The promotion of separatism, and ethnic and religious divisions for narrow political gains should end from this Thai Pongal, stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the Thai Pongal festival in Jaffna today (17 Jan).
Politicians have the responsibility to build this country as one nation, for the wellbeing of its people, instead of spreading communal hatred, he said.
President Rajapaksa added, ‘we will not let underworld groups raise their heads whether they are in Colombo, South or in the North. We will eliminate this mafia. We will not allow any form of terrorism to emerge hereafter. There will not be any divisions on ethnicity, caste or religion nor narrow political views’.
Full text follows:
I am extremely glad to come to Jaffna and celebrate this Thai Pongal with you. First, I wish you all a happy Thai Pongal.
I am pleased to see a lot of school children joining with us today to celebrate this event. As we love our country, we must also love our culture. We can rise as a better nation only when we protect our culture.
We are aware that culture has undergone change amongst our youth due to Western influences. We witness an era when they start to forget the culture of their parents. I trust that all of us, as adults and as a nation, must be committed to protect this culture and hand it over to future generations.
For thirty years this country was on a backward trend. We have ended that era. No one in this country can live alone. Every one is a child of mother Lanka whether they are Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher or Muslim. This is one generation in one country. Therefore, we have a responsibility.
When I hear and see the children sing and dance, I feel how different the consequences could have been if this nation did not achieve freedom. We have a responsibility, all political leaders have a responsibility. All politicians have the responsibility to build this country as one nation for the wellbeing of its people, instead of spreading communal hatred.
I hope the promotion of separatism and, ethnic and religious divisions for narrow political gains will end from this Thai Pongal.
We aspire for a better nation for these children. Not a country that is divided but one country. We have lived up to the trust you have bestowed in us. These areas are being developed today. We are taking forward the country which was on a backward trend for thirty years. Similar to all other provinces and districts, these areas too must develop rapidly. We are rebuilding roads, schools and railways which have been destroyed due to terrorism.
This is not visible to some. Some media ignore this. They claim these are mere foreign aid. But remember, the government will re-pay each cent with interest. If sufficient funds are unavailable to build the country, we have to acquire loans. I state that we will do everything to build a better future for your children.
I remind you that we will not give in to petty political slogans. People have that freedom. A country must be brought back to normalcy as quickly as possible. We are geared to do that.
Let us all work together for the betterment of these innocent people. It is your responsibility to take part in the development process.(In Tamil)
I am pleased to be able to meet you on this national Pongal festival. I wish you all a very happy Thai Pongal.
Thai Pongal is a festival for the farming community, a holy day that pays tribute to the Sun God.
'The dawn of the month of Thai is the opening of a new path'
Trust and friendship should always prevail among people. Peace, co-existence, equity and prosperity should continue.
I thank Minister Douglas Devananda for organizing this national Pongal festival. He is the only Minister that represents the North. He is a Minister not only to the North but also to the entire country.
You are well aware that we have carried out massive development work in the North under the Uthuru Wasanthaya programme. Yesterday, we opened the new Sangupitti Bridge.
Development which you did not witness before is now taking place in your areas. The suffering and hardship that you underwent for over 30 years is enough. This situation should not prevail in the future. We have spent billions of rupees to rebuild the North and will continue to do so.
The living standard of all the people must be improved and for that necessary facilitates must be provided. You all must have a bright future.
At present, we are providing facilities such as roads, bridges, education, electricity, water supply and housing to the people in the North. 'Uthuru Wasanthaya' (Northern Spring) is the spring for you and your children.
Friends, some attempt to destroy what we have built. They try to tell various stories to the international community.
We will not let underworld groups raise their heads whether they are in Colombo, South or in the North. We will eliminate this mafia. We will not allow any form of terrorism to emerge hereafter. There will not be any divisions of ethnicity, caste or religion nor narrow political views.
We must all protect innocent civilians. What is important is development; a better living standard for all the people. What is important is the future of these people. That is the requirement for all of us.
We do what we say.
Friends, we will provide all assistance that you need. You can lay trust in me. Let us all unite. Let us build this beautiful country under one flag. You will have a prosperous future.