Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, issuing a statement in the wake of Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa announcing his candidate, said “the next president would not be another Rajapaksa but a man who will unite the forces of transparent, secular, liberal democracy across the country, who will go toe-to-toe with any number of Rajapaksas and their white vans, will rally the people of Sri Lanka against tyranny and oppression”.
Minister Samaraweera, in his statement, said he had known Mahinda Rajapaksa for many years and worked together side-by-side in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) under President Kumaratunga.
“When I left Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government in 2006, he was a different man than I had once known. As president, his priority had become enriching, protecting and empowering his own family, and not his country. Once upon a time, he was a true son of the soil and a man whose heartbeat as one with the ordinary citizens of Sri Lanka.
“I wondered, after he was defeated in January 2015 by over 400,000 votes, and retreated to Medamulane, whether he had reflected and learnt a lesson from his erroneous ways. I wondered if he regretted putting his family in charge of the state machinery and standing idly by as the nation’s coffers were robbed dry, and our journalists were bundled into white vans never to be seen again. I wondered if he regretted buttressing his political position by inciting racial hatred across Sri Lanka, first against Tamils, and later against Muslims.
In October 2018, when he conspired to orchestrate a coup d’état and illegally seize power, I realised that these were not the lessons he learned. The rule of law meant nothing to him. Democracy was only a buzzword to thunder from a stage. When parliament stood against him, he had his minions try to destroy parliament. It was only when the courts had the courage to stand up to him that Mahinda Rajapaksa finally aborted his coup and backed down.
Today I realised the terrible truth about what Mahinda Rajapaksa has really learned during his time in opposition. He does not feel that he gave his family too much power. He clearly believes that he did not give his family enough power. He does not feel that his merry men pilfered one too many million rupees of public money. He believes there is more milk left to dry. He does not feel that he terrorised this country too much. He clearly believes that he did not terrorise this country enough. He is not worried that he overly threatened the independence of the judiciary. He believes he should not have allowed any independence in the judiciary at all.
He does not regret the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge or the abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr and countless other journalists. He wants any remaining independent journalists to know that if they cross the man who committed those crimes, they will be next,”