Sri Lanka celebrates 71st Independence Day
Today is the
71st Independence Day of Sri
Lanka. The main Independence Day
Parade was held at the Galle
Face in Colombo under the
patronage of HE the President
Maithripala Sirisena, this
Held under the theme "Ekata Sitimu" (Let' be together)
the ceremony saw the Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Salih attend as
the guest of honour.
State Minister of Defence Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene and
Defence Secretary Mr. Hemasiri Fernando were also present at the
This year the main parade was attended by 3620 Army,
1249 Navy, 830 Air Force, 800 Police, 505 Civil Security Force and 100
National Cadet Corps personnel. Cultural performers from several
Provinces, Sabaragamuwa, Vavuniya and National Youth Services Council
also added colour to the event.
One of the highlights of the day's proceedings was the
aerial parachute jumps. The base jump with the flag
carrying this year's theme, made on a concept of the President from an
adjoining skyscraper captivated the attention of those present.
'Sail Past' by the Sri Lanka Navy and a 'Fly By' by
the Sri Lanka Air Force were also included in the day's proceedings.
The President took the salute of the tri forces,
police and others from the main dais after hoisting the National Flag.
A moment of silence was observed in memory of the
fallen War Heroes after hoisting of the National Flag. A customary 21
round Gun Salute was also made during the occasion.
In keeping with time honoured tradition, the Sri Lanka
Navy accorded the motherland its customary 25-Gun Salute from the
Colombo Light House at 1200 noon.
The President in his address reminded of the
sacrifices of our national heroes who fought for our freedom. He also
mentioned of the welfare benefits facilitated to the fallen and disable
War Heroes and their families. He also mentioned of the present
challenges facing the country.
Members of the Maha Sangha, religious dignitaries of
other faiths, Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Speaker,
Leader of the Opposition, Cabinet Ministers, Governors, members of the
diplomatic corps, Chief of Defence staff, Tri Force Commanders, IG,
senior state officials and Tri Forces officers were also present at the
Full text of the President's speech
Hindu, Islam and
Maldives who is the Guest of Honor at the71st Independence Day
Prime Minister of
Sri Lanka, Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, Your Excellencies
representing foreign governments, Ministers and Members of Parliament,
Governors, Chief of Armed Forces, Police Officers, Heads of Security
Forces, Public Servant, Invited Distinguished Guests, my dear people of
independence on 4th February 1948 as a result of the freedom struggle
against the colonial forces carried over for a very long time by our
heroic patriotic leaders. The spirit of freedom commenced at the moment
when we lost freedom in 1815, when Venerable Wariyapola Sumangala Thero
brought down the British Flag. The attempts through armed struggles to
defeat the foreign forces in 1818 and later in 1848 national freedom
struggles were foiled. February 4th is the day our country won freedom.
Furthermore, that is a day to recall the fragrance of the lives of all
those citizens of Sri Lanka who sacrificed their lives and served with
commitment for national independence from 1505 to 1948 as well as the
war heroes who defeated the barbaric terrorism during the 30 year
There are foreign
interferences and pressures among the challenges we are faced with. With
marked contrast to the armed foreign invasions prior to 1948, these
interferences have surfaced with a different face.
The celebrations of
the Independence Day is not only symbolizing our place in the world map
as a free sovereign nation in the global political affairs. I make this
an occasion to pay my respect to all those war heroes who valiantly
fought in the battlefield, sacrificed their lives, became disabled,
missing in action for safeguarding the freedom of the Nation. The
Ministry of Defence has already decided to pay the salaries and
allowances to the families of the members security forces - Army, Navy,
Air Force, Police, Civil Defence Force - who died during the war and to
those who were disabled during their lifetime. This is also applicable
to the war heroes and those who were disabled in the Police and Special
Task Force that was taken under the Defence Ministry recently.
Freedom is a
concept that overrides boundaries and extends to entire time space. That
extends from the freedom of geographical space, human freedom, and also
the freedom to use facebook in the modern era.
Today we are in the
tail end of the second decade of the 21st Century and I called upon all
the citizens with respect to make this occasion of commemorating the
national independence to understand the meaning of independence in a new
angle, with an open mind.
The concept of
freedom cannot be measured in a scale or a criterion and today it has
become so complex to give a clear interpretation.
This is not the
time to describe these national problems or national challenges one by
one. However, it is sad to note that the leaders of our history,
including us, are responsible for the inability to find a clear
political solution that all can agree, although a decade has passed
after the end of the 30 year war.
reasons and whoever was responsible, we all, as political leaders have
failed to bring about the economic development our country and the
people expected for decades. The people of the country are no longer
ready to continue in an economic recession while experimenting on
economic development themes and rectifying errant ways. The political
leaders who lead the country should be aware of this. Through that, the
school education system, university education system, and fundamental
reformations of the vocational and technological education should be
made in tune with the international standards of the 21st century.
modern economical concepts of the 21st century, which is the economy of
knowledge, economy of regeneration, Blue-Green economy, the digital
economy and other economic concepts must be operated simultaneously in
line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The 21st Century
has been identified by most economists of the world as the "Century of
Asia". Thus, the development of the Asian region would take place very
speedy in this era and its benefits should be derived by all of us by
making required preparations to be the centre for supply of skilled work
force and competent professionals.
All of us know that
in 2015 we formed a National Government joining the major political
parties. Through this government we rendered a great service to the
country. However, most of the tasks that should have been done by the
government were neglected. Also, some acts were done that should not
have been done.
