-I am a person who is on a slow journey. But I am not ready to turn back in that slow journey
-SLFP needs comprehensive reforms
-Although democracy prevailed quality of the politics declined continuously
-Defeat and victory of political parties are essential for sustenance of democracy
Today we are gathered here to celebrate the 64th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Even though the Secretary of the Party welcomed you, I believe it is my responsibility and duty to welcome all of you who visited Polonnaruwa.
I warmly welcome all of you to Polonnaruwa, the place that I love.
Dear friends, today while we are celebrating the 64th anniversary of the party, I recall the 63rd anniversary celebrations. We celebrated the 63rd anniversary in Kuliyapitiya electorate during the North Western Provincial Council elections.
There are many changes happened within this one year period. But, all of us who were on the stage of the 63rdanniversarycelebrations join this year’s anniversary celebrations too.
Professor Sarath Wijesooriya took us through the history of the Party as well as everlasting memories of the Party. He recalled the memories of each and every personality from S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to present, who gave leadership to the party and about their respective eras. Today we are not living in the eras of 1956 or 1970 nor the 1994 and the 2005. Our country too has been changed in keeping with the global changes during the past decades. With transformations taken place in the world, the problems faced by the people at national and international levels as well as the international issues and international trends, economic powers, cultural forces, technologies also changed in parallel to the new paths taken in the human development spheres.
Our country too has to move forward with that change. We have to make political changes to achieve progress to our motherland, to ensure that it is not second to any other country in the world. As we identified challenges, problems, political trends and economic challenges that we have to face during different time periods, similarly we have to identify the challenges that we have to face at present.
I offer the hands of brotherhood to all of you to join with me to build a strong Sri Lanka Freedom Party. It is not something unusual for a political party to take part in elections, win elections or to lose elections in a democratic country. It is a one of the qualities in the democratic politics. To form new governments, change governments, appoint new leaders and transformation of policies are a part and parcel of principles of democratic society.
Hence, it is the responsibility of all of you to unitedly build the SLFP in solidarity and ensure that the Party wins in the Parliamentary and Presidential elections.
It is not easy to fulfill that responsibility. We have to understand problems, issues and challenges we face. Whenever the SLFP came to power in this country, the leaders of the party in different eras, Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa took every possible action to ensure that the SLFP could face the challenges and take the nation forward.
As a nation, we have come forward because of the decisions taken then. Everybody, including you and I have lot of experience throughout this journey we have come. In the program on the future of the country I presented to the Parliament yesterday I clearly stated how the SLFP and UNP; the main two political parties governed our country. From time to time, there were changes in the way the country forged ahead, as decided by those who ruled the country. But, the political culture of this country has been deteriorating since 1950s. The politician themselves, sometimes desecrated the dignity they were given by the society.
The message which should be given to the society through the character traits and personalities of the politicians, who represented the people in public institutes such as the Parliament, Provincial Councils and Provincial Administrative Institutes were declined to a low level to the total dissatisfaction of the people.
We have come forward rapidly as a country since independence. But we suffered recessions due to 30 year long brutal terrorism. Even though we had drawbacks, we were able to bring peace to the country by ending terrorism under the leadership of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. As the SLFP which works to establish the next government in this 64th anniversary year, should be aware of how the people in this country look at the political parties and politicians. Throughout the journey we came forward, I trust that we should strictly pay attention to the good quality and high standards in politics, that are required by our country because of the political decline occurred in Sri Lanka, especially since the latter part of the 1970s.
You are aware about the disgraceful history about the post-election violence in our country after a General elections and Presidential elections. You know how the way political parties were spreading hate politics. Our political ideas affected public activities when we as members of political parties attended public activities such as funerals, religious ceremonies at temples and other public functions and we did both what we should do and should not do. We should act with clear knowledge on how the developed countries in the world and in countries where they have political party systems, behave when they face elections and change governments and how they enjoy the election results that change governments and how they get together and develop their countries after establishing a new government.
Therefore, I consider this era as the most appropriate period to eliminate the hate politics prevailing among the political parties. I have to tell you that I am not a person who forge ahead in speed when undertaken a journey. Also, I will not go on a speedy journey. That is an answer for the critics about me as the current President and the President of the SLFP.
I am a person who is on a slow journey. But I am not ready to turn back in that slow journey. That slow journey is for our country. I am trying to go on one journey by collecting all political parties as much as possible, for the betterment of all of us, as well as the entire people of this country.
The spirit of divisions according to political parties has been mixed with our blood for decades. The UNP was formed with unity of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and D. S. Senanayake. Later, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike came away from the UNP and established the SLFP. When the party system was emerging since 1950s, the UNP and the SLFP turned towards hate politics as two strong political contenders. I strictly believe that hate politics is not suitable for this era.
Therefore, we expect the unity of everybody to build this country. When the SLFP governs the country the UNP condemns it. Similarly, when the UNP governs the country SLFP condemns it. I invite both parties to get together and march even for a short period because I want to eliminate hate politics and build this country, addressing the main challenges before us.
Basically, we should have a clear understanding about our path. When we look at our election results we understand that we should give birth to a legitimate political child to win the next election and to establish a government. The SLFP is a party which governed the country, continuously for 20 years. As a party that has the government leadership even today, it is essential for us to be re-organized for political goals.
It is necessary to build the SLFP with a new face in accordance with new thoughts and expectations of the new generation, by completely organizing the party for political reforms. When we focus on the reasons for our defeat, we should understand in our heart about the issues we have to tackle and the problems we have to solve in order to win the election and form a government in the future.
Therefore, as the SLFP all of you have the responsibility to reform the party completely within the coming period after the 64th anniversary. This party should be built as the main populist political party which is accepted by Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay, Burgher, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu and Islam. Everybody should work for that end with utmost commitment.
I should remind with respect that it is essential for everybody to work in a friendly manner when the SLFP is taken forward strongly with reforms and with a new face to face challenges and march towards victory.
Everybody should have a complete understanding as how to go forward to surmount the challenges faced by the national economy, free education, free health and economy of farmers as well as other local and international threats we face as a country.
On our 64th anniversary we should pay attention on how we can go forward to build our country and nation state. We should concentrate on our responsibilities and duties as well as how to make our way to win the government powers by reforming the party. It is important for us to work in brotherhood and friendship. I respectfully invite everybody to join this forward march.