Govt’s PR skills can’t fill empty stomachs - Tharaka Deshabimana Nanayakkare....

21 February 2014 04:23 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


As the provincial council election campaign is getting sharper each day, public attention on the candidates contesting these elections get equally sharp. It is more so when the kith and kin of former prominent politicians contest to follow the footsteps of their family legacy. Today we bring to you two new faces, hailing from opposing political backgrounds, to give you a taste of who they are and what they want to do for the people once elected. From the UPFA, it is late Amarasiri Dodangoda’s son Isuru Dodangoda and from the UNP, former Parliamentarian Hemakumara Nanayakkara’s son Tharaka Nanayakkara.


Govt’s PR skills can’t fill empty stomachs

- Tharaka  Deshabimana Nanayakkare -

Attorney-at-Law, Tharaka Deshabimana Nanayakkara is contesting the upcoming Southern Provincial Council elections from the United National Party (UNP). Being the son of former Parliamentarian Hemakumara Nanayakkara, he hails from a deep rooted political background.  He told Daily Mirror that he decided to join politics in order to fight against the unruliness existing in the country.

Q: What made you join politics? Was it a decision made in a hurry?
Joining politics was not a quick decision. I have been practising as a lawyer for the past six years. With the existing oppression and interference with the judiciary--which is the only institution people have to seek justice-- I decided to fight against this. As a young man, I must raise my voice against this situation. Since I have faith in the UNP, I decided to join it and start my political journey.

Q: At one point, your father supported the UPFA and later on he left the government. Now he seems to be an ally of the UNP. Why did you choose UNP amidst all these issues and do you think it’s a wise decision?
My father joined the government not for any personal gains. He joined in order to support the government to eradicate terrorism. He is with the UNP now because he is dismayed with the existing system.
I consider joining UNP as a wise decision. Any party in the Opposition has issues. Even SLFP, when in the opposition had issues. Being in the Opposition is a struggle and not a bed of roses. But I chose it because that is the best way to fight against the existing injustices.

Q: There seem to be a trend where many members of the Opposition join the government as your father did. Would you consider joining the government if you are invited?
Certainly not. As I said earlier, my father did not join the government for any personal gain. I joined the UNP even at a stage where it is not strong because it is the only way we can fight against the current corruption and many injustices. I know that the UNP will come to power in the near future. But even if the UNP has to stay in the Opposition for twenty more years, I will remain with the party and will never leave.

Q: If you are elected what are the plans you have?
As a member of the new generation, I can see that there is no proper set-up for the advancement of the youth of the country. There is no policy for such purposes. What we have is only a showoff set-up. I want to work for the empowerment of the youth. As an attorney- at-law, I would work to save the country from this sad state of affairs. I would work tirelessly to restore justice and equality in the country.

Q:  What is your opinion with regard to the allegations levelled against Sri Lanka on human rights violations?
As a son of a patriotic father, I have to say all these issues arose because of the way the government handled the International community. There seem to be an issue with regard to their foreign policy. Look at the countries our government has most connections? They are either autocratic or morally unacceptable.  We can not be happy about the way the government conduct s relations with the rest of the world.
It is time to implement the recommendations given in the LLRC.  The document was made by the government bodies and they themselves have failed to carry out their recommendations. There would not be any issue if it was granted by a foreign body. Their failure in implementing these recommendations has caused issues. It is time to implement these recommendations. If they can not comply with their own recommendations, we have nothing to talk beyond that. Also, time has come to carry out a better structured and focused foreign policy.

Q: What is your opinion about the ongoing development activities of the government?
I believe any government is under obligation to carry out development projects. The past governments also carried out such projects. But what is going on is not development. This government has miserably failed to identify the needs of the people. What they do is just beautification. They use money raised through commercial loans to boost their image and to cater to the inferiority complex of some people.  There seems to be no productivity. The so-called development is only beautification.

