Feb 01, Colombo: President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that building the collapsed economy should be the priority as political freedom is of no use if the economic freedom of the country is lost.
The President also pointed out that the political stability and territorial integrity of a country is the best factor to win over the economic war.
Addressing a ceremony in Kandy held today (01) at the Presidential Palace in Kandy to present the distinguished service awards “Vishishta Seva Vibhushana” to 77 senior officers of the Tri Forces, the President said although lives lost during the war cannot be regained, the income lost during the economic war could be regained.
The award ceremony recognize the distinguished service of military officers was organized in conjunction with the 75th Independence Day celebrations.
The Vishishta Seva Vibhushana is a unique award and is awarded only to officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above in the Army and officers holding similar ranks in the Navy and Air Force who have served at least 25 years of continuous service and holds an unblemished a service record.
In relation to the years 2019, 2020, 2021, 53 Army officers, 17 Navy officers and 7 Air Force officers were awarded medals during today’s ceremony.
The President also presented the 75th Independence Anniversary Commemorative Medals to 20 Tri-Forces personnel.
Expressing his views at the ceremony, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said,
“Today we have awarded the “Vishishta Seva Vibhushana” awards to those who deserve this Medal. Also, these service awards were given on the occasion of the 75th Independence Anniversary. I congratulate all the recipients of these medals today. I also extend my appreciation for your service.
This event is the first event to be held to mark the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence. There is a reason to hold this event for the armed forces.
National leaders of the past, led by the Hon. D.S. Senanayake gained freedom for our country. Today, some act as though the country automatically gained independence. Freedom was not gained automatically.
There were 2 countries that supported the Allies in Asia during World War II. One was China and the other was Sri Lanka. But, only Sri Lanka had a legislature which was elected by franchise.
After appreciating the support given for the Second World War by the former leader of the council Mr. D.B. Jayathilika and afterwards Hon. D.S. Senanayake, the British Prime Minister Mr. Winston Churchill said that Sri Lanka would be given freedom after the war on one condition, that India were given freedom first. That is how we got this freedom.
During World War II, the Council of State decided to support the allied countries. In addition, Sri Lankan officials volunteered to support World War II.
Mr. D.S. Senanayake appreciated the release and formed three armed forces from those troops. If we supported the Second World War and gained independence, we should also honor the service of our three armed forces during this anniversary celebration.
For the safety of the nation, members of our security forces gave their lives in battle. Our Army was founded during a world war. It protected democracy over the world. The second war was to preserve Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity. Our armed forces sacrificed their lives for that.
We should keep in mind this outstanding contribution performed by our armed forces as we commemorate the nation’s independence as a republic. Therefore, I made the decision to host the first ceremonial event in connection with the 75th Independence Day for the Armed Forces.
Our three armed forces are now not only in Sri Lanka they serve as a UN peacekeepers as well. In the future, we intend to increase the number of recruits for this peacekeeping force.
We commemorated our 50th anniversary of independence while the nation was at war. We are commemorating our 75th Independence Day at a time when there is another conflict. It is not a battle in which we individually take a weapon and engage in combat. A significant economic battle is currently underway.
The country’s economy has now totally collapsed. Our nation’s economic freedom will vanish if we don’t rebuild that economy and rescue ourselves from this debt trap. If the economic freedom of the country is lost, political freedom is of no use. We cannot surrender to the economic powers of the world today. Building this economy should therefore be our priority.
Make means for the people to live, and revive their lost sources of income. I am aware of the fact that many people are facing difficulties today. Some government employees are facing a situation where nothing of their salaries is spared after settling their loan installments and taxes. We all bear this pressure and we will be able to get rid of this pressure.
I met the U.S. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland today. She further expressed the US Government’s support for the ongoing recovery efforts in our country. Hence we have been expressed support by many countries.
I believe that during the next two to three months, we would be able to complete this debt restructuring process. The dialogues with India and China have reached the final stage. When we reach the agreement for debt restructuring from the International Monetary Fund, it would be accepted by the rest of the world.
I believe that we would have a better economic situation by the end of this year. At the same time, we would get an opportunity to provide some relief to all government employees. We must drive this program forward and we are not in a position to get out of it. If we are on the right path, we have to be strategic and only then victory could be achieved.
There is only one difference between terrorist war and economic war. Lives were lost those days during the terrorist war. Today we have lost the income. That’s the only difference. We cannot give a new life to those who lost but the lost income can be recovered. As a government, we are all committed to reviving it under this program.
I believe that we can move forward reviving the economic freedom along with the political freedom back then we won while protecting the territorial integrity.
State Minister of Defense Pramitha Bandara Thennakoon, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Secretary of Defense General Kamal Gunaratne (retd.) Chief of Defense Staff Shavendra Silva, Army Commander Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, and officers of Tri Forces participated in the event.
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