March towards market economy while protecting identity: PM

We should march towards a market economy while protecting Sri Lanka’s identity, democracy and human rights. There are many objectives we should achieve in this manner. The US is contemplating on building a wall across the Mexican border. England is thinking about leaving the European Union. It did not involve any religious consideration. We too should act on these lines and march towards such a society devoid of religionism, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Prime Minister was addressing the prize giving ceremony at Zahira College, Maradana as the chief guest on September 15.

The Prime Minister said certain sectors of the media are trying to increase sales and publicity by speaking about a single religion or community.

Sometimes, competition among commercial enterprises too acquired a communal or religious orientation. “We could not leave room for such activities undertaken by a coterie of people,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he had discussed this matter with all party leaders.

The problem confronting each party leader was the manner in which he or she should act to stabilize the party stand and identity without losing the voter base. One should not try to gain petty political advantage in discussing this matter.

The Prime Minister said the Opposition Leader in Parliament was a member of the Tamil community. Other sections of the opposition are working in co-operation with him.

This was the last opportunity we had gained to foster national unity and Sri Lankan identity. It was not the responsibility of President Sirisena or him as Prime Minister alone, he said.

This was a responsibility of all including those present on that occasion. This matter should be discussed openly without fear or favour, the Premier added.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said people were moving away from communalism today. What they desired was to unite and foster social and economic development, now that we had overcome a 30-year war. We had the strength and knowledge to march forward in unity.

As such, the task before us was to fulfill shortcomings and march towards a society where everyone could enjoy equal rights and opportunities, he said. Referring to a statement made by an earlier speaker regarding shanty dwellers, the Prime Minister said talks were underway to allocate massive funds to the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry to build new housing schemes to accommodate shanty dwellers evicted from shanties.

It was poverty which we should consider as our enemy, he said. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that Zahira College was established with the aim of creating Sri Lankans.

“Today we are striving to stabilize Sri Lankan identity through the political and social system. We have neglected this work despite gaining independence before India. While inviting all to join hands in this endeavor, I wish to conclude by wishing Zahira College the very best and a bright future,” he said. 

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