What they say ...
Views on 61st Independence anniversary:
For more than six decades now our country had
been celebrating Independence Day year after year. Though the national
flag is hoisted on February 4 each year and there are celebrations all
round never has there been a year with a promise of a glimpse of true
As the Forces march boldly on a victorious ramp with many cheering
and blessing them in their progress some prolific figures in their
chosen fields spoke to the Daily News regarding the 61st Independence
Dr. Lester James Peries
“The situation may not be stabilized at the moment but one cannot
help but pray that peace and prosperity might dawn soon. Plenty of
effort should be put into bringing about stability and peace into the
country as these qualities are fleeing from the society.
“I was in London when Sri Lanka celebrated its first Independence Day
but we felt the impact of the situation even while abroad. We wrote
special articles for English newspapers like the Times of Ceylon. I can
still recall that event vividly with a great sense of nostalgia.”
Dr. Tissa Abeysekara
“The post colonial period of both Asia and Latin America has been
traumatic but the traumatic situation of Sri Lanka is altogether a
different story. We were quite elated with ourselves in the first few
years because we had won independence without bloodshed but soon
problems occurred. We had to reengineer the whole structure of our
nation as there was conflict between Sinhala and Tamil nationalities
because they tough differently about the nation state.
Sinhala Buddhists tried to resurrect the times of the ancient
Anuradhapura kingdom but the multi-religious and multi-ethnic backdrop
of the country did not permit this method to be put into practice
socially, ethnically or politically.
“We need to search for another principal to hold the Sri Lankan
state. We have not been successful in conquering the situation and
successful steps had come in rather late however we have learnt many
bitter lessons on the way.
One thing is clear. We cannot reestablish the old Buddhist kingdom. I
hope and pray that we will find the principal that we are searching for
when the war ends.”
“I have a strong belief that the 61st Independence Day of our country
will go down in history as a year of triumph.
We have suffered a lot for more than three decades. Hardly a day
passed by when we didn’t expect some form disaster to be inflicted by
terrorists and did not have the courage to walk in the streets without
“We were overjoyed when the country was liberated from the British
rulers and it is a great relief to look forward to enjoying freedom once
again as there are signs that the war is coming to an end.”
“We need to inculcate ourselves as we are entering a new era. For
years everyone sans ethnicity and religion suffered from an undeclared
war. Three decades before the war was inflicted and we were of prime age
we had the benefit of enjoying the best of what the country has to
offer. Unfortunately the generation after us was unable to enjoy these
treasures with a peaceful mindset.
“Sri Lanka embodies the best of everything. There is no country that
is blessed with such magnificence.
We need to admire and respect what the country has to offer. We need
to start a new day by thinking of the country and practice good values.”
“February 4, 2009, will be the most significant Independent Day in
Sri Lankan history ever since we celebrated our independence from the
British in 1948. After almost 30 years suffering from the clutches of
terrorism we will be able to celebrate the day as a true undivided
nation in the near future.
“The damage caused by the war to the psychology of the people and the
country is immeasurable, however we see signs of a new era vista of a
Terrorism hampered the progress of the country and it kept the
intelligential at bay. We are proud that we had the resilience to
survive the ordeals of the past.
“I would like to salute President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the yeoman
service he is doing to free the country from terrorism.
His vision, courage and determination brought the country so far
towards liberation and I see that he is the only individual, after the
great Sri Lankan kings in our history, who had taken pains to make the
country a free nation.”
Dr. D.B. Nihalsinghe
“The free education system, the unparalleled literacy rate, the
lowest infant mortality, the highest life expectancy and the very high
human welfare index are some of Sri Lanka’s distinctive achievements
over the past 60 years.
Unfortunately these are under threat because of the 30 year civil war
born out of unthinking policies. Despite enormous cost the civil war is
almost over by the undermine efforts taken by the Government.
They should be credited for their determination. Progress should now
lead to the development of political and economic strategies to develop
the country to take on the future. With the civil war behind us, that
opportunity seems very much a reality.”
