President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that it was the United National Party that had taught the past lesson of disregarding party colour, race or religion and united everyone in the country, and its aim for the future too is to unite everyone for the sake of the country.
The President said that although he won’t ask anyone to join the UNP, he invites everyone to unite without delay in order to rebuild the country.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe said this while addressing the Anuradhapura District Development Council held at the Anuradhapura Golden Mango reception Hall today (21).
Provincial public representatives and government officials representing the United National Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Sri Lanka Freedom Party attended the meeting which was called to review the development activities of the district and discuss future plans.
Expressing his views further the President said, “I came to Anuradhapura for the first time after assuming office. It is a tradition. We go to Kandy to receive the blessings of the sacred tooth relic. Similarly, I have come to Anuradhapura to receive the blessings of the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya.
Anuradhapura was the capital of the Rajarata Kingdom. This is our beginning. We want to create a society that suits the 21st century. We cannot forget our civilization that started here with those activities. We must keep this in mind and move forward. Yesterday I worshiped at all eight religious sites and all the Chief monks invoked blessings upon me. I extend my sincere respectful gratitude to them.
Looking at the Anuradhapura district, I feel that we need to do more in this province. We want to make Anuradhapura and Kandy a major tourist center in this country. Tourists who come to this province finish their trip in half a day.
It takes about a week to visit the ancient Egyptian kingdoms from the Nile Valley. But they don’t spend half an hour at our ancient sites. We need to change this. Anuradhapura is a sacred city in one sense.
On the other hand, it should be turned into a historical city that has won tourist attraction. For this I will appoint a committee from all departments. Let’s get consultants from France or some other country and let’s talk about how to turn this city of Anuradhapura into a cultural and historical tourist center. This will give Anuradhapura a new economy.
Tourists from countries such as Japan, South Korea and China come to our country. Excavation of the Great Temple (Maha Viharaya) is taking place as a major event today. The Maha Vihara Buddhism is what is practiced in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. We have enough tourists from those countries to start these activities.
Back then, we commenced a project to construct the Upper Malwathu Oya. However, with today’s economic crisis, we have been compelled to postpone it. But there is no issue in delaying it by a year or two. During that time, we are using the Department of Archeology and other universities to investigate its beginnings. It is a very important matter.
Today, the people of the country are under a lot of pressure. There was no such pressure back then. We need to get out of that situation. Our economy is going at 8% less than last year. It is happening fast and everyone will have to suffer the consequences. In such a situation, we must try to reverse it and find ways to develop. We must look at where we can initiate economic development.
If we manage to successfully carry out the cultivation activities in the Maha season, we could pave the way for economic recovery. We have taken steps to provide the required fertilizer for the Maha Season cultivation. We have received aid for this purpose. We will also provide the fertilizer subsidy and provide the required seeds. The provision of fuel for agricultural activities is currently underway. Our aim is to ensure the Maha Season is a resounding success. Then, we can reduce the economic pressure to some extent.
As Rajarata, Anuradhapura is the starting point of agriculture, we will provide full support for agricultural activities. Let’s start this program from here. Also, we should provide the necessary facilities for fishing activities. We should also provide the necessary support for the cultivation of other agricultural crops. We need to move ahead in agriculture by giving the necessary fertilizers for the tea, coconut and rubber industries.
We hope to increase the number of tourists visiting the country by next year. We are currently receiving funds from the export sector. Once the rupee stabilizes the money from the Middle East will start flowing into the country directly again.
Hence, the beginning of these activities is the Maha Season. Let us commit ourselves to work hard in order to reap a good harvest from it. Our only help now is ourselves. Help from outsiders has now ended. India has given us aid and the World Bank and other countries have also given us aid. With these concessions, let’s start our agricultural revolution with farming.
In this endeavour, responsibility has been assigned especially to the local council members. Let your MPs know what is lacking and what needs to be done. They will raise these issues in parliament. With the help of everyone, we can join together and carry out this work.
Similarly, there is a large contingent of state officials at ground level. I think there are around nine officers for each Grama Niladhari Division. I urge them to divide their sections so that each one is assigned a specific section. If you want to work, then work. If not, go home. We are not prepared to pay you for nothing. The District Secretaries must take on this responsibility. We can’t afford to feed anyone for free. They need to contribute in some way. We have to pay and not even I can get to eat for doing nothing. If I don’t develop this country, I will also have to go home. Therefore, let us start from the village.
Please continue this work as local councilors. Former MPs also have the opportunity to join in and work well. Let’s all do this together. We should not expect everything from the government. Now the time of living off the government is over. People expect politicians to find a solution to these economic problems. We must do it. People are asking us to come together and end this pressure. We need to understand that message.
