Gamini was not a man limited to mere talk
He was not only a brilliant politician but also a master of creating more talented, efficient people
The name of Gamini Dissanayake is an indelible mark in Sri Lankan politics. This statement is issued to mark the 79th Birthday of the late politician who marked a turning point in national politics.
Dissanayake was born on March 20, 1942 and entered Parliament in 1970. But perhaps, it was never with the intention to die as a man who would continue to live in the hearts and minds of the people. Although many people born as human beings often become a burden to one’s nation only to pass away quietly, a handful of people fulfil their responsibilities and duties to die as free men and continue to live in the hearts of the people.
Dissanayake in 1977, at the time a prominent young leader in Parliament, was appointed as the Minister of Power and Energy, Irrigation and Road Development for the betterment of the people. He was given this great responsibility due to his genuine interest and commitment to serve the people as well as the genuine love shown to them and the strong drive to overcome challenges. He was also a talented orator. But he was not a man limited to mere talk. He also proved his talent to serve by completing the Mahaweli Project; which is arguably the largest project ever to be implemented in Sri Lanka, in just six years when in reality it was scheduled to be completed over three decades. He prevented the country’s wealth and labour from being wasted by completing the project in record time. It saved years of the country’s national wealth. He was not only a brilliant politician but also a master of creating more talented, efficient people. With the right guidance of those educated, intelligent and active people around him, the Mahaweli project was completed within a very short time.
His ability to strategically obtain grants for large projects such as the Mahaweli movement without having to borrow from other countries is also highly commendable. Kotmale, Victoria, Randenigala, Rantambe, Maduru Oya, Ulhitiya, Rathkinda, Lunugamwehera and Samanalawewa reservoirs not only contributed to the greater part of the country’s electricity demand, but also contributed to the country to become self-sufficient in rice. Recognising that he was an excellent diplomat, he was also to be commended for working to build very strong relations with countries like India without allowing for diplomatic relations to be severed. Setting an example, he showed that the responsibility of a politician is not to live off of the people, but instead to make the people live. Thus his character is a great example to contemporary politicians.
Setting an example, he showed that the responsibility of a politician is not to live off of the people, but instead to make the people live
He was a man of new ideas and a pioneer in leading the country towards development by giving priority to indigenousness. He was able to ensure the conservation of Biodiversity and enhancement through these projects, which also created watersheds to feed reservoirs but also minimised any environmental damage. It must be said that the loss of such a great politician is an unbearable loss to the entire people of our country as well as to the future generations to come. His name will resonate as long as these great reservoirs remain on this land. May the great politician Gamini Dissanayake attain Nirvana.
(The writer is a former Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )