Trilingual society key feature of action plan

Updated 04 February 2014
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Trilingual society key feature of action plan

The anniversary of the 66th Independence Day of Sri Lanka is an opportune moment for us to reflect with a sense of satisfaction on the many accomplishments the country has achieved within a brief span of time.
As a country, we are proud of the significant progress that has been made since the defeat of terrorism four years ago, and our people are enjoying peace in a united Sri Lanka.
During the past several years, an extraordinary development drive has been undertaken by the government.
Numerous mega development programs are being implemented with the construction of harbors, airports and roads, bringing economic development to rural areas and connecting them to the larger economic development of the country.
The government is committed to ensuring that the opportunities gained by society as a result of these developments are available to all communities, across the country, for the upliftment and betterment of their lives.
In the Northern Province, free elections have been held after many years; bringing communities into the political process for the first time; internally displaced people have been able to return to their homes and have been reunited with their families; and fishing, agriculture, and a multitude of other industries have been reinvigorated to provide livelihood opportunities for people.
The National Action Plan and the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission are being implemented steadily and substantial resources are being allocated to ensure their objectives. A national policy is underway to transform the country into a trilingual society.
The policy framework of the Government, “Mahinda Chintana: Vision for the future”, is steadfast in guiding our development efforts and harnessing the tremendous potential of Sri Lanka, and is helping to revolutionize the country to emerge as a regional hub in aviation, commerce, maritime affairs and knowledge.
With these developments, increasing linkages and strong growth; Sri Lanka is a world class travel destination poised to move toward being an upper middle income country. The climate of peace and stability which is now prevailing in the country is an essential condition for this enhanced economic activity.
Sri Lanka continues to have a strong vibrant foreign policy and healthy relations in the global arena, guided by principles of nonalignment and friendship with all.
We are steadily expanding our diplomatic relations with a large number of countries and opening new diplomatic missions in different parts of the globe; deepening our ties of friendship amongst the international community of nations.
On the international stage, Sri Lanka hosted the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013 and will serve as the Chair in Office of the Commonwealth for the next two years.
This significant event was a great opportunity for world leaders to see the tremendous progress and unprecedented post-conflict developments taking place in Sri Lanka.
At this time, I express my gratitude to the expatriate Sri Lankan community that has continued to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.
On the occasion of our National Day, let us rededicate ourselves to intensify collectively our commitment toward supporting our motherland in our challenges ahead, in order to lead the country toward a brighter future.

Prof. G.L. Peiris
Minister of External Affairs

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Sri Lanka’s tryst with destiny

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Sri Lanka’s tryst with destiny

Sri Lanka today celebrates her 66th Independence Day with magnificent pomp, pageantry and spirit of patriotism. The day signifies the effort of a developing nation to celebrate her cherished sovereignty, rich cultural heritage and diverse ethnicity in right earnest.
Indeed, on Feb. 4 each year Sri Lanka unites as a nation, despite fratricidal differences, to commemorate the heroic sacrifices of freedom fighters. It is nothing short of an irony that the same populace, who are at loggerheads today, once fought shoulder to shoulder to achieve political independence from the British yoke. Mahatma Gandhi, principal icon of Indian freedom movement, had greatly influenced the island nations’ nationalists. Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, was very special to Gandhi as he aptly equated the picturesque country to a “resplendent pendant” on the Indian necklace during his visit in 1927. However, in today’s context Gandhi’s utterance is likely to be misinterpreted by a section of Lankan people as another instance of India’s hegemonic attitude toward her miniature neighbors.
In fact, the political landscape of the subcontinent altered drastically with the trio of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan achieving independence in those initial days of decolonization following the end of a bloody WWII. As Sri Lanka turns 66 today, it is time for the nation to once again reaffirm her faith in plurality. Yes, the country did endure hard times in the past six and half decades but stood firm in the face of repeated onslaught on her sovereignty. The worst one came in the form of a three-decade long civil war that eventually disturbed social amity and dealt a body blow to Sri Lanka’s political vitality. And many Sri Lankans still blame India for their plight, accusing New Delhi of undue interference. Perhaps India’s often-repeated assertion of doing everything under her command to enable the ethnic minorities to become the master of their own destiny within the ambit of a united Sri Lanka has hurt the Sri Lankan psyche badly.
As India continues her engagement with Colombo, perhaps it is also time for New Delhi to be more discreet in handling the bilateral relations so that it does not appear that the Indians are treating Sri Lanka as a vassal state to further New Delhi’s strategic ambition in South Asian region. Years ago Sri Lanka made a tryst with destiny and that destiny was certainly not supposed to be bereft of multi-racial and religious cohabitation. Independent Sri Lanka not only made rapid economic and political progress but also ensured that the minority communities can negotiate their linguistic and cultural rights with a majority ruled government. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayam pact bears testimony to the right intention of providing special autonomy to provincial councils. This radical step would have addressed the communal discord, plaguing the nation for most part of her independent history, adequately and establish a truly pluralistic political culture. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka floundered midway as its journey toward republicanism, laced with number of overarching grand themes including secularism, was interrupted by the advent of rabid ethno-nationalism surreptitiously. However, one must also concede that the island nation did evolve into a modern industrial society from a primitive and feudal agrarian system very fast. Lanka also boasts of impressive social indicators in education and health besides ensuring that none of her citizens goes to sleep hungry with the introduction of a massive food subsidy program. Today, as peace prevails, Sri Lanka is witnessing an impressive growth trajectory. Being the third major country in SAARC, she plays an important role in fostering cooperation among member states and has taken the lead in making South Asia green and happy. Hence, this Independence Day is the perfect opportunity for the Lankan nation to let go of the past, characterized by political alienation and cultural castration, and allow the long suppressed soul of the nation to be liberated from prejudices.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Qatari royal takes to Twitter to condemn 'unbearable' conditions under Sheikh Tamim

Updated 26 min 55 sec ago
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Qatari royal takes to Twitter to condemn 'unbearable' conditions under Sheikh Tamim

JEDDAH: A member of the Qatari royal family has taken to Twitter to attack the government of Emir Sheikh Tamim, accusing Doha of foreign and domestic mismanagement and the harassment of other royal family members. 

Sheikh Fahad bin Abdullah Al-Thani claimed the domestic situation in Qatar has become unbearable, according to a translation by Al Arabiya of some of the points made in a Twitter question and answer session on the account carrying his name.

He said the boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries over Doha’s links to extremist groups meant that the internal problems were not just the rising prices but also “the complete isolation the regime has imposed on its people.”

He said large numbers of the royal family had been banned from travelling.

“The Al-Thani family cannot travel without prior permission. Anyone who did get approval from the regime was not allowed to travel especially after opposition within the family increased as they tried to save their country from this dark crisis.”

Sheikh Fahad said the “tragedies” that had befallen his country 

were down to the former Emir’s reliance on the radical cleric Youssef Al-Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Although the people of Qatar have no links with this terrorist group,” he said.