The Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya called for a change in public attitudes, pointing out that the 'System Change' which is asked for by the young generation is similar to it.
Noting that it is not something that the Government or Parliament can do alone, he said the whole country should rally for it.
The former speaker also said that even before they proposed to implement the reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the NMSJ continued to propose that they be implemented. "If we had paid attention to it in the first place, we would not have gone into an abyss," he said.
Jayasuriya made these remarks at the 71st death commemoration of the late D.S. Senanayake that was held at the Independent Square yesterday (23).
As the Chairman of the D.S. Senanayake Commemoration Committee, he welcomed all who had attended the event, and highlighted the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Head of State.
Speaking further, he said:
"We have been coming here and paying floral tributes to D.S. Senanayake on both Independence Day and 22 March for the past few decades and going home, but did we accept the advice of this leader? He did not have a doctorate. However, he took necessary expert advice in building the country. The most important message he gave was to preserve "national identity". We paid a heavy price in blood because we didn't do it. We had to face ethnic issues, acts of terrorism, destruction of property, and we were severely criticised by the world. Our nation, our religion is not something that we asked for. It is something that we receive since our birth. A Buddhist can never be racist. Buddha preached about one human race. In the Vasetta Sutta of Majjima Nikaya, Buddha preached about the different differences of the same species of animals such as quadrupeds, birds and fish, and that there is no such difference in humans."
He further said that there are many important lessons to learn from D.S. Senanayake.
"I am talking about these matters as I see certain groups attempting to create racial and religious differences with narrow political agendas. If it happens, it could be the end of our country. We gained independence because all the nations united and put pressure on the British Crown together. Fortunately, the leaders of that time understood the value of this national unity. They joined hands for independence irrespective of any difference. We must be forever indebted to those Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher leaders. F.R Senanayake, D.S Senanayake, Ponnambalan Arunachalam, Ponnambalan Ramanathan, Sir D.B Jayathilake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, T.B. Jaya, E.W. Perera, Sir James Peiris, J.R. Jayawardena, Dudley Senanayake and all those who worked together to grant freedom to the nation are remembered with respect and devotion.
Although there is no time to describe the unlimited work planned by D.S. Senanayake for the country for a long time, it is not a secret how he suffered and made sacrifices for the development of the country's agriculture. Due to the awakening of Ampara District through the Gal Oya movement, 22% of Sri Lanka's rice production is still cultivated in Ampara District. Now the 2nd or 3rd generation lives there. They seem to be forgetting him now. The reason is that the current generation has not been given sufficient knowledge about national heroes. It is a shortcoming of our country's education system and because we, as adults, do not give our children the correct knowledge about our ancestors. This should be corrected. Forgetting the past can be harmful to a country. A country that forgets its heroes has no future.
We should stand in front of the statue of D.S. Senanayake and think of the future. We don't live in the world which was there by then, but in an age where technology is developing every day. The world changed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even nature punishes the universe today with earthquakes, floods, etc. We in Sri Lanka also faced infinite difficulties in the recent era. Poor people were the most affected by the collapse of the economy.
Due to the IMF assistance, the foreign exchange crisis is being solved successfully. This is a great relief for us. Now there are indications that we will get the goodwill of the world. The arrival of tourists is increasing every day. Remittances by foreign workers are quite high, but it is not possible to develop a country just by getting these things.
An attitudinal change is needed in our people. The 'System Change' which is asked for by young generation is similar to it. It is not something that the Government or Parliament can do alone. The whole country should rally for it.
To rebuild the country, we must first become a punctual nation. We must understand that it is wrong to get paid without working eight hours a day or the prescribed number of hours. In terms of population ratio, our country has the largest public service in the world. However, it has been mentioned that Sri Lanka is the country with the most holidays in the world. According to the population ratio, Sri Lanka is mentioned at the top among the countries with the highest military strength in the world. We have an army that is larger than those in Great Britain and Bangladesh. There are about 300 Government agencies that embezzle public money. Corruption and lawlessness in the country has spread, and the country has fallen into the abyss. Murders, robberies, rape and drug use have increased. All these burdens and pains are ultimately borne by our innocent people. A country without discipline will never move forward. We should understand all this and work for the development of the country."
The Minister of Justice made a public statement last week about the irregularities in the implementation of the law. These should be corrected immediately. Law enforcers should maintain their professional dignity and set an example. We have mentioned several times that there is a need for some unity in the Parliament to solve the pressing problems of the country. We appealed to the Parliament to implement a ceasefire. That idea received optimistic responses.
Late J.R. Jayewardene, who participated in the San Francisco conference in 1951 to plan the future of Japan under the advice of D.S. Senanayake cited the verse "Nahi Verena Verani" and said that Japan should be forgiven. The powerful leaders accepted that thinking. I believe that if D.S. Senanayake were alive today, he would have given similar advice to the State and to all of us. Even if they are not alive, we believe that we should follow the good ways they showed."
Jayasuriya concluded his remarks saying: "Honourable President, distinguished guests and friends, if there is any importance in these thoughts, I respectfully request that you pay attention to them. We mentioned the voices of the majority of the society."