PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA
HON MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA
Mahinda Rajapaksa joined Thurstan in 1957 to grade 6 classes. Prior to Thurstan he was at Nalanda & Richmond. Mahinda comes from a well-known family from the Deep South, the RAJAPAKSA’S, His father; the late Mr D A Rajapaksa was a founder member of the SLFP with the late Mr S W R D Bandaranaike. The mantle of the good work that his father began fell on Mahinda who was later joined by his elder brother Chamal and during his term as the 5th President by his Younger siblings Gotabhaya & Basil.
Mahinda at Thurstan was just another mischievous schoolboy, although he was the son of a Member of Parliament who some times traveled from SRAVASTI, the official residence of MP’s.
He was at the receiving end of the ire of our discipline master the late Mr Kingsley Fernando many a time. Mahinda was very fond of sports, he participated in athletics. Cricket & Rugby. At that young age he showed his prowess at public speaking, he was good & powerful debater. Mahinda Passed his OL & AL’s and left college in the mid sixties.
He worked for some time at the Vidyodaya Campus before he took to full time politics in the late 1960’s and was elected as the youngest Parliamentarian in 1970 when the SLFP was swept into Parliament.
Being a backbencher he did the wisest thing by enrolling himself in the Law College and passed out as an Attorney. When he was unseated in 1977 he began a very successful & lucrative practice as a lawyer with a large clientele.
Not only did he practice diligently at courts, at this time his roving eye met I believe the pretty lady who had won the Miss Sri Lanka Contest a few year’s back and made her his wife in 1983. As the saying goes “behind a successful man there is a woman “and his wife Shiranthi has being a source of strength in his political life.
They are blessed with 3 son’s who has outshone the father in sports, all three being versatile rugby players who have played with distinction and captained their school, St Thomas’ Mt Lavinia the elder even leading the Sri Lanka Under 19 team. One significant aspect is that when the son’s of other politicians have used the political power of the father to indulge in mischief, the Rajapaksa boy’s have behaved roll model of good public behaviour.
He made a significant contribution to bring PA back to power in 1994 and was rewarded with Cabinet portfolio and thus became the first Thurstanite to hold Cabinet rank. When the OBU felicitated him after he resumed office, the demand was such that all tickets were snapped up within 4 days and we had to disappoint many, those were the days when many who did not openly say they were old boy’s of Thurstan, identified themselves as Thurstanites
Mahinda has crowned himself as a Cabinet Minister and his work at Labour & Fisheries has been much appreciated by the public at large & the officials.
Mahinda has always identified himself as a THURSTANITE even though he had his primary education both at Richmond & Nalanda. If ever time permitted he never refused an invitation to attend any College function & has helped college and the furnishing the College hall with a set chairs costing over a million rupees was a testimony of his love for his alma mater.
Mahinda was honoured with the title “ SRI ROHANA RAJANA “by the Buddhist prelates in 2000 for his vast popularity with the masses and also being a devoted worker. He is the second person to be honoured by the prelates, first being the late Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
In the year 2001 Mahinda was elected as the Leader of the Opposition as the majority felt that he is the person who could give leadership to the parties in the Opposition
At the conclusion of the election held on April on April 2nd , Mahinda was one of the two SLFPers who were able to win the District while in all other districts which the United People's Freedom Alliance won, it was the Members of the JVP who topped the list.
He was also the highest percentage wise of the polls received for an individual for a district in the whole Island.
For his dedicated service to the party for well over 35 years, which his father, the late D A Rajapaksa was instrumental in forming with the late Premier S W R D Bandaranaike he was elevated to the position of Prime Minister in April 2004.
The biggest contribution he made to College was that he gave the leadership role in the Fund Raising THURSTAN WALK held in October 2004.Not only much donation was obtained from the Corporate world due to his Chairmanship; he also flagged off the walk & walked the complete route. At one point he stood and watched the participants passed by which was much appreciated by all.
The funds raised by this project helped the OBU to complete the Cricket ground.
The nadir of Mahinda’s political career was when he was elected as the 5th President of Sri Lanka on November 17th on the eve of his 60th birthday which fell on November 18th. This was also not an easy task. Mahinda who has been a fighter all his life first managed to get nomination from his party amidst lot of in-fighting and used all his political acumen and formed the right coalition of many parties and projected his Vision for Sri Lanka in the form of “ Mahinda Chinthanaya “, which was endorsed by the masses. This was a practical & pragmatic approach to the many problems faced by Sri Lankan's.
During his tenure of office he gave the leadership to eradicate the biggest problem Sri Lanka faced, the LTTE terrorism. While eliminating terrorism he build the infrastructure for the economic emancipation of Sri Lanka by the construction of Harbours, Airports, Generation of Electricity, Road Network, Large Reservoirs, Rebuilding the devastated North & East and the structure to be self sufficient to daily food needs. He did not forget the heroic soldiers who were incapacitated in the war and provided many of them with housing and training to live a normal life by providing them with vocational training.
As a true son of Thurstan, he did not forget his alma mater. He gave the land next to the Cricket ground, to construct a Rugby ground
Now he went before the electorate when he had another 2 years his term and was given a resounding mandate on January 26th to carry out the programmed outlined in “Chinthanaya Ediri Dakama”
He now has huge task ahead and let us wish that he will make use of his 40 + years of political experience and his practical and mundane approach will resolve the many complex issues that we as a nation face.
I am sure he will not forget THURSTAN and her development amidst his many other demanding schedules.
2010 01 28