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Southern PC to reach greater heights - Shan Wijayalal

Shan Wijayalal de Silva who entered Provincial Council politics in 1993 contesting the Southern Provincial Council and has never had setbacks in his political career was fortunate to reach the top position of the Council.

Southern Provincial Council, Chief Minister Shan Wijayalal de Silva

As a person who always lived in the hearts of the southern people, this time he has been able to secure 95,860 preferential votes to top the UPFA preferential vote list in the Galle district. That made him the Chief Minister of the Southern Provincial Council for the third consecutive time which is a record shared by very few politicians in the country.

As a mature politicians he was never moved by actions of his competitors and moved silently to the position of Chief Minister of the Southern Provincial Council to lead it to new heights among Provincial Councils.

The Sunday Observer had an interview with him on Thursday a day prior to taking oaths.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: At this election too the UPFA has been able to secure an unprecedented victory at the Southern Provincial Council. In you opinion what were the factors that made this victory possible?

A: This is the sixth consecutive time we have taken over the administration of the Southern Provincial Council. Since 1993, for the past 21 years, we governed the Southern Provincial Council. Since our first victory in 1993, people voted us into power on six consecutive time, as we were able render what people have expected from us through the Provincial Council system.

I entered the Southern Provincial Council in 1993 after obtaining 21,000 preferential votes. I have been able to increase that number upto 96,000 this time. That number has never descended at any election and our party has been voted into power at each election.

Therefore, we are happy that we have been able to render service to the Southern people. We have been able to secure this victory as we have done service to the maximum within the parameters of the Provincial Council system.

Q: Following the Provincial Council election, the Opposition stated that there is an erosion in the vote base of the UPFA at this election compared to the previous election?

A: They are making this comparison based on the 2009 Provincial Council election result. We faced the 2009 Provincial Council election soon after defeating the LTTE. The mentality of the people at that time was totally different from the present mentality of the people.

The date of the election also had an impact on the election result since it was close to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Those who are employed in the Free Trade Zones in Katunayake and Biyagama were planing to come to their home town on April 6 or 7 for the New Year and they opted not to return to their homes for the election as they have to come back again for the New Year.

That had a big impact on the voting pattern. Therefore, we cannot compare the 2009 result with the election result of 2014 as it was a special victory for the UPFA. When we compare the number of Members in the council, the Opposition also cannot be satisfied with the number of votes they have obtained.

We have obtained clear majority in all three districts. Anyone can understand the political set up that can be created when a single party runs the Council for six consecutive terms. I see this as a great achievement for us to have this type of victory after contesting the election in such a scenario and after governing the council for six consecutive terms.

Q: There was a big competition to get the Chief Ministers post for each district of the province and also on individual basis to get that post personally for them. Amidst this situation you have become the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term. So how do you see this situation?

A: Any one can claim the Chief Ministers post when a political party has not nominated an official Chief Ministerial candidate at the election. They can keep hoping for the post. Some made this claim to increase their preferential vote base. The people have clearly given their responses to those who claimed the Chief Ministerial post.

I was never moved by the claims made by some candidates because I was aware of the process of appointing persons to the post of Chief Minister. I was aware what criteria the party considers when appointing the Chief Minister. I did not make any trouble for those candidates either. Now the President, as the leader of the Party has taken a decision in this regard and we have act according to his decision.

Q: Do you think that the competition for the Chief Ministers post and the mud slinging campaigns carried out by some candidates had an impact on the number of preferential votes you have obtained?

A: People used their vote with a good understanding about the situation whatever said and done by others. My preferential votes have been increased by 5,000 this time. That clearly shows that my popularity has not gone down at personnel level.

When we consider the number of people used their votes on the election date, there is no possibility to increase the number of preferential votes under such scenario. Amidst this situation also I have been able to increase my preferential votes by 5000. Therefore, there is no decrease in my popularity. Therefore, whatever the things said and done by the opponent to achieve their petty goals, the wise people of the Galle district have taken that intelligent decision at the election.

Q: At this election we saw a tendency of second generation politicians entering to politics with a huge popularity among the people. What is your opinion about this young generation entering politics?

A: Truly speaking entering of young politicians must be there in politics for its sustenance. Becoming a child of a politician should not be considered as a primary criteria for his entry into politics. If that person was popular and earned the appreciation of the people, he or she should not be deprived of the chance of entering politics because he or she is a child of a politician.

But this time they have been given chance to contest the election and they have earned the appreciation of the people. Therefore, there is no problem regarding their entry into politics. The entry of young politicians to the political field should be there for the continuity of the politics and the political parties.

Q: What kind of a program you are having in mind to get effective service from the young Provincial Council Members entering to the Provincial Council under your third term as the Chief Minister?

