PM urges celebration of uniqueness of Sri Lankans for lasting peace & reconciliation

Ranil Wickremasinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday called on all of the country’s citizens to put the past behind them in order to celebrate their unity and diversity and progress towards lasting peace and reconciliation.

Inaugurating the second edition of Tourism Fest at the Independence Arcade in Colombo on Tuesday, he emphasised that 2017 would be a crucial year for the country and it was important to build a strong foundation from now onwards to celebrate the true spirit of 70 years of independence in 2018.dft-4-5

“The way of life that we have to follow to attain our religious goals is the same. In that, unity and diversity is crucial. It is important to remember that this is something we have won through our own sufferings. We have now come to appreciate the fact that we as Sri Lankans are both one and also different at the same time. We are different because we speak two languages and we may worship one of the religions. This is an achievement we have to safeguard,” he pointed out.

Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said it was important to be extremely committed towards the establishment of lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

“Irrespective of religion, culture, social, economic and other differences to reach out to one another and help the Government in its effort to bring about peace and reconciliation between communities in order to ensure there is a solution to this problem on the principles of equality and justice,” he explained.

Furthermore, he stressed that understanding inclusivity and greater relationships of freedom and friendship among one another was imperative for peace and reconciliation.

“We can no longer have an exclusivity mindset in this matter. We have to give up our enclaves and selfishness culturally, religiously and reach out to each other to improve friendship and understanding. It is the only way we can prevent further disaster affecting our country. We need to move out of our small enclaves and our zones of security in order to reach out to each other,” he added.

Noting that Sri Lanka has had a long history of coexistence between the members of the various ethnic communities that have inhabited the country, he said it was important to prolong that peace and harmony.

The Cardinal commended the efforts of the President and Prime Minister in finding solutions for problems that have affected the country in the past and to move towards peace and reconciliation in the true spirit of give and take.

“We as Christians, as disciples of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, pledge our support to any effort that would bring about a better understanding and better process of reconciliation in this country. May 2017 will be pivotal and crucial in the life of our future peace, prosperity and harmony,” he said.

The Tourism Fest is aimed at creating a lively seasonal atmosphere in the city during the peak tourist season. The first Tourism Fest held last year was a huge success with thousands of locals and tourists visiting the four-day-long event.

This year too the event will be spread over a four-day period from 20 December-23 December. Each evening the Independence Arcade will be transformed into a tourism hotspot with a multitude of entertainment options ranging from seasonal carols and nativity plays to musical shows featuring leading bands, cultural shows performed by the three services and Police, food festivals, shopping and many other attractions.

The daily program starts at 6.00 p.m. each day with non-stop activities planned until midnight. Colombo City Tours will be operating a special shuttle service between the five star city hotels and the Independence Arcade. Like last year the event was a public-private partnership (PPP) with many tourism sector stakeholders joining hands to organise and promote the event.

A significant development this year is Colombo Christmas Street (CCS), which will take place today at Green Path in Colombo.

The CCS trade and fun fair organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Religious Affairs together with the Colombo Municipal Council, in partnership with the Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA), will be held until 24 December, with its doors open to shoppers from 2.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. daily, while the entertainment sessions will be held from 4.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. and will include choirs, live bands, DJ music, animators and magicians and a street fashion show.

Over 20 popup stalls will be set up on Green Path covering sectors such as retail, home decor, food and beverage, entertainment and charity, which will offer items at subsidised rates. Several other activities such as a food festival, games, street activities, children’s play area and social service initiatives are planned.

(Source: DailyFT – By Charumini de Silva / Pic by Sameera Wijesinghe)