Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo 


Yenuli Siribaddana believes it is pay-back time for the nation’s majority

Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly here in Sri Lanka?

A: Being recognised as the long-lost Garden of Eden and becoming one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots is good. However, Sri Lanka’s growing problem of rapid deforestation and irresponsible acts of environmental pollution are definitely bad.

Anarchy and rapid deterioration of our inherent culture – and values being widely exploited over many decades by opportunistic politicians – have given rise to racism, as well as religious and ethnic disharmony, which is surely the ugly side of our country.

Q: What changes do you observe in the context of nation building and reconciliation?

A: In a postwar Sri Lanka, successive governments have promised serious measures in nation building and achieving lasting reconciliation. However, distrust as well as communal, racial and religious tensions still prevail in large measure, and there are isolated incidents of violence too.

I strongly believe that the majority should give more generously and sincerely, to win the trust, confidence and goodwill of the minorities, who have been underdogs for decades post-independence.

Q: Where do you see Sri Lanka in 10 years’ time?

A: If we can usher in a sincerely committed political regime free of corruption and nepotism – and if our citizens could compel every political party to pledge unwavering support to continue with a master plan to achieve developed nation status, managed by qualified public servants free of political interference – our country will be much more than a Singapore.

I’m optimistic that changes to move in this direction are already taking place. There have been glimpses of hope arising from developments on the political and civil fronts in the recent past.

Q: And where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

A: I would be delighted to represent my country in an organisation such as the UN, addressing pivotal issues like climate change, human rights and peace.

It is my sincere hope that the development of science and technology, and AI, will pave the way for a better understanding among global communities. I could make a valuable contribution towards achieving lasting peace across the world.

I hope to play a role in the collective effort towards ensuring education, healthcare and safe shelter for every global citizen.

Q: Do we have young leaders who can take the country forward? And what traits should they possess?

A: The youth of Sri Lanka comprise leaders who encourage and enable others to embrace a vision, initiative or assignment, to feel a sense of purpose, ownership and personal engagement. Successful leaders should embrace the five ‘Ds’ – viz. dreams, desire, determination, dedication and discipline.

Q: How do you view gender equality and environmental degradation?

A: Gender equality is often framed as a responsibility that’s largely in the hands of women although it is clear that men have a stake in it too. Presently, men may have a greater responsibility to work towards achieving the goal of gender equality as a group with collectively more power, influence and capital than women.

Environmental degradation persists in every country but can be overcome through sustainable methods and necessary action. Sustainability is much more than a recent buzzword; increasingly so, given that the concept was embedded in the three ‘Rs’ – i.e. reduce, reuse and recycle.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?

A: With everyone fighting for time, the importance and advantages of social media cannot be denied. Social media is easily accessible from almost anywhere in the world and is the most convenient meeting place for a tech savvy audience.

Social media platforms have become one of the most cost-effective advertising channels with direct access to clients without any third party intervention. With its user base multiplying exponentially and reaching out to almost every demographic tier, social media will undeniably be an important and integral part of everyone’s life in the future.

Q: And finally, what are your expectations of the world and its people?

A: I expect people to treat one another with love and respect, regardless of race, religion, colour and sexual orientation.

If we desire a society of peace, we cannot achieve it through violence. We must join hands and work together, in order to combat global problems and achieve world peace.