Trilingual society key feature of action plan

Updated 04 February 2014

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


Sri Lanka’s tryst with destiny


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

Israel to build 2,500 new settler homes

Many Palestinians regard the announcement of the new settlements as being directly linked to the recent opening of the new US Embassy and the killings in Gaza. (Reuters)
Updated 10 min 25 sec ago

Israel to build 2,500 new settler homes

  • The stark warning comes after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Thursday that he would seek final approval for 2,500 homes to be built across 30 settlements.
  • They are working to superimpose greater Israel on all of historic Palestine, says Hanan Ashrawi

AMMAN, Jordan: Israel’s decision to build thousands of new homes for settlers in the occupied West Bank has “ended the two-state solution,” according to Palestinian officials.

The stark warning comes after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Thursday that he would seek final approval for 2,500 homes to be built across 30 settlements. The work is likely to be approved at a planning committee meting next week.

The timing of Lieberman’s announcement is regarded as particularly provocative by Palestinian officials, still angered by the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the killing of 60 protesters in Gaza on May 15.

In a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian president, said: “The continuation of the settlement policy, statements by American officials supporting settlements, and incitement by Israeli ministers have ended the two-state solution and ended the American role in the region.”

The 2,500 houses, which are illegal under international law, will be spread across the occupied West Bank, with construction work due to begin immediately after approval is granted. The new houses will include 400 dwellings in Ariel, north of Jerusalem, and 460 in Ma’ale Adumim, a city already inhabited by about 40,000 people. Lieberman also said that “in coming months” he would push for the approval of another 1,400 settler houses now in the preliminary stages of planning.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said the plans reveal “the real nature of Israeli colonialism, expansionism and lawlessness.”

She said: “Undoubtedly, Israel is deliberately working to enhance its extremist Jewish settler population and to superimpose greater Israel on all of historic Palestine.”

In an appeal to the International Criminal Court earlier this week, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry branded Israeli settlements “the single most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives and livelihoods.” 

Ashrawi called for the legal body to “open an immediate criminal investigation into Israel’s flagrant violations of international law.”

According to a June 2017 article in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, more than 380,000 settlers live in the West Bank, with more than 40 percent based outside official settlements. Many Palestinians regard the announcement of the new settlements as being directly linked to the recent opening of the new US embassy and the killings in Gaza.

Khalil Tufakji, director of the maps and survey department at the Arab Studies Society, a Jerusalem-based NGO, told Arab News that the houses were designed to placate demands from the Israeli rightwing to create “a single state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”