[The speech delivered by JVP & NPP Leader Anura Dissanayake to Sri Lankans living in Korea held in South Korea on 16.04.2023.]
We have much work to do in order to make this year and the next ones good years for our country and our people. I invite all of us to intervene with a strong determination to make a courageous attempt to get the country and the people out of this predicament.
When we see the faces of the young people gathered to fill this hall in South Korea, we firmly believe that our country’s unfortunate times can be ended very soon. You didn’t come to Korea to build platforms for politics and branch unions.
Nevertheless, while in Korea, you are very much aware of the fate of our country, your relatives, your friends, your loved ones, and the people of our country. you are very attentive and pained about the oppressive life that the people of our country are facing. You are participating in this event because you have a solid determination to change the tragedy that our country and the people of our country are currently facing.
While you are engaged in some profession with income, you have come here to listen to us and participate in this opportunity to talk with us with determination and courage to free our country from the tragedy that has happened.
We know that many of the people of our country are working abroad. There are three main types of people who go abroad in our country. One is the people who have a job in the country and have a certain social status but have no faith in the country’s future.
You may know that recently a professor in a department at the University of Kelaniya said there is a need for at least 26 lecturers in his department, but now there are only four. You must have read in papers in the past few days that there was an advertisement in a newspaper and interviews were arranged, but no one with such knowledge, skills, or abilities had applied.
The media reported that all four paediatricians of the Anuradhapura Children’s Hospital had gone abroad and that section of the Children’s Hospital had to be closed. Also, more than 3800 high professionals from the banks of our country have left the country.
A bank manager, a university teacher, a doctor, or an engineer is a professional worker in a country. If you look at the history of Korea’s development, education and professional labour have played a significant role.
Education and professional labour have created opportunities for new products, inventions, and technologies. However, a situation has developed in our country that professional labour goes out of our country.
Take a doctor, for instance, he has social recognition and a significant source of income, but they think about what will happen to their children in the future while living in our country, so a large number of them are leaving the country for their own and their children’s future security. They are moving to countries with social security. As a country, we have paid a lot of money to create a doctor with that knowledge and experience, but we as a country have not planned to give that doctor or engineer or any professional his/her due standing, but countries like Australia and England buy that doctor for a minimal amount. Government processes to protect that professional labour are not built today in our country.
Also, among the Sri Lankans abroad, there are Sri Lankans who go abroad for the next step in their education. The most significant number of people who have gone abroad in Sri Lanka are young people who are eligible but need the ability to build a sustainable economy for their families in Sri Lanka. There are also young people who hope to get married but face the question of how to live their married life even though they are of marriageable age.
The married young man is suffering from the lack of a proper source of income, how to build a house, how to make a source of income and how to provide education to the children. That’s why most of the Sri Lankans living abroad are there because they are unable to make a proper source of income for themselves and earn some source of income for their family. They are people who went abroad expecting to find some income for their families and for themselves.
Most Sri Lankans in South Korea have left the villages where they were born, their relatives, their families, their children, and their environment to come to South Korea for a labour-intensive job in the fishing industry or a labour-intensive job in the manufacturing industry.
The rulers of our country failed to prepare a programme for the construction of the motherland by retaining the talented and knowledgeable labour in the motherland. Today, the young generation of our country has to choose to leave the country for something, standing in queues at the passport office. We have seen how they studied the Korean language in classes and dozed off in the queues at the foreign bureau.
Even though we were told to protect the won motherland like your own mother, our children have not been able to give safety and life to the motherland that was won. Our rulers think that our young generation is a burden to our country and therefore they are being encouraged to leave the motherland.
In the mid-1980s, textile factories were first sold in our villages. At that time, the bed sheets needed by the village were produced by weaving centers in the village employing girls in the area. At that time, we had textile colonies in Tulhiriyala, Matthegodala, Pugodala and Veyangoda. First, they sold the textile factories and started the selling economy. After all the textile colonies were destroyed, they started selling plantations. More than 60% of our tea plantations are large plantations, and almost 40% are small plantations, but the small plantations are yielding. Large plantations were left uncultivated or replanted. Large trees were cut for timber; no new technology was introduced.
When our entire tea industry was in crisis, we started to sell our factories. In the 1980s, the paper factory in Ambilipitiya, which was operated with the technology of that era, was sold and the people who bought it left pawned the land to the bank, took the money and left the country. The Welisara milk powder factory was sold, and it has been closed today. The Kantale sugar factory with 23,000 acres of land was sold and abandoned today.
As of 2017, then rules had sold 88 of our public institutions, and now they are preparing to sell 8 institutions, one of which is Ceylon Hospital, which the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation owns. Sri Lanka Insurance made a profit of 10 billion last year, approximately 300 million a day. However, their intention is to sell Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Lanka Hospital with it. Lanka Hospital last year’s profit was 2200 million. Sri Lanka Telecom’s last year’s profit was 8000 million. If selling Litro Gas, Hilton Hotel, Water’s Edge Hotel, these sales and borrowings are the way to develop the economy, our country should have been built as one of the finest countries in the world.
It has been proven that our country’s economy will not be built by taking loans and selling national resources. Finally, this is not being sold according to an economic plan. Ranil Wickramasinghe presented the budget in November 2022 and said these should be sold to strengthen foreign reserves. For him, the oil tank complex of the ports, the shopping malls, and the power plants are not national resources.
According to him, we don’t own shores; we do not own oil tanks; we don’t own ports, we don’t own power plants. Doesn’t our country own any of them. We have followed this same policy repeatedly for more than 40 years – on the road of selling and borrowing.
The result is that we have a country where young people cannot find a job, exercise books cannot be made available to students, the child cannot have a proper meal, and the pregnant mother cannot have a nutritious meal. Therefore we are responsible for creating a new economic policy for our country. The National People’s Power, with the people, is prepared to bring this change.
This crisis was created not only by the economic policy but also by the political culture of our country. There is a ruling group in our country that steals and wastes billions of people’s wealth. They sit on the minister’s chair with the intention of how much they could earn per day. There is a ruling group in our country that steals and wastes billions of people’s wealth. Thee is a vicious circle of people connected with them who can steal even from those on the death bed. How can they be rulers when they plunder the people in shock at the threshold of death? The central part of this crisis is the political culture, and this should be changed.
We have come to Korea to invite you to establish a new politics subject to the law without the politics centred on fraud, corruption and lawlessness. We invite you to come together to strengthen the National People’s Power as we confirm that we shall build a new government to fulfill the goals of your dreams and expectations planted in your heart.”