Friday, 4 December 2015

Sri Lanka –Paradise Lost.

As I walked out of the Airport  on that wet morning  in 2014, the  heavy November showers did not dampen my enthusiasm to be in my beloved Sri Lanka. The crowds of our dear women who had  spent difficult times in Arab homes in the Middle East were seen with tears in their eyes meeting those who had thronged to meet them with love and affection.  Their ordeals over in inhospitable Arab homes they seemed overwhelmed with happiness meeting their dear ones embracing and chatting away with each other. Western countries from one of which  I was arriving could not match that happiness, laughter and uninhibited chatter amoung my people which enlivened that wet morning outside the  Bandaranayake Airport in Sri Lanka.

Travelling from Colombo to Kandy I saw well laid  beds of flower , clean neat paved ways , with well dressed  men ,women, and children,    a highway stretching clean and neat like a ribbon amoung the pleasing lush greenery. Sri Lanka I thought is a veritable paradise, more beautiful and attractive than Paris the most beautiful city of the world with its old world grandeur.  There was heavy traffic,  cars vans and luxury buses plying on the highway.

There were no road blocks or soldiers to be seen, but there were crowds of people every where.  They were free, happy, peaceful, without fear, having put the past thirty years of suffering out of their minds. That was what I saw all along the way to my village far away from the happy , active crowds, quiet and peaceful where I was to stay for a whole year. 

I was happy to be at home and in Sri Lanka.  Later I was able to see how Sri Lanka has been  transformed into a wander land after a disastrous terrorism had been stopped by the heroic soldiers of a well organised Armed Force, led by the wise and  determined political leadership of the President Mahinda Rajapakse.

In the village  the  people were happy, except few amoung government servants, shop owners, or private sector employees.  They were complaining of high cost of living and difficulties they have to  surmount with their income.  But I found that the standard of living of many of these people had improved, with all modern household amenities, mobile telephones, running water, and improved sanitary conditions. 

The problem with them was that they seem to be living beyond their means.  The children  have to be sent to tuition classes, or sent to schools in town in school vans, or taking loans to improve houses, buy cars or vans. One is never satisfied with what one has and wants to have more.  That is human nature. But others living ordinary lives as villagers were happy and speaks gratefully of the President Mahinda Rajapakse who had made their lives better , and above all  for the peace he brought to the country which has kept  them  away from the horror of living under the shadow of terrorism.

  1. Gotabhaya Rajapakse the Secretary  of Defence who coordinated the armed Forces to defeat and eliminate terrorism had within a short time after the elimination of terrorisd taken over the Secretariat of the Ministry of Urban Development for the beautification of  cities. He is a genius who made a success of everything he  under took to do for the protection of the country , to beatify the country shattered by  thirty years terrorism, and his vision of making a peace time army a builder of the nation.

I saw the evergreen land of my birth  with a culture nurtured for  over 2500 years by the blessing of the Buddha , Dhamma and Sangha, rising up once again in its breath taking beauty as an independent Sovereign state having shed its servility to the West that smeared  Sri Lanka trying to efface its Sinhala Buddhist culture introducing doubtful gods and cultures of blood and cruelty, where even the animals were not safe to live in peace.

Thanks to my people who elected a man appropriate to our culture and philosophy, a man  with  love and compassion a Sinhala Buddhist Mahinda Rajapakse who made Sri Lanka a proud country.

 Sri Lanka is at last independent in the real sense of the word, able to  take its own decisions to make it a paradise in Asia without discrimination against other communities, demanding the other Communities who were saved from terrorism to ask not for separation but unity  to make  a Nation of Sri Lankans.

But it’s the West that cripples developing countries as it is well known. West  wanted to change Rajapakse Regime in Sri Lanka and bring Sri Lanka back into its fold as a protective State of the West. They were intent on this regime change as Rajapakse regime in   Sri Lanka had become a challenge to their white superiority, sore in their eyes, which refused to let them sway their power in the southern seas.

The Chinese Government was  aiding Sri Lanka in its development process. The West will not provide government to government aid to developing countries, it only allows its private sector investments like the well known American United Fruit Companies which change developing countries onto “ Banana Republics”.  These investors made countries poorer, giving only a pittance of their earning to the countries, taking  away a  larger proportion of its earning to America.

