|Free innocent Tamils or face ban - President to LTTE|
|Monday, 22 December 2008 13:17|
President Mahinda Rajapaksa today called on the LTTE that to release all innocent Tamils it is holding hostage, in bondage and using them as human shields, with the dawn of 2009, and allow them to come to the safe areas provided for them by the Government and the Security Forces.Failure to do this would lead the Government to proscribing the LTTE with all its consequences for the terrorist organization and will ensure that 2009 is the true Year of Heroism for the troops and also see the wiping out of LTTE terrorism from the pages of history.
He said the only enemy faced by the people is the terrorism of LTTE, and that he will not agree to any ceasefire that will strengthen the LTTE in any form.
President Rajapaksa was addressing religious dignitaries, ministers, senior administrators and leading members of the private sector to thank them for the cooperation extended to the government in this year and to inform them of the progress of the military operations against the terrorism of the LTTE and state of the economy of the country. The meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat, Colombo.
There is only one enemy in the country, and that is terrorism. The Sinhala people are not the enemies of the Tamils, as the Tamils are not the enemy of the Sinhalese. Separatism and terror is the enemy of all, be they Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Buddhists; Hindus, Christians and followers of Islam. All people should come together in unity to fight the savagery of terrorism.
He told the audience that the people of the country had given him and the government the strength top fight terrorism, and bring the LTTE to the weak position it is in today; the strength to free the motherland from the grip of terror.
“I will not agree to any ceasefire that will strengthen the LTTE in any form” he said.
“The New Year 2009 will be the fourth year with the country under my leadership. There will be very decisive challenges in 2009, to face which there will be the need for the widest unity among all people. 2009 will be the year when the country will be freed from the menace of tiger terrorism. Many evil forces will conspire to prevent the victory against terrorism, but we shall overcome them all. There will be many attempts to create division, crisis and unrest in the country, all of which are targeted at helping the cause of tiger terror. Attempts will be made to create a negative public mood in the battle against terror. But, we will face the biggest challenges and obstacles to make 2009 the Year of Heroic Victory against Terrorism,” the President said.
He called on all political parties and forces to unite with the government to defeat terrorism and take the country towards development. This is the message as to the NFF that voted with the government in the last budget, to the JVP that helped me in the victory in the last presidential election and to all patriotic sections within the UNP, too, who should preserve the honour and dignity of their party by joining the government in the great patriotic tasks that lay ahead.
Referring top the prevailing debate on fuel prices and economic policy, President Rajapaksa said the Government had to act with responsibility, and its responsibility was to the people. The Government needed revenue to meet the demands of development and the costs of the ongoing military operations to defeat terrorism.
It was from revenue that the government earned that it was possible to give free books to schoolchildren, provide healthy services to the people, milk food to mothers and children and also carry on the necessary operations to free the country of terrorism. Any decisions on the prices of essential items had to be taken with responsibility and concern for the actual needs of the people. The needs of a mere 04 per cent of people who use petrol for cars could not supersede the needs of more than 90 % of the people who traveled by bus and train.
He said that those who petitioned the courts on the price of petrol were the same people who campaigned abroad against the extension of the GST+ relief for the country. If they had succeeded in that, all workers in the garment industry would have suffered.
President Rajapaksa said that the government always respected the orders of the courts, even when they went against some of the policies that were being implemented to combat terrorism. These orders such as the ban on searching homes at night, and issues involving High Security Zones were observed with due respect to the courts and as there were alternate policies to be followed, despite adverse consequences, some of which were tragic.
He said the government was committed to reducing prices of essentials we when they went down in the international markets, and this was clearly seen in the reduction of the prices of petrol diesel, kerosene and other fuels in the recent budget. However, as much as the government benefits from the reduction in prices of such imports one had also to be aware of the loss the country faces with the drop in prices earned by commodities exported from the country, due to the prevailing condition s in the world.
The issue of taxation and duties should not be looked at in isolation, but as a whole, taking into consideration the needs of the entire economy. There was the need to raise duties on the import of many items to help local industry and production to benefit. Speaking in lighter vein, he said some people may today seek relief in court against the 300 % duty on cigarettes and arrack, the 450% duty on whisky or the 500 % duty on imported luxury cars.
President Rajapaksa stressed that that the function of good government required proper understanding among the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The Executive should not try to grab the powers of the Legislature, and likewise the other arms of government should also not seek to grab the powers of any other. He was fully conscious of the responsibility of the government to the people, and all decisions that affect the people would be taken ion all honesty to discharge that sacred responsibility that he bore.
President's address was preceded by presentations by Air Marshal Donald Perera, Chief of Staff on the current military operations and by Ajith Nevard Cabral, Governor of Central Bank on Sri Lanka and global financial crisis.