Created: Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Messages to the expatriate community by the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador
Message to the expatriate community by the Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations on the Occasion of the 66th Anniversary of Independence
H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona
66 years ago Sri Lanka became independent on 4 February 1948. After 133 years of bondage, Sri Lanka cast aside its colonial shackles on that day. The independence that we lost in 1815 and which we sought to recover through the bloody Uva Rebellion of 1818 and the Matale Uprising of 1848, was at last a reality. The colonial imprint was brutal and lasting. With independence in 1948, we breathed free once again with the opportunity to make a greater future for ourselves.
Our progress as a nation since then was marred by two internal youth uprisings and a three decade long brutal terrorist challenge. Today that dark age is well and truly behind us with peace and tranquility in our cities and the countryside. An era of rapid progress has been ushered. The economy of Sri Lanka, under the leadership of H.E. the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is continuing to surge ahead, with new highways, airports, habours, and high rise buildings being constructed in rapid succession. We successfully hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, attended by over 50 countries.
Sri Lanka has been commended for exceptional progress with the Millennium Development Goals. We continue to improve our Human Development Indicators. Our infant mortality rate, the maternal mortality rate, the literacy rate, the unemployment rate and the gender parity rate are the envy of many other developing countries. Our life expectancy is comparable to most developed countries. The poverty head count ratio has declined to less than 6.5%. The country is reaching out to even higher goals.
Inward tourism reached a record high in 2013 creating vast employment opportunities. Foreign direct investments have also recorded significant increases. Sri Lanka will seek to become a knowledge based economy with ICT literacy exceeding 70% in the next two years. Sri Lanka, Taprobane to the Greeks and Zeilan to the Arabs, was once the hub of the Southern Silk Route. Traders from many nations, in the East and the West, converged at our ports to trade their products and our sovereigns exchanged embassies with distant Rome and China. With the expansion of the Colombo South Harbour and the commissioning of the Ruhunu Magampura Harbour, Sri Lanka will once again resume its historic role as the maritime and trading hub of South Asia.
All Sri Lankans living abroad have a historic and proud opportunity to make a substantial contribution in forging the future of a resurgent nation. The expanding economy provides endless economic opportunities to all. We must heal the wounds of the past and join together in emphasizing our essential unity as we reassert our position in the community of nations. As Sri Lankans we must together shoulder our common responsibility and face the world as one nation. Internationally we must stand united as we expand our circle of friends, build bridges and foster understanding.
The United States has contributed much to Sri Lanka’s development since before independence and all of us have a responsibility to continue to strengthen the people to people bonds. Many Sri Lankans have made this country their home and have succeeded in a range of professions. While further strengthening our relations with the Government and the people of the United States, we must also make an effective contribution to this society.
I wish you an afternoon of enjoyment!
Message to the expatriate community by the Ambassador & Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations on the Occasion of the 66th Anniversary of Independence
H.E. Major General Shavendra Silva
It is indeed a pleasure to address my fellow Sri Lankan citizens and expatriates in this part of the world as we celebrate today the 66th Anniversary of independence of Sri Lanka.
A mere 4 years after overcoming the LTTE terror that devastated our country, we are well on our way towards achieving rapid development and reconciliation. We are poised to reach our goals and join the other Asian nations who have achieved high levels of social and economic development.
My dear friends, we should realize that all of us are in together in this journey towards prosperity: United we stand, divided we fall. With peace and unity, we can achieve a level of prosperity unparalleled in our contemporary history.
We are all indebted to our country which supported and nourished us from childhood to adulthood. For me, nothing is more important than my country. I consider myself as following in the footsteps of the warriors of ancient Sri Lanka, who did their utmost to serve and protect the country. There is much we can learn from their deeds and sacrifices.
The patriotism and camaraderie that helped us defeat terrorism will once again help us to overcome the forces that threaten our march towards a prosperous Sri Lanka. There are many groups that are trying to paint a false picture about Sri Lanka in the West. They are conducting a deceitful campaign for their own survival and economic gain. However, our detractors will realize that the economic development and reconciliation we have achieved is significant and sustainable. The independence and sovereignty of Sri Lanka is inviolable and eternal.
I want to take this opportunity to address the young men and women of Sri Lankan origin living in this country. Today, they will be taking part in performances that will be showcasing the cultural heritage of the different ethnicities of Sri Lanka. I’m tremendously proud of these youth who are maintaining their Sri Lankan identity and cultural links. I’m also grateful to their elders for their untiring commitment to our Motherland.
I’m honored by the support and friendship that the Sri Lankan community in this country has extended towards me. Your solidarity makes me feel as if I’m back in Sri Lanka with my family and loved ones. I trust and cherish you as part of my family. Let this 66th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence be an occasion to strengthen our bonds with each other, and to strengthen our linkages with Sri Lanka. May the sons and daughters of Sri Lanka be bestowed with courage and wisdom to defend our Motherland against adversity and injustice.
Long live our Motherland!