The occasion of the completion of 30 years in politics by Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera was celebrated last afternoon at the BMICH.
The event titled ’30 years of daring to dream’, was attended by a large number of well-wishers, among them President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, foreign diplomats and a host of other invitees.
The keynote address titled ‘Khema’s Boy’ was delivered by former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, a personal friend of Minister Samaraweera. While offering his blessings and congratulations to Minister Samaraweera, President Sirisena in his address, recalled that he had met Mr. Samaraweera for the first time in 1988 and at that time both of them were in the opposition.
“I believe that if a politician expects to go the full length in politics, he or she must start political life in the opposition. Only then does he or she become a seasoned politician,” President Sirisena stressed.
Reminiscing about the days when they were all young and eager parliamentarians, the President said that Mangala had a habit of carrying a bag tucked under his armpit.
“Sometimes he would leave it unattended in the waiting room in Parliament. We used to stuff the bag with rubbish. The following day we used to get a good verbal bashing from Mangala as we expected, however some of the words he used cannot be repeated here. Having said that, he is a man with a good heart,” he said.
President Sirisena noted that Mangala’s forte was reconciliation, compromise and dedication to any work entrusted to him and he wished him success in his future endeavours.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said it was no coincidence that all the politicians who entered parliament with Mangala such as President Sirisena and former presidents Chandrika and Mahinda, were present to celebrate the occasion of him completing 30 years in politics.
“When Mangala entered parliament for the first time in 1989, I was in the other side. He came with his mother and I spoke with Mrs. Khema more than Mangala. I believe he is a product of the bloodless revolution of former President JR because he upheld, promoted and spoke for a market economy, free trade, human freedom and democracy. Therefore, I did not see any clash between our thinking and that of Mangala’s,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Mr. Wickremesinghe noted that Mangala, after being appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2015, did a great job by turning the global thinking in favour of Sri Lanka.
“Though he has achieved much already and is held in high esteem by the people as a result, I don’t know whether the status quo will remain after he presents the budget on March 5 as the finance minister,” he said in a lighter vain.
Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga said Mangala belongs to the rare breed of politicians fast becoming extinct in Sri Lanka.
"He is a man with a vision for his country and not for his personal gain, with the skills to translate that vision into effective action, with a steadfast commitment to honesty in the government and the courage to stand by his vision and principles when faced with even the most formidable challenges", she stressed. "Sincerity and honesty have proved to be the bedrock of our friendship. Thank you Mangala for being my friend in good times and in bad,” Mrs. Kumaratunga said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)