Between pluses and minuses | Daily News

Between pluses and minuses

Buddhika Pathirana MP  Pictures by Siripala Halwala

 

Among the pantheon of Sri Lankan parliamentarians, the charismatic, forceful and straight-talking MP Buddhika Pathirana has a presence that cannot be ignored. ‘Young Voices from Diyawanna’ features Pathirana, a man with an inquisitive and analytical mind whose intellect is already granting him success in the turbulent world of politics.

Entrance to politics

Pathirana is a second time parliamentarian from the Matara district who received 98,815 votes. He attended the Ragama Medical Faculty affiliated to the Kelaniya University. With the completion of his studies in 2004, he contested the Southern Provincial Council Elections from the UNP and obtained 44,165 coming first in the district. In 2009, he contested the Southern Provincial Council elections again, obtaining 57,802 becoming first in the district. He became the opposition leader in the Southern Provincial Council. He also became the youngest opposition leader in the history of Sri Lanka’s Provincial Councils. Then in 2010 at the Parliamentary elections, he became first in the Matara District obtaining 62,499 votes. That was the beginning of his parliamentary journey.

Early life

“In the history of my family, not a single family member represented parliament, Provincial Council or Municipal Council. I went to Matara Rahula Vidyalaya. My father recently passed away. He was a retired Director of Education. My mother was a teacher. My sister works at Ruhunu University,” said Pathirana.

Pathirana’s early life was eventful with his participation in a number of activities.

“As a student I was a President’s Scout and was involved in the Red Cross Society. From my school days, I have been involved in social welfare work. Rupavahini’s ‘Muthuhara children’s program’ helped me to be confident. I was involved in Sunday school work as well.

“In 2006 at the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) international awards sponsored by the JCI (Junior Chamber International), I walked away with the award for the most outstanding young politician,” stated Pathirana.

Reasons of success

“When I am committed to something, I do it wholeheartedly. And when I do something, I do it according to a timetable. I also do things according to a plan. These have contributed towards my success.”

SWOT analysis

Pathirana’s philosophy to life is scientific. His message to the youth is specific and detailed.

“I feel that young people need to do a SWOTanalysis of themselves. S – Strengths, W- Weaknesses, O – Opportunities and T – Threats. We must develop our abilities, minimize our weaknesses, multiply our opportunities and minimize our threats.

“Through the SWOT analysis, we should find out where we are today. Then we must do things according to a timetable and plan. We must also do things with dedication and discipline. If you do this, you will not go wrong,” pointed out Pathirana.

BREXIT

These days the most talked about topic is BREXIT. Pathirana is of the opinion that it will certainly have an impact on Sri Lanka.

“I feel BREXIT will definitely impact Sri Lanka. This will definitely affect our exports; particularly finished apparel products. With regard to the finished apparel products we send Europe, the biggest quota goes to Great Britain. Britain leaving the European Union will certainly affect Sri Lanka.

“There was a time when regional integration was a very powerful movement. The world opted for regionalization to meet the challenges of globalization. Europe was the strongest region. So within the European Union, Euro was the currency. Afterwards, VISA obstacles were removed. The European Union became one of the strongest economies in the world. However, the EU could not withstand or tolerate the addition of so many countries seeking membership.

“There are other regional organizations such as the ASEAN and SAARC. But the European Union was the most successful model. But problems arose when Great Britain wanted to preserve its identity and hark back to its past.

“Great Britain did not completely embrace the Schengen Visa and Euro. Germany gave up the Deutsch but Great Britain did not give up the pound. Even though the majority voted to leave the EU, signs of this were apparent long ago.

“So what Sri Lanka should do is to strike a new trade agreement with Britain,” explained Pathirana.

Recent terrorist attack

In the recent past, there have been many terrorist attacks: the terrorist attack in Bangladesh, the bombing in Medina, bombing in France, 2008 Mumbai attacks, terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks.

“Terrorist attacks in a democratic government is tragic and must be resisted and stamped out. We must not allow extremist factions to engage in terrorism. Governments must unite and work together to pull this problem out by its roots. Also governments must take caution that factions within their governing bodies do not support extremist factions directly or indirectly. Terrorist groups work in such a way that they unite with one enemy to eliminate another. However, after eliminating one enemy, they turn against the enemy that they had previously allied with. That is why it is dangerous for any government to bargain or ally with a terrorist force,” informed Pathirana.

The dynamic duo

The unity of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is a new experience for the people.

“Never before in the history of Sri Lanka have the major parties allied. Previously, governments have been formed with the unification of parties. But never before have two major parties come together to form a government. In Political Science we call this a National Government: The party that won the most seats in parliament and the party that won the second highest number of seats uniting to form a national government. What the people of Sri Lanka have experienced is a party coming into power be it SLFP or UNP, and the opposing party gets into a political feud.

In 1951, with the rise of the SLFP, feuding is all people have known until January 8, 2015 Presidential Elections. Afterwards, a unique government was created. The president belonged to one party and the Prime Minister belonged to another party. That set the stage for the 2015 Sri Lankan Parliamentary Election held on August 17, 2015. The formation of a national policy, common goals, economic and political prosperity resulted in this unique event,” elucidated Pathirana.

Megapolis

Megapolis is another new experience for the people.

“The people do not understand what a ‘Mega City’ is. It will bring prosperity to the nation. Through this, commercial centres will grow. The tourism industry will also benefit tremendously. Basic infrastructure will also be developed be it electricity, water, highways, telephone and internet. Transportation is another vital factor. If you look at transportation in Colombo, there is a lot of congestion. We need to consider the underground and going vertical. We need an efficient transport system. Also we need to look at our train system. How do we upgrade it? Also how do we prevent floods? One result of our unplanned urbanization is the flooding of low lands. This happens when low lands are used for construction. This also affects the economy and day to day lives. The Megapolis plans to address all of this. On one hand, there are tasks at hand such as development of roads, basic infrastructure, transportation, creation of agencies that strengthen the economy, the expansion of private sector, the expansion of employment opportunities through the creation of industrial towns etc,” added Pathirana.

A healthy country

As the saying goes ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

“Non- communicable diseases are on the rise. That is the challenge we need to address –growing problems related to heart disease, diabetes, liver problems and cancer. Stress must be reduced. There must be places for people to engage in physical exercise. This is very important to build a healthy nation.

“I believe that in order to build a prosperous future for this country, we need to create a set of national policies and create long and short term plans for various sectors of the economy and society,” summed up Pathirana. 

 


 

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