A: We all are planing to work as one team when we established the administration of the Council. We are trying our best to add the concepts of this young generation and their ideas into our programs. We are trying to accommodate the view of the Members, government officials, the Non Government Organisations and specially the views of the young Members when formulating our programs. We will prioritise them according their importance and implement those programs for the well-being of the southern people.

Q: There is a perception that forward march of the Provincial Council will be stalled when one person from one district is appointed as the Chief Minister for three consecutive terms. Do you agree with this perception?

A: I never believe in that perception because the Chief Minister is always appointed for the whole province but not for a single district. There is no argument that they should work according to the boundaries of the district he represent. If the Chief Ministers post is rotated among districts there will be another argument that it should also be rotated according to the ethnicity also.

People will talk in terms of religion also if that tendency is continued. That position always goes to the most qualified and prominent person in the province. The person and the district is immaterial when making this selection from the Members elected to the council. That position will not be decentralised within the province.

Q: Doní t you that it is unfair by other districts when Chief Minister is appointed from the same district again and again?

A: I don't think so. We have never treated the districts like that. When we are allocating fund for the projects we are equally allocating the funds for the each district and those projects will benefit the whole province without making any injustice to any district.

Q: During you third term as the Chief Minister what kind of development goals you are expecting to achieve within the province?

A: When we are implementing programs in the province there are two criteria that governs and control our work. One is the powers vested with the Provincial Council. The second is the financial allocations for the Provincial Council. Those are the two key factors governing the activities of the Provincial Councils.

At the same time we have to give priority for the subjects such as education , health, agriculture and irrigation which have direct impact with the livelihood of the people in the province. Therefore, we have to prioritise the proposals we receive considering their importance and the impact on the people living there.

That is how we are implementing the projects in the province . At the same time we have to implement the projects in accordance with the vision of the President and also without making clashes with the programs of the central government.

Therefore, we are planing to implement the economic, social and cultural development programs of the province according to Mahinda Chinthana program and its future vision.

Q: When we consider the sectors like education, health transport which are having direct impact on the people sometimes facing setbacks and problematic situation. What are the plans you are having to manure those situations effectively?

A: Those things will be handles when the issues arises. We cant predict the problems and solve problems before hand. Therefore, we are ready to provide the best and most effective solution to the problem when such situations arise.

Q: The election for the Western and Southern Provincial Councils were conducted two days after a US sponsored resolution was passed against Sri Lanka at UNHRC sessions. What kind of impact it had made on the final result of the election?

A: There are few factors that will decide the voting pattern of the people. The resolution against Sri Lanka adopted at UNHRC might be one factor considered by the people when voting for the UPFA at the election date. I will not say that is the only reason for our victory.

Q: The United National Party has stated that they were able to make their first step towards toppling the Government from this elections. How do you take this view of the UNP?

A: They made use the same slogan again and again in the past elections. But today when we consider the gap between the UNP and the UPFA they can find the correct answer to their question.

Q: The Democratic Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has been able to increase their vote bases at this election. Do you think that this situation will make an impact on the UPFA in the future elections?

A: As a political party, the president as the leader of the party and other leaders will study this situation when making their future plans for the elections. Therefore, they will consider their vote base also when planing for the future elections and make strategies for the election campaigns.

Q: Many candidates adopted different strategies to get their preferential votes increased at the election. Have you adopted any such strategy during your election campaign?

A: We are a people who lives with the people. We feel the pulse of the people and have better understanding about the hopes and aspiration of the people. We are living with the people. Therefore, we don't need any new strategies to become popular among people. We always live in the hearts of the people.

Q: What do think of the group you have got in the Provincial Council this time?

A: We have different types of people. We have veterans in the field, novices to politics, Members representing the older generation and young generation and also women are in our team. So we have good mix of people in our group. They have diverse talents in different fields.

Therefore, I humbly believe that we will be able to have good program for the Provincial Council this time compared to the past.

Q: Do you think that you have the ability to go forward with that team?

A: Why should we be pessimistic about our team. So I don't see any reason why we cannot work together. Therefore, we think that we can go on good path this time. If any problem arises we have the ability to settle those issues with the consultation of the President and the other party leaders.

Q: Finally can you tell us what kind of targets you planing to achieve at the end of the next term of the Provincial Council?

A: We are yet to start our work and we are yet to discuss the targets we are going to achieve. But we are planing two types of programs when serving the people. We will have a long term plan for the entire five years period and at the same time we will also adopt a short term plan to solve the issues that may arise time to time and give give benefits to the people on short term basis.

We are trying our best to do our service within the Provincial Council system according to our conscience and take the Southern province to much higher position.

 

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