By Pabasari Ginige –
Good evening Ladies and gentleman! On this international women’s day I stand here with all the 11 million 429 thousand women of Sri Lanka. So Thank you Friedrich Neumann Foundation and Next GEN-SL for giving me and them this platform!
I am 52 years old. 🙂 In my lifetime, I have witnessed Presidents stripping my country of its dignity and sovereignty. I have witnessed Presidents ripping off the trust of the majority voter whose political literacy is pitiful whether they are illiterates or scholars- viyathun. I have witnessed pathetic oppositions promising people an unrealistic utopia promoting a beggar culture with sahana malu or free takaran. I have also witnessed oppositions, the self professed political puritans who pleasure themselves in their comfort zones preaching to their own followers, Sermons on the Mount. Today I am standing in a country where the saubhgayaye dakma – vistas of prosperity and splendor – has become yet another joke like yahapalanaya!
I have been reached by quite a few political forces inviting me to active politics over the last few years! I have said “NO” because I believe, the secularity in my DNA would stand in the way! 🙂
Ladies and gentlemen, if I am President secularism is one principle with which I will lead. I will neither carry fruit baskets to the feet of high priests of any religion nor I will offer luxury vehicles or esteemed positions in state higher education institutes as “pirikara” But I will visit religious places only to reflect upon metta, muditha, karuna all religions propagate!
I will create a political movement where Humanity will come above country, race , religion or any other discriminatory factor. I will acknowledge that there is unresolved grief in North, East, West and South of Sri Lanka and the collective trauma of Easter attack. I will bring justice and genuine reconciliation to the victims so that Sri Lankans will truly be eka mawakage daru kala!
Meritocracy will be a guiding principle of my government. I will CHAMPION the introduction of Minimum qualifications to enter politics. If I am president NO BODY with a record of child or women abuse or corruption will be given nominations. The people will have a choice of candidates with integrity and basic human decency. nama yojana denne naha asheelachara saha kata ariyama mole bima watena kisiwekuta!
If I’m President, I will rectify the failed economy that has made my country the basket case of Asia. A country where every essential, fuel, electricity, food has become unattainable. If I am President I will not worsen inflation by printing money nilly willy, I will be realistic and go to the IMF, ask to restructure the loans, float the rupee- and encourage our migrant workers to send dollars through legitimate means. I will stop the state lead scams and confiscate black money to improve quality of life of my people. If I am President, I will not suddenly wake up from my sleep and make policy decisions on kabanika fertilizers! Instead I will systematically reconstruct the roadmap to green agriculture. I will not lead to the starvation of the people who produce the grains of rice on my plate because I will be guided by technocrats, wise people – not self appointed know it alls, soothsayers and she-sorcerers.
If I am President, I will ensure quality and truly free health care. I will not leave room for political cronies to profit from antigen kits and quarantine centers. I will prioritize MENTAL HEALTH, allocating adequate funds because there is no health without mental health. The LGBTIQA community will live with no fear or shame as I will bring law reforms enabling so. I will ignore fake moralists who scream sanskruthiya winasha karanawa when comprehensive sexuality education is attempted. Ladies and gentleman in this dharmadweepaya, there are eleven thousand one hundred and eighty-seven REPORTED cases of child abuse in 2021. I will protect every child of my nation from all forms of abuse -corporal punishment, neglect and child marriage.
If I am President, I will bring MAJOR educational reforms. Children will not be abused in the name of education. Major examinations will not be stressors leading to anxiety and depression in a country I lead. The regressive method of segregating schools according to sex, religion and race will be prohibited. So students learn equality, kindness and respect for differences. I will modernize school and university education to suit the job markets locally and globally. If I am President within 24 hours of being appointed I will outlaw all forms of ragging in the HEIs. I will invite the students to review their conduct and see whether that is any different from the state oppression – rajya mardhanaya they complain about.
I will be an empathetic, kind and friendly president, A PEOPLE’S PRESIDENT and I vouch to drive the opposition jobless :).
I will REINVENT POLITICAL MORALITY. I will be the kind of President that makes it so hard for my successors to loot, kill, violate rights and cause pain and hunger. I will be the kind of President who will be a secular moral force that defines all other presidencies to come!
*Dr. Pabasari Ginige – MBBS,MD(Psychiatry) – Senior Lecturer/ Consultant Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry/Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya. Speech delivered at the International Women’s Day celebration organised by Friedrich Neumann Foundation and NextgenSL