2019 prez poll:
Gotabaya unveils his vision



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 Gotabaya


Speech by Gotabaya Rajapaksa,
Viyathmaga Chairman
At Viyathmaga Annual Convention 2019,


Venerable Maha Sangha and religious dignitaries, The 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa, dear guests, members of Viyathmaga, Media Personnel, Representatives of National Organizations, all Sri Lankans residing in and out of Sri Lanka who are connected with us at this moment, my friends, 


The objective of any government should be to develop a prosperous nation of productive citizens, living in a disciplined society with content families. As we meet again at the Viyathmaga third annual convention I wish to address how we could achieve this objective. 


International Relations 


Sri Lanka is a free, sovereign and an independent country. As our country is most strategically situated in the naval routes connecting the East and the West, we have once again become the focus of global powers. It is the primary duty of the government to understand the potential this presents and also the challenges that must be faced steadily whilst firmly safeguarding our sovereignty. 


In the days when America and Russia were the super powers, the developed countries aligned with one or the other of these super powers. The countries that were still developing  maintained a policy of non-alignment. Sri Lanka too was then a non-aligned country. 


America is still a super power. However, China with its fast developing economy has become America’s biggest challenge. 


According to Parag Khanna‘s "The Future is Asian", "Today all of Asia’s empires and powers are seeking national revival. None will bow to others. The future Asian geopolitical order will thus be neither American nor Chinese led. Japan, South Korea, India, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia will never collectively come together under a hegemonic umbrella, nor unite into a single pole of power that is neither bandwaggoning with China or balancing against it. 


"Instead, they are on a high alert against excessive US and Chinese influence in their affairs. Asians in particular, have realised that their intense economic integration and rising prosperity require geopolitical stability."


It is the same with Sri Lanka. We must strive to maintain cordial relations with all countries without ever compromising our independence. Therefore we must once again establish a governance that does not juxtapose before any foreign power over diplomatic relations or international trade agreements. We need a government that will at all times safeguard our sovereignty, maintain international relations on equal footing with all, ensure our national pride and rule with dignity. We especially cannot allow our territory or natural resources to fall into the control of foreign hands. 


We must foster relationships with Japan, India and Vietnam to build a strong and a connected economy.


National Security


A peaceful environment is essential for the development of that country. This makes the National Security of a country a very important element. In a country that is not at peace, investments - local or foreign - will not take place. People will lose their freedom to engage in livelihoods. The entire economy will thus get weakened. The democratic process itself will be severely affected. That is why assuring the security of a nation is of paramount importance and becomes the primary duty of a government. 


I am committed to address national security not only as a defensive mechanism, but also to provide broader social, political and economic security to the people. Our country should be free from crime, drug trafficking, terrorist financing, money laundering and corruption. Our houses and streets must be safe places for children, women and the community at large. Businesses should be shielded from security threats.


The Government that was in power from 2005 to 2014 understood this primary duty to strengthen the National Security. The terrorism that existed for 30 years in this country was a grave problem for our people. We effectively resolved that issue in less than three years. Afterwards, we continued to strengthen National Security, which is why it took ten years for terrorism to raise its head again. 


After the war, whilst building up on National Security we were especially concerned to secure the right of the people to live freely. During this post-war period, neither the police nor the military were engaged in any activity that would pose any harassment to the people. However, we fortified our intelligence networks. These intelligence networks were dedicated to safeguard the people. 


Therefore, we must re-establish this secured environment that is at present compromised. To do so, we must reinstate the intelligence mechanism that was proactive until 2015. We must bring the intelligence operations of the tri-Forces and the Police under the responsibility of one head and thereby connect all these units together. This responsibility must be again handed over to capable officers. At the same time, we must introduce a legal framework that will provide these officers the protection from the kind of political interference that we saw in the recent past that severely affected the confidence of our intelligence officers. For our intelligence officers to be effective, it is very important to connect them with foreign intelligence services, provide them with both foreign and local training and equip them with modern technology. 


Economy 


Economic development is an essential component of a country. The solution to most problems in a country is its economic progression. However, it has to be a people centric development. I firmly believe that every citizen is entitled to a dignified life with economic stability and equal opportunities to progress. 


GDP is not the only criteria in measuring development. Growth alone is not enough to deliver overall wellbeing of the people. In the 21st century, inclusive development has become a better measure of national progress. The recently devised Inclusive Development Index (IDI) takes into account not only economic size but also life expectancy, unemployment, median income, poverty level, inequality rates, household savings, carbon intensity and other factors. We need to be aware of these important factors. 


We must also bear in mind that the centre of gravity of global economic development has shifted to Asia. If we look at the Asian region, from Turkey to China, the population is close to five billion. There is a large middle class in this region with high purchasing power. India alone has a 400 million strong middle class. China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia are other large, populous countries with a rising middle class. This represents a marketplace of hundreds of millions of people. Asia will soon have more millionaires and billionaires than any other region. We should look at these Asian markets and find opportunities there, without always relying upon our traditional markets. 


We must recognize that the Asian regions hold the future of market opportunities and encourage our entrepreneurs to find these markets. If we take Singapore for an example, 90 percent of its exports are to other countries in the Asian region and only 10 percent to the USA and Europe. Sri Lanka must also make maximum use of these opportunities that are within our region.


Knowledge 


The 21st century is recognized as the knowledge centered era. In the future, every economic sector, whether it is agriculture, industries, or the service sector, would be dependent on technology.  Due to various factors, we could not reap the benefits of the electronic and computer based development that countries like Japan and South Korea enjoyed after World War II. However, we must make sure that we do not also miss out on the opportunities that are arising from the knowledge-based and modern technological innovations that are the hallmark of the 21st century. 


Future growth throughout the world will be led by innovations such as the Internet Of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Big Data, Robotics, 3D Printing and other cutting edge technologies that are still in their infancy. We must strategically invest in such new technologies, infusing them into our education system and introducing them into each economic sphere.


I know that already in our country various enterprises and a large number of youth are already connected with modern technologies and are providing various services from which they are earning an impressive income. I recently met a young man of about 24 years. He is already a very successful entrepreneur providing information technology services to a number of western countries. I asked him what does a government need to do to create many more entrepreneurs like him and his simple answer was to teach English to the young generation and to provide high speed Internet facilities throughout the country. 


This is exactly what other countries in the Asian region are doing. For example, China is laying down a fibre optic cable from Pakistan to the Phillippines, and setting up 5G network connectivity for hundreds of millions of people. Sri Lanka too will benefit greatly from 5G data links that will enable high speed broadband access throughout the country.


Most developing countries have realized this reality and are spending a large amount of money on technology centered investments.  China, who has invested about USD 16 billion in Israel has established a Sino-Israeli Technology Innovation Fund to help new entrepreneurs. Technion that is in Tel-Aviv in Israel is a research university dedicated to Artificial Intelligence. The Chinese Ali Baba Group is investing USD 600 million in a tech city in the United Emirates for robotic technology based companies. Japan is also investing millions of dollars to take their already sophisticated industries to the next level of technology innovation. Almost every country in the Asian region are creating an interest on foreign investments. We too need both foreign and local investors’ support of this nature to tap into investments that will lead us to benefit from the 21st century developments. 


To be Continued


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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