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Sunday, 8 April 2012

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Government Gazette

Renewed hope in the New Year

Easter is the most significant day for Christians the world over while the traditional New Year is celebrated on a grand-scale by the Sinhalese and Hindus alike. Hence, the week is replete with celebrations for most Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnic and religious affiliations.

Millions of Christians, worldwide, celebrate Easter Sunday today, which marks the resurrection of their Saviour - Jesus Christ. The essence of Christianity lies entirely on the resurrection of the Son of God. Therefore, Easter Sunday takes pride of place in the Christian calendar. Apart from Christian-Sinhalese and Burgher communities here, a section of the Tamils who believes in Jesus Christ, also celebrates Easter today.

With the Sinhala and Hindu New Year round the corner, this week is equally important for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. All Sri Lankans look forward to celebrate the New Year with renewed hope. Each time a New Year dawns, we tend to make our customary resolutions. Expectations are generally high, but it's not everybody who realises those cherished dreams eventually.

With the traditional New Year taking pride of place, it's time to take stock of our achievements and failures to face the coming year with greater zeal and determination. As a result of new values and sentiments envisioned in the Mahinda Chinthana since November 2005, people of all walks of life pay more attention today to the country's age-old customs and traditions. The Sinhalese and Tamils give equal prominence to New Year customs under the Lion flag.

All Sri Lankans, especially after the country was liberated from the clutches of terrorism, make every effort to protect its traditional values and customs and infuse these values among the younger generation. Undoubtedly, this would be a positive sign as all citizens are cognizant of the importance of protecting Sri Lanka's true identity.

Be it Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers, all communities are stakeholders of this resplendent isle. They are the sons and daughters of Mother Lanka.

The steadfast efforts of the Security Forces in liberating the North and the East from the grip of terrorists and vanquishing the LTTE leadership were indeed the greatest achievements in terms of national security. It is still fresh in people's minds how the Tigers brutally massacred the Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils even during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Despite being compelled to spend a colossal amount of the country's national wealth on its battle against terrorism since 2006, Sri Lanka achieved several milestones in terms of development. Several mega projects such as the Southern Highway, Hambantota Harbour, Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, Upper Kotmale Hydropower project, Moragahakanda reservoir and Kukule Ganga project have already been completed.

The ongoing mega development projects such as the Mattala International Airport, Airport Expressway, Colombo-Kandy Highway, Colombo Port expansion project and Colombo outer circular road will be completed soon.

Moreover, the rate of unemployment has been reduced significantly, especially with the Government providing jobs to graduates since 2006. In the Government's cost-of-living battle, it maintains the prices of essential goods and commodities within the reach of the common man.

Even the Government's political opponents have conceded that the prices of essential commodities have dropped significantly, thereby protecting the consumer, especially during the New Year.

Sri Lanka has also attracted a bigger inflow of foreign investments, which augurs well for the economy. These laudable factors enabled Sri Lanka to record an all-time high growth rate of around eight percent during the past few years. More importantly, the people in the North and the East, who had been rescued from the clutches of LTTE terror opened a new chapter in their lives and are now contributing to the national economy.

This was chiefly due to the Government's prompt action under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa no sooner the Security Forces rescued over half a million hapless civilians in the world's largest human rescue operation. The Government spent billions of rupees to develop the North and the East to provide a better tomorrow for those who were resettled under the Eastern Reawakening and the Northern Spring programs.

People have every reason to be proud of Sri Lanka's achievements during the past six years and the true dividends of peace are now being enjoyed by one and all.

The right strategy and correct leadership would find lasting solutions to the genuine grievances of those in remote areas. The pressing problems pertaining to infrastructure development and strengthening of the rural economy are now being addressed.

At the same time, Sri Lanka is ready to face all international conspiracies under the dynamic political leadership of President Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka has established new friends during his tenure as the First Citizen and Sri Lanka is capable of facing Western conspiracies with the help of its friendly countries.

All conspiracies hatched in the West could be thwarted if all Sri Lankans are united. The New Year is the ideal time to shed petty political and ethnic differences and work towards one goal, protecting the Motherland and preserving Sri Lanka's identity. No outside force on earth could interfere in Sri Lanka's internal affairs if people are united.

The Government is making a sincere effort in its national reconciliation drive. There are no instant solutions like instant noodles for problems created by three decades of terrorism. The West should desist from prescribing its own dose of medicine for problems that are unique to Sri Lanka. It is only the Sri Lankan leaders who have a genuine and sincere feeling for their countrymen. None of the so-called godfathers of human rights came to the country's rescue when Sri Lanka was at the receiving end of LTTE's interminable terror attacks, targeting innocent civilians.

The President's illustrious political leadership and the unflinching support extended by friendly countries paved the way to usher in lasting peace. Only a home-grown solution could help in Sri Lanka's efforts in national reconciliation. Is it fair for the US or any other organisation to dictate to us what we ought to do?

The democratically elected leaders in Sri Lanka and its legitimate Government know what suits the country best. The West, under the guise of the UNHRC or any other organisation for that matter, should not browbeat a sovereign state. Let's make a determined effort to ward off any threat to the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the larger interests of all communities during this New Year.

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