Former Cabinet Minister and United National Party (UNP) stalwart Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku said that every time the country went economically bankrupt it was the leaders of the UNP who rescued and rebuilt it.
He also mentioned that today, when the powerful countries of Asia have gained a lot of power and economic strength, a wise leadership has come to our our country to take a big leap in Asia by building successful international relations.
Dr. Kodituwakku mentioned this while addressing a commemoration function held at the Sirikotha Party Headquarters yesterday (6) on behalf of the seventy-seventh anniversary of the UNP.
The 77th anniversary of the United National Party was celebrated giving priority to religious ceremonies. In conjunction with the anniversary, digitizing the UNP was carried out at Sirikotha Party Headquarters. Following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s’ ‘Jayagamu’ concept, activities of a political party were digitized as well. Party members scattered all over Sri Lanka, and political leaders as well as Sirikotha party headquarters will be given an opportunity to coordinate and exchange ideas through modern methods.
Tributes for the late leaders of the UNP were led by Party Chairman Vajira Abeywardena, General Secretary Palitha Rangebandara, National Organizer Sagala Ratnayake and Deputy Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.
Former Cabinet Minister, Chairman of the Political Policy and Research Committee of the United National Party Dr.Karunasena Kodituwakku said:The United National Party was formed in 1946 with the hope of gaining independence as an independent state from colonial rule. Just as the current president had to repair the economic collapse of this country, D.S. Senanayake then, had to make the country an independent state. At that time, regions like Great Britain, Africa and Asia were being conquered and they were struggling to become independent states again. When there were big conflicts and bloodshed for freedom in other states like India, D.S. Senanayake had the ability to achieve freedom in Sri Lanka without shedding a single drop of blood. With the help of leaders of other parties, he was able to carry out the task of winning that freedom. India’s battle ended, not with independence as one country but with independence as two countries. Today it has become three countries.
This country was taken over as a colony, not as one country. The Portuguese captured the kingdom of Kotte and the kingdom of Jaffna in 1620. In 1815, the British captured upcountries areas with the Upcountry Treaty (Udarata Givisuma.) D. S.Senanayake was able to regain the country captured in parts as one country with the intervention of minority leaders.
Even before gaining independence, D. S. Senanayake had commenced a lot of work on behalf of agriculture, irrigation industry, free education and free health. Institutions like the Bank of Ceylon were set up to create a local business class. Dudley Senanayake and Sir John Kotelawala ruled the country after D.S.Senanayake.
When we gained independence, we were second only to Japan. While Japan’s Per Capita Income was US dollars 125, in our country it was US dollars 123. When the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Government took over the country the foreign reserves stood at Rs. 1275 million. Such a strong state was handed over to Bandaranaike’s Government. At the same time there were absolutely no racist riots then.
There is an opinion that true independence was achieved in 1956 but it is completely false. We became a member of the United Nations in 1955. The Sri Lanka Army was established in the year 1950. While western countries led by America opposed it, we commenced the Rubber, Rice Pact with China.
In San Francisco, J.R.Jayewardene spoke to the world. In 1955, at the time Sir John Kotelawala was addressing the Bandung Summit, it was current President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s father Esmond Wickremesinghe who served as the Advisor to Foreign Affairs. Until 1956, our country was maintained under three state leaders very successfully.
Although Dudley Senanayake was appointed once again for a brief period of three months in 1956, the strong economy that was there until 1965 became bankrupt again. Even if it was not so bad then, Dudley Senanayake had to take over again, a country that was bankrupt up to a certain extent. It was in the year 1965 that we had to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the first time.
Then, persons such as C.P.De Silva, Philip Gunawardena, representing the Federal Party G. V. Ponnambalam and Chelvanayagam lent support to rebuild the economy. One again Sri Lanka was brought back to what it was.
In 1970, based on the promise she will give two measures of rice free, Sirimavo Bandaranaike came into power. The era 70-77 was very difficult, economic wise. Sri Lanka became a country that did not have anything to eat, there was no medicine, and no independence. Some people say that we should go back to the era before the 70s. However, neither, Sirimavo Bandaranaike nor Chandrika Bandaranaike who came to power in 1994, had the ability to create such an era.
It was J.R.Jayewardene who brought this country to modernization and put the foundation for the development of it. He brought the capital city to Kotte, introduced the open economy modernized technology and created a new change within our country. Some people blame J.R.Jayawardene for the Black July that took place in 83.
It was not something he created. It came about due to the racist policies that prevailed since 1956. It was in 1976 that Tamil Parties came to the conclusion of the policy that there was no other alternative but to separate. They reached that decision when Bandaranaike made Sinhala the only official language and removed the protection of the minorities through the 1972 constitution. Minority parties were inclined towards racism because of the policies of the Samagi Peramuna Government.
After that, Presidents J. R.Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa took this country towards development. Ranasinghe Premadasa introduced Janasaviya and Gam Udawa Programmes on behalf of the poor people and implemented very good, positive, economic and social programmes on behalf of the people of this country.
In 2002, President Ranil Wickremesinghe once again had to take over a country with a collapsed economy. Today, many people have forgotten these things. In a short period of three years,
Chandrika Bandaranaike regained power in a very unfair manner, when this country was trying to make a big leap with the support of the international community to turn that fallen economy into a rich economy. Amidst all of these challenges the UNP created a positive economy in Sri Lanka. After 2015, he had to restore the economy within the Government of good governance economy.
However, he was not allowed to implement that development programme amid the various concerns of the then president. Today, the United National Party has a challenge for the future. Our leader took over a country where bankruptcy had been officially declared. During that time, a situation had arisen where people were dying and falling in queues for petrol, gas, diesel etc. The tourism industry had collapsed too and schools remained closed while the entire country was in chaos.
From the situation he took over the country, today it has faced a huge transformation. Today we do not have the international environment that prevailed when we obtained independence in 48.
At this moment Asian countries such as India and China have obtained huge power and economic strength.
We have to manage all that, carry out our foreign policy, and build successful international relations. As Asians, they are trying to take a big leap together.The world powers have been alert in this regard by strengthening security. An era like this needs prudent leadership.
Today, the country has received that leadership. Party General Secretary Palitha Rangebandara: The United National Party has completed 77 years. On September 6, 1946, D.S.Senanayake created the UNP at the Farm Court Mansion in Kollupitiya, as a party, where everyone could get together and work. This saved the overall country as well as the party. Later when they divided it and separated, both the country and the party collapsed.
The time has come for the UNP to rise again. We are on a journey where under the leadership and guidance of the leader of the party Ranil Wickremesinghe the party and the country are being strengthened and moving forward.
In order to make our party a powerful ruling party in this country at the time of celebrating its 78th anniversary, it is essential to work with dedication in the upcoming period. A group of members of the party also participated on this occasion.