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