Kumaratunga made these comments at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Oration organised by St. Bridget’s Convent under the theme ‘Educating Women for Leadership.’ Kumaratunga said she was devastated about the present situation of the country but she does not have a recipe to take the country out of the situation it is in.
Speaking about the present political situation of the country Kumaratunga said it had reached such low levels that she didn’t want to talk anything about it. “The barrier of ethnicity and everything else had been taken over by the concept of animalism,” she said.
Referring to the qualities which make a good leader Kumaratunga said true leaders possess the gift to inspire other persons to subdue and control the animal within and to lift out the good and humane in them.
“I believe that good leaders are the ones who make better humans of others, giving them a vision of a better world, inspiring them to greater achievements. Such a leader has the ability to give a nation the strength to reach unconquered heights. On the other hand bad leaders have destroyed not only individuals but also entire nations” she said.
Speaking further Kumaratunga added that a true leader was fully aware that the power bestowed on him was held by him in trust on behalf of those who gave him power and does not abuse that power for his personal benefits.
“He should possess the humility to heed the voice of others, even his opponents and generosity to engage with them in free discourse and the courage to say “I was wrong” and self-confidence to arrive at compromises. We need to do some hard work to bring forth the good in us and to subdue the horrid,” she said.
Kumaratunga also said that women can become corrupt when in power but that morality and ethics is what would make that person honest or dishonest. “The gender is irrelevant when democracy is concerned. But it is the morality and ethics that matters. Today the value system has completely broken out and unfortunately the only thing that seems to matter is money and more money,” Kumaratunga said. (Jayashika Padmasiri)