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We are publishing excerpts of an interview Namal Rajapaksa gave to Sandasen Marasinghe of The Daily News which was published in The Daily News of 5/04/2010.
“Namal Rajapaksa is the president of the Tharunyata Hetak Organization that attracted thousands of youth from every nook and corner of the country. He is also the chairman of the Nil Balakaya which has over 500,000 member strength to build a better future. His credo in life is to bring peace to Sri Lanka starting with the nation’s youth, instilling patriotism and universal harmony to bring everyone together. He is determined to put aside differences in religion, caste, race, social standing and financial status to strengthen peace and unity in Sri Lanka.”
Q: What was your ambition in your life ?
A: I wanted to be a lawyer. I have completed the London LLB. I am in the first year of the Colombo University Law Faculty and a first year student of the Sri Lanka Law College. I wanted to continue as a lawyer. It is also a kind of public service.
Q: What made you become a politician?
A: I have not changed my decision to practise law but I wanted to join politics from my early days. My problem was when to join politics, is it after completing studies or while continuing studies. But the people in Hambantota have badly felt the absence of their representative, Mahinda Rajapaksa after he became the Prime Minister and then the President. Even today Mahinda Rajapaksa is not the President to them he is their Mahinda Mahattaya. For them I’m their Loku Baba.
Q: You are a third generation member of the illustrious Rajapaksa family of Giruwapattuwa in the Hambantota. Your family has produced President Mahinda Rajapaksa, D.A. Rajapaksa and D.M. Rajapaksa who was called the Lion of Ruhuna. Did that tradition inspire you to take to politics?
A: I attended pre-school during the spate of violence in 80s. It was a time when youth were killed and women were raped.
Men and women came crying to Carlton to my parents to tell their grievances.
Having seen all that I was determined to join politics. Even today there are people who have lined up here to meet us and talk of their happiness and grievances.
But my view is there is no room for dynasty politics in this country. The best example is the Bandaranaike family. They are no more in politics. One has to build his own identity and find his own path.
Q: One major issue among the youth in the country and in the District is unemployment. What is the solution for this?
A: In the Hambantota district, a few days ago a new factory was opened in Walasmulla creating more than 1,000 employment opportunities. There will be another 27 factories established in close proximity to the Hambantota Harbour in addition to the hotels, tourism villages and the international cricket stadium.
But the main problem with the youth is they have little understanding of employment avenues. They should be provided proper knowledge, education, vocational training and should be directed to follow relevant courses.
We, as politicians have to show the youth that there is a world beyond being an engineer, doctor, lawyer or a garment factory employee. Without directing the youth in the correct way, we cannot develop the country by giving employment to those who paste posters and set cutouts for politicians.
We have to change that culture and empower the youth to select their employment in the Government sector, private sector, or abroad. That is the culture we have to initiate. I have initiated it through Nil Balakaya. A large number of youth have joined the Nil Balakaya.
Q: The UNP is claiming that it is the only party that has a policy for economic growth and will provide goods at lower prices. How do you compare the position with the UPFA’s record?
A: In my opinion they have not strengthened the economy. They are good at showing economic development on documents.
UNP governments did not invest in infrastructure. They did not develop roads in rural areas, did not address the issues of drinking water and electricity supply in villages.
They never brought investment to villages. The UNP confined the development and its benefits to Colombo.
They were in power for 19 years but no infrastructure was developed in our village nor in Anuradhapura nor in Polonnaruwa.
The Jaffna peninsula can be developed as a tourism paradise. If we do so, the Jaffna economy will improve. It is not fair to confine development only to Colombo. That is the difference between the UNP and the UPFA Governments.
UPFA governments never confined development to Colombo. The point is Colombo is not the entire country.
Q: You have said that you have stopped putting up posters as a means of election propaganda but providing books to schoolchildren. Can you explain?
A: Yes. I too pasted posters on the request of my supporters and later I understood its disadvantages are more than advantages, so I decided to utilize that money for a productive task.
Why should we hurt others? I do not paste posters. Youth paste them for fun for personal grudge or for some other reason to cover other’s posters.
So I gave up the poster campaign. We have to create new practical cultures. Posters are needed for those who do not work for their voters.
Q: Do you wish to be a Minister or a Deputy in the next Parliament ?
A: No, I want to study politics more before becoming a minister. There are lot of senior people from whom we could learn politics. After all it is unfair if a newly elected Parliamentarian expects to be a minister.
Q: You are lucky to be a son of the President who united the country after several decades by freeing the country from the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization. What do you have to say about it?
A: I am really proud of my father. Now I hope he will fulfill the needs of the country today, development and bringing about harmony among communities. I am happy that I can take part in the next phase. We can create harmony through rehabilitation, reconciliation and resettlement. We have to develop those areas. Education facilities are poor in the North. Before terrorism the best library in South Asia was in Jaffna.
We have to develop those areas back to the same standard. We have to show them that there is a world beyond terrorism. The responsibility is on both Tamil and the Sinhala youth as both of them suffered due to terrorism and war.
Q:What is your objective in politics?
A: Now Mahinda Rajapaksa is not known as son of D.A. Rajapaksa. D.A. Rajapaksa is known as father of Mahinda Rajapaksa. I think my success would come the day when people may know Mahinda Rajapaksa as the father of Namal Rajapaksa.”
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