Shiral Lakthilaka is a candidate for the upcoming Western Province Provincial Council Elections. He’s contesting under the number 39 if you’re voting, which I hope you are. I saw his posters, which were different but I first really heard about him because he declared his assets last week. In Sri Lanka it’s rare to see transparency of any sort and I was impressed so I tracked him down for an interview. He actually seems to be a half-decent politician. Is he going to win or whatever, I don’t know, but I think we have to encourage politicians that are different.
I was talking to an acquaintance and he was like ‘machang, they’re all the same. Anyways, my brother-in-law is friends with Thilanga (Sumathipala) so we’ll be shape if he’s in’. A statement which I find nauseating. It’s a fundamentally unethical and corrupt statement, but things have gotten so bad that he feels fine telling that to me. Even average people seem to have no shame now. Like, the system is broken, I’m just out to get mine. Thilanga, for reference, is a former bookie who publishes Lakbima. He’s known for his money, and for his corrosive influence in politics. He was arrested for helping a known contract killer obtain a forged passport to England. That underworld figure was later killed. (Sydney Morning Herald). Him and Duminda Silva are the only PC candidates with money to really advertise, but that should tell you something. Where does the money come from?
Anyways, this Shiral Lakthilaka has actually disclosed where his money comes from and I think he’s an honest guy with actual ideas. I think people like him should be supported and encouraged. He also says that the whole UNP slate has set a deadline to declare assets, not just to the government but to the people.
The interview above is about his perspective on politics, his support for a coordinated economy, development based on values, position on terrorism and the war, etc. It’s divided into three pieces. This was filmed in a car heading into Colombo from Rajagiriya, so if you watch in HQ you can actually get a decent tour of the city, includig BMICH.
This is Shiral talking about how much power a Provincial Councilor actually has and what work you can actually do with the position. A brief transcript:
Provincial Council is not a devolved system, it’s a delegated system. Delegation of powers by the President to the governor [etc].
Even this kind of arrangement can bring development. Not political freedom, but development to the people.
What development projects?
In respect to Colombo district, main problem is urban poverty. We have to tackle that. Without tackling urban poverty, other well-off people cannot live peacefully.
One way is income generation. Provincial Councils have enough powers to develop an enabling environment to create small and medium scale businesses. We can use micro-credit, we can use grants, we can use loans.
This is Shiral talking about why he disclosed, and the need to tackle corruption for our nation to develop.
Also, there’s a mothers/citizens/peoples group which will be gathering at Alexandra Circus (the Horton Place IOC, other side, Vihara Maha Devi side) this Thursday from 6-6:30. They’re keeping vigil for democracy, and this week demanding ‘half-decent politicians’. It’s a small group and these are small elections, but I think we have to start demanding something better from our politicians than personal favors at best. If the system is bad then it’s not enough to complain, we have to change it. One candidate and one vote at a time.