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A "Royal" felicitation - Lakshman Kiriella

Island Newspaper, Sunday January 7, 2001

Students who entered Royal College in 1959, hosted their class-mate, Mr. Lakshman Kiriella (Lucky), to a felicitation dinner in honor of his ministerial appointments, at the Colombo Hilton, recently.

Following is the Text of the Toast that was proposed that evening:

"Friends of the Group of ‘59 and their distinguished spouses,

I thank you for giving me this special privilege on such a prestigious occasion.

Lakshman’s appointment comes at a critical time in the history of our nation and the fact that he has been assigned two very important ministries, is an indication of the esteem in which he is held by her Excellency the President, one which I know, we all share. The honour he has brought to Royal and the pride to us, is unique.

The challenges to Lakshman are many. It was barely a month ago, that the Daily News, often referred to as a government paper, published an extract on Sri Lanka from Lee Kwan yew’s memoirs, "Third World to First". The publication was significant because the article passed serious strictures on successive Prime Ministers and Presidents of our country, on some of their policy decisions. Perhaps it indicated a willingness to learn from our mistakes. Whilst he moved Singapore from third world to first, that outstanding Statesman says that he despairingly watched Ceylon, in his opinion, a potential first world country, slide to third.

Most of us were born in 1948 and could call ourselves babies of Independence. A line from our college song says "learnt of books and learnt of men". The standards, values and discipline that we learnt from our books, have progressively deteriorated and virtually disappeared under our very eyes. As for learning from men, at least we now know how things should NOT be done.

Lakshman, you will agree, I am sure, that the need of the hour for our beloved nation, is not for just another politician, but a statesman. We have confidence in your ability, faith in your commitment and trust in your integrity. What we wish for you today are God’s blessings and strength of character so that you may rise to become that Statesman, we all know you can, so that this beautiful country of ours can progress again towards becoming the Paradise Isle it should have been, and still has potential to be.

Ladies & Gentlemen, may I ask you please to rise and drink a Toast to the Hon. Lakshman Kiriella... Thank you."

Note: Lakshman Kiriella contested the Sri Lanka General Elections 2001 under the United National Party in the Kandy District and won handsomely, once again, to be appointed a Minister in the new government.