Leadership credentials of Sajith
By Dr. Sanjaya Dissanayake
A reasonable number of Sri Lankans today have a query whenever we talk to them at a hotel, café, restaurant, club, supermarket, shop or a place of religious worship. The question is what credentials does Sajith Premadasa possess to lead the country?
Sajith Premadasa began studying Sri Lankan politics at a very tender age by observing his father, who happened to be an astute politician who never lost the common touch and eventually became the second Executive President of Sri Lanka. After completing three fourths of his secondary education in Sri Lanka, Sajith had the privilege of entering Mill Hill School, London to complete his London GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations with success obtaining extraordinary results. In doing so, he won the Advanced Level prizes for the subjects of politics and business studies. As a contemporary of Sajith at school, I’ve heard his fellow classmates and teachers stating that he was a brilliant student who was always in the top 3 per cent of his grade, while competing with the islands best’s scholars of his vintage. I can still remember Sajith representing his alma mater at the ‘Light of Asia Contest’ showing his eloquence using the flowery English language that has become a part and parcel of his political armour even today.
The above average results Sajith obtained at the GCE Advanced Level examination enabled him to enter the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) of the University of London, UK. In terms of ranking, it was always classified globally as a university among the ten best seats of academic learning in all international ratings. Entering LSE itself is an arduous task, a dream and a unique achievement. With sheer determination Sajith completed his Bachelor’s degree majoring in Economics, Politics and International Relations. Today you could find his name in the list of famous LSE alumni together with famous Heads of State such as Lee Kwan Yew (Singapore), Pierre Trudeau (Canada) and Jo Mo Kenyatta (Kenya). Sajith completed his first degree at a time when LSE had brilliant academics such as Professors Andrew Harvey, Peter Robinson and Howell Tong, etc. All Sri Lankan citizens could be proud of Sajith’s academic achievements at LSE.
Thereafter, Sajith began his graduate studies at the prestigious University of Maryland in USA. It was the institution that housed three of Sri Lanka’s intellectual icons of repute – namely Professors Cyril Ponnamperuma, Ralph Buultjens and Wijesuriya Dayawansa (who happened to be a thesis examiner during my master’s degree defence).While being in the shadow of such great academics, Sajith won a graduate internship to work in the United States Foreign Relations Committee under the tutelage of famous US Senator Larry Pressler from the state of South Dakota.
Unfortunately, Sajith had to cut short his academic career and return to Sri Lanka due to the untimely death of his beloved father. Thereafter, answering the nation’s call, he began his political career in the year 1994. Now with over two decades of political experience representing rural and urban constituencies in Parliament, being a former Deputy Minister of Health as well as holding the Cabinet Ministries of Housing, Construction, Poverty Alleviation and Cultural Affairs, Sajith has the political acumen to guide Sri Lanka towards prosperity. Being fluent in both Sinhala and English he’s today Sri Lanka’s people’s prince.
Many of Sri Lanka’s professionals and intellectuals admire the first foreign policy approach of Sajith. He has made it clear that Sri Lanka will follow strict non-alignment by being friendly with all nations without entering into any pact that will be detrimental to our beloved mother land. No other leader in Sri Lanka today could boast of such a foreign policy. This is where Sajith scores as the leader of the opposition much more than the JVP and its leader Anura Dissanayake partly due to his mastery of the English language as well as knowledge and experience linked with international relations. When considering the current state of affairs in Sri Lanka, the Nation needs a Head of State who will know the basic rudiments of economics and global trade and Sajith would be the best bet as an LSE graduate. For sure he will have a plan and a strategy in terms of economic revival through the international connections he had established while being at LSE and the University of Maryland.
Therefore, in selecting the next Head of State for all the choice is crystal clear and obvious. It should be none other than Sajith, who has walked with kings, yet never lost the common touch.
The writer of this article is a leading academic and researcher who has delivered invited orations at prestigious international universities of repute in UK, USA, Australia, Spain and Italy. At present, he’s attached to the New South Wales Ministry of Health as a Senior Biostatistician, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney as a Senior Research Academic and the Centre for the Health Economy, Macquarie University as a Research Collaborator in Australia. He’s a recipient of the prestigious Emmett Hazlewood Undergraduate Scholarship in USA, APA Graduate Scholarship, Australia and the Presidential Award for Research Publications in the year 2018 in SriLanka.