President appeals to masses :
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday called for the defeat of both terrorism and communalism in all their manifestations.
"We are now swimming upstream against racism. Our Nation is now fully prepared and accustomed to handle and endure the situation, as a multi-racial society. They have no hatred in their hearts. We must establish a society and an environment where the rich and diverse cultures of all communities could be enmeshed together, appreciated and cherished as our very own assets and treasures," President Rajapaksa said.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the commencement of work on the Chinese-funded multi-million dollar National Performing Arts Theatre (NPAT) in Colombo, the President said cultural endeavours would help in a better understanding among communities.
The Theatre which would be constructed under the auspices of Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage, at a cost of Rs. 2,430 million, covering a ground surface area of 14,000 square meters, would be fully funded by the Chinese Government.
The President said several significant monumental buildings such as the BMICH and the Court Complex in Hulftsdorp and all varieties of Chinese goods available here reflect the strong cultural and social bonding between the two friendly countries. The Theatre is expected to be completed within 26 months.
This historic joint venture would further consolidate these existing traditional and friendly links between Sri Lanka and the People's Republic of China.
"A long-felt need to protect, enhance and nurture the indigenous Arts and the Cultural Heritage of the land, which has no race, caste or creed barriers, finally became a reality this day, thanks to the Chinese Government and its people. The unavailability of a NPAT was a drawback in the uplift of our Arts and Culture," he said.
He categorically pointed out that our rich cultural heritage and the Performing Arts which from ancient times were entwined, were woefully stagnant for long, due to the barbaric terrorism that prevailed in certain regions of the country, and resulted in some communities being driven out and displaced from their natural habitats.
He was of the view that in the market-oriented and fiercely competitive world of today, we too should not drift away in rampant commercialisation, to the detriment of spiritual, cultural and social values of the nation.
"We too wish to come out of the morass and raise our head, like China. We will develop our villages in all forms possible, especially its infrastructure. We will adopt a 'Arts and Culture friendly' Chintanaya (concept)", he noted.
Reminiscing and condoling the devastation caused by the recent earthquake in China, President Rajapaksa stated that China, as a true-friend, had steadfastly stood by us when the Tsunami catastrophe rocked our island nation. China has consistently stood by us and never ever isolated or abandoned us in any form of peril or natural calamity, in the past.
Sri Lanka will also follow suit and 'stand by' with China in all circumstances.
The Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Ye Dabo pointed out that there was bilateral trade between China and Sri Lanka, in the order of US$ 14 billion. China has become the fourth largest trade partner of Sri Lanka.
"China is a true and genuine friend, committed to the development and the prosperity of Sri Lanka," Ambassador Dabo added. President Rajapaksa unveiled a 'Commemorative Plaque' to symbolically mark the inauguration of the NPAT.
The President also cut the first sod of soil to mark the epoch-making event.
Two minutes silence was observed in memory of our 'War Heroes' who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in combatting terrorism, the 'Nargis' cyclone-victims in Myanmar, and the earth-quake victims in China.
President Rajapaksa and Chinese Ambassador Ye Dabo unveiling the commemorative plaque. Pictures by : Sudath Silva and Sudath Malaweera
President Mahinda Rajapaksa cutting the first sod of soil to mark the symbolic inauguration of the construction of the 'National Performing Arts Theatre' at Nomads Grounds yesterday
Courtesy : Daily News