Representatives of Youth to Lead Sri Lanka
The upcoming Presidential Poll has already drawn the attention of all Sri Lankans alike. While some candidates have already begun their campaigns, the convincing game seems to be going strong. It is in this backdrop that several youth-led organisations and civil society organisations planned to invite all Presidential candidates on to one stage titled the ‘Public Platform 2019’ to present their manifestos and plans for the country. The event is organised by the March 12 Movement in collaboration with Association for Friendship and Love (AFRIEL) Youth Network along with ‘Youth to Lead Sri Lanka’. The latter is a collective of young people who are coming from different backgrounds while having a special focus on working as a pressure group to protect political rights of Sri Lankan youth in order to promote youth political participation.
"So far a manifesto was just a document that was presented but this time it will carry more weight. The candidates will present their respective manifestos with a sense of responsibility"
Speaking at a recent press conference to announce the Public Platform, Sachinda Dulanjana, representing the Youth to Lead Sri Lanka Convening Committee said that this Public Platform is a historic milestone in the history of politics in Sri Lanka. “The tasks and responsibilities for youth differ in different eras. I believe that one of the main responsibilities is to change the existing political culture in the country. We are at a time when we hesitate to talk about politics and therefore the youth can be instrumental in changing this dynamic. At the onset of announcing the Presidential elections, many people on social media were of the view that all candidates should come on one stage and present their manifestos. Usually political campaigns are all about mud-slinging but I’m happy to see this change. So far a manifesto was just a document that was presented but this time it will carry more weight. The candidates will present their respective manifestos with a sense of responsibility. We know that it is not possible to bring about a change from where we are but the media, civil society organisations and many other groups have gotten together to make it a success. As a youth I would like to request you to participate at this opportunity without ignoring it. On this platform they will be able to present their manifestos, talk about the funding for their campaigns and develop a debate. If this could be continued we would be able to move forward with a new political culture. So we invite the public to actively engage in this debate and raise their concerns directly.”
"This Public Platform is a historic milestone in the history of politics in Sri Lanka "
In his comments to the Daily Mirror, Rohana Hettiarachchi representing the March 12 Movement said that in the past voters had no opportunity to get a personalised view of the candidates who contest for a Presidential poll. “They have a blind stance on the candidate. So we thought we should bring them together to one stage where they can speak about their policies during their five year period. We have identified questions posed by the public through a participatory method via social media and newspapers. So we have given them the questions in advance so that they could discuss with their parties and come prepared for the event. Once they respond to these questions it would be easier for them to develop a bond with the people. It will certainly bring about a new political culture.”
According to Hettiarachchi the session will be conducted in two rounds. “The first round will include candidates who have received over 12,000 votes during the previous elections while the second round will include candidates from selected political parties. Since there are around 18 candidates it is difficult to accommodate all of them. Some of them have pledged their affiliations to other parties while some have announced their names just for publicity.”
"This is not a debate but an attempt to bring about a disciplined political discussion. It is a big opportunity for the candidates as well as the people"
When asked if Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be present at the public platform Hettiarachchi said that an invitation has already been sent and that they are awaiting a response. “The UNP and JVP candidates have already confirmed participation. We have also sent an invitation to Major General Mahesh Senanayake. This is not a debate but an attempt to bring about a disciplined political discussion. It is a big opportunity for the candidates as well as the people.”
‘Public Platform 2019’ will be held on October 5, 2019 at the Sugathadasa Stadium from 3.00-5.00pm and will be live-streamed on all
mainstream electronic media and social media.
Pics by Damith Wickramasinghe