The Grand Old Party has just celebrated its 70th anniversary, a historic event attended by President Sirisena and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. The UNP has ruled Sri Lanka for most years since Independence, and has been responsible for unparalleled economic and social progress whenever in power. UNP leaders have always conducted themselves with dignity whether in or out of office and never tried to cling to power when they were defeated as rulers of the land.As a supporter of the party and its leaders all my life, I am proud of the party and its record of achievement. I recall the late Anura Bandaranaike telling me soon after he joined the UNP that the it was a very disciplined party which he said was a new and enlightening experience for him.
All our leaders have contributed greatly to the party, the country and its development. The late D.S. Senanayake, our first Prime Minister , fondly referred to as the Father of the Nation, the late Dudley Senanayake who will always remain my favourite politician, the late Sir John Kotelawala, the late presidents JR Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, D.B. Wijetunge and last but by no means least, our present leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Irrigation and Colonization schemes of the late DS, free education, Galoya and Mahaveli were all done by the UNP, the open economy, the Mahapola scholarships, The first ever Ministry for Women’s Affairs, National Youth Centre, The All Island Youth Development Programme, National Institute of Education, Promotion of the IT Industry, Gam-Udhawa Housing, Garment factories and so many other benefits for the people, too many to mention. Each UNP leader did a great deal for the country, taking major steps forward for the progress and development of the country. This is in contrast to the harebrained schemes; many of which were white elephants brought in by the previous regime, as a result of extravagant spending of the country’s money for personal glory.
Premier Wickremesinghe brought new life and vision into the party by bringing in young educated, qualified professionals, thereby building a strong second line of leadership. Most of these young men and women have remained loyal to both party and leader against tremendous odds and offers which would have resulted in perks and privileges by crossing over, particularly during the tenure of the past regime. Most of them did not try to run before they could walk or try to lead before they learned to follow. The climb to the top must be slow and steady, those who try to run too fast; cutting throats and stabbing backs on the way, often fail or fall as we have seen happen in the past. If one has visions of being a future leader, loyalty, dedication and commitment to both party and leader are essential. His example of integrity, loyalty to all previous leaders, patience, discipline and vision is an inspiration to all young politicians. I do not think any other who has been attacked as he has been. Like the late Dudley Senanayake, who also never joined another party but remained loyal to the UNP even when temporarily out of politics, Premier Ranil took it all in his stride, never leaving the party, or moving from his steadfast stance on a myriad issues. He does not need power to survive, he comes from a family well endowed with wealth and privilege for generations, well known for philanthropy and contributions to Buddhism. But he has always been fair to all religions and communities, is experienced in good governance and commands both international and national respect as a statesman par excellence.
"Unlike in the immediate past, when members of the ruling family had more power than the Cabinet of Ministers, the Prime Minister’s style of governance is such that even his siblings would not come to his office without a prior appointment"
Unlike in the immediate past, when members of the ruling family had more power than the Cabinet of Ministers, the Prime Minister’s style of governance is such that even his siblings would not come to his office without a prior appointment. They do not throw their weight about and command those working for their brother. This is what true democracy is all about.
I am thankful to God who has blessed me most abundantly, by enabling me to live to see the UNP celebrating its 70th anniversary and to see Ranil being Prime Minister for the fourth time. A moment of great pride for me, as I was his first teacher in the kindergarten at Bishop’s College, where his mother was the first Buddhist head girl, and his grandmother and great grandmother were educated. But before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I would like to see racist statements or remarks which invariably incite racist feelings and violence and the use of children as political pawns being made punishable offences by law. That is my appeal, as a loyal UNPer, patriot, a mother and a grandmother. Our children, who are our future, are too precious to be used by bankrupt politicians who cannot cope with life without power, the abuse of it and the corruption that comes with absolute power. They use children to shout vulgar slogans and visualize splits where none exist; the green eyed monster probably influencing them to have visions, about divisions and disharmony between the President and the Prime Minister, who are working together in harmony, each complementing the other.
Advances in medical research and discovery have made the life span of a human being last much longer than what it once was, at three score years and ten. I have faith that the grand old party too, will forge ahead; united from strength to strength with the team of talented young people, who will follow Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s example; to an unclouded future with no decaying shadows to destroy its forward march.