There is no point in sticking to the old politics. The people no longer think that changing parties in parliament would solve the country’s problems. That is why these young people took to the streets and expressed their opposition. I call it a peaceful struggle. Later others turned it into a violent struggle. Why did this group come here? They came to solve this problem, don’t give up on this. Don’t run away because of a vote. Before that, come forward and do this work.
Today there are people here who support 03 parties. The United National Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. But I am not limiting this to you. Ask other parties to come too. Tell the SJB members to come too. Tell the JVP to come too. If they can take a share and get twice the yield per acre than we do, then they can demand for the government. Yet, if they can’t do that then there is no point. If they need power, then come forward and prove that you can work.
Come to the village level and do it. I would like to talk to all the parties and bring them all together. It was this message that all the Mahanayakas of the eight holy sites from Jayashree Maha Bodhiya to Mihinthala told me. There is no point in going back to the old system. The media should also remember that. I would like to invite everyone to unite and move forward together.
After the British era, it was decided by the Prime Minister at that time D.S. Senanayake to separate the holy city of Anuradhapura and build a new city. That task had been entrusted to Minister Solomon West Dias Bandaranaike. When this party was formed, D.S. Senanayake’s name was proposed as its leader by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. Another MP came and helped form this party. That was D.A. Rajapaksa. The United National Party is that spring that all this came about. I am not saying that they should all return to that original spring. But let’s all come together and rebuild the country.
Everyone worked together to obtain freedom for this country. They separated only after gaining independence. Now we have a difficult time ahead of us. We must all come together. Leaders of the left joined together to get freedom. The first opposition leader was N.M. Perera. There were Dravidian leaders, people like Ponnambalam. All these people came together. The time has come for all of us to work together again.
Let’s rebuild this country. When we work together, we get a new political theory. We can’t travel the old path. Let’s adopt a new method. We need to go on a cultural and political journey. Don’t let anyone think that they can go for a vote today and get power. This is the fact. Let’s speak the truth. Therefore, let us all accept and act with responsibility.”
Expressing his views Anuradhapura District SLFP Parliamentarian Duminda Dissanayake said,
“Today is a very happy day for me. Members of several major political parties are together today. We have been waiting for this day since 2015. But we could not do it properly back then. At that time, the two main parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party, came together to build the country, but unfortunately, the people of the country were not ready to accept it.
But by some irony of fate, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the parent party of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, has appointed you as the President today. Even if good things do not happen at the best of times, today after seven years, the main political streams have got the opportunity to come together and take the country to a better place than it was.
But there is no point in dwelling in the past. Everyone should forget the past and work together to build this country. Irrespective of the obstacles we faced, we were able to make you win in parliament. If we don’t build this country now, we will not get another chance. We have lost two prior opportunities to build this country. They were the Tsunami disaster and war victory. This is the last chance we get in our lifetime.
You have great experience, even when we ridiculed you, you sat in the opposition and did your homework. That’s why when a problem arose and other leaders were flipping through their books, you always had solutions to any problem.
There was a group of young people who hoped for a change in the country through the struggle. They expected not only political change but change in all sectors. We should not forget what they called ‘system change’. The country itself demanded this change; we could not do this earlier because we were politically divided.
Mr. President, today this society is asking for change regardless of party, race, religion, caste, color. So, let’s all listen to it. When you take the leadership to implement it, the members of the SLPP, UNP and SLFP will join you. We hope that the SJB will also join hands with you in the future. If we come together, we can achieve this task.”
Former Parliamentarian S.M. Chandrasena
President Ranil Wickremesinghe is hailed as the leader who saved the country from the modern terrorists that in this present period just as the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa saved the country from the separatist terrorists. They set fire to his house. They also set fire to not only my house but also the houses of many members of Parliament.
Isn’t this terrorism? Isn’t killing an MP in cold blood on the streets an act of terrorism?
There were innocent protesters among them and there were those who had big conspiracy plans to overthrow the government. If that system was implemented, it would not be possible to operate a regional council or a provincial council. They came to set fire to the parliament and that’s where they went wrong. Some lawyers represented these people. But if they had set fire to the parliament, their next target would have been the courts. However, President Ranil Wickremesinghe saved the country just in time. Therefore, we will forever be grateful to him.
Former Minister and Member of Parliament Shehan Semasinghe, Chief of Staff to the President and Senior Advisor to the President on National Security Sagala Ratnayake, Deputy Leader of the United National Party and Senior Advisor to the President Ruwan Wijewardena, Former Ministers Daya Gamage, Anoma Gamage, Member of Parliament Weerakumara Dissanayake, Anuradhapura District Development Committee Chairman Member of Parliament K.H. Nandasena,
Former opposition leader of the North Central Provincial Council, Kasturi Anuradhanayak, public representatives of local government bodies representing Anuradhapura District United National Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Sri Lanka Freedom Party attended the event.
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