If the UNP happened to be in power at the time of the tsunami nobody would be languishing in tents by now, Prof. G. L. Peiris MP and UNP organiser for Moratuwa said at a meeting held at the De Soysa Stadium at Katubedda, Moratuwa.
He said that the duty and responsibility of a politician, whether in government or not, are to serve the masses who reposed their confidence in them. They elect their representatives by casting their vote at an election for those politicians whom they think would carry out this task without failure. But today, sadly, very many politicians do not seem to give much thought to this vital aspect of their contract with the people
The Prof. G. L. Peiris Foundation had organised the distribution of equipment, tools and other effects to the tsunami-affected people of Moratuwa and adjacent areas on account of the 59th birthday of Prof. Peiris. A house built at a cost of Rs. 125,000 was handed over to a family while three fishing boats valued at Rs. 575,000 each were donated to a community of fishermen. A wheel-chair was given to a disabled child and savings accounts with an initial deposit of Rs. 1000 each were opened on behalf of children from 125 tsunami-affected families. School equipment and other educational tools were also distributed among children.
Speaking further, Prof. Peiris said that the United National Party under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinge has carried out a tremendous amount of rehabilitation work related to the tsunami disaster. `Everybody, including government offices accept the fact that it was entities such as the UNP, NGOs, foreign agencies and other philanthropists and certainly not the government that carried out the major potion of tsunami-related relief work.`
Prof. Peiris pointed out that the UNP organisation of Moratuwa, in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, organised relief in the form of food, shelter, clothing and medicine and thereafter took steps to provide the necessary equipment and tools to the affected so that they could reorganise themselves and start earning a livelihood. `Steps were taken to allocate capital to those in need. In all the municipality, urban council and pradeshiya sabha areas where the UNP enjoyed administrative power massive shramadana campaigns were launched to clear the debris. It was also true of Moratuwa where the whole beach area was cleared with the participation of volunteers and the utilisation of available machinery.`
Speaking further Prof. Peiris said that they were in the process of implementing a formal and practical step-by-step programme to rehabilitate the affected people in the areas. He pointed out that all this was done when they were out of power and he said that he could guarantee that no one would be languishing in tents by now if the UNP was in power at the time of the tsunami. Most of the people who bore the brunt of this tragedy were people with self-respect who had their own independent livelihoods and they were certainly not looking for handouts from anybody. But unfortunately fate decreed otherwise. But the massive amounts of aid received by the country could not be properly distributed among the needy due to the inefficiency of the government and lack of management. The only activity of the rulers, was to be engaged in various undemocratic schemes to perpetuate their hold on power while being oblivious to the suffering of the people.
He specifically thanked Anil Koswatte and Dinesh Weerakkody for contributions made to make these efforts successful.
Ravinath Gunesekara, Mayor of Moratuwa, speaking at the occasion praised Prof. Peiris as a person who understood the heart rhythm of the people of Moratuwa. He recalled the efforts of Prof. Peiris to get everyone`s participation in the project. He said that Prof. Peiris` birthday was celebrated without any fanfare as a mark of respect to the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
A computer was also donated to the Janajaya Vidyalaya, Angulana by Prof Peiris. Among those who attended this ceremony were Mrs. G. L. Peiris, Thomson J. Mendis and Senaka Damayantha Silva, Members, Western Provincial Council, Mahesh Mendis and Prasanga de Silva, Secretary and Treasurer of the UNP Balamandalaya of Moratuwa respectively and Siripala Munasinghe, Secretary to Prof. Peiris.