On January 8, 2015 you will exercise the full extent of your power as the citizen of a republic. Political systems and leaders in Sri Lanka have given you little reason to do so, but your first vote is a moment to celebrate. For a few hours on one day, all the power to make or break politicians, to build or destroy their policies lies in your hands.
In this election you are choosing a way of life. You are choosing between two systems of governance. The choice you make on January 8 may well decide if you will live a life of serfdom and oppression or if you will face your future as free citizens of a democracy.
Three days from now, your choice on the little piece of paper before you may determine our collective destiny.
There are two types of countries in your future. Your choice will determine which country you will live your dreams in, bear your children in and grow old in.
Will you live out your days in the free winds of democracy, where your individual choices are respected and upheld, where politicians are accountable and there is equal opportunity, jobs and dream-seeking for all Sri Lanka’s youth?
Or will you choose to retain the present status quo and plunge your own life and that of your country and all her people into darkness? For the second country that lies in your future is a dark, oppressive place, where autocracy takes root and the peoples’ freedom is stolen, their will thwarted. In that dark country, one family will reign supreme, their children will amass wealth and power and rob the people of prosperity and a secure future.
This can be the country of night races and thoroughbred horses for crown princes, it can be the country of religious hatred and division. Or it can be YOUR Sri Lanka, the country you reclaim on January 8, 2015 and make it a prosperous, secure and free nation for all those born of this soil.
Perhaps you are disillusioned. Perhaps you wonder if your vote can make a difference.
Let me be the one to tell you: This time, your vote will count.
If you vote in this election and you choose to stand with us on the side of democracy and justice, good governance and the rule of law, social justice and freedom, then your vote will be much more than just a mark on a ballot paper. One day, when you look back on your first vote it will be a memory to cherish forever. For by voting for democracy on January 8, 2015, you will have been part of a historic and peaceful revolution to save your country from nepotism and family rule, from autocracy and impunity. Your vote would have helped to deliver on our promises of democracy and freedom.
Walk with us in this election as we help you to dream of a better future. As the future of this country, young people are our greatest asset. In your dreams lie the dreams of a nation.
So today, as we prepare to cast our votes, let us dare to dream.
Let us dream of a nation where there is justice and equality for all.
Let us imagine a nation in which not only president’s children, but the child of the farmer and the teacher can also dream of travelling to space.
Dare if you will, to dream of a country that spends more on education and less on Night Races and Ferraris.
Imagine Sri Lanka at peace, tolerant of all religious beliefs and all ethnic and cultural groups, each of us safe and secure, each of us celebrating our diversity and great commonality.
It is possible to create this country. All these dreams lie within your grasp. Take your first step towards democracy on 8 January 2015. Cast your vote and make it count.
Vote because it is all that stands between darkness and light.
Vote to keep the lights on in Asia’s oldest democracy.
Vote to keep Sri Lanka Free.
*Statement issued by the United National Party