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Sunday, 20 November 2011

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa :

Dedicated to the welfare of the common man



D. M. Jayaratne being sworn in as Prime Minister by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa

In the early 1970s I met a youth, a law student in Parliament. He happened to be the youngest Member of Parliament of the United Front Government.  I believe he would have been 23 years of age at the time. When he made his maiden speech at the first session of the first Parliament convened after the United Front Government was formed, the entire Parliament consisting of seasoned politicians, both from the Government and the Opposition, were spellbound and listened with rapt attention to the entirety of his speech.

I believe the veteran politicians were astounded by the forceful speech made by this young Member of Parliament.

It was at that juncture that this great leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa displayed propitious signs of a future politician of great maturity and exemplary leadership. The qualities of leadership of a benevolent politician, dedicated to the welfare of the common man, was apparent from the inception of his political career, perhaps overtaking the political path laid by the veteran politician, D.A. Rajapaksa.

In the aftermath of the defeat of the United Front Government in 1977, a conducive environment was created for young Rajapaksa to test his courage, determination and perseverance to face all political challenges that came before him.

From that time onwards, the image of the young MP remained alive in the hearts and minds of the blue-shirted people and the public of the country.

During the Jayewardene era, the followers of the SLFP had to undergo untold suffering, harassment and discrimination at the hands of their political opponents.

It was Mahinda Rajapaksa, the lone politician, who shared in equal measure the suffering and harassment inflicted on the SLFP, whose interest he represented.


Mahinda Rajapaksa appearing on behalf of D. M. Jayaratne at the Embilipitiya Magistrate’s Courts

He truly represented the interests of the down-trodden classes, unlike the majority of politicians who are bent on cheap publicity by showing themselves as doughty fighters for the course of the dispossessed.

In the early days, the mass media was not as vast as it is today. Even during that lean period, Mahinda Rajapaksa was a popular figure among the poor and the dispossessed people of the villages and towns.

I do not think that there was any period in the history of this country when the human rights of the representatives of the people were so blatantly violated, as during the Jayewardene era.

During that period, the rights and privileges of the MPs of the SLFP were completely denied to them by the ruling UNP.

They proffered various reasons for curtailing such freedoms and rights to their political opponents.

There was one person who single-handedly fought and struggled against such violations of human rights of fellow party members; that was none other than Mahinda Rajapaksa. He alerted the international community to the deteriorating situation in the country with respect to human rights.

Unjust treatment

He brought to the notice of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva the unjust treatment meted out against the members of the Opposition. 

He was the only person who had the courage, and the strength to make such complaints. 

He took meaningful steps to reveal to the world the gross injustices meted out to a section of the people of the country. He could thus awaken the people to rise up against injustice through the medium of Pada Charika or the long walk.

The people rallied round him in support of this effort.

Pada Charika from Colombo to Kataragama and from Colombo to Ratnapura led by Mahinda Rajapaksa marked a watershed in the history of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. His leadership in the Pada Yathra earned him a unique position in the pantheon of political leaders of our country.

On a personal note, I wish to mention with some amount of pride that it was this great leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa who fought for my rights and privileges in the Courts of Law when I was taken into custody consequent to incidents which had taken place in Embilipitiya and Suriyawewa during the Provincial Council Elections of 1994.

Whoever has rendered assistance to him at any time, whether they were known or unknown to him, received equal treatment and reciprocity from him.

It is very rarely that we come across individuals in the political field who exhibit qualities of patience and understanding of people. Among those rare political leaders possessing such exemplary qualities, Mahinda Rajapaksa receives undoubtedly first place.

He taught us how we could achieve success in all our activities if we pursue the path of non-violence without resorting to force and coercion. Among the media personnel he was popularly known as ‘Mahinda Aiya’ or ‘Brother Mahinda’. This endearing term aptly suited him as he was the most loved politician by the media fraternity of the country.

