Duminda Attygalle, a proud old boy and former rugby captain of Royal College Colombo, is another candidate contesting for the Colombo Municipal Council from the Cinnamon Gardens Ward under the UNP ticket. Currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration at the British School of Commerce in Colombo affiliated to Anglia Ruskins University, England, Attygalle believes that young and educated candidates should take to politics. In a candid interview with the Daily Mirror, Attygalle shared his plans for Colombo.
Following are excerpts of the interview Attygalle did with the Daily Mirror.
- I think the cream of politicians are in the UNP; people whom you can work with for the future. It has the most knowledgeable and intelligent people. The majority always tries to do something good
- From my small days I have been interested in how development is done. But I have heard that things aren’t done properly and politicians blame each other. So I wanted to be a part of this situation
- I’m working with Rosy Senanayake who has plans to digitize the whole system and make Colombo a smart city. That is a good process to reduce corruption and make things more transparent
Q How do you feel about contesting in an election for the first time?
It’s very exciting and I learn new things everyday.
Q Why did you want to enter politics?
From my small days I have been interested in how development is done. But I have heard that things aren’t done properly and politicians blame each other. So I wanted to be a part of this situation and see what actually happens.
Q Any particular reason as to why you want to contest from the UNP ticket?
I think the cream of politicians are in the UNP; people whom you can work with for the future. It has the most knowledgeable and intelligent people. The majority always tries to do something good. Therefore it is a good place to work from.
Q What are the main issues you have identified in Colombo?
When I did my door-to-door campaigns we were doing a survey where we got all the people involved. From that survey we found out that garbage collection should receive topmost priority. The biggest problem they face is that garbage was supposed to be collected in three streams. So if waste food is to be collected on Friday the CMC people come for that on Monday. This becomes a huge issue to the entire neighbourhood when food rots and develops a stench. Therefore this process has to be monitored and they should actually collect it on the correct day. Some residents were saying that they collect in three streams, but when they come they ask to put everything together. There has to be proper supervisors to make sure it’s done methodically. On the other hand the garbage in small lanes never gets collected. So we need to put in a little bit of effort to put things right. There is also a problem with dengue. So we need to ensure that fumigation is done and all mosquito breeding sites destroyed.
Q One issue about Colombo today is the slums, commonly known as ‘wathu’. During the city beautification projects they will be excavated and the residents will be relocated elsewhere. How do you see this problem, considering the fact that they are an essential component in a city landscape?
They should be a part of the city, but I hope they are compensated in the event that they are moved out to a better location. I have been going to Tharawatta and those people are happy to leave provided they are given what they deserve. I believe that when they are relocated it should be done in such a way that they don’t have a need to return to their old place. If they do it properly there won’t be a problem. When I went to these places sanitation, infrastructure and other services needed more attention. It’s not fair and safe for people to live like that. They should be given better standards to live.
Q How challenging is the new electoral system?
The electoral system is good because there was no representation for places like Cinnamon Gardens during the preferential vote system. So the people and residents were neglected. But this system will ensure that there is someone responsible to see that these things are provided. If there was a person responsible to look after people in these ‘wathu’ for example, they wouldn’t be facing so many challenges like what they are going through today. People don’t have to waste so much money in running around an entire district as well. I think it will promote less corruption.
Q As a young candidate, what plans do you have for the youth in the city?
I’m working with Rosy Senanayake who has plans to digitize the whole system and make Colombo a smart city. That is a good process to reduce corruption and make things more transparent. So I want the youth to be involved in politics. Educated youth should be involved in politics to ensure that policies are accurately implemented. My plan is to gather youth to be a part of this process, so that they could be encouraged to be involved in active politics, in order to make a change. People think that politicians are rogues and I want to change that mindset. Therefore without criticizing politicians, more educated people should be involved in the political system.
Q How confident are you that you will win?
Cinnamon Gardens has anyway been a UNP Ward from the beginning. I’m happy to be in this ward. I’m pretty confident that I will be elected because people want young and educated people to take the lead.
Pics by Pradeep Dilrukshana