Battle against terror, a battle to save working masses
Following are excerpts of President Mahinda
Rajapaksa’s address delivered at the May Day celebrations at Temple
Trees on May 1.
If there was no terrorism, how many factories could have been built
in the North and East? How many lakhs of our brotherly Tamil, Sinhala
and Muslim people could have obtained employment in them? How much could
the people of the North have increased their produce of vegetables and
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Apart from building new factories a large number of existing
factories and industries had to be closed down due to terrorism. We had
to close down the cement and paper factories. The Tamil people employed
there were thrown out of work.
Even the private sector did not make investments in areas where
terrorism prevailed because of extortion and the taking of hostages.
Those who are unable to invest here will take their investments
elsewhere. The investors will make their profits. But, the problem will
remain for the working people of this country.
Our working people need a single country that is free. Therefore, the
battle that we waged to free this country of terrorism is a battle waged
for the right to life of the working people.
There are many victories to be gained through the unity of the
working people. You know that today, in the North, many lakhs of people
have come to the Government controlled areas having escaped from
terrorism. The whole world has seen how they came undergoing so much
suffering at the hands of the terrorists.
Yet, the world does not talk about these people who came to freedom.
Today, various countries are calling for ceasefires. Earlier, they asked
for a ceasefire in the name of the people who were trapped in the No
Now those people have come to freedom from the No Fire Zone. But,
these countries do not talk of the people who were liberated from
terror. In fact, the Tamil people abroad who carry out demonstrations in
front of Sri Lankan embassies, and attack the High Commissions of India,
say nothing about these lakhs of Tamil people who have come seeking
The Tamil people must think carefully of such friends. Today, they do
not speak on behalf of you.
It is with the weapons obtained by the funds provided by them to the
LTTE that the Tamil civilians fleeing for freedom were attacked. It is
with those heavily armed tanks that the innocent
Tamil people and their children who were escaping terror were
attacked. Therefore, it is necessary to tell the Tamils abroad who
support the LTTE and the countries that supported the LTTE that the
weapons provided by you are being used against your own fraternal
Even funds given to assist the people who suffered from the tsunami
in the North, were used to built palatial homes for the LTTE and heap
suffering on the innocent people.
Therefore, it is now the time to divert the assistance given to
terrorists to the people who have escaped the grip of terror. However,
instead of that, what is talked about are a ceasefire and a political
It is necessary to keep these people alive before offering them
political solutions. Today, it is the responsibility of our Government
and the people of this country to help these people to be alive.
A section of the crowd at the event. Pictures by Sudath Silva
I undertake responsibility for the people who have escaped and those
who are still held by force. It is my responsibility to ensure that they
will be freed with no harm to them and give them the opportunity to live
I recall how, after the tragedy of the tsunami, we worked with the
people to restore and rebuild those devastated areas. We built houses,
roads, fisheries harbours, schools and hospitals.
As Prime Minister and later as President, I directed these
activities. We need even greater commitment to resettle these innocent
people by providing them the necessary schools, roads, hospitals, water
supply, electricity as well as good means of livelihood. That is my
At the beginning of this year, the Opposition said this will be a
year of struggle. But, as the working people are with us there were no
such struggles seen. There was no theme for such struggles, and the
Opposition itself has forgotten the Year of Struggle. In place of a Year
of Struggle, we placed a Year of Elections before the people. Now, day
by day, we see how the working people are gathering around us.
The Western Province is where one finds the most people who live
through employment. For the first time in history, a Government of ours
obtained a two-thirds strength in this Provincial Council Election. That
means the majority of the working people, is with us.
Why do the working people of this country rally round this
Government? It is because this is a Government that told the people the
truth and was honest with the people. When the entire world was affected
by the triple crises of food, fuel and finances, we protected our
When many companies were closing down and thousands of workers were
thrown to the streets, those countries could do nothing. But when some
financial institutions were about to collapse here, we did not allow any
of them to close with the Government taking over the necessary
responsibility. When elsewhere in the world, thousands were being thrown
out of employment in companies, we gave employment to thousands in the
That is not all. When the cost of goods was raised sky high and the
middlemen and traders were trying to exploit the working people, we
confronted the companies and brought prices under control. We were able
to keep inflation under control.
Whatever the regulations imposed to fight terrorism, none of them
were used to oppress the working people. The Emergency Regulations were
never used to break strikes.
Due to the tripartite interactions under the concept of the Employer
- Employee state that was initiated when I was Labour Minister, we have
been able to resolve the issues of the working people amicably. The past
three years saw the lowest record in strikes and industrial disputes. We
were able to improve worker welfare and have more industrial peace.
There was also a six percent growth in the economy. The working class
made a major contribution towards these successes. That is why the
working people are with us today.
The theme of this May Day is “Let us work to build the country”.
Our heroic troops have protected the country by being on duty not for
eight hours but 24 hours a day for a full three years. Not only have
they sacrificed their lives but they have committed their very lives for
the country obtained the biggest victory in the world for our country.
These heroic troops have removed the obstacle to economic development
that prevailed for the past three decades.
The working people of the country must also take an example from
them. The heroic troops worked 24 hours a day and protected the country.
If the people of our country do not think of the hours worked,
but make a commitment to honest work, this country can be raised to
an important position in the world in two to three years. We in Sri
Lanka will be able to overcome some of the crises faced by the world. I
will not allow using international monetary institutions for the benefit
of political agenda. I am not ready to give in to conditions that are
not favourable to the country or to subjugate the economy of the country
in such manner.
We must act with the same determination shown by Malaysia in building
the country at the time of the Asian Financial Crisis. The entrepreneurs
and banks in our country have the necessary strength to obtain financial
resources. There is no need to create non-existent problems through the
raising of exchange rates and interest rates.
Therefore, all our entrepreneurs and bankers must bring the money
they have abroad and use it to raise the country. The working people
must contribute to showing maximum productivity in work. They must also
determine to raise the strengths of business ventures. When that
happens, at times of international financial crises, the World Bank may
come to us.
It is necessary for the working people to work with commitment to
obtain the maximum benefit to our people from the development aid we
receive from friendly countries. This is the time for such commitment.
Calling all of you to be ready for such national commitment, my wish on
this May Day is the success of the working people and Sri Lanka and
peace in our country.