“My duty is to serve everyone”: UNP’s Sundaram Palaniandy

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Every year a new group of would-be politicians enters the electoral fray. One such freshman is Sundaram Palaniandy, contesting for the Western Provincial Council from the United National Party (UNP). He is the President of the Colombo Traders Association. Following are excerpts of an interview: Q: Why did you decide to contest for the Western Provincial Council election? A: I was born in Bandarawela. At the age of 15, I came to Colombo looking for a job. I worked in many places and did all types of work. After some time I was fortunate enough to start my own business. Soon I opened my own shop. Today I am the Chairman of a very successful business. I always believed in helping people. I know the pain and suffering of the poor. I was blessed to be where I am today. It is my duty to help others. From the time I came to Colombo, although I was personally going through a difficult period, I helped others – my friends, relatives and other traders. It was my pleasure. As a businessman I have achieved everything I desired. Now it is time to dedicate my life fully to serve people. This is why I decided to enter active politics. This way I believe I would be able to carry out my work more meaningfully. Q: Any major political party would have welcomed a successful businessman like you. Why did you decide to contest from the ailing UNP? A: From the time I came to Colombo I have been a strong supporter of the UNP. I have worked closely with late Minister Lalith Athulathmudali and late President Ranasinghe Premadasa. I used to visit Minister Athulathmudali every morning and night. He was a great politician. I worked closely with President Premadasa too. He was one of the finest leaders this country had. President Premadasa always treated me as a friend. When UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe invited me to join his party and contest the forthcoming election, I thought I should not miss this opportunity. I am glad to represent the UNP. It is a party with sound economic policies and a clear vision for the country’s future. As a businessman I believe a government should always be equipped with good economic policies. It is only the UNP that can take this country forward. Q: If elected, how will you help the Tamil community? A: I have to be honest about one thing: Although I am a Tamil, I do not believe in serving just one communal group. We are all humans – how can you divide people as Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils? I work with all community groups and I will work for all of them. When people came to me asking for help, I never asked whether they were Tamils or not. My belief is that as a human my duty is to serve everyone. Q: All social workers are not politicians. If your desire is to carry out social work, why get involved in politics? A: I believe social work is something with a rich meaning. It has the power to make a difference. However, sometimes I have come across certain limitations. At times we have to approach politicians to get certain things done. Therefore I thought the best is to get into politics, so I would be able to carry out my work more effectively. Yes I agree with you that all social workers are not politicians but I have decided that getting into politics would help me to carry out my work effectively. Q: What are your chances of getting elected to the Western Provincial Council? A: Many lesser known faces contesting for the first time have managed to defeat leaders who have been in politics for decades. We can spend millions and carry out sophisticated election campaigns but the decision is in the hands of people. If we do our work properly, people will never let you down. This is what I believe. I am confident that I will be able to get through to the council. My fellow traders, friends and politicians always encouraged me to do this. I know they are always there for me. People know me as a social worker. I know their support and blessing is there for me. This is not an easy task. If you work hard, it is not an impossible task. I will never make false promises. I will not sling mud at others. I will not engage in petty political games. I am here with a vision and I will make sure I will fulfil that. I am very confident that I will get elected. Q: What else would you like voters to know about you? A: When I came to Colombo I knew nothing. It was a new experience. I was a 15-year-old boy from an estate, but I succeeded. Some 25 years ago I gathered all traders in Moor Street and formed the All Moor Street Traders Association. Since then I have fought for the rights of traders. I have fought with governments to protect my colleagues. I have been successful in all endeavours. When I was financially able, I built a kovil in my estate in Bandarawela. I initiated reconstructing roads in the area. I was able to fulfil most requirements of my villagers. When I compare the present state of the estate with what it was when I used to live there as a small boy, I feel proud. I am hoping to build 100 kovils all around the country. Then people will be able to worship and share their happiness and worries with God. This I will carry out whether I get elected or not. Whether I win this election or not I will carry out my work; I will continue to serve people.