Udara Rathnayake started his political career in 2013. He was elected as a Western Provincial Council Member in 2014.
Your Educational and professional qualifications?
Bachelor of Science in Business Management, University of Essex
Master of Science, University of Colombo
Professional experience in diverse industries ranging from exports, imports and apparel industry.
Vision for education of children and youth in Sri Lanka?
The current education platform needs drastic changes. It has to be up to date, fit the current job market and be tech-driven. I believe in structural support for schools when it comes to facilities, but we must really revamp the things we teach our children. We must encourage a more communicative education system where children are allowed to constantly question things. I understand with the current constraints,we can’t do more capital investments, but we can start with changing attitudes, immediately.
Views on technical education?
We must concentrate more on technical education as there’s only limited facilities for children to have university exposure in Sri Lanka. Some 800,000 young people are driving three-wheelers. If we can empower them with technical qualification, they can have two careers. That will contribute more to the economy.
Your ideas for improving employment prospects of youth?
I truly believe we have youth with a lot of capacity. A few main issues like insufficient access to capital have to be rectified. For any type of loan, banks want collateral, limiting available opportunities. A lot of young entrepreneurs do not have the initial cheap capital required. We must somehow make a platform to encourage young businesses to give them low-cost funding. I want to initiate a programme where there will be cheaper, low-cost funding for new startups. Why I came into politics was mainly because I crave to create opportunities for those around me.
Your stance on the MCC?
I haven’t personally read what the conditions of the MCC are as I haven’t had access to it. Therefore, I cannot comment on it. They must make this a public document so that people will know what it is exactly, and the people can decide if it’s good or bad for the country.
Your solutions for the ailing public transport system?
We’re worse than Ethiopia, which has better transport infrastructure. It’s quite shameful. We’re the weakest in the region, so we need intensive investment. I personally encourage public-private partnership as these infrastructure assets could be investments. If our intention is to give the service to the people, whether it is owned by a company or the nation is irrelevant.
Vision for the protection of the environment and climate change adaptation?
I don’t think our politicians have given a lot of attention to climate change. Forget climate change, we have not given solutions to garbage disposal. I think we are the only country where people died in a garbage dump collapse. But we still haven’t given a solution to this problem even after three years since the disaster. It’s pathetic. Climate change is very important but in the Sri Lankan context, the immediate necessary steps must be taken before that.
"The current education platform needs drastic changes. It has to be up to date, fit the current job market and be tech-driven"
Views on discrimination based on sexual orientation?
We must put a lot of regulations in place against discrimination. When it comes to the LGBTQ community, our people have not been exposed to this area so much, so there’s a lot of fear involved. We must educate people and show the existence of this segment. It’s just a fear without knowing. Personally I have nothing against this community and I believe everyone should be given the same rights, opportunities and treated equally, irrespective of gender or sexual preference. But most people haven’t had the opportunity to engage or have a conversation with a person of this community.
Why should people vote for you?
I am someone who will stand by my conscience, I will always stand by what is right, according to my beliefs, irrespective of my party. I don’t fear to point out the wrong. It’s a ‘yes sir’ culture in politics, but I will not fall into that culture. That political culture should be challenged and changed.