The New Year dawned for Sri Lanka with a sigh of relief, with much needed respect for justice and freedom. Currently it seems to be an environment of less and less restrictions, fear psychosis that engulfed the minds of people has moved a side, people are receiving almost daily, the benefits that they had been crying out for many years, fingers are pointed in the direction of the former regime and individuals who ruled the roost, during that period and of course with a sense of relief praises are sung and flowers are offered to the leaders of the new regime. There is definitely a feeling of ‘achievement’ on the part of the simple majority of people. There is also a sense of urgency in respect of many other issues and concerns connected with the people. The cry for good governance, abolition of the executive presidency, actions on those who have been responsible for corruption and interference in the state machinery, establishment of the rule of law, justice and fair play, punishment for those who have been involved in drug trade and other illicit scams and on the whole, the implementation of the one hundred day programme, are very much on the cards.
Sri Lankans have suddenly become very alert and watchful. The media is involved in a very creative competition to make sure the administrators deliver the promises made. The media too appears to be experiencing more freedoms and unrestricted access, enjoying the fearless arena to be truly exercising their right to provide the information for the people. We take the opportunity to thank God for all what we have been able to achieve through the franchise and the peaceful transfer of power that has been ensured, by the creative and faithful actions of some of the administrative hierarchy.
At this time when most citizens are focusing on good governance it is important to highlight the need for post war reconciliation and to finally deduce a sustainable action plan for healing of the history of our nation and that is why we need to stress the same. The challenging and pertinent question at this juncture remains unquestioned. Is this all, that our people have been dreaming, praying, longing, crying and sacrificing their lives and engaging in action for? The commemoration of Independence this year raises the same unresolved issues and challenges with a new sense of urgency and hope. It goes without saying and is important for all concerned to recognize the significant, patriotic, dedicated and the committed role played by the minorities in the country in preserving and safeguarding democracy of our mother land. As much as they played a valuable role in 1948 and before, they have fearlessly displayed a characteristic love for the country and her people and assisted, in a big way, to foster the unity of our people and the nation. We salute them humbly as their action for unity and coexistence in the country has been valuable more than ever at this time. Such action have surpassed the pain, agony, anger and bitterness that every person had to undergo in the past. .
We strongly hope that the new government is wise and concerned to realize this. Religious and ethnic freedom needs to be fortified with further constitutional strength. Healing of our nation is a priority for the government, as much as providing relief for cost of living. Reconciliation needs special attention in ensuring not only independence, but fostering and creating awareness on inter-dependence of all ethnic and religious groups in the country.
Towards this, it is important to reiterate our repeated requests, to the new government. A democratic government will recognize the signs and indications of the desires, aspirations and the pleadings of our people. Among such signs and indications, the search for a political solution, uniting all ethnic groups through harmony and national cooperation, should take precedence. As witnessed in the past, allowing the minority groups to drift away from the main political dialogue by ignoring and discarding their cries and thereby the emerging of an environment of suspicion and mistrust, is extremely unfortunate and distressing. Such a situation reflects the absence of a clear and an authentic vision and a commitment to peace.
It has become necessary to alleviate the fears of the people in the Northand East and other parts of the country, due to increased militarisation, by also initiating necessary and effective steps to prevent murders, loot, plunder and abductions. It is the responsibility of all concerned to take necessary action based on the evidence brought before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, during the visit of the former United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, the findings of the presently functioning Commission on the Disappeared, the information that has surfaced during the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis and in many other ways. This involves providing security to all those who have come before the commissions and eminent personnel and those who are willing to come forward with evidence in the future. Failure to do so will result in paying a bigger price as a nation, in the days to come.
It is unfortunate to note that reconciliation in the past has been limited to infrastructural development in the North, East and also in other areas of the country. It is important to strike a balance between the need to rebuild the lives and livelihoods, together with the psychological development of those internally displaced, due to the conflict or natural disasters and also to provide people with an environment where they can live without fear or suspicion. Also, providing authentic information regarding the dead and those who have disappeared to their relations, which is long overdue, is an urgent humanitarian need.
All political prisoners should be released or legally charged with no further delay. Failure to accelerate this process will enhance the pressure and stress, upon such people and their loved ones. It is important that people across the country receive the freedoms guaranteed to them under the constitution, especially the people in the former conflict areas.
People should receive the economic and social benefits of the post-war era rather than continue to listen to the hope building efforts of those in authority. We hear about major scale financial scandals and corruption, while the people are suffering with heavy economic pressures, day by day. It is important to prevent any uneasiness among people due to all types of economic pressures. Even though it appears that people can be relieved by seeking solutions through effective and proper managerial efforts, it has proved that all efforts have been unsuccessful, thus far.
Thus we see that the challenges are numerous for the new administration, but there is renewed hope that the authorities are conscious of the urgency in dealing with all of these concerns and more. It is only by attending to these needs of the people, that we can once again become a truly independent nation. Let us all join together irrespective of all our differences to rebuild our nation, into a truly integrated Sri Lanka. We extend our solidarity and pray for peace with justice to all, on this significant commemoration of our independence. May God bless our beloved people and our mother land.