I am thankful for giving this opportunity for me to speak about the Former Prime Minister late Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake who was committed to establish noble qualities of politics, for instance, integrity, cleanliness, humanitarianism, elimination of corruption and fraud; an exemplary leader in the country’s political arena who was adhered to strong democratic values.
Many lessons can be learned from Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake’s political career. Since beginning of his political life, Mr. Wickremanayake was an outstanding character who fulfilled duties and responsibilities in the leftist and progressive political movements.
Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake performed duties as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Also, he held an array of positions of the SLFP including the position of vice chairman, senior vice chairman, etc. If we pay attention on politics of 1950’s in Sri Lanka, the service which was initiated by Ratnasiri Wickremanayake in the political parties can be labeled as a humanitarian approach.
Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake served as the secretary of the SLFP when President J.R. Jayawardena was spearheading the country. The SLFP was undergoing severe hardships during the period. The party had been split into three parts. There were new parties sprung out from the SLFP, even, led by the children of the founder of the SLFP, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. Such a chaotic situation was witnessed in the SLFP.
During the period, people who were engaged in the leftist political movements, labor struggles had to meet adversities. Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake held the position of General Secretary of the party in the face of such challenges and difficulties.
As Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake lived up to his duties throughout his parliamentary career, not only junior member of parliament but also senior politicians could consider him as role model.
It was a salient feature that I have observed of Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is that when he was holding key positions of parliamentary working committees or political party meetings, he tends to give expeditious answers to the problems without postponing them. He didn’t take much time to ensue discussions. He didn’t want to continue prolong conversations. One of outstanding features of his character was when a problem occurs he consults the stakeholders in a short and simple manner and put forward a solution in a shorter period of time.
When it comes to Wickremanayake posterity, as we know, his elder son, Vidura Wickremanayake represents the parliament. Wickremanayake family incurred many losses including their property due to engagement in the active politics.
He performed his duties without misusing public coffers and not making space to corruption, fraud or waste of public property and led clean political life. It was a common feature of Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and his family that they dedicated their wealth for the people when they engaged in the public movements.
In some cases, he had to sold out private property for the election campaigns. We all know his family had valuable assets including elephants and tuskers. In Horana, they had a series of shops and buildings. They had a huge land ownership in the Kalutara district. But, they lost wealth as result of their commitment to politics. He did not earn from politics. Also, he didn’t misuse the power vested with him and led a life as an exemplary political leader.
When we talk about the demise of Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, we can learn many lessons from his character. During the previous era, we saw some people who entered into politics were making attempts to fill their own pockets, misuse public property and created a corrupt political culture in the country.
When it comes to local government bodies, members of such bodies are more amateurish in politics. But when they tread the path towards higher politics some members, not all, resort to wrongdoings like corruption and fraud. The general public discuss on such political figures. The general public criticize their behaviors. As there is a room for the members of the general public can climb the ladder of political leadership of the country from government bodies to parliament through the provincial councils, Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake has set an example by living up to highest standards right across his career while following the principles of a pro-people political philosophy.
When holding the gatherings he is a brilliant orator. He showcased his knowledge, erudition, intelligence, maturity when he delivered speeches in the House. Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake is a perfect politician replete with knowledge, erudition, intelligence and maturity. He was guiding light to every politician who was committed to fulfill the wishes of the people who yearn to see cleanliness and integrity in the country’s political culture where democracy and freedom triumphed and at the same time his demise has resulted great sadness to Mrs. Wickremanayake, the children and the children.
His demise is not a lost affected only to his family, but to the general public of the country, the SLFP, and all other political parties that follow the principles of democracy.
Hence, I hereby convey deepest sympathies over the demise of Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and may he attain Nibbana. I would like to wind up my short condolence message, requesting to convey the message to Mrs. Wickremanayake, the children and the relatives of his family.