Destined to serve

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Q: You recently celebrated 30 years in politics. As a politician how satisfied are you?

A: I am a very satisfied politician. From law I converted myself into a politician and became a Municipal Council member, Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament. Then I have held many portfolios through which I could serve the people. So I am very satisfied. All the ministries I got were challenging ones, especially the Ministry of Health. We cannot solve all the problems of all the people but I believe in a proportionate way I have been to able to do a substantial service to the public.

Q: When you entered politics, you must have had many goals and targets. Have you been able to achieve them?

A: I didn’t have goals as such. But I liked politics. I was invited by madam Bandaranaike to take up the Borella electorate and also to be the mayoral candidate at the 1983 elections. I was her lawyer and also the party lawyer. Thereafter I was pushed into this. But I enjoyed it; especially as an Opposition member I was able to fight against the Premadasa regime and J.R. Jayewardene regime. Thereafter I was elevated to become a minister.

When I was the Minister of Housing and Construction I started the Jana Udana program, township programs, providing water and sanitation. I think I have travelled the length and breadth of this country very much for inaugurations, etc. Irrigation is another area I enjoy very much because I am serving the farmers. This is an opportunity given by destiny for me to serve the people. I never regret entering politics. I am happy that when I entered politics I never thought I would become a very senior minister or the Leader of the House. But from time to time I was elevated because I think I was faithful to the party, party leadership and party supporters.

I had to work hard because I had no family connection. None of my relations were in politics. But I managed to come through a very difficult path and become the Senior Vice President of the SLFP. I was able to win the confidence of madam Bandaranaike, Chandrika Kumaratunga and President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a loyal, faithful and a hardworking party stalwart.

Q: Do you wish to become the leader of this county?

A: Certain targets solely depend on your luck. When you come to a certain position in politics, the next is decided by your destiny. So I leave it to destiny.

Q: During your 30-year career, you have worked with many politicians. Which politician do you admire the most?

A: Madam Bandaranaike. She was able to give leadership to our party during the most difficult times. The party was about to break twice. When Anura Bandaranaike and Maithree had a fraction and then her own daughter Chandrika and Wijaya Kumaratunga had a fight and formed the Mahajana Party, she faced many difficulties. Those were two situations where she lost civic rights. Once she lost the party. She lost her son politically. She lost her daughter politically. But she faced these problems and rebuilt the party. She had a strong mind. She is the leader who faced the most difficult times. She gave brilliant leadership to the party.

Q: What are your views about the present generation of politicians?

A: When we started politics it was difficult to get a position in a party or to be elected. But now there are lot of new people who come into Parliament. For me to become a minister it took 18 or 20 long years. We had to struggle, but now the system has changed. We have to blame the system. The preferential vote system also needs to be changed. I have been in politics for a long time. I have anchored myself in the electorate very well. But politicians today spend a lot of money, propaganda and media to come into power. But when they come into power and when they get elected as Members of Parliament, some are not dedicated to their work. This happens in both the Government and the Opposition. This needs to be changed.