2 July, 2022


Maithripala Sirisena: Birth Of A Statesman

By Thangamuthu Jayasingam

Dr. Thangamuthu Jayasingam

Dr. Thangamuthu Jayasingam

There had been always a complaint from many during my discussions in fora that we have political leaders abut not statesmen who rise above the politics in terms of national interest.

I have always had this question with me and I had argued with friends and at fora on this. How can a President be a party leader? How can a President canvass at elections for a party?

These seem conflict of interest to me though seemed normal to me. Irrespective of who voted for you or not you become the P[resident of the country to the 100% of the population and not only those who voted for you. The moment that is done then you cannot be a party leader e3ven if you were to that day you have to give it up, as it is always stated justice should not only be done but also seem to be done. Neutrality too is the same. I am happy to note that Maithripala Sirisena is considering transferring of the Presidency of the Party to Chandrika Kumaratunga which would be deeply appreciated by all who would like to see the President above the party. This does not mean that the President has not political affinity or interest in the party but just to state that he does not use his power of the President for the party. It is a step in the direction of statemenship.

Maithripala Post ElectionPresident is the one who oversees the entire country and that is why there is a separate election for the position. He would be working with any party that wins given the laws of democracy and requesting that one particular party should win for him to effectively operate, without interference, is a myth. It is this notion that leads to politicization of the institutions and the country at large. Everyone wants to have with them those that support them rather than those that qualify for that position which leads the spiral of politicization and a false sense of security. Remember that with all that the last regime embedded with the same politicization process when it went beyond its boundaries. It is like the river that flows between the river banks serene and beautiful and when it crosses its borders it becomes flood and ugly. Everyone must learn to work with various personalities, qualified and professional in their own sense for the common good. This is the only way democracy and harmony could be maintained in any institution and the country at large, where individuals stand on their own merits in whatever position they hold and are not obliged to anyone for giving it to them. It is their rightful position and not a gifted donation.

The statement by the President that he would not be involved in the election adds to fair election process and also takes him another level of statesmanship.

I had the privilege to meet Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President with a friend of mine a well known peace journalist immediately after the release of the arrested security forces following the killing of 5 persons in Trincomalee. For a query raised by my friend, before he even formulated his question, I saw the president yell meaning, ‘You NGOs are al the same and want to cause trouble’. Though in seconds he settled down and asked my friend for the query, it had kept that image on me till this date. I told my friend at the end of the meeting ‘he will never make peace in this country’ which he never did. He could have, but it was not in him. He had the power not the will, greed and not the passion, glory and the humble. I see it different today, I see the will and humility and don’t see the power and arrogance. This will make a change in the country.

I see more in him day by day where he had taken the leadership and allowed others to work, which is devolution per se. It is also based on trust of the fellow workers and the need to spend your time on others than is of demand rather than trying to ‘spy’ into all affairs and also taking all on to your plate.

I recognize the moves to curtail crossover of parliament, which is essential. Peoples vote for a policy and the individual member should not have the right to sell it by crossing over. He/she could vote against a policy that affects his/her constituency which he represents. But he cannot cross over. It is in this context that a first to past the poll type of election may be of more valid which directly represents the constituency and the representative. The move to make changes in the electoral process is also welcome in this line.

The country would be pleased to see that the repositioning of the dual citizens in power whether it is political or administrative strata. While recognizing and welcoming the services of the expats we have to learn from the experiences of the past where those that had committed fraud and failed in governance had conveniently left the country using their other citizenship cheating our goodwill while the citizens of the country remain the affected. Let us not have duals to manage us but accept their services if offered for free or pay. Let us also ensure that we do not allow non citizens to be managing us in public service where they hold no responsibility to continue after the due dates. Let us grow on our own slowly but steadily.

The commitment to freedom of speech and information are fundamentals to the development of any society, which had been recognized by the President. It is rarely those in power that wish these freedom as they consider that it restricts their ‘freedom’ to misuse. No one who is free of guilt worries about the others freedom to comment or criticize as they are open to change. Transparency has become a word of the century with the development of commucation technology. Right to information also becomes a check in the system which is also a principle of democracy, check and balances of power. These in place would ensure that we do not drift to an autocratic rule as we were in the recent past. A leader who initiates these values should be considered as moving away from a mere political leadership to statesmanship which is of human values and morals beyond affiliation to any party or group.

I see the change in the mood of people and the air had become much lighter over everyone’s shoulders; an air of freedom and air of hope and air of breathing space after many years, which is a sign of hope among the people but not even knowing what to hope for. They asked for change and they have had it and they wish the change to be for better and that is what they hope. When they hear that 1500 million rupees were in shelves of the former President they blame themselves for the trust placed on him; when they see the powerful people leave the country they see how they have been hood winked by the cowards. They silently feel happy again for what they have done, voted for a change.

Harmony is not achieved by law but by the synchronization of different notes in to a theme, melody in the interest of all in the country. Each may play different instruments and notes but they blend as a country where pluralism thrives and acceptance of dignity of each other prevails.

Hope you could keep your head up and work for the harmonized country where justice and law prevails and peace flows with serenity. It is a hard path and you may have to take strong decisions even against those in power with you, but it is the need of the country and you could do it. It is my trust and the millions who voted for you across the country and many more who may have not voted but appreciate what you do, when you do.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 19

    A politician and a statesman are not the same thing. A statesman, Dr. J. Rufus Fears argues, is not a tyrant; he is the free leader of a free people and he must possess four critical qualities:

    A bedrock of principles
    A moral compass
    A vision
    The ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision

    I agree with the writer that Maithree has many hallmarks of an emerging statesman. He has coming months to prove to the country that he will rise up above partisan petty politics. It will be Sri Lanka’s fortune.

