Though the pandemic is continuing, we must reach country’s development goals – Defence Secretary

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Sri Lankan Defence ministry in a media release states, though the pandemic is continuing, we must always work towards reaching our development goals with stability, which is achieved ensuring national security, without endangering our country at peril, said the Defence Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne (Retd) yesterday (Sept 9).

Mentioning about the ruthless terrorism that endangered the country for almost three decades and presently eying towards country’s development, he said “Even though, we were able to relieve the country from the menace of terrorism, we have found another security threat in the form of a pandemic, which has posed a greater threat to the entire world”.

The Defence Secretary expressed these remarks at the Inauguration Ceremony of the 14th  International Research Conference (IRC) organized by General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) yesterday. 

Principal Advisor to His Excellency the President Mr Lalith Weerathunga graced the occasion as the Chief Guest as well as the Keynote Speaker.

This year’s IRC of KDU will be held under the theme of ‘Security, Stability and National Development in the New Normal’. The onward research presentations will be conducted on a virtual platform due to the prevailing pandemic situation in the country. 

Further speaking, Gen Gunaratne emphasised that it is quite imperative for all of us to understand and pursue the ways and means of adapting to the circumstances embedded within the ‘New Normal’, in order to coexist with the COVID 19; a pandemic which has not shown any date of expiry as of today.

In such a context, our endeavour here as Sri Lankans should be to seek possibilities to find ways and means to steer the country towards the national development goals amidst difficulties, he added.   

Gen Gunaratne highlighting on globalisation and further economic integration in the recent decades, said “the relationship between the National Development and the National Security of a country has become increasingly interlinked”.

“The National Development has emerged as an important strategic priority for the Sri Lankan Government, with the connection between development and National Security”, he also said.  

 Gen. Gunaratne, mentioning all possible methods broached by the government to achieve its economic goals and objectives, yet with a lot of impediments whilst ensuring human security, said “When the domestic affairs of a country are affected, it is extremely difficult for a country to reach its desired end states”. “Sri Lanka has no exception in this regard”, he detailed.

Stating that Sri Lanka being a developing country and its inability to accept any economic standstills for a protracted timeframe, the Defence Secretary went on saying “However, any plans to expedite the economic gains should never be at the expense of human lives” and added that the “President himself has expressed his keenness on this aspect to see and inspire all possibilities available to ensure the maintenance of momentum in the economic sphere”.

In contrary, we shouldn’t forget the other contemporary security concerns such as violent extremism, terrorism, piracy, drug and human trafficking, smuggling, cybercrimes and other organised crimes and natural disasters that pose a grave threat towards the stability of a country, he recalled. 

Illustrating on country’s geostrategic location which is prone for such threats, he said presently the government has taken a number of steps to curtail such illegal activities and further introduced measures such as demarcation of ‘maximum security prisons’ concept and highly effective maritime domination programmes launched by the Sri Lanka Navy, which has become very effective.

“However, the effects of such activities itself poses a moderate level threat to the stability of our country”, he noted. 

 Gen. Gunaratne highlighting the significance of an IRC of this magnitude said “A government alone cannot afford to face all these threats that ruin the stability of a country”, adding “Therefore, as responsible citizens, it is our bounden duty to provide novel ideas, suggestions and proposals to consider in attaining our country’s stability and development.

 KDU Vice Chancellor (VC) Maj. Gen. Milinda Peiris presented a souvenir to the Defence Secretary to mark the occasion. 

 KDU VC delivered the welcome address at the inauguration ceremony.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Foreign Ministry Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, KDU Chancellor Gen. Gerard Hector De Silva (Retd), Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Chairman of University Grants Commission Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Chancellors and VCs of other universities, Director General of Institute of National Security Studies Prof. Rohan Gunaratne, Air Force Chief of Staff Air Vice Marshal Prasanna Payo, Deputy VCs, Deans and Directors, former Chancellors, VCs and Commandants of KDU, eminent scholars, senior military officers and a number of distinguished guests from Sri Lanka and overseas also joined the virtual inauguration ceremony.