Northern Province Development: My Preferences

Northern Province Development: My Preferences

A few years ago a group of officials from the Northern Provincial Council met a farmer in Vavuniya and asked for his preferences in respect of some matter. The old man braced himself up, looked at the officials and said “Sirs! I am 78 years old. This is the first time I am hearing of officials wanting to note down what my preferences are. Hitherto you decided what was best for me. Never asked me what I want”.
Government Economic Development Programme and Jaffna District Development Projects under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Hon’ Ranil Wickremesighe at the Jaffna District Secretariat on 19th May 2017 at 3 pm views of Chief Minister, Northern Province:
Hon’ Prime Minister, Hon’ Ministers, Hon’ Members of Parliament, Hon’ Members of Northern Provincial Council, High officials of Central and Provincial Services, my dear brothers and sisters,
We are pleased to have the Hon’ Prime Minister discussing with Political Representatives and our Officials the Government Economic Development Programme and Jaffna District Development Projects. This is a process we have been agitating for and not long ago in this very Hall we had Hon’ Malik Samarawickrama taking the trouble to find out our point of view before embarking on Economic Development Programmes and Projects which related to his Ministry to establish a National Program of 2000 Entrepreneurs for the whole Island of whom 200 were to be from the North. 
Sir, there are a few matters with regard to the psyche of the Tamils of Sri Lanka that you must understand. At my age I believe I am qualified to express same. You would realize from around 1956 when the “Sinhala only” Act was foisted on us, the Tamils of the North and East preferred to critically engage the Government in power rather than approve of an enduring partnership with them except during the short spell in 1965 under the Prime Ministership of Hon’ Dudley Senanayake. As a result the electorates in the North and East suffered due to lack of economic endowments from the Centre. When it was decided to end this period of lethargy and indifference towards the North and East and a positive engagement was opted for what irked the Northern and Eastern Tamils was the “top to bottom” attitude of the Centre.
A few years ago a group of officials from the Northern Provincial Council met a farmer in Vavuniya and asked for his preferences in respect of some matter. The old man braced himself up, looked at the officials and said “Sirs! I am 78 years old. This is the first time I am hearing of officials wanting to note down what my preferences are. Hitherto you decided what was best for me. Never asked me what I want”.
That sums up how the Tamils have felt so far after the end of the war. You must realize that we apportion more importance to the attitude of the Centre rather than their lavish largesse. When we found a discriminative design on the part of the Centre in the post 1956 period we resorted to non – violent struggle openly rather than deign deceptive co-operation in order to obtain our lost rights. It was only when non – violence failed that violence took charge. But it must be remembered that generally we are, as a unit of people with special characteristics of our own, trustworthy, provided you recognized our talents and temperaments. We are as a Nation conscious of our antiquity and our ancient classical language. The older generation among us still approve of the adage “high thinking and simple living”.
All this introduction brings me to the matters at hand. Our Economic Development must ensure that we the people of this Province are at the helm of our own affairs. We cannot be used as a vassal Province for the benefit of wayward investors. We are proud of our heritage; we like to live a life of our own rather that be dictated to by outsiders. But we are most certainly willing to join in earnest co –operation in the economic field, like in co – operative federalism in the field of politics.
Hence there are a few important policy considerations we like to discuss with Your Honour.
In the aftermath of the war there has been certain major infrastructural development already in place. But our Rural areas have been neglected. We must empower our rural folk to have access to markets in the Agricultural and Fisheries Sector while they preserve their rural innocence and simplicity.
In working out our Industries we would prefer not to use our natural resources internally available if alternatives from elsewhere could be procured or purchased. Release of productive lands from the Armed Forces must be a followed by rapid economic development based on knowledge and technology transfer bearing in mind our immediate and future needs.

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