‘Leader destined for greatness’ | Daily News
Marking President Maithripala Sirisena's birthday, yesterday

‘Leader destined for greatness’

In a way, it was coincidental as it apparently appeared. Yet, it was not so; it was a momentous incidence controlled or determined by destiny. The birth of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) as a deeply-rooted people’s political movement, took place on September 2, 1951. At the same auspicious asterism, a lucky child destined to be a man of an era in future, was blessed to a modest farming family of Laksha Uyana in Polonnaruwa.

The blessed one born was President Maithripala Sirisena. No one knew then that the innocent farmer's son would one day be an outstanding political leader who would usher in a revolutionary change in Sri Lankan polity.

Experts in astrology had confirmed that the planetary movement linked to the births of the SLFP and Maithripala Sirisena was identical. The same remarkable political party and the political leader celebrated their 67th birth anniversary, yesterday.

President Sirisena is the pioneering leader who leads the country with a modern vision and mission aimed at wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in every aspect of society. However, his long political career to reach today’s heights, was not so beautiful. It was full of challenging hurdles in numerous forms. However, his arduous political journey since its inception, is an exciting tale of success.

Having read and studied books on Marxism at the young age of 16, he first joined the leftist political movement of the country. Nevertheless, owing to his innate political instinct, he chose the correct political stream. On October 1, 1967 young Maithripala joined the SLFP at the residence of the then Polonnaruwa district MP and SLFP organiser for the same electorate, Leelarathne Wijesinghe. At his inaugural meeting of the party, he was unanimously elected the Secretary of the Polonnaruwa SLFP Youth Wing, which marked a remarkable juncture in his long, political journey.

As a responsible and dedicated youth leader of the party, Maithripala Sirisena rendered a noteworthy contribution towards the progress of the party, which was highly acclaimed and recognised by the party leadership. He proved himself to be a promising young leader of the SLFP.

In 1978, he resigned from state service to be more committed to party activities. As a young and energetic youth, he worked hard to defend the party and its cardres amidst severe suppression of the then ruling party to halt the forward march and to discourage party cadres. In recognition of his commitment and potentials as a rising leader in 1981, he was elected the Secretary of the All Island SLFP Youth Federation, with the blessings of the then party leadership. Subsequently, in 1983, he was elected President of the Youth Federation in honour of his honesty and dedication towards party undertakings.

Former leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, having a good understanding and confidence on the emerging leader, appointed him to the Central Committee of the party and thereafter, he was chosen as the SLFP Chief Organiser for the Polonnaruwa electorate.

Following the new appointment, Maithripala Sirisena worked with more dedication, as well as added vigour and confidence, to uplift the party. He rendered a notable contribution and played a leading role in ending the then 17-year UNP regime.

Following the election victory, he was offered the portfolio of Deputy Irrigation Minister. He was not worried over the extent or scope of the deputy ministerial portfolio. Instead, he became more determined to rectify the untold grievances of his fraternal farming community in Raja Rata, and to serve them to the best of his ability.

For the first time in his career, in 1997, he was offered a Cabinet portfolio as the Mahaweli Development Minister, creating history in Polonnaruwa. It was 27 years after the late C.P. de Silva that a politician of Polonnaruwa received a Cabinet Minister post. The SLFP, being more grateful to this emerging new leader from Raja Rata, appointed him as Deputy Secretary of the party in 1997 and afterwards, in 2001, as the Party General Secretary.

It is hardly possible to provide a complete commentary on the great work of Maithripala Sirisena in a brief account. However, he was able to render a massive contribution towards the progress of the party under a host of party leaders. While in the service to the party, even under turbulent political situations of the SLFP, he always upheld and stood for Bandaranaike's vision.

However, owing to the dictatorial developments which progressed in the party, as well as the malicious political, social and economic retrogression within the party and outside, a number of severe political crises erupted in the country which could not be solved.

