Yethmini Perera urges Sri Lankans to unite to help it reach its potential

Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera

Q: Could you shed light on what the good, the bad and the ugly is here in Sri Lanka?
A: Sri Lanka is renowned for its mesmerising landscapes, vibrant culture and rich heritage. As a multiethnic country, its diversity opens new horizons for people where they can meet and interact with each other with ease.

Moreover, our free education and excellent healthcare system have undoubtedly contributed to the wellbeing of society.

However, the long-lasting ethnic conflicts, gender-based discrimination, and misrule by self-interested politicians constitute the bad and ugly side of our country.

Q: And what do you consider to be the main challenges facing the country today?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the island by disrupting economic and social activities. Many people are financially stifled due to unemployment, and escalating food and energy prices.

In addition to this, a majority of children in rural areas are struggling to adjust to the online education system due to the lack of infrastructure and learning material.

These issues are seriously impacting the overall growth and development of Sri Lanka.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day? And if so, why – and how can this be achieved?
A: Discrimination and the lack of respect towards each other are negative forces that prevent Sri Lanka from uniting as one nation.

In my view, if people can learn to value each other, and discard the prejudiced and racist notions that they hang on to, there’s hope for the country to be united despite the differences in race, religion and culture.

Q: Where do you see yourself in around 10 years’ time?
A: Taking into consideration the challenges that life throws at us, I can’t be sure about what the future will hold. But by making use of all the opportunities available to me, I hope to complete my higher education in a state university and excel in the career path that I choose to follow.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka a decade from today?
A: As an emerging nation, Sri Lanka has the potential to achieve targeted development goals with proper economic, social and political management. If the citizens and leaders in power work towards a common goal, Sri Lanka can overcome barriers and be recognised as a great country.

Apart from this, I also hope to see more opportunities and leadership positions being offered to women and youth in the future.

Q: In your opinion, who is responsible for climate change and global warming? And what measures must be taken to address the prevailing situation?
A: The responsibility for the situation that we face falls on every human being living on this planet. In a world where capitalism is fuelled by seemingly endless production at the cost of depleting our natural resources, climate change and global warming aren’t unexpected results.

Yet, everyone has a responsibility to do their best to mitigate these issues mainly by spreading awareness and reducing carbon emissions going forward.

Q: What is your take of the growing importance of social media in today’s landscape?
A: Social media has certainly turned the world into a global village through the creation of a platform where people can interact with each other.

Individuals have a space to voice their opinions, showcase their talents, and access news and information. To my mind, if the platform is properly used, people can harvest many benefits and opportunities from social media.

Q: And where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: Even though a period of 10 years may not be sufficient for a revolution so to speak, the world will certainly witness a great transformation where the technological and medical sectors are concerned.

Furthermore, the issues of racial and gender discrimination will demand more attention with a greater number of people being empowered through the easy access to education.

In a decade, I sincerely hope to see a world where everyone can find success and love, regardless of who they are and the challenges they may face.