Rehan Wijeratne Jayawickreme, contesting under the UNP ticket from the Weligama-Hettiweediya ward is concerned about the drug menace
Many new faces have taken up the challenge to make a change in the upcoming Local Government polls. Representing the late Major Montague Jayawickreme and late minister Ranjan Wijeratne generation is Rehan Wijeratne Jayawickreme who will be contesting under the United National Party (UNP) ticket from the Weligama-Hettiweediya ward. Having studied at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and the British School of Colombo, Rehan is also armed with a Diploma in Media and Communication at the Deakin University, Melbourne. He later worked as a tea taster and his political background eventually inspired him to step in to politics.Following are excerpts of an interview the Daily mirror did with Jayawickreme during which he shared his plans for Weligama.
QWhat inspired you to contest this time?
Both my granduncles were in politics and I have seen them working ever since I was small. I also think that not many youngsters are involved in politics at a lower level. So I thought I should contest and also encourage many other youngsters as well.
QWhat are your plans for Weligama?
Some of the main issues include the garbage problem. It is a huge issue here. It’s piling up and everybody has neglected it. If I am elected I will implement a waste-to-energy project to convert garbage to energy. Also the beaches in Weligama are some of the best you could find in the South. They could be promoted for surfing and other water sports, targeting tourists. I am planning to develop tourism since it is already picking up like in other destinations such as Mirissa.
QThe beach boys and the drug issue are main problems in the coastal areas. How will you take action to control these issues?
The beach boy issue in Weligama is not as bad as that in other areas. Beach boys have now started their own surfing schools and are earning well. But the drug issue is prevailing and I hope to work with law enforcement authorities to put a stop to this menace.
QHow challenging is the new electoral system for newcomers?
This is the first time that our generation is contesting under this system and I see many positives in it. The candidate that is elected is the sole representative for his ward and therefore the individual has a bigger scope. It is less challenging than having to look after an entire electorate. You are only responsible for your ward.
Our mindset is such that we will definitely win. The corrupt system mainly applies to the main elections. But for this election, people have to use their vote wisely if they want a change. The elected candidate will look after his/her ward. So those who want to see Good Governance should go ahead and vote for the UNP.
QThe South, especially areas such as Matara and Weligama, is known to be an SLFP voter base. Isn’t it a challenge to contest from the UNP?
The ‘Pohottuwa’ list got rejected from the Weligama Urban council. The UNP, despite being not popular in the South, has slowly started to reach the people. During the past regime the UNP didn’t have the power to work in this area. So this time I see that more UNPers are interested in voting for the UNP because the Government too is part of the UNP.
QDuring the time of your granduncles there was much political hatred. How do you see this now and in the future?
During their time there was a major JVP insurrection. But now there is technology and the society is more educated. I don’t think youngsters would want another war. They believe in education rather than in violence.
QPeople have less hopes on politics now and the majority has doubts about voting. How confident are you that the UNP will win?
So far we have received much feedback. Our mindset is such that we will definitely win. The corrupt system mainly applies to the main elections. But for this election, people have to use their vote wisely if they want a change. The elected candidate will look after his/her ward. So those who want to see Good Governance should go ahead and vote for the UNP.