Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo

POLITICIANS ARE KILLJOYS

Sachintha Abeyrathna asserts that our politicians are the bane of society

Q: What are the challenges facing the country today?
A: Sri Lanka’s classification as a ‘developing country’ has been longstanding. This is pathetic given that other developing countries have moved far ahead of it. The reasons for this could be the state of the economy, technology and politics.

Although ours is an agricultural economy, there’s chaos in the tea, rubber and coconut industries. Other challenges include monetary issues and instability, not to mention the lack of goods and services, skilled labour, capital and technology.

Unless we overcome these impediments, Sri Lanka will continue to be viewed as a developing economy.

Q: What changes do you observe in the spheres of education and healthcare?
A: Government expenditure on education is high. In addition, Sri Lanka is one of the few countries to offer free education up until university. This fact should be appreciated.

If not for free education, the majority of the poor would remain uneducated due to a lack of funds. However, reforms are needed including the introduction of more practical and professional education streams that are suited to the paradigms of the fast-paced contemporary world.

While the government should be commended for making free health services accessible to all, the private channelling system harms the healthcare sector as doctors concentrate more on private practice, which is very unjust especially for the poor. The government should also take action to promote indigenous medicine.

Q: How can Sri Lanka retain the talent that it has?
A: Brain drain is destroying our economy as the educated make their way to other countries. This stems from a lack of recognition of their abilities; inadequate facilities and technology; political instability and other social issues that the government must address if we’re to stem brain drain.

Q: Do we have young leaders who can take the country forward – and what traits should they possess?
A: Sri Lanka does have an intelligent younger generation that must be nurtured to produce future leaders. The primary traits expected of a leader are farsighted vision, intelligence, ethics, genuineness, trustworthiness and incorruptibility. Sri Lanka has younger politicians who have all these traits plus strong personalities.

However, younger generation leaders do not want to enter politics because of the negative perceptions surrounding politicians. So we must build a corruption free country if we’re to entice young people into political leadership positions.

Q: Where do you see Sri Lanka in 10 years’ time?
A: While it is a country rich in natural resources, Sri Lanka remains a divided nation due to factors such as ethnicity, caste and social status.

I strongly believe that if we work hard to bridge these divisions, we’ll create a beautiful Sri Lanka where harmony can build a sustainable economy that will encourage young people to remain in the country. A generation without discrimination and corruption will elevate our country to higher echelons.

Q: What’s the good, bad and ugly of the world in which we live?
A: While the world is a very beautiful place, it’s the people who make it bad and ugly through their unethical behaviour. The divisions stemming from the colour of one’s skin, social status, wealth, religion, ethnicity and development greatly impact the global situation. We must unite if we’re to present the next generations with a world that is both prosperous and sustainable.

Q: And what are your expectations of the world and its people?
A: All citizens expect a better world for the next generation – a world free from injustice, disasters, corruption and poverty, in addition to racial, religious and social differences. Equal opportunities must be provided to everyone.

This is a genuine wish for those who value freedom and peace. We shouldn’t tolerate those who go against the natural order because this leads to disasters, natural or man-made, impacting all of us seriously.

Q: And finally, what in your opinion are the chief qualities of a pragmatic leader?
A: Today, we need leaders who maintain strong interpersonal relationships, and stand against corruption and injustice. It is these leaders who will make a difference in the world – and make it better for all living beings.