Q: Tell us why you want to become involved in politics?
I made this decision after doing a lot of thinking. In fact, I have been laying the groundwork over the past several years to enter the political arena. In order to advance my journey in politics, I chose to follow my graduate studies on Development and Politics. Moreover, I became involved with the UNP and its activities during the past several years and I am the Vice President of the UNP affiliated - Young Professionals Association (YPA).
I admit however that my entrance to politics was hastened as a result of the present situation in the country due to rampant corruption and lawlessness. Under present circumstances where the vast majority has resorted to supporting the government in their corrupt acts, I decided it’s time to stand up and expose the injustices.
Q: Why did you choose to contest from the UNP? Considering the present internal clashes in the party, do you believe it is a wise choice?
As I mentioned before, the main reason was my determination to oppose the present system of governance. I can’t understand how anyone with a conscience could support the corrupt actions of this government. They claim to develop the country but there is no transparency in any of the projects. I would have been compelled to betray my conscience if I was to side with the government.
Q: Aren’t you exploiting your popularity as an actor to win votes?
I am not planning to depend on my popularity or my outer appearance to win the people’s trust. My intention to expose corruption and fight for justice is genuine. I believe I have been able to build confidence in me among the public through my involvement with the activities of the UNP and in my capacity as vice president of the YPA. I am planning to build on the trust the public has kept in me and I believe they will support my sincere objectives. So if one chooses to call that an ‘exploitation’, then yes, I shall be guilty as charged. But they can rest assured that it is only done in order to do good for the society. Moreover, I am planning to continue my services to the public in my capacity, irrelevant of whether or not I am elected.
Q: What are your views concerning the present trend of artistes entering the political fray from nowhere? It has spurred accusations that most of those who are presently involved in politics do so with expectations of gaining personal benefits. Were the perks a deciding factor in your decision to enter politics?
I think the abrupt decisions that certain artistes have made to enter politics – the sudden patriotism they have developed towards the country, is a reflection of the bankruptcy in their relevant professions. Therefore, it is obvious that the only motivational factor to be involved with politics is the personal gains. I know that I’m also prone to be identified with many other artistes who are just ambitious in making personal gains by entering the field of politics. But anyone can see that my position in politics is quite different from them. It is quite obvious to anyone that I have set foot into politics not to seek personal benefit. I don’t think it’s possible for any individual with ethics to pledge his or her support to a government as corrupt as this.
I am a businessman by profession and not a professional actor. Politics at present can be a lucrative business – but not for those who engage in it with genuine intentions. Personally speaking, contesting at the upcoming elections will incur losses for me as it would divert my attention off my businesses. But I am willing to take that risk in order to act for the betterment of the public. I am not worried about my future losses. I wish to stand up for what is right and I am confident of my ability to do so.
Q: What are the issues you have prioritised to be addressed pertaining to the Western Province if you are elected?
I plan to initiate a youth-based development program. I represent the youth and they are a segment of the society that is seldom addressed. The youth are the future of this country and it is time their involvement in the decision making processes of this country improved.
I will be releasing a manifesto within the coming weeks, which would contain a detailed programme that is wholly dedicated to educating and empowering the youth of this country. I have prioritised education since it is only through a sound education that the public will be enlightened to take a stand against the injustices and the rightful.
Q: What are your views concerning the rapid development carried out in the Colombo city? Do you feel there are other issues that should be prioritised before the beautification of the city?
As I mentioned earlier, the development carried out by this government is a ruse to impress the public and cover their weaknesses. Beautification of the city is a luxury that we as a nation cannot afford at present, because of several other burning issues that have burdened the public on many fronts.
We are still a developing nation and addressing issues such as youth unemployment – because although the government boasts to have brought down unemployment rates, youth unemployment still soars as high as 14% - industry development and poverty should be prioritised. The funds that are being spend on beautifying the city could have been channeled towards the construction of government subsidised factories that would have generated employment opportunities or towards constructing better homes for those slum-dwellers and the homeless.
Although there are a few positive elements to the steps taken by the government at present, more needs to be done and beautification of the city is definitely a project that should have been prioritised much later down the line.
Q: What are your future political aspirations?
My main goal at present is to empower the youth and I will be focusing my full attention on the goal. Moreover, I have also initiated a movement to build racial and racial and religious harmony in the country. As a primary step, I have created the concept of a ‘citizen committee’ which we are planning to promote in every city. It would operate in the manner of a conflict resolution center and promote racial/ religious and ethnic integration. The first of its kind will be established in Colombo in a few days.
I have many more plans for the welfare of the citizens of this country and I am determined to implement them systematically – at least in my personal capacity, irrelevant of whether or not I am elected to the provincial election.
Q: Why did you decide to contest from the Democratic Party? Weren’t there invitations from any other parties?
I have had many invitations from other parties. But I joined with General Sarath Fonseka’s party because I was unhappy about the way the government treated heroes like him. There is a lot of dissatisfaction about the way the government acted after the war victory. If the government could mistreat our leader Sarath Fonseka in that manner, how can we be sure it will take care of the general public? This is why I decided to join hands with the Democratic Party.
