|HE the President's speech|
|Tuesday, 17 August 2010 21:03|
What fills this port is the future prosperity of our nation
“Every drop of water that fills up this great port should dissolve and wipe out the feelings of weakness and inability that once prevailed among us”
President Rajapaksa said: “We are now engaged in building our future. Ours is the rising economy in Asia. This is our own vision. It is of our own construction. This new emerging economy will be enriched with a knowledge economy in addition to the physical and infrastructural facilities.”
He added that: “We must announce to the world that this is a massive technological achievement built in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we will not anymore be a nation that is satisfied with supplying only fuel and water to ships. This port must lead to the emergence of tens of thousands of employment opportunities.
We must transform our country as an economic centre that spreads the national brand name “Made in Sri Lanka” throughout the world. … Not only the South, Hambantota, Moneragala and Embilipitiya but the entire Eastern region too will become a single vibrant economic region from these infrastructure developments. This development is not confined to a single region. It will help make the entire country one large economic zone.
“We will build international relations both politically and economically. The step forward that we will be taking as a nation will be one where there will be international economic cooperation built through mutual trust, respect and friendship”, the President said.
Commenting on Chinese assistance to build the Hambantota Port, the President said: “In the past this country was situated on the Silk Route. Our country was situated on the route between China and Southern Europe. The offer by China to build this port that was located in the old Silk Route is an act that reminds us again of our traditional friendship.
President Rajapaksa also thanked the many other countries that have contributed to Sri Lanka’s development in this manner. We look forward to expand our relations in tourism, investment and trade with those countries, too. All of them are partners in our development, and must express our thanks to them, too, he said.
Here is the text of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s address at Hambantota today:
We are aware that after many centuries Sri Lanka is ready to make a great and significant mark in the world. A symbol of this is the ceremonial intake of sea water to this great port today.
There were many obstacles to launching this great event in the history of our country. There were many who found fault with us. There was vengeful criticism of us. They blamed us for undertaking this project. They were determined not to let this succeed. They challenged us, and even sought to take legal action against us. But it is now time for all of them to open their eyes to see this reality. The soft rain that fell today and the water that comes in to this port from the sea will wash away all that criticism and objections.
My Dear Sons and Daughters
Throughout our great history there had been many famous ports around this land. The port of Tambapani where King Vijaya landed was located on the north-western stretch of sea below Mannar. Those who arrived in our country for his marriage landed at the Mahathiththa Port also on the north western coast.
After his many conquests abroad King Gajaba returned to the country from Port of Godawaya that is situated a within sight from Ambalantota. Ports and fords such as Kirinda, where Vihara Maha Devi arrived in the South were located in the former Magampura region. Apart from this, the Sri Lankan ports of Mantota and Gokanna are marked in the first map of the world drawn by Ptolemy. This is a cause for great pride to all of us who cherish our heritage.
My Dear Children
But for these great ports the darkness that prevailed over many parts of the world, without development, would have been longer by many centuries. Our ports brought about greater links among the countries of the world and brought fame to our land. Similarly, our Motherland will shine in glory with this ceremonial sea water intake that will fill this new great port. This is a great leap forward to be linked with the international economic system.
In order to pay due tribute to those heroes who brought freedom to our land there is a responsibility thrust upon us to ensure an independent economy in our country. It is in order to build this independent economic order that the Mahinda Chinthana seeks to build five great centres of progress in our land.
We must accept that we finally and forever broke away from the defeatist mentality among Sri Lankans on May 18 last year. This is another day that revives such feelings of pride and victory. Every drop of water that fills up this great port should dissolve and wipe out the feelings of weakness and inability that once prevailed among us.
In the ocean that we see around us hundreds of ships sail past us every day. These ships that come from the Middle East and African region and others from South East Asia and Oceania sail past us within our sight. A large number of ships that sail between the Indian Sub-continent and the West are also among these. Through many centuries other countries were enriched by these ships. Recently, when I observed the passage of these vessels past our country, I saw them like heavy traffic moving on Galle Road.
As in fighting a war, in building an independent economy too we must be ready to face many challenges. Having overcome all those challenges we were able to begin the filling of water to this international port within four years. We did this without a cut in power supply to the country. We did this while building the roads and expressways; while seeing to the progress of agriculture, providing the fertilizer subsidy, and ensuring food security.