President Mahinda Rajapakse had stopped that, and the result is the development of Sri Lanka not in line with any other country, but as Sri Lanka.

I took the train to Colombo and enjoyed the lush greenery the newly constructed houses of the people, beautiful school buildings, the  paddy fields under cultivation.

The old Colombo of which once an American tourist said that it stinks, has become today one of the most clean cities of the world. The old colonial buildings have been renewed .  They are clean and set in spending surroundings giving it an old world splendour which was never their before. The Independent Memorial Hall  in the Torrington square is beautiful in a setting of unmatched beauty. The under ground hall has been turned into a Museum containing the statues of those men of all walks of life  who contributed to make Sri Lanka what it is today.

The nearby drab colonial building which was once occupied by the Home Ministry  has been refurbished and made into a beautiful arcade with its  renewed white walls.  

The garden surrounding it has been tastefully arranged making it a joy to walk about and stop now and then to take a photo as a souvenir.   Married couples  come in numbers to be photographed against that  gracious building or in its surrounding gardens.

A little further away is Nelumpokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre, spreading over  a land space of 14000 square meters with a seating capacity of 1288. It has a 690 square meter moving stage, as well as an open air theatre.  The construction of it had been financed by China a great friend of Sri Lanka, who actively participated in turning the vision of Gotabhaya Rajapakse into reality.
National Museum

Entrance to the Museum
Walking further away from the beautiful Torrington Square, we come to a glistening white colonial building  which  houses the Sri Lanka National Museum  with lot of old  historical artefacts.  
Kandyan Throne

Taking a three wheeler  to Colombo, you can visit another landmark development project the Pettah Floating Market Complex. This beautiful Floating Market is the work of the  Engineering Units of  the Army and Navy of Sri Lanka. It is a shopping  centre with restaurant and refreshment stalls.  In the night it turns into a beautiful fairyland illuminated with a solar lighting system.

Not far away is the  Fort Railway station the entrance to which has been cleaned to make it a  large open  space provided for people’s manifestations.  The Bus standard has been well organised providing commuters easy access to buses plying to different destinations.

That is not all, there are more surprises in beautified City of Colombo in Sri Lanka. There is the Colombo lotus tower  which is going to be the tallest building in South Asia with a height of 350 meters. It is again being constructed by our friends the Chinese.

Incidentally these areas where these beautiful constructions have been done or are continuing to be done  were the most crowded and unclean parts of Colombo, the past of which would soon be a memory when urbanisation of Colombo undertaken by Gotabhaya Rajapakse is completed.
inside trhe colombo gold centre

In Pettah, you also find the Colombo Gold Centre, unbelievable that it had been set up in an old fish Market building. The transformation had been undertaken by the Sri Lanka Army.

A little further away from Colombo is the Bellanwila Temple. A short distance  away from the temple  is the Bellanwila Walking Track another idea of the visionary Secretary of Urban Development  Gotabhaya Rajapakse. It is around the Veressa River which was a marshy stretch of water now made a paradise for migrant bird watchers, joggers, and those who would like to take a cycle  ride around the track. 

There is a food court and seats and tables set for those who wish to take a refreshment  from the nearby food stalls and sit quietly to watch the  evening turn in to a fairy night with automatically lighting up solar lamps.  There is complete security provided with the discrete presence of the  security guards.

After savouring  Colombo’s transformation into that great beauty,  leaving other areas which had been touched by the visionary magician Gotabhaya Rajapakse for another day , I decided to take the Southern Highway to Galle

The beautifully laid highway runs 126 kilo meters from Kottawa to Matara .  I took it up to Galle in a comfortable bus. It was a visual feast.  

The  European highways are certainly not as attractive as the Sothern highway I took. It had been financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank of International Relations. All this  makes any Sri Lankan coming from abroad proud of the  new developed Colombo city and the highways which are a spectacular  attraction.

Galle Fort
Galle had always been an attractive town. It is more crowded than when I saw it last. But there are better shopping centers.  Unwatuna was very attractive a few years ago .  It has now become a crowded beach- a popular hangout for  western tourists.  There is a large cricket pitch in the centre of the town and from there the road takes you into the  Galle Fort.  It was built by the Portughese and improved on it by the Dutch. The old fort city has also been renovated by the visionary Secretary of Urban development Gotabhaya Rajapakse. 
Old Kachcher in Galle now a beautiful Arcade

The old Kachcheri  resplendent in its renewed new facelift  a revitalised old structure. It is now a beautiful arcade with restaurants and shops.  The narrow streets of Galle fort have been cleaned and well arranged to make it a new city without loosing its past historical form.  

