Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) is conferred an Honorary Doctor of Literature degree by the principal of Beijing Foreign Studies University Hao Ping, in Beijing, August 11, 2011.
Pic by Reuters
Parliament member Namal Rajapaksa (L), son of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, shakes hands with former army chief and parliamentarian General Sarath Fonseka (R) after a presentation at parliament of the current budget in Colombo June 29, 2010. Sri Lanka’s Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama told parliament in his budget presentation on Tuesday the government planned to boost efficiency and revenue from state enterprises, to help keep public investment at 6-7 percent of GDP. Read More
Ranil Shriyan Wickremesinghe, MP (born March 24, 1949) is a Sri Lankan politician and current Leader of the Opposition. He was Prime Minister of Sri Lanka twice, from May 7, 1993 to August 19, 1994 and from December 9, 2001 to April 6, 2004. A member of the United National Party he was appointed as party leader in November 1994. He is also the leader of the United National Front, been appointed as the head of the alliance in October 2009.
Ranil Shriyan Wickremasinghe is the second son of Esmond and Nalini Wickremasinghe. Esmond Wickremasinghe was a press baron, an ex-Samasamajist and supremo of the Lake House group of newspapers. His paternal uncle Lakshman Wickremasinghe was a Bishop of the Church of Sri Lanka. His maternal line consisted of newspaper barons and landowners, the Wijewardenas, who were Sinhala Buddhists. His maternal grandfather was D. R. Wijewardena, the founder of the Lake House publishing empire a pro-independence activist and a financier of the independence movement. He was a nephew of J.R. Jayewardene, later President of Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe was educated at Royal College, Colombo where he was a classmate and a good friend of Anura Bandaranaike, son of then Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike and Dinesh Gunawardena, son of socialist leader Philip Gunawardena. Wickremasinghe entered the Faculty of Law at the University of Ceylon, Colombo campus (now University of Colombo). After graduation he completed the law exams at the Sri Lanka Law College and took oaths as an advocate in 1972. Of all the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka, Wickremesinghe is the only person to graduate from a local university, the remainder either not attending university or having degrees from foreign universities. Read More
General Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, immensely popular in Sri Lanka and world over, is the former commander of the Sri Lanka Army and the former Chief of Defense Staff of Sri Lanka. Acclaimed internationally as the chief architect who lead his fellow soldiers and officers to victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he was the only serving officer to be promoted to a four star rank in the Sri Lanka Army.
Widely known among his peers in Sri Lanka and globally as a man of integrity, General Fonseka has an unblemished track record as a leader who stood up against corruption, special interests and lobbyists, within and outside the military. In the army he introduced merit over seniority, a first for the nation.
Sarath Fonseka does not hesitate to speak the truth, and throughout his career he has often challenged his friends and foes alike, whether it be his fellow officers or his superiors, and has gained a reputation as a man of honesty and humility.
More importantly, General Foneska is a man who has devoted his entire life to the service of his fellow citizens. Leaving aside his personal comfort and perks, General Foneska has demonstrated that he can, and will achieve what is good for his county and for his fellow citizens.
General Foneska’s experience in military matters made him a very popular figure among all Sri Lankan citizens. Many statesmen admired his courage, stance on military matters, and his astute policy insights into governance and strengthening democracy. As a moderate he has been able to achieve the unthinkable in Sri Lanka’s political history. Due to his determination to put his country before himself, he has been able to unite major political parties and ethnic communities to work with him to guide our beloved motherland to a prosperous future; a place where every citizen regardless of their ethnicity, religion and identity can live freely with pride and dignity.
Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
Alex Haley the Pulitzer Prize winning author best known for his outstanding historical novel Roots tells the story of 39 million Americans of African descent. Kunta Kinte who was the central character of his 1976 book believed to be born in 1750 in Gambia West Africa and caught by a slave trader when Kunta Kinte was just 17 years old. He was taken to America (Maryland) by the ship Lord Ligonier in 1767. Worked as a slave undergoing many inhuman experiences Kunta Kinte died in 1810 without seeing freedom. Kunta’s generation lived in America until they searched for a new identity and freedom.
The American author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was published in 1852 had profound effects on the attitude towards slavery in the United States. Many moderate Americans felt that the slavery was evil. The American Civil War erupted mainly due to the slavery issue. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America.
Below is the platform on which I worked as a Member of Parliament and Minister:
I stand for a political system in Sri Lanka which is free of corruption and where politicians serve all the people rather than the other way around.
I want an end to the cycle of violence and hatred.
I am working for free and fair elections where the people of Sri Lanka can vote for the Party of their choice without fear of intimidation or violence.
I want to see our institutions free from political control. A free Police, Judiciary and Elections Commission which carry out their duties professionally and without favour.
The 21st Century will be based on a knowledge economy where human resources count. This gives Sri Lanka the opportunity for a fresh start. Through my job bank, English and IT classes, I am working to help our people. I am also working towards an education system – free for all – and where our children are given the skills to go out in to the world and compete with the best.
We have the best entrepreneurs and the best brains. I want Sri Lanka to open its doors to the world, let us compete with them and make ours a strong economy
I am working to build an infrastructure with good roads to every part of the island, a modern and efficient railway system and more ports from which we can export our produce.
I am working to free our businesses of red tape and to encourage inward investment, especially where it is in partnership with Sri Lankans.
I want to see an end to the war in the north and east. Neither Sinhalese nor Tamil benefit. I am working towards a peaceful settlement to this conflict.
I am working to strengthen our traditional industries such as farming, fishing, tea and garments. But we need to bring in the new industries of a ‘knowledge economy’. That means re-training our youth in computer skills. I want to see a more flexible and responsive higher education system where ‘distance learning’ is encouraged.
In such a strong economy there will always be people who cannot compete and will lose out. I want to provide a safety net for these people in the form of a quality social services system.
Women are the most dynamic part of our society and yet their contribution is rarely recognised. I will work to see that women are given the recognition and their rightful place in our society.