Only R. Sampanthan, the opposition leader, is living among those who fought alongside D.S. Senanayake to win independence for the country in 1948, said prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Sampanthan is proud, as a Tamil and a Hindu, to have joined with Senanayake to create a free Sri Lanka, he said.
Speaking at the launch of the book ‘People of Sri Lanka’ by the National Reconciliation, Dialogue and State Languages Ministry on July 18, the PM said Sampanthan did not attempt to give a common meaning to various religions by abandoning their visions and followings.
Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or any other community are a diversity, but Sri Lanka was our motherland, he quoted the opposition leader as saying.
The book compiled under the guidance of minister Mano Ganeshan on the 19 different ethnic groups in the country, their culture and traditions, paved the way forward with diversity, said the PM.
Ganeshan, irrespective of having or not having power of the state, fought for national unity, without belittling any community or religion, he said.
An ardent fighter for democracy, Ganeshan is the best suited person to build national unity, Wickremesinghe went onto say.
Thirty years after the Senanayake period, the country had to face a 30 year racist and separatist war, and now president Maithripala Sirisena is trying to unite all communities and take the country forward, he said.
The government’s politics had nothing to do with racism or religious extremism, he said, and said it had an economic, political and social vision to run the country, the PM said.
A fear that terrorism will resurface is not there any more, together with the fear that the minorities will be repressed gone after 2015.
First, understanding among the communities is a must after which all should unite and live together, he said.
A constitution that doesn’t divide the country
Due to that understanding, affairs relating to the constitutional process have been made possible, he said.
The PM said it was not a report by a majority or a minority to divide the country, adding that the public should be consulted for their views and a dialogue conducted, based upon which the Constitutional Council can draft the final report.
The government led by the president has fulfilled the responsibilities in the past two years and there is capability to speed forward with the support of all, he said.
The first copy of the book was presented by Ganeshan to the PM.
UN resident coordinator Una McCauley, received a memento from president Maithripala Sirisena on the occasion.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, R. Sampanthan, provincial governors and chief ministers and other politicians, state officials and invitees participated.