The Old Dutch Church stands out in its immaculate white walls, the light house, the National and the Maritime Museums make the Gall Fort city appealing to  visitors.

After enjoying  this immense beauty of Sri Lanka in which I immersed myself thanking all the time to those men like the President Mahinda Rajapakse, who with his determination brought peace, and  security to Sri Lanka, Gotabhaya Rajapakse who transformed the old to astonishing new beauty, assisted by  the peacetime activities of our heroic Armed Forces, I came back to my village in Kandy proud of being a part of this paradise which is Sri Lanka.

In the village travelling in buses and trains speaking to people of divers interests from different stations of life, I came to know how the ordinary people enjoyed their lives in a country free of fear and bursting bombs, trusting and relying on the Armed Forces to maintain that security  for generations to come.  The unity of Communities they knew is necessary  but not at a cost to the newly achieved peace and security.

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, the King Devanampiyatissa offered Sri Lanka to Buddha Dhamma and Sangha.  There were then no Tamils, Muslims or Christians.  Harking back to that time of sacred sanctity the word of the Buddha was heard every full moon poya day emanating from the Temple Trees the residence of the President of Sri Lanka.  The television was made beautiful with the radiance of  a smiling President Mahinda Rajapakse appearing at opening ceremonies of a road, a bridge, hospital, or  a school.  Sri Lanka was development oriented.

The TV debates had always dissatisfied UNP politicians looking at all development projects negatively,   without even critical appreciation of any. They  condemned infrastructure developments saying that  people cannot eat roads. Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunanayke, Lakshman Kiriella,  laughed at the Armed Forces, refusing to see the risks they take,  and achievements they made in their war against the terrorists.

President Mahinda Rajapakse having had eliminated terrorism was determined to develop Sri Lanka and hoped he would be able to win the hearts of the Tamil people by developing the North.  Lot of money was spent for that purpose  hoping that reconciliation will be more feasible with an enriched North.

All that was though impossible five years ago became possible with the President Mahinda Rajapakse who had the same determination he had to eliminate terrorism, to also develop Sri Lanka

The trains started running from Colombo to Jaffna once again. A well carpeted A9 road was laid like a  ribbon all the way from Kandy to Jaffna.

The paddy field were green every where once again and the  farmers had rich harvests.  Sri Lanka was able to export several agricultural products. 
Sri Lanka was self sufficient in the production of rice.

New school  building were opened every where. Information Technology was being brought to village schools. The Colombo Port was being enlarged, a second air port at Mattala was declared open. There was no traffic yet but Air Line companies were paying to keep Mattala Air port working to make it an emergency landing air port.  No where in the world has  great projects become immediately marketable, it takes time to get the attention of  consumers.

The development under Mahinda Chintanaya was in stages.  First was the elimination of terrorism and bringing peace and security to the country.  Second was the development of infrastructure, and development of other sectors including agriculture.  Third was to be the  improvements to people’s standard of living, and bring down prices to reduce the cost of living.

The President Mahinda Rajapakse wanted to make  a far reaching change in the country, giving the benefits of it to its people, and may have thought it would necessitate more than two years to implement the whole of Mahinda Chintanaya.  Therefore, he took the risk of calling for an early election before the end of his term of office. 

That was a wrong calculation. There was enough he had done for Sri Lanka after elimination of terrorism to have confidence of the people to vote him for another term. But he failed to take into account the Tamils and Muslims who were against a united nationalism and was preparing to vote against him.

Unfortunately the 8 January, 2015, ended his carrier as the President. Sri Lanka lost in him a great National leader who was determined to bring the country forward  to develop it to be equal to a developed nation status.

It earned him the anger of the West which tolerates only the countries that develop within the norms set by them.

The West played a leading role in defeating Mahinda Rajapakse at the Presidential elections by gathering the Tamil and Muslim votes against him. His defeat at the January, 2015 elections also marked the lost for the people of Sri Lanka the paradise it became after Mahinda Rajapakse was elected President in 2005.

What happened to Sri Lanka- the Paradise after its loss on the 8th January,2015. will be left to be related in another article.

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