Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga while congratulating Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on completing three decades in the political battlefield during the most difficult period, said he belongs to a rare breed of politicians fast becoming extinct in Sri Lanka.
“A man with a vision for this country and not for his personal gain, a man with a skill to translate that vision into action with a steadfast commitment to honesty, courage and principles to stand up for what is right, said Kumaratunga, adding that people should appreciate the goodness in our political leaders as we seek out the bad if we are to make this country a progressive and prosperous nation,” former President Kumaratunga said.
Speaking at the celebrations in honour of Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s completion of 30 years in politics, held at the BMICH on Thursday, former President Kumaratunga said, “Mangala and I have shared the same vision and fought many battles for it. We have disagreed and argued many a time, but through it all shared a million moments of fun and laughter laced with sincere affection. Sincerity and honesty have proved to be the bedrock of our friendship. Thank you Mangala for being my friend in good times and bad.”
The foremr President reminisced that as the youngest minister in her Cabinet of Ministers, Mangala was called upon to bear the responsibility of transforming the telecommunication sector of the country. In fact, Mangala was instrumental in transforming the telecommunication sector from a bankrupt and inefficient state owned enterprise to a dynamic high performing and profitable public private venture for the first time in this country.
“For the first time in this country the telecommunications department delivered 100,000 fixed telephone lines and in five years we were able to increase the fixed line phone by six folds and mobile phones by over 20 times,” she said.
The former President noted with appreciation Minister Samaraweera’s commitment when handed the Sudu Nelum Movement. “The Sudu Nelum programme would not have been successful if not for the courage and commitment of Mangala, sometimes even at the cost of personal abuse even from within the ranks of our own government. Mangala has dared to dream and dared to fight for those dreams,” noting that Mangala’s courage to stand up for his dreams is aptly demonstrated by his invitation card where his undying love for his mother has been stated without any embarrassment.