November, a decisive month for Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer
For those looking forward to new horizons

November, a decisive month for Sri Lanka

15 November, 2020
FLASHBACK:  Lake House defence journalists - the late Ranil Wijayapala (Daily News), Shanika Sriyananda (Sunday Observer) and Prasanna Fonseka (Silumina), led by Editor-in-Chief Dinesh Weerawansa, having a weekly discussion with the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse at the Defence Ministry in 2007
FLASHBACK: Lake House defence journalists - the late Ranil Wijayapala (Daily News), Shanika Sriyananda (Sunday Observer) and Prasanna Fonseka (Silumina), led by Editor-in-Chief Dinesh Weerawansa, having a weekly discussion with the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse at the Defence Ministry in 2007

November has turned out to be a decisive month for Sri Lanka, especially for loyal and patriotic people who look forward to new horizons. This is mainly because several key milestones were achieved in November. Firstly, the person who gave fearless political leadership in the country’s battle against terrorism, former President and present Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was born on November 18, 1945. On the other hand, he was first elected President on November 18, 2005. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s record equalling the current fourth term as Prime Minister also began on November 21, 2019.

Spectacular victory

Secondly, the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the Security Forces towards a spectacular victory in 2009, took over the destinies of the country as the President on November 18 last year. Moreover, that was the date which ended the so-called Yahapalanaya led regime of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe.

That’s not all. The birth to that unknown political party which massacred the big-league parties as a Lilliputian at three major elections – the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), was given in November. The SLPP was inaugurated on November 1, 2016 and moved to Nelum Mawatha on November 6.

Two-thirds majority

Having won the record number of Local Government bodies in the very first election it faced in 2018, the SLPP won the Presidential election with its candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa polling a staggering 6,924,255 votes. He registered a commanding 52.25% to enjoy a massive lead of 1,360,016 over UNP candidate Sajith Premadasa. At the last General election, the SLPP fared even better to secure an almost two-thirds majority in Parliament this year. There is yet another interesting feature in November.

The father of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister Chamal Rajapaksa and the SLPP founder and former Minister Basil Rajapaksa – former Parliamentarian D.A. Rajapaksa was also born on November 5, 1905.

Spelt wonders

This proves that November has spelt wonders which led to the development of the country. The last Presidential election was held at a crucial juncture as the country was at a low ebb in all spheres. Although the UNP-led coalition came to power in 2015 promising the sun and the moon, they cut a sorry figure at the end blaming one another.

Knowing only too well that Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be the main enemy to the Yahapalanaya regime, long before he was chosen, they resorted to every tactic to thwart his efforts. The UNP-SLFP introduced the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to prevent Mahinda Rajapaksa contesting future a Presidential election for a third time as well as those holding dual citizenship contesting Parliamentary and Presidential elections.

The many changes made via the 19th Amendment to the Constitution witnessed many powers held by the Executive President being strategically transferred to the Legislature and Judiciary and the so-called independent commissions. Thereafter, President Sirisena cut a sorry figure, by not only blindly giving his consent to all but also agreed to the period he is in power - to five years from the original six years. The trump card of the UNP camp was Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s dual citizenship which he held at that time. The SLPP machinery was masterminded by none other than Basil Rajapaksa and the dual citizenship of Gotabaya Rajapaksa was withdrawn just in time. Although all the paperwork was done in the United States by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the UNP battled till the eleventh hour before the Presidential election in the Supreme Court.

When the UNP sympathisers finally lost all such cases in the Supreme Court, they were compelled to contest the powerful SLPP candidate at the election platform. Some leaders are born, others are made. In Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the DNA of leadership has been inherent in him from birth, hailing from a family where the qualities of service, courage, and unrelenting determination to achieve goals are ingrained.

Weak governance

Whether it was in victory against ruthless terrorism or to usher in a new dawn for socio-economic relief to a country beset with serious problems caused by weak governance, Gotabaya Rajapaksa could undoubtedly be relied upon. The faith and the overwhelming trust most of the people in the country reposed in him a year ago was vindicated as the country began to implement a new and refreshing agenda.

The SLPP candidate for the 2019 Presidential Election deviated from the traditional election manifesto, which had hardly been fulfilled by most successful candidates in the past. Instead, he presented a visionary statement which is practical. Titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, this unique policy statement was aimed at building a rebuilt country with a future. Aimed at creating a secure and prosperous nation, this visionary statement won the hearts of one and all from far flung areas. From the very first day of taking on the mantle of President, he set in motion a stunning and amazing momentum. There was a sense of discipline and accountability that had been sadly lacking during the previous regime. He set goals on the advice from the country’s best brains; brought in people who would selflessly focus in getting the job done; directed measures to overcome bureaucracy, and displayed decisiveness in an environment where democracy was misinterpreted as a platform to airing views endlessly. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka could not achieve much as four months after the Presidential election, the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. But thanks to the health sector, Government and Security Forces, Sri Lanka is facing the threat successfull y far better than most other countries.

Grave danger

Until one year ago, national security was in grave danger for over four years. There are many international examples where the collapse or deterioration of national security eventually led to a country losing its status as a nation state. And then Covid-19 struck. Lesser mortals would have waited until studies were done, plans drawn up, then opened a forum for discussion and debate. However, President Rajapaksa did not have patience when the lives and livelihoods of the people were at stake. He acted decisively bringing in the Tri-Forces and all the medical resources and capacities he could muster and ‘wage a counter-offensive’ against an invisible enemy - a virus that was unrelenting.

The steps taken, the authority and discipline with which he personally led and ensured its implementation earned the admiration of world experts and world leaders, and premier institutions such as the WHO. When the results were most comforting and the Covid-19 pandemic seemed to be brought under control, the ferocity of the virus has again reared its deadly re-emergence. This was a major setback to the socio-economic goals. The country is in a fortunate position where there is a Leader in charge who has the sterling qualities to deal with the situation firmly, treat adversity as an opportunity and begin the transformation he set about. We are supremely confident that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will make this a reality as he enters his second year in office.