(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday emphasised the importance of ensuring civic rights for the well-being of all Sri Lankans. Speaking at a relatively simple and brief Freedom Day celebration at the Independence Square, President Rajapaksa reminded his fellow citizens that he considered himself as president of all Sri Lankans “irrespective of ethnicity, religion, party affiliation or other differences” and not “a political leader concerned only about a particular community”.
In keeping with the Rajapaksa presidency’s emphasis on simplicity, yesterday’s event was limited to impeccably parading troops and a few other displays highlighting the modern technical capabilities of the armed forces rather than a showing-off of firepower. Mobile small unit capabilities, urban emergency response units, and underwater warfare capability was on display, demonstrating the security forces’ forward-looking approach to national defence.
In his speech, President Rajapaksa pointed out that there were many factors that entail true democracy. “Balancing of power between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary is of vital importance.There needs to be a straightforward agreement in power sharing between the central government and decentralised responsibilities. It must not be forgotten that people have personal rights as well as collective rights.
“Although every citizen should enjoy their rights, there is a huge disparity between the haves and the have nots. The facilities in the cities are not available in villages and educational opportunities are not equal to all. Health services is also the same. Hence, the only solution is to resolve economic issues,” the President said.
He said there cannot be true freedom in the country if the people are affected by terrorists, extremists, thieves, enemies, thugs, extortionists and women and child abusers. “Parents cannot have peace until the drug scourge is eradicated from this country.The public cannot enjoy freedom until corruption within state institutions has been eliminated,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said vowing to strictly enforce the law against all such social evils. With this aim, the security forces have been strengthened, he said. Adding that the government was open to criticism, the President noted that his government would uphold media freedom.
President Rajapaksa also said that due to haphazard laws and regulations being implemented without proper evaluation, it has become a huge hindrance to the people and paves the way for corruption and irregularities.
Therefore, he said that all outdated laws, regulations and taxes would be revised soon in order to enable people to engage in their traditional industries and self employment without any hindrance.