    • 5

      Thangamuthu Jayasingam –

      RE:Maithripala Sirisena: Birth Of A Statesman

      Mr. Maitripala Sirisena could be as great as Abraham Lincoln, in stitching the North and South together.

      The advantage he has is that there were a string of failed politicians before him.

  • 8

    Lakman Harees,

    I agree with you. I do not think he is the type
    who will drop his principles in lieu of perks and power. His rural
    upbringing has made him a simple, principled man. This is what the
    minorities too think. Lets hope that he completes his five years of
    service to the people, emerging as a statesman and continue to serve
    for another five years as there will be public demand from people for him to continue.His desire to have good relationship with all countries
    will bring him accolade.

  • 6

    I cannot agree more, with the title of this article. It is the most apt title to describe the birth of a Sri Lankan phenomenon that was impossible to even perceive some months ago.

    It is our extreme good fortune that a man given to plain living and high thinking is now our President. A man for whom we could proudly look up to as a national leader of sagacity,good sense and devoid of the gaudy garishness of the past.

    One can only hope that the entire country will recognize these virtues and protect this incredible man.

    With his entrance, he filled a void that could otherwise never be filled in a hundred years.

    Yes, we are blessed, and it is our task to make the blessing last.

  • 2

    Will the so called patriots like HLDM , Dr.DJ , Malinda will agree with the above analysis by
    Thangamuthu and the comments by ‘ Lanka Watch ‘ and Lukman Harees ?

    • 3

      Of course those individuals will not and never agree, but they will be there, and there will be others like them after them
      ,But however there will be many more others who will always expose them, and be vigilant enough to counter them,and those individuals will perpetually be always on the loosing side, except for the occasional phyrric victories they may temporarily have.
      They are a necessary evil to keep us entertained .But for them the good will go to sleep.
      The Ying&Yang is natural for balance.

    • 0

      Dear Reborn Ambedkar,

      What is the difference between the “Patriots” and “so called Patriots”? To me it is like the difference between a statue carved out of rock and a statue made out of paper pulp.

  • 4

    I think that is a genuine expectation from an academic trade unionist and a human rights advocate.
    Our President has informed his people at the beginning of his tenure that he will NOT seek a second term. The greatest statesman of the World Nelson Mandela in our life time could say that he will not need another term, only after he brought PEACE to South Africa at the end of his term.
    Let us hope our country will behave the same way as South African people to make our president a better statesman!

    Dr jayawick

  • 0

    That means is that his own decision?

  • 2

    The post of VC Eastern University would be vacant next month Eh?!

    • 2

      So what? If the hint is at Dr. Jeyasingham’s possible interest in being VC, so what? More people applying means better choice for the university.

      It is time we learnt to write on the subject rather than on the writers please.

  • 1

    H.E.Sirisena may seem humble but he had the tenacity to cheat on the trust of the then President.He seems humble only for he lacks the stature of the former president. He is hardly presidential in style, but displays all the qualities of a Gamarala. He is well endowed in qualities to be made into minced meat by RW, CBK, Wiggies and their cronies. Interesting times ahead!

    • 4

      Lal, your comments are in such poor taste, I am appalled!

      To go on and contest what you have written would be to dignify the content, which I have absolutely no intention to do. However it really is sad that you have shown little appreciation of the virtues that go on to make statesmen, and instead have been swept away by the glitz, glitterati and the gaudy opulence for which the previous head of state was well known for; all at taxpayers expense.

      ‘Gamaralas’ are great people, and you may at least now, want to offer thanksgiving each time you sit down to hearty a rice & curry.

      • 2

        you are absolutely right. Lal’s comments are pathetic. What does he mean when he says that President Sirisena lacks MR’s stature?
        To me, MR never looked presidential and as for his stature, yes, he was physically big made but complete with that thick moustache, his image was akin to that of a villain from a B grade Tamil movie!

  • 5

    After death most politicians, even some of the evil ones, undergo metamorphosis and become “statesmen”. The same will be the fate of Mahinda Rajapakse despite his record of misdeeds.

    James Freeman Clarke said “a politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation”.

    Right now we have Maitripala Sirisena, who seems to fit that description. When most of us have given up all hope, a simple, unassuming and relatively unknown man emerges as a possible candidate for a real Sri Lankan statesman. During his interview on Rupavahini, I could not help tears coming to my eyes when he described his hopes and vision. They were tears of joy, relief and hope.

    God knows that the people of Sri Lanka deserve that after decades of persecution by the so called ‘statesmen’ of the past.

  • 3

    I tend to agree with Dr. J.

    Keep writing good work.


  • 4

    Dr Jey,Its a good analysis..now I realized why a few of the staff at your university are against you. because your are writing with open mind and especially with the facts. keep writing.

  • 2

    You have hit the nail on the head. President Sirisena has started on the right foot and hope he does not lose the common touch and the common sense(which is not very common).
    President Rajapakse after the end of the thirty year dispute had a god given chance of uniting all the tribes in SriLanka. He failed badly.This is a common human failing and it is the hubristic failing of humans.He wont be the last politician to suffre from this. Tony Blair had this failing in a big way as it shows in his going into Iraq, the result is the creation of ISIS.
    President Sirisena`s mother was a Sinhalese School teacher who showed him the way.Thanks to sensible moderate people like Reverend Shobita to guide him I am confident he wont lose his way.

  • 1

    The author of this article,I was told,teaches Botany/Zoology at the Eastern University.He has ventured out to analyse the differences between Politicians and Statesman.Not bad! Perhaps,he should now familiarise himself of THE PRINCE by MACHCHIAVELI. Somewhere else on the CT,there were comments to the effect that the author is trying a last ditch try to become the VC at the Eastern University!Lets be fair we need more information on this claim.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.