United in Diversity to Rise as One
At this point of time, when the United National Party (UNP) is celebrating its 77th anniversary, I consider it my duty to make people aware of what the UNP has really done for this country, and help them understand the facts. It is not an exaggeration to say that, whatever permanent economic and social changes implemented in Sri Lanka after independence and until the ’90s, they were the creations of the UNP. By being able to use those creations even today, for the betterment of the people, it is a fact that anyone knows. When carefully considering the fact that development programmes carried out by the UNP, under whatever subjects, it is apparent they will act as the basis for any future government in this country. There are many examples that indicate that UNP governments established all spheres of education, health, agriculture, irrigation industry and foreign relations in the country. It is a fact that not only a member of the UNP can accept but any citizen of the country can agree with.
As the first Prime Minister of the country, after gaining independence, many projects were implemented in Sri Lanka with the commencement of the administration period of Hon. DS. Senanayake. In 1933, presenting the Land and Agriculture Development Act in the State Council, it should be mentioned that through D.S. Senanayake’s visionary proposal, land ownership was ensured for villagers. With the aim of making Sri Lanka the granary of the East again, due to the commencement of irrigation development and agricultural development, his concept enabled transforming lands that had become thick jungles during British rule, into fertile fields. By developing the Giritale Wewa, Hurulu Wewa and creating the Parakrama Samudra and the Senanayake Samudra, as well as establishing farming colonies in Minipe, Kaagama, Hingurakgoda, Padaviya, Elahera and Galoya, even today, several generations are enjoying the unlimited value of those campaigns.
Providing free education under the initiative of C.W.W. Kannangara, was the key to creating a foundation for children of remote villages and hamlets to achieve high posts. Setting up Peradeniya University, launching schools, as a visionary action taken for the betterment of education, there is comfort for hundreds of thousands of children even today.
Providing free health facilities for the people in remote villages, where it is difficult to access these, and the creation of the regional hospital system, can be called the first foundation of staying at the top of social development indicators.
The irrepressible courage shown on behalf of the agricultural sector is a good example. These included, the creation of the Ratmalana Airport and the establishment of the Colombo Port which should be called bold steps in the development of economic relations, also creating a rural self-sufficient economy, introducing a guaranteed price for the purchase of paddy for the first time, renovating large-scale water schemes such as Galoya, Inginiyagala and many water schemes as well as Minipe, Minneriya, Padaviya and Thabbowa, Tissa and creating many new farming colonies.
He was bestowed the title of ‘Father of the Nation’ because of these development proposals implemented in a very short period of time.
Succeeding D.S, it was the era of Dudley Senanayake, his second son. It was a chapter where the progress of agriculture is best noted. Preparation of plans for the Mahaweli Development Project, establishing agricultural colonies, introducing various agricultural schemes and creating a young farming force became the decisive decisions taken for the promotion of the agricultural sector. It should be noted that, providing for the first time, a free rice subsidy for the poor and the creation of a peasant army by submitting the first Bill to Parliament, on behalf of the youth, are commendable transformative programmes implemented during that period. Increasing the amount of paddy yield per hectare to a record high percentage in the world, introducing the green revolution to Sri Lanka and starting tourism during Dudley’s reign, was considered a priority, and became a progressive programme.
It should be mentioned that the Laxapana Power Plant which was commenced by Sir John Kotelawala, fulfilled an important role in expanding electricity power for the people. At the same time, expanding the Ratmalana Airport and the Colombo port are projects that he initiated. Further, it is no secret that Sir John’s foreign policy became extremely useful in opening Sri Lanka towards relations with countries of the world. Sri Lanka participating in the Bandung Summit in Indonesia, and being able to obtain membership of the United Nations Organisation, can be considered as victories that were achieved.
However, the ’53 hartal and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s promise at that time to make Sinhala the official language in 24 years, was so wrong. It was the bell tolling for the end of Sir John Kothalawela’s political journey, which was also a misfortune to the nation.
The UNP, which suffered a severe defeat, enabled them to regain governance of the country, due to J.R. Jayawardena’s political comeback. It was a revolutionary period of time. It was J.R. Jayawardena who created the free trade economic policy or the open economy policy, for the first time in South Asia. The implementation of an export oriented industrial policy, the renaissance of the agricultural and industrial sector through the accelerated Mahaweli Development Project can be mentioned as major programmes. In addition, it must be said that large-scale water schemes such as the Victoria Power Plant and the Randenigala Project, which met the electricity needs of the island itself, were created according to JR’s philosophy.