Since 2015, I have
attempted to enter into a new political journey with novel development
experiences. The people have fulfilled their responsibility by changing
governments at every time. But, most of the governments which came to
power destroyed the aspirations of the people. All of us know that the
real supreme institution of the people's supremacy, the Parliament has
tarnished its image. How maliciously the MPs took actions to throw
chilli powder at police officers inside the chamber and also to bring a
knife into the chamber and to destroy the resources used by the MPs that
are maintained by funds of the people. At present the people see the
Parliament as a mirror image which shows the deterioration of the
The leadership of
the country is bestowed upon a certain individual to protect the special
sections of the society such as underprivileged, innocents, widows,
refugees, disabled children and women, farmers, fishing community and
labours from harm and exploitation and to provide them economic,
spiritual and intellectual freedom.
spent their time to find solutions for the communal conflict. They gave
priority to this issue. They attempted to find solutions. As a result of
this, finding solutions for the economic crisis of the country was
postponed. All gave priority for the ethnic issue.
Today we don't have
solutions for the unemployment and the debt burden. Both the issues are
severe. We did not successfully achieve solutions for the ethnic issue
or achieved economic victory.
All of us know that
there are more than 6,000 languages spoken in the world today, out of
that in our country we have only three languages. We should not forget
that all of us are one human race.
I believe that the
people in the North lived freely during the last four years, after 35
year. We should understand the gravity of the ethnic issue without
ridiculing or slandering the concepts of national unity and
reconciliation. We should not forget we are living on a mound of ash,
under which lies a simmering fire.
provincial councils more that 30 years ago. Today, from annual budget
allocations to provincial councils, only 15 percent is left to
development and capital funding. Of these, recurrent expenditure and
maintenance costs are 85 percent. So, we need to act immediately to
transform this upside down situation. I see the failure to hold
provincial council elections for the last one and a half years as a
challenge to democracy?. Non Government Organizations do not come
forward to talk about that.
There are 1.6
million public servants in this country. According to survey reports,
the efficiency of public service is only 30 percent. But it should be 70
percent. I see that the mistake is not of the public servants. They do
not have the proper guidance.
I see the proposal
about a national government in the media. It is necessary to ask how
ethical is to claim the formation of a national government by joining
with a political party which has only a single Member of Parliament. I
only see that as a attempt to increase the number of ministers and
increase in the facilities of the ministers and MPs. From what I have
seen in the media, I strongly disagree to the idea of proposed national
If the number of
ministers is reduced to 25 with a single party running a government, as
I believe it, is the wish of the people. Before questioning the duties
and responsibilities that should be accomplished by the country for you,
it is a necessary to think about the duties that should be accomplished
by you on behalf of the country. 'What will we get?' or 'What we will
receive?' are questions asked by most. But everybody knows that the most
essential thing is to accomplish the duties and responsibilities on
behalf of the nation.
We have understood
by now that the path taken by the country for 70 years has not given us
proper sustainable and physical development or the human capital. The
poverty ratio of the country has been reported as 6.7%. Yet, more than
50% of the population is suffering from relative poverty. The daily wage
of this population is reportedly less than Rs.1000 a day. One child out
of four is suffering from malnutrition. We know the need for expanding
the export earnings that has been decreased. In an era where the world
is moving towards a digital economy, we are in a threshold of obtaining
the essential knowledge for the nation.
racketeers have already made Sri Lanka a centre of illicit drug
smuggling. As I believe the development of a county should not be
measured by the massive buildings, highways, or different kinds of
market places trading in various consumer goods.
development that prioritizes the environmental conservation should be
our handbook. We have not identified governance with such a vision as
politics in the last seven decades. Instead, we have politics of
nepotism and self gain as prime motives. As a result, eradicating
corruption and drug smuggling has become a major challenge.
Today, what we need
is not fraudulent pretension of serving the people, but a clear and far
sighted clean governance. In our common vision, we have to protect our
indigenous values and be cable of winning over the challenges of today's
reality of globalization.
In addition, since
2015, we completely removed the fear that was prevalent in the country.
We won that situation. How difficult it is to remove corruption? I see a
scarcity of honest politicians. Therefore, on the 71st national
independent day, we must determine to make Sri Lanka a powerful and
prosperous nation in Asia that cannot be undermined. We must be
determined to build a prosperous and harmonious nationhood and also
build a superior economy in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we need to build a
green economy that will contribute to eliminate poverty. We need to
introduce a system of checks and balances and a mechanism that
strengthens parliament to eliminate political anarchy through a proper
election system. Furthermore, introducing the skills required for the
state governance is very essential.
The utmost priority
should be given to the elimination of corruption and malpractices in the
country. For that, we should be totally committed. So, we should defeat
the drug trafficking and all the rackets and illegal activities that are
causing a black economy in the country.
We must take prompt
action to provide technical education, incentives and infrastructure
facilities to drive young people of the country to step into the future
through new innovations. Our educational reforms need to be done
immediately to create an educated nation. It is our duty to safeguard
the cultural child and the technical child, I spoke of in 2016. We have
top create the conditions for all the people to live under a single flag
in a an indivisible country that can never be divided. We must stay
I wish to remember
once again, the war heroes who made the maximum sacrifice in the 30 year
old conflict, the disabled and members of their families. Two Sri Lankan
war heroes serving in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission died last
week. I express my condolences over their demise on this occasion and
extend the honour of the whole nation.
A free verse
written by Kumaratunga Munidasa,
'Ma Desa Hela Desa,
Ma Desa Hela Resa.
Ma Basa Hela Basa,
Meya Mage Hisa Mata.'
I believe this is
the essence of our future vision.
Finally, I will
extend the gratitude to the Ministry officials, including the Minister
of Home Affairs, officials of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Heads
of the Civil Defence Department, all the public servants and all
institutions, including the Ministry of Education for their great
contribution in successfully organizing this 71st Independence Day
celebration and request all to unite with the aim of conquering all the
challenges before the nation.