President promises 150,000 jobs for youth in current year, more development


  • National security won’t be compromised
  • People urged to defeat moves to scrap free education
  • CBK sold Waters Edge land at Rs 200 per acre
  • =Hakeem left as demand for separate unit was rejected
  • 100,000 students will be admitted to universities
by Dasun Edirisinghe

More than 150,000 jobs for those who had passed GCE O/L and A/L would be created within the current year as a national priority, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said last night in Piliyandala, where he addressed the final campaign rally. Besides,

plans were already underway to set up university colleges at the district level in addition to the expansion of the existing universities to enroll 100,000 students for higher education by 2020, he said to the accompaniment of a rapturous applause from a mammoth crowd.

"Our detractors consider the public service a drain on the national coffers," said President Rajapaksa, waving his main opponent’s election manifesto. "We do not think so. The provision of employment to people in the government service is not a burden on the Treasury according to our policies."

"When I took over as President there had been plans to reduce the number of government servants to 300,000 from 600, 000," said Rajapaksa, "we have increased it to 1.4 million."

The President said he had addressed several meetings yesterday before winding up his campaign in Colombo and he was confident of an impressive victory next Thursday. "I have been in politics for over four decades and I feel the pulse of the people. I can say for sure I will secure my third term with a huge majority."

His opponents had threatened to deprive the youth of hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities by closing down the Port City being built on land reclaimed from the sea at no cost to the country, said the President. "They are opposed to that project because I am from Medamulana. If it had been the brainchild of someone from Horagolla or Colombo 07, it would have been welcomed. I am detested by the West and some of its agents here because I won’t compromise on the national interest, but I am sure the people of this country are with me."

"We are allocating a great deal of funds to develop the education sector and sustain free education," said Rajapaksa, "but those who promise good governance are proposing a fee-levying education system at the university level." He said their plan was to start charging fees for school education as well and that would mark the end of free education. "But, you need not have any fears," he told a cheering crowd, "their manifesto will be dumped into the dustbin on Jan. 08."

Earlier in the day, President Rajapaksa speaking at an election rally in the Southern Province said he was surprised that some prominent people who pretended to be ardent defenders of free education and even staged protest marches claiming to protect it were silent on his main rival’s proposal to introduce fee-levying education. "It is high time they made their position on the issue known to the public."

President Rajapaksa said Minister A. H. M. Fowzie would vouch for the fact that SLMC Leader and former Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had demanded a separate Muslim administrative unit in return for a block vote. "I know the real Muslim leaders like my friend Fowzie and so many other patriotic Muslims do not approve of such demands. I rejected that offer out of hand as I treasure nothing more than the territorial integrity of this country. I know the Muslims of the East will vote for me because I have the support of their leaders like Athaulla and Hisbulla. Former Minister Basheer, who left the government because the SLMC pulled out, has written to me appreciating what I have done for the Muslim community and promising not to campaign against me. That is how the real Muslim leaders treat me."

"I consider it my bounden duty to ensure the safety of all communities, the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Burghers and others and safeguard their right to practise their religions in any part of the country," President Rajapaksa said, stressing that the defeat of terrorism had brought relief to all communities. He said he was happy that the country was free from terror strikes. He recalled that a bus bomb had killed over 30 people in Piliyandala and another 25 near the Moratuwa University in 2008 while the war was raging. He said he would never allow the country to revert to that dark era.

Those who promised good governance had sold public property for a song when there were in power. Chandrika Kumaratunga had sold more than 40 public ventures and Ranil had followed suit. Together they had privatized over 90 state institutions, President Rajapaksa said. "I took over some of the institutions they had sold like Sri Lanka Insurance, Srilankan Airlines and Sevanagala Suger, and I will ensure that the people will get back what Ranil and Chandrika sold out. Chandrika, who is promising good governance now, sold out Waters Edge land at the rate of Rs 200 per acre to her friend Ronnie Peiris. She was fined by Supreme Court for that illegal mega deal."

The President urged the people to join him again to take the country forward. "I will protect our children and ensure that they will have a prosperous future. My mission is to make this country a much better place for you, your children and generations to come."

President Rajapaksa urged his supporters to act with utmost restraint after his victory on Jan. 08 and extend the hand of friendship to those who had been campaigning against him.


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