An Interview with Milinda Rajapaksa, SLPP Candidate (also known as ‘Pohottuwa’ party) for the Colombo Municipal Council
What makes you want to go into politics?
The power of the Colombo Municipal Council has been with one single party all this time. What good has it done for you? The CMC is meant to be the heart of Colombo. But sadly, the moment we hear CMC, we only recall stinking piles of garbage… that’s understandable because for the past 50 years, the CMC has been run by thugs, crooked businessmen and political henchmen who don’t even know the basics of management, let alone politics. Due to their inability, inefficiency, incompetence and corruption, the CMC has failed to achieve any significant development over the decades, other than to leave a huge public debt.
I am part of a new young team that understands the challenges of today and those of tomorrow. Our heads are full of modern, sustainable, practical solutions to face those challenges. All we need is to execute those solutions. We have the knowledge, skills and the energy to do just that.
We don’t have time to fight old battles. We learn from the past, but we don’t dwell there.
When our team builds the Sustainable City of Colombo, everyone will equally share the benefits. We will discuss how that Sustainable City of Colombo will be built. Talk to us. Write to us. Comment on our Facebook page.
Tell us a little bit about your background….
I am glad you asked this as a lot of people in the city don’t know much about me. What most know is that I am a visiting Lecturer of the Kelaniya University and Consultant on Creative Strategy at Triad Ltd. What is little known is that I hold a MBA from University of Edinburgh Napier and that I have been a fellowship holder (Development Communication) of University of Miami, Florida and that I have degree from the University of Northumbriaa specializing in Business management and finance. I also did some training on Political Advocacy in Washington DC and Amsterdam.
I have also attended the UN General Assembly 3 times, headed by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa and UN high level meetings and special assemblies 8 times.
From 2012 to 2015 I served as Working Director of National Youth Services Council, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development of Sri Lanka managing over 2500 employees across the country.
I have also been actively involved in advocating sexual and reproductive rights of youth since 2003.
I have attended several international conferences in USA, UK, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippine, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Maldives, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Afghanistan, South Africa, Mali and Iran
What is your “vision” as a new candidate?
It is important that Colombo is built sustainably so that other cities can follow its example, this is my vision.
Colombo is the economic hub of our country. People around the world know Colombo. It is the common ground for all Sri Lankans. The poorest Sri Lankan lives in Colombo. So does the richest. The person living under the Kelaniya Bridge as well as the person occupying the penthouse of the tallest apartment complex, both breathe the same Colombo air. From the merchant by the Pettah roadside to the businessman inside the World Trade Centre, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers all do business in Colombo. Travelling in the early morning trains, busses, bicycles, motorbikes, three-wheelers, cars and vans, hundreds of thousands of people come to Colombo every day to make a living.
All the progressive forces that protected, rescued and built our beloved nation have united under Sri Lanka PoduJanaPeramuna. To build Colombo, we must protect our country first; and that is why we have decided to contest under the beautiful Lotus Bud (NelumPohottuwa).
Sustainability means the “ability to sustain”. Therefore, Sustainable City of Colombo is a city which will successfully last over hundreds of years into the future! A city where you can live happily, your children can live happily, your children’s children and generations after that can live happily.
On which policies would you focus if you were elected
There are ten key areas of focus in my manifesto :
- A city that is resilient to climate change, natural disasters and global economic collapses
Climate change resulting from man’s day to day activities is now a part and parcel of our lives. In the years to come, Colombo will have to face disastrous consequences, and to these we have the necessary strategic solutions.
- A city where people breathe clean air and a city that is ‘clean’ in every sense
What is the point of a city without breathable, clean air? Why have a city with unclean pathways? Having a lake, but being unable to cool off beside it is useless. Let us once again cleanse our soil, air and water.
- A city with an efficient transport system for the people to work and do business without wasting time on the road
We are aware that the time you lose while on the road is precious to you. This is a problem that cannot be resolved with a traditional solution. We must rethink and redesign Colombo’s transport system in a manner that it can function effectively as far as the next 100 years.
- A city with an uninterrupted renewable energy supply
All primary cities in the world are rapidly working towards adopting renewable energy. The reason behind this is the possibility of a fuel crisis in the near future. We are aware of these issues, and are equipped with the solutions to these problems.
- A city suitable for human habitat with good city planning
A capital city is a constantly changing landscape, full of life. The city of Colombo too, should change accordingly. However, this change should intelligently take into account the past, present and future. We know how to construct a city that is worthy of the future.
- A city that recycles its garbage efficiently
The mounting piles of garbage in Colombo is a shameful sight. It is even more shameful when these piles of garbage are haphazardly dumped in another area of the country. We possess modern solutions to the current waste crisis.
- A Green City filled with trees
A city solely composed of concrete skyscrapers is not pleasing to the eye. Colombo is a city in which numerous people work and live, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we nurture an environment in which they can exist.
- A city where people can buy or grow organic and healthy foods easily
Regardless of wealth and prosperity, if you consumes unwholesome, toxic food, your life can be cut short considerably. As such, we are prepared with a plan to cultivate and provide the people with organic and healthy food products.
- A city where people can do business with ease and can use ICT and digital services to carry out day to day functions easily
In an era where information and communication technology is this advanced, exhausting unnecessary time and effort on carrying out one’s activities is unacceptable. We will work towards streamlining the processes and services offered by the municipal council through technology, and making them more efficient.
- A city without corruption where foreign companies want to open their enterprises
We are a team of new, youthful and productive individuals. We are unable to stay in power