Two Sides of the Coin: Galle District | Daily News

Two Sides of the Coin: Galle District

Galle District SLPP candidate Shan Wijayalal De Silva-Galle District UNP candidate Vajira Abeygunawardena
Galle District SLPP candidate Shan Wijayalal De Silva-Galle District UNP candidate Vajira Abeygunawardena

Daily News Galle Central Special Correspondent Mahinda P. Liyanage interviewed Galle District candidates Shan Wijayalal De Silva (SLPP) and Vajira Abeygunawardena (UNP)

to gauge voter sentiments ahead of the Parliamentary Poll on August 5.

‘Overall discipline must for country’s prosperity’

Q: You are contesting the forthcoming Parliamentary Election under SLPP ticket. People of South elected you as the Chief Minister for three consecutive terms. Are you trying to forget or desert the grateful people of the South by entering Parliamentary politics?

A. No. Initially, I was elected as a councillor of the Southern Provincial Council in 1993. Subsequently, I was elected as the Chief Minister in 2004. I have held the post for three consecutive terms. During that period I rendered a remarkable service to the province and the people. I could drive forward the Southern Province towards prosperity in all aspects. The Southern Province leads the other provinces in education, health services, transport, culture and human resource development etc.

In a Provincial Council, we have to work under limited powers. I will never forget the people of the South. I need to work more for the country by entering National politics. Through National level politics, I will receive more opportunities to render a better service.

Q:This time you are contesting the election from a political alliance led by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Although the leaders of the respective parties have agreed upon a common agenda, the regional leaders do not maintain the unity and solidarity among themselves. Some SLPP candidates request the voters not to vote for certain candidates despite the fact they are in the same political alliance. How do you face this challenge?

A. Generally, under this preferential voting system, it is practically much difficult to maintain togetherness or collectiveness in the election campaign. There is a regressive competition for preferential votes among the contestants of the same party.

Although there are certain clashes among candidates, the party leaders do not advocate such regressive contestants. They are united for a common cause. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa aspire to unite all progressive forces and register a resounding Parliamentary Election victory with a two-thirds majority in the legislature. So, such minor conflicting practices do not affect our main objective.

However, every candidate has the legitimate right to solicit a preferential vote for him.

But no one has the right to ask not to vote for another. It deprives the voters of their right to choose their preferred candidate according to their choice.

Q:What is your vision statement through which you seek out people’s mandate?

A. It is the same vision and mission of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a defended and prosperous country. At the previous Presidential Election, 6.9 million people overwhelmingly endorsed his policy statement. We seek a further mandate for President’s vision for a prosperous country at the Parliamentary Election as well.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pledged to build a prosperous Sri Lanka with the maximum participation of people. His goal is to produce “A productive citizen, a happy family, a disciplined society, and a prosperous nation”. He has solicited the nation to elect an efficient, talented, truthful, pure and an educated group of representatives for the next Parliament who can shoulder the above National obligation.

So, the people of the country can analyze and discover the pertinent vision for the future without being misinformed by mere election pledges given by others. The President is resolved to turn his vision into reality.

In the forthcoming Parliamentary Election, we contest under the SLPP formed in 2019 by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Sri Lanka Freedom Party and 15 other smaller parties with the election symbol of flower bud. We stand for social democracy, social conservatism, anti-federalism and anti-imperialism. We seek a two-thirds majority representation in the next Parliament as we aspire for some constructive constitutional reforms which hinder the forward march of the country.

The next Parliament following the General Election will be a conflict-free administration. In the next Parliament, Mahinda Rajapaksa will be the Prime Minister who will render the needed guidance and support to the President. There will be no clash in opinion as both have the same vision and mission.

Q:How do you evaluate the leadership and vision of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa?

A. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision is the National strategy for the future of our country. He had proved to be an efficient and capable administrator during his time as the Defense Ministry Secretary in the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. He magnificently managed war affairs by giving leadership to the Tri-Forces. He played the major part in the war against separatist brutalism.

During the past few months since he emerged as the President of the country he has demonstrated his multi-faceted leadership qualities. He is energetically engaged in restoring discipline in every sector of the country. He is firmly resolved to end the drug menace of the country.

Most importantly, the President has emphasized on National Security which had deteriorated during the past Government. His economic policy is people-centric and he aims to create a technology-based society. Another main focus of him is to promote agriculture and fisheries by introducing technology to enhance production and productivity.

Q:Some say that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a very strict leader with Army discipline? Is he an authoritarian leader?

A. No. I believe political leadership should be very much security conscious and defence friendly. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a leader from the field of defence with practical experience. I think it is a great privilege for him and the country in general.

