Sri Lanka has been through many obstacles within these past 4 years under the rule of the UNP, which has made the nation lose its global rankings and plunging it into an economic crisis.
While all sectors suffered the brunt of the weak leadership and mismanagement of the incumbent government, one of the worst neglected force was the police, public officials and military.
When this government came to power, they shamed our military officials in front of the international community despite our tri forces ending the 30 year terrorism and being raked as one of the best in the globe.
Infact, our very own Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera, spearheaded Sri Lanka to co-sponsor a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva exposing him as a rare kind to go against his own people. For him and his lot, pleasing western powers were more important than protecting their own people and safeguarding their country.
These past four years have been a dark era for all Sri Lankans so much so that people are now desperate for a change. Keeping all these key issues in mind, SLPP candidate, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, released his election manifesto early last week in which he has made pledges to work for all sectors including the police, military and public officials who are often underated and underpaid.
Infact under the UNP government, thousands of public servants have suffered, which often has led to protests, as they have been underpaid, neglected and their issues ignored by their respective ministers. Many who are in public service, today, live in dire conditions.
But as Mr Rajapaksa has stressed, for any country to strive, it is equally important that the private as well as the public sector are given equal opportunities so that Sri Lanka in whole can prosper.
In his election manifesto, Mr Rajapaksa has pledged to uplift all state institutions by establishing a National Enterprises Authority that will ensure all State enterprises are transformed into commercially viable, profit making entities adopting global best practices and prudent risk management strategies.
Infact State enterprises such as Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, Sri Lankan Ports, Airport and Aviation Authority, SriLankan Airlines, Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Sri Lanka Transport Board and Sri Lanka Railways will all be managed by senior career professionals.
In recruiting professionals to large State enterprises, subject matter specialists and proven managers would be provided opportunities and the existing laws governing salaries and emoluments would be revised enabling such professionals to be adequately remunerated. A scheme to monitor their performance will also be established.
A government under Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa will also ensure that all State enterprises are free from political interference and made to be financially independent – something which was severly lacking under the UNP government which led to trade unions launching strikes, severly inconveniencing all sectors and causing a blow to the economy.
In his manifesto, Mr Rajapaksa also mentioned key pledges to safeguard the police.
As a key point, he has pledged to address all salary anomalies of the police force and would look at measures to have an adequate salary increment scheme.
He will also soon, create a police university similar to the Kotalawala Defence Academy to enable all police officers including police women to enhance their knowledge and skills and build adequate housing, i.e., quarters/hostel units for all police officers so that they can move from location to location without any issues.
Every effort will be made to provide opportunities for police officers to commute to work from their own homes.
In gratitude to our military, Mr Rajapaksa has always stressed on the sacrifices they have made for this entire country, by losing their lives, their limbs and the pain that they underwent which is no small deed.
To remember their endless sacrifices, Mr Rajapaksa has pledged that all permanently disabled soldiers will be entitled to obtain their salaries until their life time and even after their demise, such salary will be paid to the spouse if one is married and to either parent for those who are not married, and live with the mother or father.
Mr Rajapaksa will also adopt a mechanism whereby all those disabled soldiers who lost their limbs to obtain artificial limbs at the cost of the State. We will also redevelop the physiotherapy, rest and rehabilitation centers such as Abhimansala which was stopped by the incumbent government, so that our armed forces could obtain their full physical and mental integrity without any fear of costs.
It is easy for NDP candidate Sajith Premadasa today to keep calling for endless debates with Mr Rajapaksa but what he has failed to admit is that they have severely failed this country and its citizens within the past four years.
There is no point promising the sun and the moon from November onwards when they failed to fulfull their pledges to the citizens and instead took the path of corruption and fraud.
I call upon Mr Premadasa to accept his failures and be ready for his defeat because this nation needs a change and it desperately needs a leader who will perform.
And that leader is Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa who, together with Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa have always thought about their citizens in an equal manner, and led this country forward, just as they did before 2015.