President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – a thorough professional | Sunday Observer

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – a thorough professional

1 December, 2019

In Sri Lanka, the month of December dawns today with great expectations amongst all citizens that the newly elected President, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government comprising his brother, former President and seasoned political campaigner, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister will speedily bring back peace, harmony, security and normalcy to Mother Lanka and usher a golden era.

As the chilled winds fill the air, signalling the dawn of Christmas season, the cynosure of all citizens of the country is on His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa with tremendous trust and faith in him with dreams and aspirations that the time is ripe to unite under one National Flag and march on the road to victory as Sri Lankans for better times for our future generations.

His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa who becomes the Seventh Executive President is a patriot, a proven leader and an able administrator and the country expects him to heal the divided nation and unify all Sri Lankans. Launching his election manifesto, ‘Go for action – Vision Gotabaya Rajapaksa’, he assured to provide immediate relief packages and tax concessions while giving priority to national security and maintaining zero tolerance for corruption.

When His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa met the Indian Prime Minister, Hon. Narendra Modi in New Delhi on November 29, 2019, during the maiden foreign visit of the Sri Lankan President, the Indian Premier shared the expectation of the masses of Sri Lanka in the words that, “the mandate given to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reflects the aspirations of the people for a United, Strong, Prosperous Sri Lanka”. The Sri Lankans had similar expectations on eradicating terrorism from the country when they elected His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President of Sri Lanka in 2005 and 2010 and along with the pivotal role of Defence Secretary vested on Gotabaya Rajapaksa and together they won the hearts and minds of the masses in our resplendent isle for crushing the LTTE and ending the civil war.

A patriot soldier

His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been a front-line soldier, tried and tested in the battlefield. He is an icon of dedication and commitment. A son of the soil who has made tremendous personal sacrifices to serve our beloved motherland. His previous military experience as an outstanding soldier - an officer and a gentleman and overseas military exposure enabled him to wipe out terrorism from our resplendent isle.

He understood very well the challenges faced by field commanders in dealing with a ruthless war that demanded not only leadership and fighting skills but respect for rule of law and accountability.

For this reason he frequently toured the battlefield and encouraged the armed forces and personally assessed the situation first hand throughout the war. He survived an assassination attempt on his life and continued to take tremendous risks to serve the nation.

His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa grew up in a powerful political family as a son of D. A. Rajapaksa, a former Member of the Parliament and Cabinet Minister but as a stripling youth opted to join the Sri Lanka Army in 1971 and served the country. His was a big family with eight siblings - five brothers in Chamal, Mahinda, Basil and Dudley and three sisters in Jayanthi, Preethi and Chandani.

For the next 20 years, He worked his way up the ranks, receiving a number of medals for gallantry and conspicuous bravery before leaving to expand his horizons on IT.

The renowned US President John Fritz Kennedy in his inaugural address stressed, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. He elaborated, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success”. President Kennedy inspired a generation to accept responsibility for its government, and left a legacy with the following famous words, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”.

The stories of past courage can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul. If someone is called a profile in courage, it means that they are a true example of what it means to be courageous.

A thorough professional

Sri Lankan voters have earlier chosen their Executive Presidents from amongst politicians at seven Presidential Elections – President J. R. Jayewardene in 1982, President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1989, President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1999 and 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005 and 2010 and President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015. As a country enjoying democracy, Sri Lankans thought it fit to shuffle power between different political parties or alliances as well.

Yet, at the Presidential Election held on November 16, 2019, the citizens of Sri Lanka, recovering from the Easter Sunday tragedy, took a bold step to place confidence in the candidate who is capable of ensuring national security amongst 35 candidates in the fray. This saw the election of a thorough professional in His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the 7th Executive President of Sri Lanka.

The newly elected President needs no introduction in Sri Lanka. His was a household name in the country for decades and even won the admiration of the whole world following the pivotal role he played as the then Secretary of Defence to eradicate the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam also known as the LTTE along with the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran in May 2009.

Actually, it was an exemplary and meticulous execution of a mission to free the country from the clutches of terrorism after almost 26 years of destruction. This was facilitated by two brothers – then President of Sri Lanka, Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defence, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa and the incumbent President, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

On May 18, 2009, Colombo declared the end of the 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, aka the Tamil Tigers. It was indeed the beginning of a new era of peace, national reconciliation and development.

As the President of Sri Lanka

His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been graceful in his carefully worded maiden address to the nation on November 18, 2019 from the ancient city of Anuradhapura, where he assured that he would be the President of all Sri Lankans. Appropriately, he was clad in white and pledged to uphold sovereignty and national security.

President Rajapaksa delivering the address from Salapathala Maluwa at Ruwanvelisaya shared, “To exercise the historic mandate given, I will form a new government which can act on my policies. I love my country and I’m proud of it. I have a vision. I request all patriots to join me to create a prosperous country”. He further said, “A government should always set an example to the society because professionalism and efficiency should be the cornerstones of the new administration”.

A clarion call

The clarion call by the President, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, within days of his dazzling victory calling all experienced professionals in the country to be part and parcel of the governance is indeed a first in the history of Sri Lanka and should be cheered and admired by all Sri Lankans.

When the circumstances permit the President to pick and choose at his will and pleasure from amongst the hundreds and hundreds of experienced professionals who backed him throughout his election campaign heart and soul, for an Executive President to think differently and invite all citizens of the country through a ‘Notice to the Public’ seeking their ‘Expression of Interest’ is noteworthy.The experienced professionals to be considered for appointments as Chairpersons and Board Members with the ardent desire of uplifting state owned commercial business to become commercially viable and profit making organizations adopting best practices and management strategies to ensure public accountability is indeed a magnanimous gesture. I am sure Sri Lankan professionals including those living overseas will be encouraged to respond positively and rally round His Excellency the President in his forward march to take the country to glory. It is indeed a decision unparalleled in the history of Sri Lanka to be taken by a President. Also, this gesture comes from a President elected for the first time and without a political background.

Dedication and commitment

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is well aware of his responsibilities towards the future generations. He will surely hone their skills and empower them with intelligence and technology to face 21st century trends.Throughout his election campaign, he won the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans for the discipline and ethics maintained and has vouched to carry forward the same.

He has succeeded in appointing a 15-member Cabinet as promised. The gesture to consider legendary Sri Lankan off spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, for the office of the Governor of the Northern Province speaks volumes of his ardent desire to recognize the minorities. The acid test for the new President facing the economy. He will surely speed up the large scale infrastructure projects currently progressing at a snail speed.

During his tenure as the Secretary of Defence, 2005 through 2015, he uplifted the country’s stability and national security to greater heights through sheer commitment winning the admiration of all Sri Lankans. He is a trusted leader who delivered in numerous aspects to build an identity for Sri Lanka.