Hirunika Premachandra topped the list with the highest numbers of votes in the Colombo District at the 2014 Western Provincial Council Election from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. In the 2015 General election, she joined the United National Party list in Colombo and was elected to parliament.
Q Your educational and professional qualifications?
Bachelor of Laws from Kingston University, UK.
Q Your ideas for improving employment prospects of youth?
The youth in Sri Lanka have no responsibility towards their lives or the country. The reason is that they are too dependent on their parents. Sri Lankan parents don’t let their young children bear any responsibility. In other countries, even in India, schoolchildren as young as 16 engage in some kind of temporary job during their summer vacations. Those children learn to be independent at an early age. When I was studying in the UK, my father who was a powerful politician, sent money only for my course fee. I had to do 3 jobs to earn money for my food, transport and accommodation. I looked after two old couples, I looked after an autistic child and I also worked in a bar. My father was glad that I became independent while surviving alone in the UK.
Q During your party leader Sajith Premadasa’s Presidential Campaign, he raised voice about offering free sanitary napkins to women and young girls. It created a controversy. What is your view about this taboo-like treatment for menstruation?
I am actually proud that he had the guts to talk about such a controversial, yet important topic at such a crucial time. There are so many poor girls and women who cannot afford a sanitary pad. It is a luxury for them. There are also so many girls and women who are suffering from different kinds of menstrual health issues. I think people’s opinions about such matters are heavily influenced by their
Q There have been several attempts to legalize abortion. During the Yahapalana government, a Bill was compiled but it didn’t see the light of day. According to 2018 statistics, around 1000 abortions take place daily. Do you think legalizing abortion is possible in Sri Lanka?
Sometime back, a mother from my electorate told me about her 13 year old daughter who had got pregnant after being raped by a family member. Should such girls continue their pregnancy and jeopardize their entire future over something due to no fault of theirs? I am not saying any woman who gets pregnant could get an abortion. But, abortion must be legalized under special circumstances such as rape. Likewise, when a woman finds out about serious health complications in her pregnancy, I think it is okay to get an abortion. Rather than looking at these issues through religious or cultural viewpoints, we need to look at these issues from
a human angle.
Q Cyber bullying is also another major issue in Sri Lanka. After former MP Ranjan Ramanayake’s call recordings controversy, cyber harassment that you had been going through, increased, am I right? How did you deal with it?
Earlier, there was a rumour that I dated the murderer of my father and that is why he shot my father. After that there was another rumour that I got a large amount of money from my father’s murderer and I was going to close the court case. Then, there was another buzz that I had a Buddha tattoo on my back. After I got married, people gossiped that I was already three months pregnant at the time of the wedding. Earlier, I used to cry alone in my room over these rumours. But, with time, I have become more mature. It is all about whether you care for what people say, or not. As long as your family members and close friends know about you, that is all that matters at the end of the day.
Q Views on discrimination based on sexual orientation?
First of all, our Constitution has to be amended. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder why a clause or a law is compulsory for people to live the life they want to. Do we need permission from the Constitution to live the way we want to live? Our people see the LGBTQ community as a group of people with mental or physical deformities, which is absolutely not true. People can feel anyway they like as long as they don’t harm anyone.
Q Do you believe that former Women and Child Affairs Ministers and numerous government institutions established to look after matters related to women, have done enough for the betterment of women in Sri Lanka?
In Sri Lanka, women are treated as second-class citizens although women make up to 53% of the population. Budgetary allocation for the Women’s Affairs Ministry is also very inadequate. Therefore, even if ministers feel the necessity to do something longlasting for Sri Lankan women, they can’t do it with such limited resources. Women and Child Affairs Ministers have to fight for bigger budgetary allocations.
Q Why should people vote for you?
I have kept my record clean. The defender case is the only case that my name is involved in. I have pleaded not guilty and those who are involved in the case have pleaded guilty. I am a very straightforward politician. I have also raised my voice in parliament when others opted to stay silent. We are now living in a society where a five-year-old girl is unsafe even within her own family. It is high time our women voice women’s rights and women’s issues. Sending a woman to parliament is paramount. I hope people will realize that.