Harindra Dunuwille, former State Minister of constitutional and state affairs and Mayor of Kandy was appointed Organiser for the Pathadumbara electorate. Although he took a break from his political career after 2002, as a lawyer he has been actively involved in many civil rights activities during the past few years. In an interview with the Dailymirrorhe said he would focus on the development of the infrastructure and special attention for the estate sector. Furthermore, he said he would pay attention on tourism as Kandy has lot of potential in that aspect. QAfter 1994 you were not active in politics. Having been a former Minister and a Mayor, what silenced you?
In 1994 after the General Elections I gave up my position of Chief Organiser of the Senkadagala electorate. In 1996 Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted me to contest as the Mayoral candidate for Kandy. I agreed. As I remember we only won Colombo and Kandy. From 1997-2002 I was the Mayor. After 2002 I did not re contest. I reverted back to my legal profession.
QWhat made you come back? Is it the regime change or any other reason?
I got involved in various civil society or civic issues. Mainly, I was involved with Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. I served in his first committee. In Kandy too, I could muster like-minded people to stand up against the corrupt regime. My involvement with Sobitha Thera had nothing to do with the UNP. But such movements like the one lead by Sobitha Thera came out because the opposition was not forceful enough. Therefore there was space for organizations like these to emerge. I believe many civil society organisations principally played a significant roles in the run up to the Presidential elections.
During the Presidential elections, the Pathadumbara Organiser who was a Provincial Councillor Chitra Manthilake switched sides after nominations. She was the authorised agent for Maithripala Sirisena. When she crossed over a new authorised agent was needed to be appointed. There was a bit of fear to take it over. I was asked to take it over which I did. With the support of local UNP organisers and members of the local authorities, we did quite well by winning the electorate by over 11,000 votes. The UNP lost this electorate by 8000 votes at the last Provincial Council elections. It was the trend and the Kandy District quite overwhelmingly supported Maithripala Sirisena. Also I must say the Kandy district has always been very supportive of the UNP but has been inadequately recognised by the Party.
QSo after the Presidential election, did you decided to re join politics or were you invited?
I was offered the position of the Governor of the Central Province or the chance to contest again. There were many people who wanted me to join and told me the country needed a new political culture. Then I decided to accept the position as the organiser of the Pathdumbara electorate. I loved to take this position more than being the Governor as I could do much work in the present position. Also the Party told me that they prefered me to contest.
QWhat is the change you believe that Sri Lanka needs?
The Preferential Vote System must change. It does not attract good people. The system is an absolute waste of money. The role of the MP has been extremely messed up. The primary role of an MP is to legislate, allocate and oversee the government spending. But very little attention and effort has been given to these aspects. Because of the violence of the JVP in the 1980s and of the LTTE, the MPs have distanced themselves from the people. Supposedly for security reasons. With the security presence around them, they have become very arrogant and act superior to other human beings which should not be the case. I would love to see a day when an MP would board a train and travel as it used to be. The role of the MP should be redefined.
QAs an eminent Lawyer what is your idea about the 20th Amendment?
The proposals are good and we should encourage its enactment. I believe it meets the aspirations of the people. I feel this is the best chance to do it much like the 19th Amendment.
QIt was the UNP which introduced the executive presidency. Also, it was the UNP which campaigned for its abolition. At the same time there are people who say we need the executive presidency. What do you think? Is it a necessary evil?
I think we can do without it. The country is mature enough to revert back to do without it.
QDo you think the UNP did a wrong thing by introducing the executive presidency in 1977?
At that time President Jayewardene mentioned it in his mandate and people voted for it. But I think they never saw the form it took afterwards. Passing of the 19th Amendment was needed and I think we are heading in the right direction.
QHow do you see the concept of the National government? Do you think it is successful?
I do not think it is successful. I do not think it was meant to last long. It was there for a specific purpose.
QWhat are the plans you have as the organiser for the Pathadumbara electorate?
There are lots of things that are needed to be done to improve the electorate; infrastructure, housing especially the estate sector. There is a lot of potential in tourism.
QOnce you were a Minister under the UNP regime. If you are invited to be a Minister again would you consider?
Yes , I would consider.
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