(Text of speech made by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Chairman President Maithripala Sirisena at the SLFP May Day rally at the Mawadiwembu Ground, Chenkaladi in Batticaloa 2018-05-07)
I am very pleased about this opportunity to hold this successful SLFP May Day rally in Batticaloa. Today we join to honour the working class of our country as well as in the world. Specially, I recall the assistance given by our trade unions to make this event a success.
May Day is dedicated for all working people around the globe, especially to remember them, their rights and benefits as well as to get everyone’s attention to ensure their rights. Always the SLFP governments have ensured the rights and privileges of the working people.
Similarly, during the last three-and-a-half years, our government has granted prominent rights, including increasing their allowances, to the working people of the country. In all the labour struggles occurred in every country in the world, echoes the voice, ‘Let us unite’. Even though May 01 is the International Workers’ Day, all of you know the reason why we choose today to celebrate this day. In the process of the building the national harmony the working class of this country and the trade unions can play a pivotal role. The working class and the trade unions can play a pivotal role in building the national reconciliation. As you know all of us faced a nearly three decade long, brutal war and in that conflict, irrespective of ethnicity, the lives of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims were lost, leaders belong to every community died.
Similarly, a large number of persons who belongs to our security forces, the Tri- forces, the police and the Civil Defense Force have died. The responsibility of all of us is to prevent the recurrence of such kind of brutal war. In that process the trade unions and the working class have a great responsibility to fulfill. I must mention here that when building national harmony, especially when building peace and friendliness among the different communities the labour movements and trade unions can fulfill an enormous work towards this.
We faced a post-war era after 30 years of war. Nearly 10 years have passed since the end of the war. During the last three-and-a-half-year period, we have fulfilled many duties and responsibilities that we should fulfill in a postwar period to build reconciliation among different communities. We have ensured the right to live freely without any fear of suspicion. Our government has made huge sacrifices to strengthen national reconciliation. Some of the political extremists criticized our many programmes implemented to build peace and national reconciliation, ridiculing and insulting them.
We have still failed to implement a clear programme to restore trust among all the communities in order to prevent the recurrence of war in the country. We cannot solve the problems with guns and war. We should solve issues with humanity. That’s the characteristics of a developed society.
All of us need to dedicate ourselves in this regard. Political parties should act honestly. That honesty should be clearly demonstrated through actions. We can gain power. Today, some persons demonstrate many things to gain power. Many are dreaming to gain the power, however, I ask how many political leaders are there in this country, who honestly committed themselves to solve the issue related to building national reconciliation in the country.
These problems exist as embers of fire simmering under the ashes. Whether it is north or east or south, we must prevent the youth from take up weapons. Those who crave to come back to power do not have a program to achieve that objective. The current government presented a whole lot of programs for this purpose and implemented them. In some of those programs there are weaknesses. Hence, it is necessary to strengthen these programs.
Every political party and every political leader should contribute honestly to establish national peace in the country. They should also display that genuine contribution. We must work responsibly on behalf of the country. The ones who are not in power can utter anything. But everyone should understand the depth of these problems.
We cordially invite all the working people, employers, trade unions, to contribute to the programme which focuses on building national peace. There are lots of problems for the common people. We made a massive contribution in solving these problems in the past three and a half years.
Today the problems of the public residing in this region were mentioned by some ministers. They spoke about the drought. This drought exists for more than three and half years now. This drought is there in a more severe scale in Pakistan than in Sri Lanka. This drought exists in India more than ours. Lot of countries in this region are faced with this drought. We, as people have to fight the challenges of nature. The people in history have come forward by fighting with nature. That is through knowledge, intelligence, and experience. Thus we must get together to solve these problems through knowledge, intelligence, and experience. Every politician must be honest. It is not ethical to deceive people only through power.
Some people focus on obtaining power without a proper program. Thus the SLFP expects to present a new program to the people through the experience gained in the past. Some ask whether I am retiring in 2020. Many social media websites state that I am retiring in 2020. I am not retiring in 2020. There are so many things to be done. I ask how many honest politicians are there today in the country. I ask how many are there who haven’t killed anyone or stole anything. We need a new program. Political thieves are not invited to that program. We do not need political rascals, killers or the corrupted. We don’t need frauds. This country only needs political leaders who love this country. Some may dream to establish a new regime in 2020. I see some persons in our government also talk about a new regime in 2020. I tell all of them, those who were in power in the past and those who are in power today, to join as honest politicians.
We are there where a proper program is there to build the country. We are there where there is a program to eliminate poverty in this country. There are some persons who have different dreams. We are there where there is a proper program to build the youth of this country. We are there where there is a collaboration to build a good society for the educated and the intelligent. So that everyone should be honest within all these procedures. It is easy to talk about fairy tales. Anyone can dream of different things. I hereby state that those who live in fairy tales and dreams don’t honestly contribute to the problems of the people.
The conscience of the innocent and the poverty-ridden people should be understood. The political pulse should be understood. The grievances of the people should be understood. Our heritage must be secured. Local values should be protected. We must protect our culture. We must protect our inheritance. We must strengthen and protect the Buddhist religious order. At the same time, Hindu, Islamic, Christian societies should be strengthened.
We have to understand the issues of Buddhist Sinhalese community. We have to understand the issues of Islam community. We have to understand the issues of Hindus and Tamils. Politicians can not ignore these issues. This should be understood by the ones who govern and the ones who expect to govern. Therefore at this historical rally of May Day, I invite everyone to rally around to make SLFP strong to work with honesty and dedication for the future of the nation.
We have excellent international support to develop this country. Today every country is treating us well. They have trust on us. Their trust is a benefit. Politicians should work honestly to solve the problems of the people. The whole country knows who the corrupted are.
This country needs honest and dedicated people today. The SLFP is offering a clean propaganda for the country. Some people say we have become weak. No, we have not become weak. There were times SLFP dropped the number of its seats in parliament to seven. There were times SLFP broke into sections. Every party of this country has this same experience. But SLFP is introducing a new plan for the country. It will be a political plan to develop the country. A new reorganizational structure will be introduced to the party. The party will completely be a populist party. SLFP will be a democracy centered party. Within that, we expect to start a strong political movement.
We kindly invite all the people including the working force of this country to join with our new propaganda. It is my great pleasure to be here with you today. I cordially thank everyone including ministers of Batticaloa who supported to make this May rally a success.
On this celebration of World Worker’s Day, I conclude my speech stating that we will dedicate to fulfill the responsibilities and duties for the people and the working force of this country.
I wish you good luck.