The qualities of consensus and democracy hereditary to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, were fast lost. The decent and efficient persons of the party, who loved and venerated it, did not receive the due recognition and positions they deserved. The entire nation demanded an enlightened change, to which our adored and buoyant political personality gifted to the nation from the historic Pulathisi Purawara, could lead triumphantly.

Whatever criticisms leveled by critics, the historic decision taken by Maithripala Sirisena in 2015, was politically farsighted and rewarding to the country as well as the party. Despite the painful defeat at the 2015 August Parliamentary election, the SLFP was able to escape a potential political disaster as President Maithripala Sirisena opted to head the distressed party.

Today, we the members of the SLFP have a dignified leader. The country has a truly patriotic President. The epoch-change which he led is historic.

Following the political vision ‘Maitri Palanayak - Stavara Ratak’ (compassionate Maitri governance - a stable country), the present Good Governance Government had secured a number of victories, nationally and internationally, for the country and people.

Moreover, following the launch of a foreign policy based on national aspirations under the theme ‘International Relations that defend the country’, President Sirisena has been able to ensure a dignified foreign service which had been in disarray long after the military victory of 2009.

The President, who cancelled all political appointments and nominations of relatives to the foreign services, reorganised the Foreign Service while detailing professional officials and personnel with required qualifications with nationalistic approaches, ensuring a refined diplomatic service which could earn the respect and recognition of the world.

Neighbouring countries in Asia, including India, China, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Korea, have become faithful friends of ours. At present, there are no human rights violation charges against our country. Sri Lanka has won the world through its foreign policy of Non- Aligned tradition.

In place of bogus economic processes, authentic and reliable novel economic strategies are being initiated. Sri Lanka is gradually emerging as an export-oriented economic centre in the Indian Ocean. The economic policy of the Sirisena administration is a visionary strategic approach aimed at assuring sustainable development, touching every fabric of society as an alternative to the so-called spectacular development schemes in the past.

President Maithripala Sirisena has been able to turn the dream he had while he was the Deputy Irrigation Minister into action, by successfully inaugurating the giant Moragahakanda - Kalu Ganga project which had been intentionally blocked by previous governments. It is the biggest scheme under the massive Mahaweli Development Project. The main reservoir has a water capacity of 660,000 cubic acres. It is six times bigger than Parakrama Samudraya. The state had spent over US$770 million on the project.

The President, who knows the grievances of the farmer community of the Raja Rata as a grateful son of Polonnaruwa, is committed to fulfil his responsibilities and obligations to his beloved farming ancestry. With the Moragahakanda – Kalu Ganga multipurpose initiative, he has launched a massive irrigation network for the benefit of the people in four provinces. The new irrigation network will irrigate parched dry lands in regions as far as Vanni in the North, Raja Rata, as well as the Wayamba, Central and Eastern provinces. The drinking water problem of the region would be completely rectified. The project would permanently halt the drought in the northern part of North Western province.

Central Bank reports confirm a number of economic triumphs achieved during the past three years by the Good Governance administration of President Maithripala Sirisena. The country’s export income had marked an upsurge by 10.2 percent, recording the highest export income in the recent past. The total export revenue of US$10,310 million in 2016 had been increased to US$11,360 million in 2017.

The GSP+ tax concession re-assured by the European Union, re-adjustment of global demand for our products, expansion of investment in export-related industries, increase in prices for our products in the global market, obtaining strong institutional cooperation through a friendly trade policy, and introduction of a flexible foreign exchange policy, are some of the significant milestones of the long-term development strategy of the government.

However, pessimists intentionally ignore the notable economic, political and social victories during the past three years of the Good Governance Government. Yet, honest and faithful people appreciate and hail the true achievements of the government led by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Great are the many political, economic and social schemes you have accomplished for the long-term prosperity of the country during the comparatively brief period of three years. The pronounced mission you have accomplished would eternally remain in the hearts and souls of grateful people.

You restored the dignity and admiration of the nation which had been locally and globally shamed. President Maithripala Sirisena, I wish you good health, long life, courage and luck in all your endeavours in ushering an era of prosperity to the country.


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