In the list of priorities was the setting up of the Biyagama Export Processing Zone, which created jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, and bringing about a rapid development in the tourism industry to further develop international trade. It is not even possible to mention the development projects and economic reforms brought about during the era of J.R. Jayawardena.
The success of the Mahapola Scholarship Scheme, launched by Lalith Athulathmudali,, on the advice of J.R. Jayawardene, is a testament to its success even now because it provides relief to the student community.
The maximum economic growth rate of Sri Lanka, after independence, was recorded in 1978 thanks to the success of those reforms. Provision of free school books, uniforms and lunch, English language, science and mathematics subjects for rural schools and establishment of new universities, establishment of the open university, as well as establishment of national and technical education institutes, became crucial programmes set up for the progress of the education sector.
The construction of the new parliament complex under Japanese cooperation, the establishment of the National Youth Services Council, and the creation of the youth society concept, giving opportunities to the youth, relevant to their skills, can be recognised as positive measures taken for the youth. The measures taken for the people’s right to information and entertainment by introducing television are being evaluated even today. It should also be mentioned that Sri Lanka achieved Test status during the rule of J.R. Jayawardene. Apart from this, there is evidence even today, that many other projects were established during that period.
Which leader presented programmes on behalf of poverty-stricken people? Ranasinghe Premadasa is in the forefront in this regard. Creating the programme of 200 garment factories, and creating sources of income for youth, is a progressive role he engaged in. The creation of Janasaviya, rural infrastructure and the concept of Poottu Palam were among the populist programmes set up during his rule.
The Gam Udawa programme of constructing 1 million houses, was a successful project which provided shelter for the people.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was a victim of various racist and separatist political movements, despite being in power five times as Prime Minister, is a testimony that the programmes carried out as the current President for the economic stability of this country, are still creating many values ??today. Every time the economy of the country takes on a negative value, he shows a special ability to bring it back to a positive value. By increasing the economic growth rate to 5.6% within a year, maintaining strict financial discipline within government institutions and other expenses, reducing the price of essential goods, controlling the price of other goods, his economic vision has proven several times that it leads to progress of the country.
The actions he took to sign the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement for the reconciliation of the country, to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict in the north, and to end doubts about the north-south, by reopening the closed A-9 road, are still commendable, even today.
It was during his tenure that it became possible to obtain the most foreign assistance in the history of Sri Lanka. It is significant that among his successful projects are providing necessary aid to implement rapid development programmes, strengthening rural youth, introducing a national employment policy, and bringing computer technology to the villages. The measures taken by him for reviving tourism, encouraging investors have been praised by everyone even today. Although he contributed to bringing the country forward every time it fell, it must be understood that he missed several opportunities to stabilise the country, as a result of the misfortune of the country, due to the so-called politics of misleading the people by the majority of the country’s politicians. Now is the time to uplift the country back to its previous level, based on his foresight and international connections. Instead of making false and sarcastic statements, he is creating a permanent long-term programme for 2048, that can actually develop the country, and implementing his visionary economic plans, because the country must be given real freedom.
As a leader who cannot be tamed by various racketeers and so-called political movements, he has already been praised by the Sri Lankan people for taking up the leadership of the country very boldly. His proposal to build the country as one government, by everybody coming together and establishing national unity, will come to fruition. We have the ability to bring about the golden era of ruling this country with a composition of all political parties, as it was before. At the 56th Convention of the party, the UNP has democratically decided to change its party constitution and make the necessary amendments in its party, in order to create political power with a combination of all groups as appropriate for the needs of the people of the country. The 56th Convention will demonstrate to the country that the UNP is a party that cares about the country and can make such bold decisions. This is to remind you of the brave and firm decisions taken by the UNP leaders during that time for the country, to remind everyone in the country again what the UNP is. At this moment, the blessings of the people are needed to permanently establish the journey of the current president in the country for the betterment of this country. Gathering that blessing, I hereby add my best wishes for the 77th anniversary and 56th Convention of my party.
United National Party