, where everybody will fulfil their duty to overcome the challenge of corruption, which is the most severe obstacle to thee the progress of the nation.
This is an important, honourable moment, a moment of national pride; and on this occasion we must not forget the fact that when the LTTE terrorists attempted to challenge the territorial integrity of our country, it was our Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Security Force who came forward. They sacrificed their lives and limbs, and became handicapped, lived away from children and families, suffered many such painful experiences on behalf of the future of the nation, freedom of the nation and unity and the territorial integrity of the Motherland.
On this occasion of the 70th anniversary of Independence, I pay my respect and honour, on behalf of the government and the people to all members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, and the Civil Security Force as well as the public servants and the people who acted with commitment during the conflict.
Furthermore, I extend my respectful thanks to all those who joined this celebration of 70th Independence celebrations and urge everybody to commit towards the progress of our economy and and to make our country free from poverty and corruption. Let us also commit ourselves to learn from the past and the modernity, while preparing our youth to keep up with the modern generation of the world to make our Motherland a great nation in the world.
May the Triple Gem bless you!