News Item in OnLanka, 1 March 2019, entitled “Power pays Glowing Tribute to Mangala”
Ambassador Samantha Power, yesterday, said that last year’s political crisis in Sri Lanka had raised alarm bells all around the world. “But critically, while our respective institutions have bent, they are not breaking in the US, and they are not breaking in Sri Lanka,” Ambassador Power said. The former top member of the Obama administration said so, delivering the key note address at an event at the BMICH to mark Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s completion of 30 years in politics. Among those present were President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Opposition Leader President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Ambassador Power said: “Here in Sri Lanka, during the recent crisis, your citizens made themselves heard, with many of them speaking not for parties or personalities but in defense of your hard-earned democracy. Your streets were home to the country’s first-ever spontaneous, popular protests not initiated by a particular party, proving US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ great wisdom that, ‘the most important political office is that of private citizen.’
“One woman who participated in a protest commented, “As a mother, as a grandmother, I want to see democracy restored. I’m not against any person or any party but as a citizen of Sri Lanka.” Another said, ‘We’re doing this for the next generation, for the future of this country.’
“Both traditional and new media outlets were able to play a key role in keeping Sri Lankans informed and keeping institutions accountable. Civil society – and again, both new and established groups – were active and effective. And your judiciary stood by the Constitution and enforced the rule of law with great independence and seriousness of purpose. All of this is a credit to the resilience of Asia’s oldest democracy and to the checks and balances that Mangala championed over the years.
“I hope that for both of our countries, the response to the challenges we are facing – and navigating – will end up affirming the enduring strength of democratic institutions and necessity of democratic accountability.
Your hope, Mangala – that Sri Lankans “create a civilized society where humanity and decency flourish and the rule of law is respected” – is what I hope for both of our countries. And I look forward to the continued friendship between our two nations as we work together to make it happen.”