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Leadership Styles

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Dana Bradley asked:

It was the great efforts of Late Gamini Dissanayake, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, President’s Counsel, and Cabinet Minister in President J R Jayawardena’s United National Party (UNP) Government, that made Sri Lanka gain full ICC membership on the 21st of July 1981. Although Sri Lanka was knocking at the doors of ICC for full membership for over two decades, having beaten several test playing countries in unofficial tests and the ODI’s, it did not materialise until it was Gamini Dissanayake who convinced the Sahibs at the Mecca of Cricket to see the brighter side of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Gamini Dissanayake was cruelly assassinated on 23rd October 1994, now 12 years, by a suicide bomber of the world’s most ruthless terrorist group, while he was campaigning to become the Executive President of Sri Lanka. “Ga” as he was affectionately known among his friends came from Kotmale in the Central Hills of Sri Lanka. His father was Andrew Dissanayake – Member of Parliament and Minister of Transport in 1956 government. His mother was Kumarihamy Samaratunge a lady of great humanness and kindness. Ga was their eldest son. He received his education at one of the prestigious schools in the Central Province of Sri Lanka – Trinity College in Kandy.

He displayed great leadership qualities even at a young age. At Trinity College the students had to participate in developing a common agricultural farm where the students had to mix with the villagers living near the farm. Ga took a very keen interest in the development of the farm and thus took great pains to get the other students to integrate themselves with farm activities. He was a special person with leadership qualities. He immersed himself with the latest political biographies of great political leaders namely Ghandi, Mao, Martin Luther King, Nehru and Charles de Gaulle. His favourite political personality was John F Kennedy of America. Gamini read and re-read JFK’s book “Profiles in Courage” several times. He moulded himself on Kennedy, good looking intelligent articulate and extremely efficient and organised. He always wanted to be a courageous political leader.

He was a liberal democrat and voiced his opinion openly which was not taken too kindly by some people. It was at this time that the people of Sri Lanka saw the true leadership qualities of Gamini. With his political career in the UNP in doubt and so many conspiracies against him he fought back hard. He never gave in, never became a stooge. Gamini always believed in what he was doing. Took ridicule and state harassment in his stride and together with Lalith undertook a new political journey in Sri Lankan politics. He left the UNP to form the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). The boy who read “Profile in Courage” by Kennedy thirty years ago became a Profile in Courage. When Gamini returned to the UNP as the leader of the Opposition and deputy leader of the UNP he became mot merely a politician but also a statesman. He was a fifty two year old grandfather. He was extremely charming, had a phenomenal memory of men and matters and was brilliant orator and extremely efficient and ruthless political organiser. If Gamini had become the President of Sri, he would have turned Sri Lanka around and made it a truly a Paradise Isle.

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