Q: Was your political journey an abrupt start?
No, I have been with Sarath Fonseka even before the inception of the Democratic Party. As a sensitive artiste, I feel the need of this country to come forward in the name of democracy. As a result of it, I was appointed as organiser for Homagama District. It wasn’t a hasty decision.
Q: What is your opinion with regard to the work done by the current government to artistes?
I’m not happy. The government hasn’t done any thing for the benefit of the artists. We do not have proper theaters to show our drama. The state drama festival which is conducted every year had to be halted as John de Silva theatre was demolished. When we go outstations, drama crews face to many difficulties. The government has not addressed any of these issues.
Q: If you get elected what are the plans you have for the Western Province?
The party has specific plans aimed at many areas. So I will be working according to the plans we have envisaged. I will especially focus on the wellbeing of the fellow artists. I will also be keen on infrastructure development.
Q: What is your opinion with regarding to the current culture of popular artistes contesting for elections?
Since the government knows that it is at a threat they are trying to get cheap publicity by presenting personalities who are even not suitable to be in such a profession.
Q: What is your opinion with regard to the allegations levelled at Sri Lanka by the International Community, especially with regard to Human Rights violations?
The government is clearly misleading the International community. From what I have read and heard from the media, there seem to be many issues which are not properly addressed by the government. They can not continuously deceive the entire world. Time has come to face the reality.
Q: Are you positive about yours and your party’s victory?
As artistes we are trained in a way to accept everything. Therefore, I am willing to accept any result. But I know that a lot of people would rally round me. I have made an impact through my career, so I am positive I will win. The Democratic Party will have a huge success undoubtedly. People are oppressed and tortured enough, and this is the best opportunity they have got. For these reasons, I am very positive about my personal victory and a significant victory for the entire party.
Q: Can you describe how you started your political journey?
I started getting involved in politics when I was very young and it was as far back as 1978. My first political encounter was a protest against the “White paper” (Dhawala pathrika) introduced by the Education Department to bring about changes to the then education system. From that day onwards, I have been involved in various political activities. In 2009, I contested from the National Freedom Front led by Wimal Weerawansa and topped the list and got elected to the Western Province Council.
Q: You first entered politics through the National Freedom Front and this time you are contesting on the United People’s Freedom alliance (UPFA) ticket. Have you changed your party?
No. I was with Minister Wimal Weerawansa and have been working with him. During the 2009 election too, we were with the UPFA, and we continue to be so. As the government has done many services to the people and artistes, I am attached to the government.
Q: With regard to the upcoming election, so many popular personalities including actors, actresses and media personalities seem to be in the fray. What is your opinion in this regard?
Indeed, it has developed as a trend that artistes coming in to politics. In order to gain publicity or in order to fulfill their personal gains, they enter politics. The people who go along with this trend will have a very short journey in the field of politics. Though I am an actor involved in politics, I do not belong to this category and I have had a firm political journey up to now. Our voters are intelligent; they know what is best and who deserve to be their leaders.
Q: But it is the same party you represent that got applications for nominations from so many actresses and singers. What have you got to say about this?
That’s true. It happens in many countries. Parties put forward artistes and sometimes such candidates become successful. All I have to say is that our voters are clever and they know who deserves to be in the Council.
Q: There is a common allegation by many opposition groups and other artistes that the government has not done anything towards the wellbeing of the artistes or arts. How do you see this?
Who says so? Those are just rumours spread by the section that cannot bear to see the success of the government. This is the only government which has looked after the needs of the artistes. Look at Ranminithanna tele-cinema city? Also the government provided finance assistance to artistes who can not afford to buy vehicles. There were governments in the past which destroyed artistes and neglected artists. It is not the artistes who level such allegations; it is certain people who attempt to get publicity. There maybe certain weaknesses because no-one is perfect. Yet we must appreciate what the government has done.
Q: If you get elected, what are your plans for the Western Province?
When I got elected in 2009, I fulfilled my duties to the best of my ability. I focused on the welfare of fellow artistes and completed many other projects. If I get elected this time, I would continue with what I have been doing. I would focus mainly on children’s education, health and also on the welfare of artistes. I would launch special plans on education as it is essential to educate our future generation. The future of this country depends on them.
Q: Are you confident that your voters will not disappoint you?
Yes, in 2009 they gave me great expectations by placing me as the fifth from the Colombo district. This time my aim is to rank among the first three.
Q: What is your opinion with regard to the allegations on Human Rights violations by the International Community?
Is it us or them who have violated human rights?Look at our history. Isn’t it the foreigners who invaded our country violated human rights? It was them who used our resources. The president of Mauritius did not come to the recently held Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) saying that there were breaches of human rights violations. But our kings, for example King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe was sent to Mauritius Islands. I want to tell all these foreigners who point fingers at us to learn our history and talk. We can manage our own affairs; we do not need their intervention.
rani Thursday, 30 January 2014 06:52
Udara, do you think you can stand up with your two feet hey, not in a million years.You wasting your time.
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priyantha Thursday, 30 January 2014 08:11
Udara if you have a desire to work for the benifit of the country as you say,please never be joinged to the UNP
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