Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil: Plato
Many wonder what results the forthcoming Local Government Elections will hold. It is true that many Sri Lankans have lost interest in politics. But, even if we aren’t interested in our issues and our country’s politics, they are still there. If we ignore them, we will still feel the impact of these problems. That is why we must talk about politics.
Bringing four main mayoral candidates of United National Party (UNP), Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) contesting for forthcoming LG Elections from Moratuwa to one stage for the first time, ‘Moratu Maha Wádhaya’ live political debate was held on Saturday at the Weerapuranappu Grounds, Moratuwa.
The historical live political debate was organized by a youth independent society named ‘Árohana’. The debaters were former Moratuwa Mayor Samanlal Fernando from the SLPP, former Western Provincial Councilor Senaka Damayantha from the UNP, former Moratuwa Deputy Mayor Sujith Pushpakumara from the UPFA and Nishantha Ferdinando from the JVP.
The debate consisted of three rounds. Debaters were given five minutes to give a brief introduction about them and their party in the first round. During the second round of the debate, issues that were identified by people and sent to the Árohana in advance were presented to the four expectant mayors.
Lack of coordination between the public and the Municipal Council officials, the alarming problem of garbage disposal, the poor drainage and waste water system, the mafia of sub-standard food sale, deteriorating furniture industry, issues in Modara habour and issues pertaining to fishermen, lack of libraries in the municipality and illegal constructions were among the issues sent by the people to the Árohana Society.
The issues were presented for the candidates expecting their own ways and means of resolving the issues. The order of the speeches was selected through a raffle draw.The third was allocated for reply speeches for candidates for any claims or allegations leveled by other candidates.
Many academics and professionals commended the event. Among them, the former Head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Prof. Siri Hettige said he was impressed by the novelty of this initiative which was timely.
“I was impressed by the novelty of this initiative which is timely. A passionate and independent group like Árohana can have a moderating influence on highly adversarial politics in this country,” he said.
Chairman of the National Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya also praised the event and said such events could be a pilot project that others could make use of in the future.
The event was held with the support of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL).
PAFFREL Chairman Rohana Hettiarchchi said the Moratu Maha ‘Wádhaya’ gave a novel political experience to Sri Lankan voters.
“This is what the responsibility of the citizens and civil societies is. The Árohana group has realised their social responsibility. We highly appreciate their effort.
This event made a historical change in the typical political culture of the country,” Senior Lecturer in Political Science at University of Jayawardenapura, Terance Purasinghe said. He said the event was able to a provide a public platform for politicians to fight out with words, opinions and attitudes at a time when even members of Parliament physically fight inside the Parliament itself and that giving an opportunity for all the parties to speak to public and present their plans for the area is a feature of democracy.