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Last modified on: 6/20/2012 11:29:38 AM

A legend of our times - Opinion

(By: Dr. Telli C. Rajaratnam )

In the footsteps of inspirational leaders

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a 'born leader' as he has exercised effective leadership as Secretary of Defence and Urban Development. 'Some achieve greatness' denotes, above all, those whose greatness is self-made. But all of the really great leaders must be regarded as achievers, whatever their advantages of birth and training.

Alexander the Great was born to kingship and inherited a strong army. With Aristotle as his tutor, he was perhaps the most privileged person, educationally, that there has ever been. Nevertheless, what he achieved in his short life was beyond anything that could remotely have been expected of him. Much the same is true of Julius Caesar.

Courage, fearless speech and absolute honesty are the tenets of Mr. Gotabaya's success. He cannot pretend. He is forthright with raw honesty and speaks his mind and heart. This has been advantageous as well as disadvantageous to him. Of all the qualities required for leadership, only one is indispensable - courage. Without it, all the others are more or less useless. Courage has been shown by all who we recognize as true leaders, from Alexander to Thatcher.

A leader must have the ability to take hard decisions and calculated risks. Leaders have to give courage to others, while creating the illusion that they know exactly what they are doing.

Mr. Gotabaya was born great, achieved greatness and has greatness thrust upon him by his absolutely honesty has not a popular notion. As all human beings, we have short memories. More so, for patriotism. People tend to forget the most important factors which have historical value. The most memorable historical factor was winning the war.

The joint effort of the Armed Forces under the able directives of the Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to rescue the nation from the evils of terrorism.

Anti-terrorist operations:

Following the failed assassination suicide bomb attack on 01st December, 2006.

He has commanded many anti-terrorist operations in the North and East in different capacities. Among them was his Command of the 1st Battalion of the Gajaba Regiment in the important Vadamarachchi Operation in 1987 and Operation Thrividabalaya in 1990 respectively, to rescue Jaffna peninsula and the Jaffna Fort from terrorist control.

He completed his basic officer cadet training at prestigious Military Academy at Diyatalawa and proceeded to Pakistan to complete the Young Officers' Course at Rawalpindi and later a mid-career course at Quetta. He had advanced training in Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare at Assam, India. Later in his career, he graduated in Advanced Infantry Training from Infantry School Fort Benning, USA.

As a staff officer, he completed his Staff Course at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, India in 1983.

He obtained his Masters degree in Defence Studies from the University of Madras in 1983.

He has also obtained a Postgraduate degree in Information Technology from the University of Colombo in 1992.

He is a revered figure in Sri Lanka for leading the military operation which drove out the opponents from the entire Eastern Province of the country.

He was the ground norm for the victory of the 2009 war against the LTTE. In recognition to the services rendered to the nation, the University of Colombo conferred a Doctorate to him.

Victory at war :

A narrow escape- 01st December, 2006

Our Air Force Pilots have returned to base. The air strikes have halted. The Naval boats have slowed their speed. The Army has slowed its pace. Aggression against innocent people by the LTTE and the terrorists have been halted.

When the President ordered our armed forces into combat as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he had three clear goals: to enable the Tamil people, the victims of some of the most vicious atrocities in the North due to terrorists and militant groups, to return to their homes with safety; to destroy the LTTE; and to deploy our Armed Forces to protect all the people of the North. Those goals were achieved.

Unnecessary conflict has been brought to a just and honourable conclusion. He survived an assassination attempt in December 2006. We have sent a message of determination and hope to the entire world.

The doctrine:

The doctrine of Gotabaya Rajapaksa is discipline, honesty, effective strategies, straight talk, courage, wisdom and above all love for the country before self.

Think of all the millions of innocent people who died in this bloody century because democracies reacted too late to evil and aggression. Because, the duty of the Defence Secretary was well performed, the past is gone not with helpless indignation, but with a hopeful affirmation of human dignity and human rights for the 2010. In a world too divided by fear among people of different racial, ethnic and religious groups, he has given confidence to the friends of freedom and pause to those who would exploit human difference for inhuman purposes.

History tells us that solidarity means strength, progress and success. Peace, co-operation, development and progress are what the entire international community is hoping and striving for. The developing nations must continue to work closely together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation and raise their voice and strengthen their position in international affairs if they are to secure their fundamental interests.

Over 30 years or more, we have not been able to solve this problem. We required a balance between the need to achieve a military victory and the needs of humanity. In this sense, necessity has been viewed as a limitation to unbridled barbarity.

The application of the doctrine of military necessity makes use of the principle of proportionality as a mechanism for determining the positioning of a fulcrum between these competing poles. Using proportionality thus gives effect to the recognition that the choice of methods and means of conducting war or armed conflict are not unlimited.

The means and methods of conducting war operate to achieve a particular military objective, which consequently assists in achieving a larger political objective.

While necessity might determine the legitimacy of the armed attack, proportionality determines the amount of force that might be used. In a sense, necessity operates at a macro level, while international humanitarian law operates at a micro level, though both might lie on the same continuum given the difficulties in the transition.

This difficulty is most apparent when the principles of necessity and proportionality have been incorporated into conventional international law, particularly international humanitarian conventions.

The development of these conventions and the application of these principles require some consideration if one is to arrive at an understanding of their application in a modern armed conflict. Military necessity has been described as "a basic principle of the law of war, so basic, indeed, that without it there could be no law of war at all."

The acceptance that, while the object of warfare is to achieve the submission of the enemy, which may require the disabling of as many enemy combatants as possible, this should only be achieved in a manner that does not cause any unnecessary suffering or damage.

The UDA :

The Urban Development Authority now comes under the purview of the Defence Ministry. 'The Development Plan for the City of Colombo,' the theme of the Sujatha Jayewardena Memorial Speech by Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Sri Lankan Foundation Institute, was presented in a coherent and scholarly manner and was well-received and ably strengthened public aspiration for the transformation. Desire to move toward a sustainable eco-city to optimize quality of life for its community gained significant momentum soon after the end of the war against terrorism and dividends of peace in Sri Lanka.

By encouraging the innovation of green architecture and technology, he lucidly clarified the way in which a coherent framework for applying sustainable design to all sector of society in developing Colombo city would enhance the quality of life of the community, in consequence by making the city vibrant and modern.

The rate of unprecedented population growth over years increased the urban population while thinning the rural population.

Planning, developing and managing our urban environments more wisely will benefit health and improve environmental outcomes: Public health intervention to reduce dependence on motor vehicles thus improves air quality, locating jobs, services, schools and shops close to where people live, promoting active modes of transport (walking and cycling) and providing mass transit options. Good for the environment because it reduces carbon dioxide emissions and good for business because it reduces the cost of traffic congestion. Mass transit is particularly good for young people, the elderly and the disabled, who may not have access to a motor vehicle.

A visionary leader:
Inspecting house construction sites for low income families in Colombo

Beautification of Colombo :
Diyawanna walkway and leisure area


The profile of our population and their needs and aspirations will also be very different in the future. How can Colombo continue to be a special place for its community, a home that offers hope and opportunities, a home that offers a high standard of living and above all, a city that is socially inclusive, where no one is left out? Concluding his deliberation, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa appealed for national consensus to make that vision a reality. This is the moment when we must come together. Let's commit to share our knowledge in order to build the 'Grand City'. The scale of our challenge is great. With courage, with heart and hand and let us all combine to take Sri Lanka forward.

(The writer can be reached through the following email:

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