Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem hailed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for standing steadfastly for amity and harmony of all ethnic communities.
He made this observation during the felicitation debate in the House to mark Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe’s forty years in Parliament. During his address, Hakeem said: “As a leader of a minority party, I am bold enough to say that only a very few lived to endure in amity and harmony with everyone in this country. Wickremesinghe is indeed an iconic leader. He is endowed with essential qualities of patience and perseverance to surmount the difficulties in steering the ship of Government.
Wickremesinghe constantly stood against racial disharmony in the country. When the previous administration of which I was also unfortunately a Member, was blinded by the euphoria of a military victory and allowed xenophobic forces to raise their ugly head and create racial disharmony in the country, the Prime Minister from the Opposition Benches then steadfastly condemned such acts and insisted on bringing such forces to account. He did the same during the term of this Government, when these same forces were trying to disturb the hard-fought harmony among ethnicities.
Wickremesinghe gave away his political fortunes at two critical elections in 2004 and 2005, by choosing not to agree unconditionally to the Interim Self-Governing Authority proposed by the LTTE. He is sometimes, unfairly criticized for many reasons. But I would wish to say something many people may have not known. If Wickremesinghe unconditionally agreed to the Interim Self-Governing Authority proposed by the LTTE, he would have been the President in 2005 and he would have won the Parliamentary Elections in 2004.
I am one of those witnesses to the fact that he steadfastly refused to agree to pressure by even our facilitators to look at ISGA unconditionally and agree to some of those issues contained in the ISGA document.
Though some may see his human chemistry as somewhat wanting at times, which is unavoidable for any leader at the helm of power with all stress of day-to-day political pressures, even his worst enemies would notice one special trait in him. That is, whenever he speaks in Parliament, even in his most aggressive presentations, he is rarely seen as intimidating. That is an essential quality of a mature political leader which is quite unique to Wickremesinghe. He is undoubtedly one of our most gifted leaders.
High office sought him out not due to destiny, but for his quintessential quality of steadfast loyalty to his party and his policy consistency. When I talk of party loyalty, I would like to remind you particularly, the loyalty he showed President Premadasa when he faced the impeachment. Such qualities are the reasons why he was able to surmount all the vicissitudes of the political winds in this country and rise to the position of Prime Ministership on four occasions.”