2019 Dec 9
The year 2019 has been a bitter-sweet experience for the islanders calling Sri Lanka their home. With the Easter tragedy and change in presidency during the past year being two of the unforgettable events, there are few other note-worthies that may have slipped out of our memory. Here’s taking you down memory lane:
- From a political standpoint of 2019, Sri Lanka’s former president Maithripala Sirisena spoke about the reimplementation of the death penalty in February and signed the death warrant of four individuals involved in drug trafficking in June, bringing back the capital punishment after a period of 43 years. Moreover, an application for the post of executioners was published for persons aged between 18-45, and two had been chosen out of the hundreds who applied.
- August of 2019 saw Mr Shavendra De Silva replacing Mr Mahesh Senanayake as the country’s army commander, after which Mr Senanayake emerged as a common candidate for the presidential elections representing the National People’s Movement later in the year
- A highlight in the economic sector of Sri Lanka was the promotion of our nation from a lower middle income earning to an upper middle income earning country as a result of an increased Gross National Income with a GDP per capita of USD 4,102 and a population of 21.7 million as of 2018.
- 2019 was also a notable year for travel and tourism in Sri Lanka; our island managed to remain Lonely Planet’s top tourist destination for the year 2019, in spite of the security concerns brought about as a result of the tragedy in April.
- The country’s premier airline – Sri Lankan Airlines retained its position as the World’s Most Punctual Airline for the second consecutive year (how is it possible that Sri Lankans are capable of working on time for two consecutive years?). Together with this, Sri Lanka’s third international airport – Jaffna International Airport was declared open in October.
- In addition to the airport, 2019 also saw the opening of South Asia’s tallest tower – The Nelum Kuluna in September. The Nelum Kuluna (Lotus Tower) stands 350m tall above the Colombo skyline with a breath-taking view of the city.
- Shangri La’s One Galle Face shopping mall was also declared open in November, housing seven stories of international and local brands in retail, entertainment and dining. Both these iconic landmarks in the country’s business capital were declared open by former president Maithripala Sirisena.
- Fellow Sri Lankan Marini de Livera had a fair share in making 2019 memorable for us by becoming the first Sri Lankan to win the prestigious International Women of Courage award in March for her work as a woman and children’s’ rights activist. The ceremony was held in the United States of America with the Sri Lankan flag waving high.
- A joint project between the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Peradeniya and Asian Institute of Technology, Sri Lanka’s first satellite – Raavana 1, was launched on the 18th of April this year. The Raavana 1 is a research satellite and entered its orbit on the 17th of June, two months after its launch.
- The ICC Cricket World Cup squad was announced in April and was captained by Dimuth Karunaratne. The team finished sixth in the league stages of the World Cup.
- Together with these ups, comes a few downs for cricket in Sri Lanka. This year brought along the retirement of fast bowling legends Nuwan Kulasekara from all forms of cricket and Lasith Malinga from ODIs. Lasith Malinga’s last match flooded the R. Premadasa with locks of blue and gold curly wigs as fans gathered to witness his 3-38 including a wicket on his last ball! The cricket fans of Sri Lanka also had to accept the retirement of spin bowling veteran Ajantha Mendis – the inventor of the carrom ball, from all forms of cricket this year.
- Cricket is not the only sport we Sri Lankans are to be proud of this year. Four out of the twenty athletes who participated in the 2019 Special Olympics World games won gold and silver medals for athletics and swimming. The two golds were won by Sajith Weligamage for athletics and Shahika Hettiaracchi for swimming, while the silver medals were obtained by Dumindu Perera for athletics and Arun Prashanth for swimming respectively.
- The Guinness World Record for the breaking 50 concrete slabs which weighed 100kg each with his chest was 20 minutes. In April this year, Sri Lankan Janaka Kanchana entered the books by smashing this record in an unbelievable time of 5 minutes and 40 seconds!
- Caroline Jurie brought glory to Sri Lanka being crowned Mrs World 2020. Out of 51 entrants, she secured the title at the World Pagent held in Las Vegas. The crown was brought back to Sri Lanka after 35 years with the current Mayor of Colombo and former beauty queen Rosy Senanayake winning the crown in 1985.
- The Sri Lankan team that participated at the South Asian Games made their mark with new records setting the bar higher for all athletes. The 13th South Asian Games held from the 1st to the 10th of December at Katmandu and Pokhara, Nepal saw the Sri Lankan Athletics and Aquatic teams be decorated with over 200 medals.
- An overflow of graffiti art sprung up on the streets of Sri Lanka from Colombo to the South, Central and all around the country with the themes of Patriotism, Sri Lankan History, Culture and Travel being running themes.
- The Port City was marked on the Sri Lankan map on the 7th of December with a beautiful display of fireworks calling the interest of investors and opening a new ground of opportunities for businessmen from around the world.
- And finally, Sri Lanka won the Asia Rugby U-19 Division 1 Championship and promotion to the Asia Rugby U-19 Championship in 2020 with a big win of 40-0 against the Philippines.
With all these events, our country has many things that have helped increase the size of our island on the world map. Be it good or bad, the people of our country are proud of their motherland, and wish nothing but more reasons for patriotism in the upcoming year 2020!