President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that our journey has only recently commenced with good results, already seen. “As we look to the future, I see the vast potential and promise of a brighter tomorrow, and I urge you all to join hands with me to achieve it,” he said.
Addressing the professionals in Jaffna this morning (January 2), he invited the people of Jaffna to work towards this bright new future together, for all of us and each other for the progress that awaits us all, for the new Sri Lanka that is within reach, to stand out as the new Wonder of Asia.
“When speaking at this important city in our country, one’s thoughts go back to the recent period of conflict that affected our entire country,” the President said. “To this day, I feel the pain of all that was lost in the decades of war. I am sad about the many opportunities for peace and reconciliation that were missed as a result of terrorism however I am glad that today you can move about freely,” he said.
Speaking in Tamil, President Rajapaksa urged the Tamil people to join the forward march. “Your strength is our strength, the strength of the country. Let us see a bright future. Tomorrow is also ours,” he said amidst cheers.
Full speech of the President:
My dear friends and people of Jaffna, I am very happy to speak to you today at this historic city. This is a place with a great record in the freedom struggle of our country. It was Handy Perimpanayagam, the Jaffna Youth Leader, who made the first call for freedom from colonial rule of our motherland. The great Arumugar Navalar will always be remembered for the contribution he made for education in Jaffna and the country. Jaffna has also produced many other great Sri Lankans in politics and statesmanship such as Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam and Sir Ponambalam Ramanathan whose names will always be remembered with honour, and national pride.
When I reflect on Jaffna and about the people of Jaffna, there is something very special that strikes me. This is the identity of the people of Jaffna with hard work, commitment to good education, dedication to duty, and the achieving of excellence in one’s work. I am glad to note today that many of you are still carrying on this great tradition of service to the nation.
When speaking at this important city in our country, one’s thoughts go back to the recent period of conflict that affected our entire country. To this day, I feel the pain of all that was lost in the decades of war. I am sad about the many opportunities for peace and reconciliation that were missed as a result of terrorism however I am glad that today you can move about freely.
My pledge to all our people is to do all that is possible to redress these losses, restore those missed opportunities and go much beyond to create new opportunities for peace, progress, and unity. I will do all to restore the honour and dignity of the people of Jaffna and the North. The honour that goes with your great cultural values and traditions.
My dear friends,
All of my actions after peace returned have been to ensure that we move forward together to a brighter future. That is why my second term has been sharply focused on the rapid development of Sri Lanka.
As noted in the Mahinda Chinthana, I want all our regions to be fully empowered. My government and I want to create a paradigm shift from Colombo-centric development to development that lays emphasis on regional and district development. That is why we have committed so much and continue our commitment to building good regional infrastructure throughout Sri Lanka.
My sincere wish and my mission as part of this development drive is to help Jaffna to regain its old glory as an important centre of learning, service and excellence. In the last few years, my government and I have set about the task of building Jaffna to regain its proud heritage and to a contributor to the growth of our Motherland.
The new exchanges taking place between our peoples, the numbers who now visit Jaffna and the North, from other parts of our country, enabled by new roads and rebuilt railways are beginning to understand, respect and enjoy the values, tastes and traditions of Jaffna and the North.
You can see that we have developed infrastructure which has never been seen before in the history of Jaffna. We have strengthened the Education system. We have doubled the intake to the Jaffna university, the school system has been greatly upgraded, and today I am especially proud to say that the student who came first in the island in the mathematics stream at the recent Advanced Level examination, is from Hindu College, Jaffna.
There were signs of such progress last year too, and this is the great flame of hope that is glowing in, for Jaffna and its people. You are fast regaining your proud tradition of commitment to education and excellence.
It is necessary to speak more of education when speaking in Jaffna. As we move forward, we will build the infrastructure necessary to make Jaffna, a hub of knowledge. The Education system will be further strengthened. Schools and the university will be further improved. There will be new emphasis on Computer Science and Information Technology. Skills development programmes will be set up. Support will also be given to set up high tech industries and business off-shoring centres, so that new high-paying employment opportunities will be created for the seeking and deserving youth of Jaffna.
I have also pledged to provide other necessary infrastructure to the North of Sri Lanka. Last year, I opened a new thermal power plant at Chunnakam to reconnect Jaffna to the national grid and improve electricity supply.
Just a few months back, I was proud to re-launch the train service from Colombo to Jaffna, after nearly 25 years. We have also started work on the Northern Expressway. I have also pledged to improve water supply to the Northern Province by providing river water to Jaffna, and building a tank for Elephant Pass, to build on the strong traditions of irrigation shared by our people. These are only some of the many measures we will take to bring back opportunity and prosperity to the North of Sri Lanka. They are important steps towards a great awakening.
Because this is an election year, you will hear many people say many things, make many promises, speak of many pledges; these are not unusual at such times. But you know from my proven record over the last nine years that I do not make empty promises. I do what I say, and I do not fear to say what I do and what I have done. It is a record of success in service that I am both glad and proud to share with you.
As we look ahead, I assure you that my government and I will take all possible steps to empower you all, and help to return the full pride and glory of this historic centre of our land so that it serves as a beacon of success, not only in Sri Lanka but in our entire region.
I request the youth to embrace education as your fore-fathers did and just as they did, you can also proudly contribute to the growth of our country, and someday change the world with the power of your learning and knowledge.
I urge the professionals who are seeking to surge ahead with the new opportunities available, to make Jaffna stand out again with your vast talent available here. As professionals, do join to bring back to Jaffna the greatness of its schools, hospitals, centres of higher education, government institutions, and all other institutions that will be emulated by others in our land and abroad too.
I also encourage the business people, to integrate your businesses with other regions in our country and make full use of the opportunities that exist through the economic growth that is taking place in our land and have been recognized by international observers and analysts today.
To you, and to all our citizens, I say that our work has only just begun. Our journey has only recently commenced with good results, already seen. As we look to the future, I see the vast potential and promise of a brighter tomorrow, and I urge you all to join hands with me to achieve it. Let us work towards this bright new future together, for all of us and each other for the progress that awaits us all, for the new Sri Lanka that is within reach, to stand out as the new Wonder of Asia.