The south of Sri Lanka produced many distinguished and outstanding men and women, excelling in various fields for decades. One such personality is the Speaker of Parliament, Chamal Rajapaksa. His biography, written by Punya de Silva - a close friend of his, published by the D.A. Rajapaksa Foundation, reveals many salient facets of his illustrious character, his contribution to the social development of people and his untiring contribution towards the overall development of the region.
The book is well compiled with notes on ancient history on irrigation and agriculture. In-fact, it is a biography full of lessons for others to learn and follow. The author's language is so simple and lucid and the biography is well documented. The book is well presented inclusive of pictorial images and bears high resolution and excellent quality in printing. The writer in his descriptive narration fittingly identifies Chamal Rajapaksa as a "messiah" in irrigation and agriculture development.
Reading through the contents in the biography one could well conclude that Chamal Rajapaksa from his young days grasped the sentiments of the people in Giruwapattuwa and the needs of the farmers and their livelihood. He has been a farmer for farmers, explorer in water management and an agriculturist, who well understood the needs of the people. This is well exemplified by the author, in his narration of events. The creation and establishment of the Bataata Agro Park covering an extent of 40 acres, the Institute of Agro-Technology and Rural Sciences - an affiliated institute of the University of Colombo and Agro-Technological Centre at Weligatte speaks volumes, depicting his concerns towards the people and the people's well-being.
The author has well portrayed the character and recounted the feelings of Chamal Rajapaksa towards the poor, the needy and those who faced arduous livelihoods. The writer has put his pen to paper in the book by describing the events to substantiate this. The writer has gone on to say, "Even as a young man Chamal was worried that certain farm lands were not put into good use." The book also refers to the persevering efforts, keenness and knowledge of Chamal Rajapaksa. The author Punya de Silva has depicted his impressive personal qualities. "Chamal knew every tank and anicut in the Hambantota District. He had maintained files containing notes on ruined tanks. With the knowledge of every village in the District, he knew the necessary development work for those villages." The book brings in authentic and far-reaching result oriented narrations worth reading for everyone's own edification.
A strong believer in doing anything with a touch of fineness as the author goes to explain; Chamal Rajapaksa has monitored, inspected and reviewed time and again the projects launched by him to improve the livelihood of the peasants; particularly of those in Ruhunu Magampura. The writer has taken great pain to illustrate Chamal Rajapaksa's stewardship and self-possessed qualities of attentiveness, assiduousness and affection towards the peasants.
The author's description of lifestyle of Chamal Rajapaksa portrays also another great notable quality of his simplicity and simple minded approach to living and behaviour. This is a lesson to many and the best practice for one to follow. His perseverance and untiring efforts were geared to running the race with no pomp and glory and or drum beat, but reached great heights and won the hearts and minds of the people.
The author has taken a painstaking effort to characterise traces of Chamal Rajapaksa in his early childhood, the intense period as a professional policeman in his formative years and finally his impressive illustrious career as a Politician, leading an exemplary life to lift up the lives of the villagers to be bright and happy, with a vision equally caring for the well-being of the constituents. As described in the biography by the author, his ascension from childhood to where he is now, not been a bed of roses but a struggle steadfastly brought-forth from a dream at the inception, finally to a far reaching reality in achievement. The psychology behind his success is something he acquired and accomplished through sheer dedication, determination and commitment. This is a lesson for others to learn and follow.
The author by narrating descriptively, various events centered on Chamal Rajapaksa has made it a point to distinctively portray a number of high qualities in him for others to inculcate as "best practices." It highlights several important characteristics of him as an Inside-Outside Leader. The biography goes onto narrate firstly the genuine interest displayed by him in identifying what had to be done with the situation he inherited - a view that has been formed by witnessing the hardships of the people in Ruhunu Magampura, with considerable knowledge of the inside. Beyond his personal experience, he was able to deeply understand people and their priority needs, inside information of what was on and a good understanding of electoral politics and workings of the Government organisation with which he would have to deal. He knew a great deal about strengths and weaknesses. The author has presented to the readers these personal qualities of him in a well documented narration.
The author Punya de Silva has depicted to the readers with illustrations one other salient characteristic of the Speaker, so as to say that he stayed focused on whatever he did and the desire to drive the process to make the change as an in-built quality of him. This is something that requires to be developed by professionals, if one wishes to remain a true real professional. His deep understanding of how things work, inter-alia an awareness of the feelings of the people and people's needs, that could help change things is well depicted by the author who has gone on to elaborate, with many examples, the skills he possessed to lead this change and the desire he had to drive that process to counter the collapse of the lifestyles of the Ruhunu Magampura people. The author has described how he championed to overcome this situation to bring-forth an irreversible difference - a "volte-face" - to make such change.
The author's revelation of first-hand information through personal knowledge of Chamal Rajapaksa's Police career is an excellent exemplification for the present generation of policemen to follow. His sober but firm and unruffled demeanour and fairness are other great qualities the author has gone on to reflect well in his book. His human and patriotic traits are also explained in the book. Through these narrations, the versatile character with his high disposition is well depicted by the author.
The biography also sets forth two important aspects for the readers and for the general benefit of others, namely; the high calibre of a matured politician who has done yeoman service in particular to people in Giruwapattuwa - an example to other politicians both elected and aspiring to be elected, and the personal character of a personality who maintained high integrity through-out- a character one could pursue to better his or her life.
The most notable and remarkable point of the author is that at one time he was a professional high ranking Police Officer, well respected and known for his integrity and honesty, turning out to be an author with equal competence and knack to produce a well compiled biography. As a onetime Director of the CID during the tenure of the author as the DIG/CID and being a close associate of his for decades, one strong precept I know of the author is that, he is a practitioner and a believer of doing things to the best in an enterprising and inventive manner. The unique admirable deliverance potency of the author, undoubtedly has paved the way for the emergence of this biography with fineness and high quality - a product that could comparatively be well matched with any writings by author's of repute and is worth reading.