Eighty six per cent of participants in a Nielsen-Sunday Times opinion poll have expressed optimism that real peace can be achieved in Sri Lanka while 81 per cent believed that all ethnic groups would be able to live in harmony.
The survey has been commissioned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the country s independence.
The survey, with a randomly selected sample size of 519 of both sexes across all age (15 years upwards) and ethnic groups, also revealed that 21 per cent of them described President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the best living leader for leading the country towards economic development and prosperity, far ahead of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (one per cent/eighth place) and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe (one per cent/10th place).
Only the late Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake (33 per cent) and the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa (22 per cent ) received higher ratings.
Among the others featured in the survey were President J.R. Jayewardene (7 per cent), Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (5 p.c), Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike (4 p.c), Minister Lalith Athulathmudali (2 p.c), Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake (1 p.c.), and Minister Gamini Dissanayake (1 p.c).
To the question Are You happy or unhappy that you were born in Sri Lanka , 92 per cent of the participants said they were happy to have been born here. Seventy per cent said they would not migrate to another country.
Thirty five of those interviewed said the education system has improved since independence while 46 per cent rated the decline in values and morals in society as a negative phenomenon in the post-independence era.
Telephone interviews for the poll were conducted from january 28 to 31. Data was captured by Nielsen field research officers through a well structured questionnaire.