Sri Lanka President alludes to 30 years of true independence

ECONOMYNEXT – It may have been a slip of the tongue, but President Maithripala Sirisena alluded to Sri Lankans being robbed of at least 40 years of freedom since British colonial rulers left in 1948.

In his address to the nation broadcast live over national television, President Sirisena referred to 30 years of independence, instead of 70 as mentioned in the invitation sent out to the Queen and other guests who showed on Sunday.

"Today we proudly remember and mark 30 years of independence since ending colonial rule," Sirisena said as Prince Edward and his wife Sophia represented the Queen, the head of Sri Lanka’s former colonial ruler Britain.

If the nation thought they misheard, the President, for good measure, repeated that the country was marking the historic occasion of 30 years of independence which suggests true freedom was won in 1988, the year he campaigned for a seat in Polonnaruwa, entering Parliament for the first time in 1989.

Sirisena was reading off a tele-prompter at Sunday’s independence celebrations, and it is not clear if the script writer mixed up 70 and 30 or a short-sighted president misread the text.

But, the message he delivered had many pondering if the President was actually trying to send a more meaningful message on the independence anniversary to reflect on true freedom.

Last week, Sri Lanka was ranked among the 10 worst countries for personal freedoms in a global index of human freedom. Sri Lanka was even behind Zimbabwe. In fairness, the survey reflected data up to 2015, just before Sirisena’s administration could get down to work.  (COLOMBO, February 4, 2018)

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