Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not someone who fled the country fearing the war but it was quite the opposite and he is an exemplary professional military man, Major General (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne said.
He said this at the launch of his latest book titled ‘Gotabaya’, a biography of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. This is the fourth book penned by Maj. Gen. Gunaratne following his books titled, ‘Road to Nandikadal, Kadol Eththu and Uththara Devi'.
“One of the popular slogans of his opponents is that Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country out of fear of the war. I will give one example to diminish this false accusation. During one operation to hit the LTTE in Jaffna, the first of our two battalions was attacked by the LTTE brutally. Mr. Rajapaksa, who was leading the battalions, did not retreat and went ahead with the second battalion. He could have stayed put and ordered only the battalion to steer ahead leaving him behind which he didn’t do. If my memory serves me right, we lost over 90 officers and soldiers that day,” the Maj. Gen. said at the book launch.
He said after Mr. Rajapaksa returned to the country to serve as the Defence Secretary, he ensured that everything was in place so that the tri-forces could defend the country against the LTTE.
“During the peace accord, our military forces were one of the most humiliating forces in the world. Still, the military maintained a high tolerance level. Mr. Rajapaksa made sure the Air Force had an adequate fleet of fighter jets and that all forces had the capacity to face terrorism. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is an exemplary professional military man,” the Maj. Gen said.
He said the Avant-Garde floating armoury was a foreign exchange earning a gold mine which was discontinued by the incumbent government.
The Maj. Gen said he met Mr. Rajapaksa several months ago to ask permission to author the book and soon after, many people had approached Mr.Rajapaksa seeking permission to write a book about him.
“He gave permission to me and told the others that Kamal Gunaratne is writing the book. This happened several months ago, way before he declared to run for the presidential election. This book is not an attempt at promoting Mr. Rajapaksa aiming the election,” he said.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa were presented with copies of the book ‘Gotabaya’ by Maj. Gen. Gunaratne at the launch which was held at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre on Monday.
Meanwhile, former president Rajapaksa presented copies of the book to two disabled corporals -- Mahinda Edirisuriya and Nishantha Maheeraja in the presence of the former defence secretary Rajapaksa and Maj. Gen. Gunaratne. (Lahiru Pothmulla)