Professor Gamini Lakshman Peiris

Professor G.L.Peris
Onlanka News –
By Noor Nizam – Canada. August 13th., 2012.

Why did Prof. G.L. Peiris, the Minister of Foreign Affairs choose this great day (Sunday the 13th., August) to make this great statement at a center which depicts the strength of Sri Lanka, The Mahaweli river, the nerve vein of one of the water ways in inland Sri Lanka. A waterway that connects the people, be it Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, Muslims and the other minorities, starting from the Hatton plateau on the Western side of the island’s hill country and ending in East at Trincomalee in the Eastern Province, closer to Kinniya/Mutur, where it falls into the Bay of Bengal.

A humble man of decent living though raised in a very wealthy family background and educated in one of the best colleges, St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, he entered the Faculty of Arts of the University of Peradeniya in 1964. Obtaining the best results in the first year examination, he was given the privilege to enter the Faculty of Law in the University of Colombo for his second year. At the law faculty of the University of Ceylon, Colombo campus he won the Mudliyar Edmond Peiris award which was created in memory of his uncle Edmond Peiris of Panadura. From there, he moved on to the University College, Lincoln’s Inn to pursue his legal studies and became a member of the Lincoln’s bar. Back in Sri Lanka, he practiced as a member of the unofficial bar. Prof. G. L. Peiris entered politics after a successful and challenging tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, following the assassination of Prof. Stanley Wijesundera during the height of the 1987–89 JVP Insurrection. He served as Vice-Chancellor from 1988 to 1994.

It is in 1994 that Prof. G. L Peiris felt the need to indulge in politics with the intention of helping rescue the country from the grasp of the terrorists in the North and the rebels in the South. It is in this same spirit that he has made the call to all Sri Lankan, whether domiciled in Sri Lanka or living as immigrants in foreign lands stating that “Public support vital to fight anti-Lanka campaigns” which is very much required to defend the sovereignty of Mother Sri Lanka from the foreign forces that are trying to destabilize the peace and harmony our dedicated security forces have won for us and to damage the economic development that we are making good progress with. Prof. G.L. Peiris was conscious of his duty and loyalty to his motherland. The spirit of nationalism though present in his heritage blood, yet dormant, may have showed signs of activism within himself, feelings which the Prof. would have willing or unwillingly suppressed within in himself. But the challenges he had walked through his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor and the JVP rioting and the LTTE terrorism would have ignited his spirits to come out to the political arena to do his duty by the Nation, he and his family had loved. “The unreserved support of the public is crucial for the government to counter and respond with supreme confidence to vicious campaigns launched by certain sections of diaspora in the international arena” is a cry he has made to his countrymen on this great day, but indeed it is a great day because it was the 66th., birthday of this humble politician and patriot, who has turned to be a pillar of support to HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris has said further addressing the press conference at the Mahaweli Centre yesterday (Sunday). “It is incorrect to think that all challenges before the country ended with the defeat of LTTE”. What Prof. G.L. Peiris had told about some segments of the diaspora were very keen in investing in the North and East areas to uplift living standards of people in the post war scenario is absolutely true. It is not only the visiting representatives of the Tamil diaspora, but, in the recent past, we have seen the number of Sri Lankan Tamils domiciled in Canada expressing and showing their desire to invest in large and small scale projects in the North and East of the land of their birth. But the anti-Sri Lankan propaganda machinery is working day and night to negate such interests.

As for Canada, the anti-Sri Lankan pro LTTE groups are very much active in not only wiping up anti-Sri Lankan sentiments, but also targeting Canadian business investors who are willing to take a look at Sri Lanka as an investment potential. Some segments of the diaspora were very keen in investing in the North and East areas to uplift living standards of their people in the post war scenario, but they are either misguided or even threatened in some instances, not to proceed with their plans. Many small FDI projects have fallen back as a result. Yet some of the members of the Tamil diaspora are moving forward facing all the challenges and have made preliminary feasibility study visits to Sri Lanka. Some are even working with their Sinhalese and Muslim friends to make these projects a reality. This is where the Minister is absolutely correct. If the warnings expressed by Prof. G.L. Peris, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is given due consideration by those Sri Lankans domiciled in Canada and if the momentum of the pro-Sri Lanka trance of Sri Lankans can be maintained, which is sad to note has retarded to the very lowest after the victory of the security forces at Nandikadal on May the 17th., 2009, Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora and Canadian partners could make it possible for FDI investments to the tune of approximately $. 100 million been initiated at the earliest. This is a reality that is definitely threatened by those pro – LTTE groups among the diaspora as they are the same, even though their methods are different as  Prof. G.L. Peiris has stated and that “their aim is to isolate Sri Lanka amidst the international community”.

Prof. G.L.Peiris was not seeking politics or political positions, rather he was seeked after by political leaders at that time. The then SLFP appointed Prof. Peiris as a nominated member of parliament on the recommendation of the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and in 1995 Mrs. Kumaratunga, then Prime Minister, appointed him as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Deputy Minister of Finance. He was also given the portfolio of External Trade at the start. In a subsequent Cabinet reshuffle, he was given two additional portfolios- Ethnic Affairs and National Integration – which till then were held by the President. In the year 2001 Prof. G.L. Peiris, unhappy with the Chandrika policies, moved away from the Chandrika government and supported the opposition in 2001. This ended the power of parliament being lost to the opposition in the 2001 elections. This also helped the possibility for Mahinda Rajapaksa to be sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 13th Prime Minister on April 6, 2004. History will record that the political visionary that Prof. G.L. Peiris was –  in making that moment, did result a political blessing in disguise, that our Nation is today blessed with a firm, dedicated, patriotic and loving leader, popular among the electorate of Sri Lanka, be they Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or any other minority groups. The LTTE rumps and the media will tell otherwise.

In 2005 Prof. G.L. Peiris played an important role in the Presidential elections supporting HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa. With the victory at the 2005 Presidential elections, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in for a six-year term as Excellency the President. The Professor was invited to the cabinet of ministers and held important portfolios. At the 2010 Presidential elections, Prof. G.L. Peiris did not contest, but played an important role in the Hambantota district in the presidential campaign (GL Team) and later in the general elections. In the aftermath of the general elections in 2010, Prof. G.L. Peiris was appointed to parliament as a nominated member on the SLFP list. In the new cabinet appointments that followed the 2010 general elections, Prof. G.L. Peiris was appointed as the Minister of External Affairs, which he even holds now.

Being the son of the late Glanville Peiris a diplomat who became Director-General External Affairs and was the former Ceylon’s Ambassador to West Germany and Myanmar, Prof. G.L. Peiris has inherited the knack of diplomacy and has proven to be a good Minister of Foreign, with a humble approach which has proven much gains to Sri Lanka’s International Relations with all UN member Nations and the newly emerging states. Having travelled vastly during the last 17 years, Prof. G.L. Peiris has understood the dangers Sri Lanka is facing in the international arena and has made this great call on a great day, on August the 13th., which is his the 66th., birthday. A great statement made on a great day by a visionary politician and a patriot, Gamini Lakshman Peiris who Sri Lanka is proud to call a humble Sri Lankan politician. Happy birthday to you Sir and many happy returns of the day.