Gehan de Silva Wijeratne
“When we compare ourselves with other countries in Asia, it is clear
that Sri Lanka has failed to reach its full potential since
independence. One hopes that the ethnic conflict will soon be resolved
so that time, money and energy can be deployed for progress. However a
huge task lies ahead. The hardest challenge will be to change the
mindset of people. We need to see that any change for the good requires
a broadminded and mature approach across a range of disciplines. No one
state or private sector agency can develop Sri Lanka on its own.
Everything and everyone is interlinked.
“In tourism I often see how different agencies with different agendas
are in conflict. For example, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau
will use public money to bring down foreign media personnel to promote
Sri Lanka. However other departments will with unnecessarily red tape
restrict the ability of the very same ‘friendly’ foreign media to access
and film and photograph our cultural and wildlife sites. Eventually, it
wears down even the Sri Lankans who want to promote their country. Post
independence economic progress will only happen when we start to see the
big picture and drive an economic agenda under-pinned by the principles
of common sense.”
Visharada Edward Jayakody
Lankan had become renowned worldwide for many things like sports, art
and politics but sadly terrorism is also included in the list. “Many
leaders have tried to conquer terrorism through various methods but
terrorism still prevails so much so that scholars have come to a point
saying that terrorism cannot be eliminated form the society.
Though it may seem as if the topic had been cleared through certain
methods, it will remain hidden beneath the ashes waiting for an
opportunity to rise again.” When such ideologies are circulating around
the globe, the President and Government has shown a fine example that it
is indeed possible to eliminate terrorism.
Hopefully the freedom that they are foreseeing will dawn this year
and make this year’s Independence Day an unforgettable event in history.
The cultural events of the Independence Day ceremony had been under
me for nearly 20 years and this year too I would be handling some of the
musical features of the event. I consider it a part of my duty to the
country as I am the assistant director of education (music) of the
Ministry of Education.”
Pushpa Ramyani Zoysa
“Basic needs and freedom are essential in every individual’s life.
These priorities should not be limited to a certain group but everyone
form the lowest rank to the elite groups should have a tolerable social
backdrop to live in.
“When the basic needs are not met and problems creep into our
household they make way for other problems. We tend to think on a
selfish scale as ourselves and our family but remember that it may take
only one person to cause disruption. Learn to respect and think of
others without turning a blind and eye and deaf ear on others needs.”
“I am now 54 years and that means I have only enjoyed a life in a
free state for around 24 years. However I feel privileged to have spent
those joyful years without fear as today’s younger generation had been
living in the shadows of terrorism throughout their life.
“Fortunately we see signs that the war is coming to an end but the
mere end of war does not signal freedom. There are issues to deal with.
Though the whole country suffered it was those who were residing in
the North who go the whole impact of the ordeal. As we are all citizens
of the country we can only celebrate wholeheartedly if all of them are
liberated and can join hands with us. Everyone has a right to live a
life of freedom.
They too have a right to this country. We will know true happiness
only if we are able to live harmoniously together.”
“The 61st Independence Day is quite an important day for the country
and one that should make us put our mind to thinking about the future.
We all look forward to a peaceful and vibrant society and learn to
live harmoniously, understanding each other despite our differences.”
“Though we celebrate independence I still feel that we have not used
it in the true sense to link it with the progress. There are so many
things to do before we begin celebrating as a liberal nation.
Development and togetherness go hand in hand but can we boast that we
have developed in many aspects?
“Hong Kong was liberated from the colonial ruler-ship many years
after us but they can boast of a significant development in their
economy while we who will be celebrating 61 years of freedom which is
nearly a lifetime of an individual, have nothing much to take pride in.
“Free your mind from racism and put it into a progressive path. Unity
is essential for success.”
“Each year the question of whether we are celebrating true
independence arises. However this year the country had tackled the LTTE
“I hope the situation progresses and we will soon be able to bring
them down to their knees soon and put an end to a dreary period in which
the country and its people suffered immensely. “I hope for a future when
all the ethnic groups of the country will be able to live together in
harmony throughout the year and for many years to come.”
“Independence Day had been only a title in our calendar and though we
go through the whole process mechanically each year, looking back we
question what sort of freedom we enjoyed during the past few years.
“This year brought on a different feeling, a feeling of hope and
victory. We hear and see signs of the war coming to an end through the
media. Sri Lankan can truly celebrate independence this time as there is
a blessed feeling of peace lingering in the air.”