Q: The UNP is in the opposition for 17 years. Do you think that the UNP will come to power, and do you think the UNP can counter the government’s strong PR skills?
The UNP will be in power very soon. People are discontented with the present regime. People are suffering from hunger. This is not a situation which we had ever seen before. Today it has come to a situation where people have to beg for food.  PR cannot answer the empty stomachs. The government’s actual focus is on making money than serving the people. People can not be fooled everyday.  Also it must be noted that the UNP was in power in 2001. The sole reason for the collapse of that government was the SLFP’s union with the JVP. They knew that they could not fight against the UNP without another force. In 2001, the UNP lifted the economy to a significantly robust level. Today, the economy is in deep trouble and the people can’t make ends meet.
Considering these factors, I can say that in the near future, the UNP will come to power. This is just a provincial election. But its results will show the emergence of the UNP as the next government.  

‘I can be a light shining in gloomy politics’

- Isuru Dodangoda -

Late Cabinet Minister and Chief Minister of Southern Province, Amarasiri Dodangoda’s son, Isuru Dodangoda who is an IT professional is contesting the upcoming Southern Provincial Council election from the UPFA. He told Daily Mirror that he wants to serve the people productively through the provincial council and then enter parliament someday.

Q: Why did you take such a long time to join politics, after death of your father?
That is mainly because of my studies.  But I was involved in politics to some extent from 2009 up until now. I have participated in election rallies and many other events. But I must say that I did not have a strong intention to enter politics. It was my mother’s relatives and even the President’s requests made me consider joining active politics. My father was an honest and simple politician and people loved him.  They also requested me to join politics.

Q:  Have you done any service for the wellbeing of the people in the area?
I am only starting my political career. However, I have already done several things to serve the people.  For instance, I have distributed books among Buddhist monks studying ‘pirivenas’.  I hope to do more once I am elected to the Southern Provincial Council.

Q:  If you get elected, what are the plans you have for the people’s wellbeing?
Mainly, anyone who is getting elected to the Provincial Council should know their limit. This is applicable to me too although my father was a prominent cabinet minister. I hope to join hands with youth clubs, social groups and other youth forums. I will focus on their education and unemployment issues. Although many expect government jobs, it is not always possible to provide jobs in the government sector. With the help of friends and family and the contacts I have, I will work to create employment opportunities for them. Also, I hope to work for women’s welfare.

Q: You clearly stand an opportunity to contest a parliamentary election. Instead of that, why did you decide to contest a Provincial Council election?
That is simply because youth like us need experience. I am still 25-years-old and I have a long way to go. At the moment, my focus is to getting elected to the Provincial Council. I am not eyeing the Chief Minister post. I want to get elected for the Council and work for the people. I would like to climb the ladder slowly. If people want me or permit me to further my journey, well I would definitely consider contesting a parliamentary election.

Q:  There are several allegations that the SLFP does not treat the seniors well, or rather they are neglected. As son of a senior member of the party, what do you have to say about this?
I can say that as far as I’m concerned I am well treated. I do not know about others. It is the party who wanted me so I think I have no such issue.

Q: You have resigned from your job in order to contest the election. So how do you find the funds for your campaign?
I have savings made by my parents. Also I receive help from friends and many others. I am not going to have a mega campaign. My campaign is solely on meeting people and getting to know them. Therefore, I do not have many expenses in respect of the campaign.

Q: As an IT professional you may have earned a decent salary. But if you get elected to the Council, you won’t get such a pay. How are you planning to manage?
I will manage within my means. Even my father did not earn a lot of money although he was a prominent Cabinet minister. We do not come from a rich background. But somehow we managed during my father’s time. I live in the same simple manner my father did so it won’t be a problem.

Q: The government is using the upcoming UNHRC session to urge people to vote for the government. Do you think this is justifiable?
Yes it is. I believe it is the best way we can show the International community that people are with the government.

Q: Politics is a muddy affair as many claim. Do you think a professional like you can fit in something like that?
Yes. A lot of people asked me the same question. I believe everyone is not the same. It is possible to show the people what we are capable of doing. People look at politicians with a cynical eye.  But I think and I believe I can be a light through the darkness. There are people who believe in me and I believe in myself.

Q: Are you confident that the UPFA will win?
Absolutely. I’m pretty confident about that.  The main Opposition UNP doesn’t have a strong leadership so I believe the UPFA will win the elections quite easily.

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