Cherished moment

I am still not aware as to the reason why President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to have his first public rally in Gampola after his inauguration as President of the country. However, it was an opportunity that we dearly cherish as I and the people of Gampola could bestow on him our warmest and heartiest blessings. It was from there that the first steps were taken by him as our leader for the onward march to usher in peace and prosperity to the people and the country.

He is forthright and expresses his views unambiguously at the right time. He is resolute-minded which is a rare quality among politicians. These exemplary qualities were amply demonstrated to the whole world by President Rajapaksa on May 18, 2009.

He vanquished Velupillai Prabhakaran and his fellow terrorists when even the most powerful countries of the world were of the opinion that the terrorists were invincible and could not be defeated by our Armed Forces. President Rajapaksa proved to these countries that they were wrong, by defeating the ruthless terrorists and liberating the Tamil community from the clutches of the terrorists, thus bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire Sri Lankan society.

I would affirm with certainty that this is a feat which has not been achieved by any former leader of the country. I am certain that a leader of his calibre would not be born in the country even in the future.

Each and every politician cherishes and yearns to become, some day, the President or Prime Minister of the country, or attain some leadership position. Such hopes and aspirations of politicians are normal and should not be viewed adversely.

Dignity and security

To become the President of the country, wholly committed to the people, upholding the dignity and the security of the whole country is not as simple as day-dreaming for high expectations. It is on this score that President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumes a unique position.

He is a leader who possesses intense love and affection to his country. He is a President with enormous respect to his countrymen. He is an indomitable warrior who has committed himself to protect and bring security to his people. The people of the country under his leadership are certainly a very fortunate lot. Under his leadership, the country forges ahead with physical and spiritual development and there is certainly a bright future for the people.

We have received the good news that there are signs of the existence of gas reserves in the Mannar basin. These signs have now become a certainty. A day will dawn very soon when we would be able to reap the benefits of this natural wealth. Since gaining independence, many political heads including successive Presidents embarked on oil and gas explorations; but none was fortunate to get positive results from those attempts. But in the era of President Rajapaksa, we would be fortunate to enjoy the fruits of these endeavours.

President Rajapaksa possesses bravery, courage and the steadfastness of a valiant soldier. He is full of love and affection towards all beings, a trait befitting a person of great merits.

When he declared that the country would be transformed into the ‘Wonder of Asia’, there were many sceptics who viewed this claim with derision. There are still many persons who pronounce gloomy prognostications to this resolute determination of the President. We sympathise with those sceptics with no malice or rancour towards them.

Defeated Prabhakaran

I am convinced of the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa is a leader who says boldly what he believes he could do, and accomplishes fully what he promises to the people. Not only did he annihilate Prabhakaran who was considered invincible, but also obliterated completely the Tiger terrorists.

When he declared his determination to defeat Prabhakaran, there were many who viewed this claim with sarcasm.

They dismissed this claim as unachievable. But he took up this challenge single handed and achieved great success, bringing honour and dignity to the country and to himself. The saga of the Magampura Port and Norochcholai Power Plant too had ended in similar success.

Mahinda Rajapaksa could be considered an extraordinary and unique leader not only for the above achievements, but also for many other reasons. He is a President who speaks true to his conscience. As President of the country he could enjoy a life of luxury, privileges and comforts as lawfully provided by the Constitution. But he finds supreme satisfaction by being with the ordinary people. 

He enjoys the simple food of red rice, coconut sambol and dried fish that is dished out from the kitchen of a poor person’s hut.

He bestows love and affection towards the ordinary Sirisenas, Dayawathies, Mohamads and Shivashankars in equal measure to his own children; Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha. It is this intense love that drives him to embrace these children, not for photo opportunities, but with genuine feelings of affection towards them.

I extend my heartiest best wishes to this great leader of our era, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, not with the lofty feelings of Prime Minister or the second citizen of this country, but in the position of a humble citizen of my country. I state here with pride that I am fortunate to enjoy the blessings and guidance of this great leader.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, our Leader of the Nation, may you lead my country, Sri Lanka for many more years to come!

May you be bestowed with good health and long life!

 

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