We must announce to the world that this is a massive technological achievement built in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we will not anymore be a nation that is satisfied with supplying only fuel and water to ships. This port must lead to the emergence of tens of thousands of employment opportunities.
Our Motherland is not a place to dump the waste and discards of other countries. We must transform our country as an economic centre that spreads the national brand name “Made in Sri Lanka” throughout the world. This must lead to Sri Lanka becoming an economic nerve centre.
We have now entered a period of massive development that is not only for this region but covers all regions of the country. In Colombo the sea is being filled up and a new port is being built. The Oluvil harbour will be opened in December. In the Puttalam area there is a huge power project and a tourism development zone.
In the past five years the poverty levels of the ordinary people have been reduced, inflation has been brought down, and per capita income has been brought to the level of 2000 US dollars. In 2005 the per capita income was 1,050 US dollars.
We are moving towards building a production economy where through agriculture, industry and varied services we will increase the revenue of the economy. Those in the Small and Medium Enterprise Sector and others in Large Scale Enterprise sector are being encouraged to produce all that is possible within the country.
We are now engaged in laying the foundation and building our future. Ours is the rising economy in Asia. This is our own vision. It is of our own construction. This new emerging economy will be enriched with a knowledge economy in addition to the physical and infrastructural facilities.
Dear children, this is your own future. It is an economy of a middle income country. It is my vision that you will grow up and spend your lives under economic conditions very different to those that I grew up in; in a country that has an economy that is much more fulfilling and advanced.
We are now preparing to do justice by the people who were subject to historic injustice by being treated as those living in areas considered through the centuries as being arid, harsh, uncongenial and poor. We do not make this a unitary state in terms of land only. By building a country that is equal in terms of progress and development we will give new meaning to being unitary.
We will build international relations both politically and economically. This port will symbolize our non-alignment and friendship with all. The step forward we take today as a nation will be one that will see international economic cooperation built through mutual trust, respect and friendship.
We must not forget that there are those who had to leave their places of birth and homes for the construction of this port. They took the decision about their land and homes, to cooperate with the decision of the Government, for the cause of development. We remember with honour that sacrifice they made with the concept of country before self. That commitment is also an investment in the future.
We must also thank all those who helped complete this great project nine months ahead of the target. Our gratitude must be extended to the former Minister of Ports, Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa who steered this work. Special thanks is due to the Chairman of the Ports Authority, who I picked for this work when I was Prime Minister, and who has carried out this work with complete dedication to finish it nine months ahead of schedule. I must also thank all Sri Lankan and Chinese officials and technicians who helped make this a reality.
In the past this country was situated on the Silk Route. Our country was situated on the route between China and Southern Europe. The offer by China to build this port that was located in the old Silk Route is an act that reminds us again of our traditional friendship. I offer my heartfelt gratitude to our old and traditional friend.
This is a new port. It is a new port that renews the pride of the past in our nation. This port, the Colombo Port, the Trincomalee Port and the Kankesanturai Port, all help to nurture our country. The maritime and naval economy that is built through this will lead to industries using new and varied skills, professional services, banking and financial institutions, and open new paths to take our produce to the world outside.
My Dear Children
Many countries that lagged behind us at the time we gained independence have now passed us and gone far ahead. But, we must not be prepared to copy those countries or work according to the development models of those nations. Similarly, there is no purpose in continuing to lament about our lost heritage. What we shall do instead is to surpass them and reach a stage of stage of overall development they have not reached, and show new paths and possibilities to the world.
You are aware that travelers of fame have come to our country in the past. They described this country to the world in terms of praise as a Golden Isle or the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. We have now dug into the earth, broken great rocks, overcome inland and foreign threats, diverted the sea, and built a great port. This is the time to announce to the world that through a massive development such as this we have now entered the path to being the true Wonder of Asia.
We have freed this country by defeating the world’s most ruthless terrorists. Similarly, we are now building massive ports such as this, international airports, expressways, giant power projects, and huge irrigation schemes.
Therefore, I wish to remind you of another great responsibility that you have. It is to produce a generation that truly loves the country and its people, is strong in ethics and good values, wise, respectful of what is good, and is courageous and brave.
I wish you a Prosperous Future!
May you be blessed by the Noble Triple Gem!