The mayoral candidate for Colombo Milinda Moragoda issued the following message to the residents on Colombo yesterday, as his election campaign drew to a close.
“As the election campaign draws to a close, I would like to make use of this occasion to thank the Colombo residents. On Saturday 8 October you will have to make an important choice. You will have to decide whom you would like to place your trust and confidence in.
You will have to decide which mayoral candidate and team you feel is best qualified to bring all communities together and provide the leadership to finding solutions to the many pressing problems that face our City and its residents. We have made our 100-day programme available to you and today released the updated policy programme after adding the many valuable inputs that the citizens of Colombo have sent in. I think we honestly have to ask ourselves whether we are ready to try a new approach that seeks to bridge the many divides that have existed in our society for so long. Over 30 years of bloody conflict which included two insurrections and one war has left its scars and trauma on all of us. Understandably, it will take time for us to heal.
Outside of the North and East, the City of Colombo has suffered the most as a consequence of the war. However, it is my belief that the end of the war has provided us with a small window of time for all of us to come together.
From the many comments I have received from the many people I have met, it is very clear, that most people of all backgrounds and communities appreciate our diversity and want to co-exist in peace.
The post-war transition period presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. The way we conduct our affairs during this period will determine whether we are able to ensure that Sri Lanka realises its lost potential, or whether we begin to sow the seeds for further discontent and another intractable conflict.
If elected, I will work with all like-minded citizens to make Colombo City a model for peaceful co-existence among all communities, economic development and inclusion. Under my leadership, non-political citizens’ committees and advisory panels will draw upon the talents and skills of members from all sections of our society.
In Sri Lanka our municipal politics has not evolved beyond the machine-style politics reminiscent of an earlier century. This system is based on political patronage rather than on a professional delivery of municipal services. The major transformation that I have in mind is to convert the Colombo Municipality into an institution of the 21st Century that provides a quality service to all stakeholders. In addition, my hope is that Colombo which is a microcosm of Sri Lanka with its diverse mix of religions, cultures and communities, will become a Centre of Excellence for the rest of the country at this critical time when reconciliation and healing are critical.
I would like to thank all of you who expressed support for my ideas and who have confidence in my ability to make a difference. A few have expressed different views some with great passion, others with cynicism, some with anger or even malice. This is natural in a democracy, though the nature of some of these latter views sadly reflect the polarisation in our society.
However, I say to those few, that it is important wherever possible, to build bridges rather than trenches. I always stand ready to engage with anyone provided that engagement is sought in an open-minded, respectful and civil manner. At the same time, leadership is about not being afraid to take difficult positions and decisions and I have not been afraid to walk alone.
On 8 October, it is my hope that the people of Colombo will send a signal to the rest of the country and the world, that we are ready to put our society first and are able to see beyond the narrow partisan politics that has blinded us for so long; that after 60 years we will be able to make a new beginning by making Colombo a Centre of Excellence and seizing the many opportunities that have passed us by for so long. I would like to close by thanking President Mahinda Rajapaksa for placing his confidence and trust in me, as well as providing inspiration and encouragement throughout this campaign.”