“Let’s build a great nation”

Saturday, 20 November 2010 00:46 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President spells way forward for Sri Lankans after being sworn in for his second term

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday urged the people to unite in peace to build a great nation.

“Our first task, in our rise to be among the great nations of the world, is to ensure lasting national unity and sustainable, permanent peace in our motherland,” President Rajapaksa said after the swearing-in for his second term of office yesterday at the Presidential Secretariat.

“What I seek is a country where we can travel from one end to another in a few hours; an era which provides a good income for our people. We must rise by making this country the hub of development in the five-fold areas of naval, aviation, commerce and trade, power and energy, and knowledge. We must make this a country one among those with the best quality of life,” the President said in his speech, televised live from the colourful ceremony.

“What lies ahead is a period when all of us will have to work hard for our country. Our expectation is to modernise all areas of employment as to make them more productive and provide more revenue.

The work of our people should be regarded as an asset and not the result of hiring or slavery. Our labour is an asset of dignity. It is by increasing the quality of work that my country can be made the ‘Wonder of Asia,’” President Rajapaksa emphasised.

He reminded people that they now stood on a motherland that was much greater than what was handed over to him five years ago. “There can be no greater satisfaction to a leader than the humble joy of being able to address one’s people after building a much better country than before and successfully carrying out the responsibility handed over to me by the citizens of this country,” the President said at the ceremony, which was attended by foreign leaders, cabinet, MPs, diplomats and the public.

“I am not used to abandoning a task due to difficulty or hardship. Not only in freeing our nation, we will also not hesitate to take the boldest of decisions in resolving the deep crises that many think prevail in society.

We need a land free of a lawless underworld, racketeering, extortion and the carrying of illegal weapons or drugs; a land free of corruption and inefficiency,” the President said.

“Never in any of my speeches have I referred to my motherland as a small country. I have never called the land of my birth ‘small Sri Lanka’ or ‘small island’. This is a land with a great history of many centuries,” he said, adding “We are not a miniature of a developed country. We are Sri Lanka. Our motherland is Sri Lanka.”

The President also reiterated that Sri Lanka followed a policy of non-alignment. “We do not have enemy states or such groups or blocs. During the last era, we worked with many nations in agreement and friendship for national security. We now step into the development era. We extend our hand of friendship to those who assist us in this endeavour,” Rajapaksa added.

Mahinda’s term two begins

The second term of office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa began yesterday following landslide election victories to Parliament and the presidency held earlier this year.

He was sworn in before Chief Justice Asoka de Silva at the Presidential Secretariat. Following the swearing in the President addressed the nation.

Special representatives from Bhutan, China, Maldives and Pakistan were among a large number of official foreign representatives who arrived in Colombo to participate in the inauguration ceremony.


Mahinda’s term two begins

Among them were Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley together with a 18-member delegation, Special Envoy of the Chinese President Sang Giuowei and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hu Zhengyue, a delegation led by Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed with Special Envoy to the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, Maldives Democratic Party Chairperson Mariya Ahamed Didi (MP) and Minority Leader of the People’s Majlis Moosa Maruku and Chairman of the Pakistani Senate Farook Hamid Naek and State Minister Saleem Mandviwalla.

Congratulatory messages were also being sent by several world leaders on the occasion of the assumption of office by President Rajapaksa for a second term.

The fifth Executive President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, credited internationally for liberating the country from decades of brutal terrorism, he has restored peace across the island nation and set the country on the path to rapid socio-economic development.

President Rajapaksa’s vision for Sri Lanka is to deliver sustainable peace and prosperity for all, a major task and one designed to bring the country’s diverse religious population together in harmony.

Under his leadership President Rajapaksa is heavily involved in driving forward the country’s reconciliation programme having launched a thorough investigation the causes for the breakdown of the Ceasefire of 2002, and the progress of the humanitarian operation to free the Tamil people and Sri Lanka from the LTTE, and ensure restorative justice to those affected by the conflict. Speedy action has also been taken to resettle the Internally Displaced Persons.

Remarkable economic progress has been made under President Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka recorded an economic growth rate of 8.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2010.

And on the world stage Sri Lanka is making its mark as an exciting new nation in which to invest and one where tourism opportunities will grow. Huge developments are being designed and constructed, with particular emphasis on the war torn north and east of the island.

President Rajapaksa established a record in Sri Lankan political history when he led his party to a landslide victory in the Parliamentary elections held two months after being elected for a second term of office as Executive President. His overwhelming majority was 1.8 million in a poll of six million votes.

His success in presidential and Parliamentary elections in January and April 2010 came after a series of sweeping victories in elections to eight Provincial Councils by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by him. The UPFA now has an over two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Born on 18 November 1945, Mahinda Rajapaksa is a lawyer by profession. He was first elected to the Parliament in 1970 as the youngest Member of Parliament at the age 24. He is married to Shiranthi Wickramasinghe Rajapaksa and has three children.