Inter-religious harmony protects peace - Prime Minister
Inter-religious harmony in Sri Lanka is the most important thing when
it comes to peace. Since ancient times, all religions in Sri Lanka
existed in harmony. Today the main challenge faced by all religions in
Sri Lanka is cults, sects and fundamentalist splinter groups mushrooming
in each and every religion, said Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne during
an interview with the Daily News.
Following are excerpts:
Q: What do you think of the past two years of UPFA governance?
A: During the past two years of the second term of the UPFA
government, Sri Lanka achieved significant economic development,
especially with infrastructure facilities. A large number of roads have
been carpeted which will make it easier for villagers to transport their
products quickly to local markets. They have been given lorries and vans
to transport their produce and for agricultural activities. Earlier,
villagers were compelled to transport their produce by putting it inside
a basket and carrying it on their heads. Production in the country has
gone up and villagers are getting high prices for their produce. The
prices of commodities have gone down. We now produce most of our
requirements within our country. Sri Lanka will soon be able to limit
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne
The Colombo city and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte are now clean and free
of floods. It is now in the calibre of any clean and developed city in
the world. People live healthily and tourists are happy to visit
Colombo. Under the Divi Neguma programme, 1.5 million families are
involved in agricultural activities.
Another one million families have been introduced to this programme
recently. People save money they spent on food by cultivating their own
home gardens. The money they save can be used for other purposes. They
bring their additional agricultural products to towns and sell them.
Then other people receive clean food free of poisonous chemicals at a
low price. This improves public health.
The government has developed the hospital network. New hospitals have
been built while the private sector has been allowed to open new private
hospitals. Patients who have money can now obtain the service of private
The education sector had been developed by opening new schools and
providing buildings and other facilities for existing schools. The
skills of youths have been developed providing them job opportunities
upon finishing school education.
The UPFA government ended the war which lasted for over 30 years.
Over 300,000 people became IDPs of which 255,000 were resettled in their
original homes within a very short time. Landmines were removed from
eight districts and the government resettled people in their original
homes. Agriculture in the Jaffna district has received a tremendous
boost. Agricultural products from Jaffna arrive at Dambulla etc.
We financially assist 1,400 kovils in the North. We have also
assisted kovils, churches, mosques and temples located all over the
country. Steps were taken to rehabilitate and assist all religious
institutions belonging to other religions located in the North and East.
Over 5.5 million observed 'ata sil’ to mark the 2600th Sri Sambuddhatva
Q: Comment on third party involvement in the country’s
A: The entire world is developed today. Sri Lanka has a
history of over 2,555 years. Sri Lanka has Buddhism which respects,
teaches and protects human rights. The US has a history of only 400
years. The elements which pushed the Geneva resolution against Sri Lanka
are interested in our country because of their long term plan of
dividing India in a similar manner to the former Union of Soviet
Socialist Republic (USSR). Sri Lanka is the launching point of their
Sri Lanka is a culturally and religiously rich country which has a
history of over 2,555 years. Therefore, nobody needs to assist or guide
Sri Lanka on humanitarian issues and related matters. Ancient Sri Lankan
kings treated all religions and ethnicities equally. They distributed
lands among all four religions. Sri Lanka had Buddhist rulers who
assisted other religions.
Today our system has achieved more progress. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa treats all religions and ethnicities equally in keeping with
China and India are today economically powerful and in a strong
position in Asia. Foreign elements are trying to set up a separate state
in the North to create a separate state in Tamil Nadu which will
eventually lead to the creation of separate independent states in India
just as it happened in the former USSR. It will definitely destroy the
economic power of India. Separatist groups have already raised their
heads in certain Indian states. There are 36 ethnicities in India.
It is time to stress the importance of the famous statement made in
1959 by prominent Indian nationalist, diplomat and statesman V. K.
Krishna Menon. He said India's safety lies with the Trincomalee harbour
in Sri Lanka. It is a truth that will never change.
Therefore, it is important for India to ensure the safety of Sri
Lanka. There is a hidden agenda inside the love, care and friendship
shown towards Sri Lanka and India by those foreign elements. In the
past, the intervention of late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sri
Lanka's ethnic issue and the 13th amendment prevented the US from
getting a foothold in Trincomalee and permanently establishing
Q: What is the responsibility of the people and media towards
accelerating reconciliation and preventing war in the future?
A: It is the media which makes or breaks a society in the
world today. Therefore, the media should act responsibly. There are five
ethnicities living in peace and harmony in Sri Lanka.
The local media should guide these five communities in a direction
that all of them think equally as one nation, Sri Lankans, and not as
Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims etc. Only then will we be able to build a
more prosperous Sri Lanka. If we are divided into sections, we will be
destroyed. We have to be united and be strong. The media should launch a
programme to unite people under one flag.
Q: What happened to the Act which was proposed to stop the
forceful conversion of people from one religion to another?
A: There are four main religions in Sri Lanka. That is
according to the main and basic philosophies in the world. But today
these religions are divided into small groups. They are divided into
cults, sects, splinter groups consisting of fundamentalists. This is a
very destructive trend. They are destroying people to make money. Funds
flow into these organizations from local and foreign sources.
Arrangements have already been made to prevent this trend. A special
inter-religious programme commenced last week with the support and
participation of all religious leaders to stop this destructive process.
Leaders from all religions have already extended their fullest
support towards this process. All religious have understood this threat
now. The groups spread lies in society pushing people to think that
monks, priests etc from the main religions are very low level persons
that commit bad things and have no religious knowledge at all.
Q: Comment on crimes such as rape and the need to protect our
A: We have to protect our children. We cannot let our future
generation be destroyed. Rape incidents have also gone up with the
increase in population. In the past, children in the Sri Lankan society
were safe. They did not run the risk of being raped by their family
members or outsiders. But, the situation has changed at present. We need
to protect our children who are the future generation of Sri Lanka.
Culprits involved in rape should be punished adequately. Sri Lankan
history provides the best solutions for all these problems.
Q: A survey conducted during the Deyata Kirula exhibition
found that over 90 percent of people demand the reintroduction of
capital punishment. Comment.
A: Not only the public but also a judge and some politicians
said that Sri Lanka needs the gallows. This is a Buddhist country. A
handful of Sri Lankans commit crimes and are involved in other forms of
misdemeanours but the mass media portrays them as representing the
entire society and gives wide publicity to criminals etc.
The public that watch it over the television think that the country
is full of such persons. A lot of countries in the world have the
gallows. Sri Lanka had it until 1973 but after that the death penalty
was implemented only once when a former Sri Lankan Prime Minister was
The signature of the Sri Lankan President is required to implement
the death penalty. The public think that criminals will commit the same
crime again and again because the punishments are not adequate.
Criminals think that they can live comfortably in prison because they
receive good food and free accommodation. So they commit the same crime
again. The public demand the death penalty.
Q: Do you have any message for the Sri Lankan public?
A: Sri Lanka has a long history. All ethnicities and religions
have been living in peace and harmony from time immemorial. All
religious leaders are trying to promote social ethics and morals within
Sri Lankan society.
Punishments alone cannot create a society with ethics and morals.
Religions and cultures help establish a safe and secure society.
Religious influence and harmony which leads to achieving psychological
development is required for the progress of a country.