To ensure a defended and prosperous country there should be well-organized discipline in the country. The voice raised by some sections of the Opposition, mainly the UNP, claiming that the President is a military man who will militarize the country is misleading.

There is no truth in it.

The country needs discipline. Too much democracy and human rights as preached by the West will lead to chaos. People want a new change. To end corruption, misuse of public assets, crimes of diverse impacts strict discipline and control is required. Wild democracy and freedom obstruct the way to prosperity.

The combination of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will usher prosperity to the people in a well-disciplined country.


‘UNP upheld democracy and people’s supremacy’

Q:The United National Party (UNP) ruled the country for nearly five years from 2015. You are seeking people’s mandate for a second term. Do you have a new National package put forward in relation to the forthcoming election?

A. During our rule from 2015, we could accomplish many vital tasks of our nation for the protection of democracy and people’s supremacy. We could abolish chief autocratic powers of the Executive Presidency ensuring a more powerful legislature led by a commanding Prime Minister. We were able to curtail many of the extreme powers of the President which could be abolished without the two-thirds majority of the legislature.

Moreover, we established some vital independent regulatory commissions, the specialized agencies that regulate or supervise a specific area such as judiciary, election procedures and public administration which are not directly controlled by the President.

On the other hand, the economy of the country is wholly collapsed. Today we are entrapped in a massive economic crisis. All key economic hubs are caved in. The UNP is the only party which has a farsighted vision and mission to restore the subsided economy. We seek a fresh mandate of people for a second term to complete the uncompleted mission as promised to the nation.

Q: It is alleged that the previous Yahapalana Government is a failure. How do you comment on that remark?

A. Our Government was not a failure. It was the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government that had been proved to be incompetent. They failed to restructure the economy. Their administration was deteriorating day by day.

That is why they held the election two years earlier in 2015. We fulfilled many of the pledges in our manifesto. As I earlier stated we executed many remarkable changes in the Constitution which guaranteed the democracy and people’s sovereignty.

Q: A dissident group of the UNP has formed a new party and is contesting for the forthcoming election under a different symbol. How will it affect your party’s forward march?

A. Almost all political parties are afflicted by divisions. There are differences in opinion of various individuals for the UNP.

Some sections tried to dominate the party with their personal ideologies. As they failed to get ahead with their personal opportunistic dogmas, they had to quit the party. However, the majority of zealous and faithful UNP members could not be misled by off beam politics. The UNP had similar experiences facing dissident fractions. Finally, such groups had to either re-join the party or be politically stranded. The UNP is a strong party which is capable of correctly and boldly facing any dissenting encounter. So dissident fraction could do no harm of any sort to the party.

Q: Sajith Premadasa who was the party’s Deputy Leader and a stout political personality has formed a new party with the patronage of many popular and resourceful Parliamentarians of the UNP. He is contesting as an alternative to the UNP. How can you argue that it would not affect your party?

A. Firstly, Sajith Premadasa is not a resolute political character. He failed in establishing his dogma within the party. As he did not succeed in his endeavor, he had to leave the party with some of his close associates.

The UNP is a dignified political party in this country which can boast of a glorified history. It is the party formed by D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister and a stately statesman who led the Sri Lankan Independence movement.

We all have to observe and respect the rules and regulations of the party constitution. All are obliged to defend party discipline and the provisions of the constitution.

It is clearly mentioned in the party constitution that the official symbol of the UNP is “elephant”. If anyone is not contesting under that symbol he is not a UNPer.

The so-called new party is not in any way an alternative to the UNP. It is just a collection of unprincipled and politically-stranded individuals. We will not allow anyone or any force to destroy our beloved United National Party.

Q: The Galle District UNP team which is contesting for the Parliamentary Election 2020 consists of many newcomers to politics. How would you face the election with a group of political novices?

A. Political beginners are a blessing. They are not poisoned or tainted. These new faces appeal to the public.

People prefer young people to aged ones. Many of them are educated and recognized people in society. Moreover, people also like to see new faces in the forthcoming Legislature. I am sure that people of Galle will certainly love these sparkling newcomers and eagerly vote for them.

Q: How would you evaluate Galle District UNP representation at the next Parliament?

A. As a minister, I have rendered a dominant service to the district and the people, and rectified many public issues which tormented Galle residents. I initiated many development projects providing many infrastructure facilities such as highways, bridges and highway traffic signal systems.

We could bring many Government administrative departments to Galle which are limited to Colombo. The people of Galle know what Vajira did for Galle people.

So, they will firmly stand with me at the August 5 Parliamentary Election. No one can destroy the UNP.


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