Sri Lanka at 71: Time to take the right decisions

Message from Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on Independence Day 2019

Freedom is man’s most precious possession. Men and women have fought many wars and sacrificed millions of lives in the name of freedom throughout human history.

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Former President of Sri Lanka 
Sri Lanka obtained freedom from the colonial rulers 71 years ago. Independence is only a part of the freedoms that Sri Lankans dream of. As we stand on the threshold of the 72nd year of Independence, let us reflect upon our achievements and failures as a Sri Lankan Nation.

Our achievements are many. We have successfully established systems of Parliamentary democracy and its institutions. We have strengthened the independence of democratic institutions and guaranteed fundamental freedoms through the establishment of Independent Commissions. We have a strong Judiciary, Public Service and comparatively good education and health systems.

Yet we have failed, in seven long decades, to build a strong and united Nation where the diverse ethnic, religious and other communities living in Sri Lanka are accorded a just and equal status; a society that is inclusive, respecting and celebrating diversity, a State that guarantees to all its citizens a country where they can live without fear, poverty, hunger, ignorance and where all fundamental freedoms are guaranteed.

Our people – the voters - have stood and watched while our previous admirable system of governance, where honesty, integrity and efficiency in Government were considered the sacred right of the people, have deteriorated into a motley collection of self-seeking, massively corrupt, inefficient rulers.

It appears that we need a radical systemic change. Leaders, systems of Government, the Education system and related institutions require revolutionary change.

72 years is a long time. It is time to stop, reflect and take clear and brave decisions with regard to the future of our beloved country. However painful, it is time to take the right decisions.

Let us, in all humility, dedicate ourselves today to unite as one people and undertake this difficult, but essential, task.

I wish all my brothers, sisters and children the strength, good health and happiness for the future.