Wickremesinghe added that a moral code of conduct has to be brought in and laws have to be tightened
Historically, youth in Sri Lanka were actively involved in politics with many political movements coming into being due to the youth engagement, however in the recent past, youth engagement in politics has dwindled. According to the 2014 National Human Development Report (NDHR), 71.5% of the youth exercise their right to vote, but less than 10% of the youth expressed the desire to engage politically through direct activism.
Commenting on this, United National Party (UNP) Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that this was due to the unruly behaviour of politicians and the lack of transparency in political affairs conducted by the politicians. “By televising our parliamentary proceedings many youth have seen how parliamentarians behave and this has caused them to disengage themselves from politics. As politicians, we have to accept this,” Wickremesinghe said adding that a moral code of conduct has to be brought in and laws have to be tightened to ensure transparency and moral behaviour of politicians.
These comments were expressed at the launch of ‘Parapura’ which took place on July 11. ‘Parapura’ is a platform for youth to get involved in national politics where youth will be able to pitch in their ideas and suggestions to political leaders. “It is imperative for youth to participate in politics and collectively work to rebuild the country. The youth should engage in a non-confrontational political strategy where all work in harmony under one Sri Lankan identity, to achieve one broad ambition,” stated Wickremesinghe adding that the current political system in the country has become confrontational, personal and publicity- oriented which has made people sick of politics, hampered the freedom of expression and hasn’t provided a proper space for discussion on issues such as environmental issues, animal rights, gender equality and LGBTQI rights.
He also stated that there is an air of uncertainty due to the current economical climate of the country. “Despite our political differences, we all need to collectively compile short term and long-term plans to revive the economy and have a basic framework. Without a basic framework, we won’t be able to alleviate this situation,” he said. He opined that a good training scheme has to be in place to train the youth. “More youth are needed in the IT and logistics sector and youth should also be trained in modern agricultural methods which will help the economy of the country and minimise youth unemployment,” he remarked.
Sathira Sarachchandra, former Director of the National Youth Services Council, shared that the youth population wishes to be free, independent, have access to education, higher education and job opportunities, live in peace and to be able to carry out a content family life. “The youth does wish to provide leadership and support governmental endeavours that contribute to this. The reason we launched Parapura is so that the youth will be able to voice out their opinions and contribute to the decision-making process of the country,” said Sarachchandra.
The official website of Parapura- www.parapura.org was also launched at the ceremony by Wickremesinghe.