- Pledges to take up issues in Parliament and forge youth force for power change
By Uditha Jayasinghe
The main Opposition yesterday criticised the Government for ignoring the economic development that could be contributed by youth and insisted that it would work to bring youth problems into Parliament as a means of seeking redress.
Noting that thousands of youth around the country joined in the recent May Day rally because they were dissatisfied with the Government, United National Party (UNP) MP Ruwan Wijewardene emphasised the need for the Government to focus on youth issues.
He went on to point out that the Government had only given words and slogans such as ‘Tharunayata Hetak’ and ‘Suba Anagathayak’ to the youth and had not worked to resolve burning issues such as unemployment.
He insisted that even though the Government spouts numbers of graduates they have given jobs to, the recruited youth remain under employed as “bench warmers” with paltry pay of around Rs. 10,000 a month.
“The youth have now given up hope in this Government. All they have gotten from this Government is lies. I think there is no proper youth policy from the Government so they have turned to the UNP to build them a proper future,” he said.
The Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was urged to increase budget allocations to universities so that they could increase their facilities, including providing hostels for over 500 students who currently have to fund their own accommodation. He also highlighted what he termed as suppressive action taken regarding a student union activist at the Jayawardenepura University and Colombo University.
UNP MP Harin Fernando who also spoke at the press conference pledged to create a hotline for the youth to lodge their protests, which would be taken up by the UNP in Parliament.
Fernando stressed that unless the Government worked to reduce youth problems, it would encourage them to gather in an “Arab spring” type of revolt against the Government.
“It is clear from recent actions taken by the Government that there is no justice for common people. We want the youth to come forward and speak out about these problems,” Fernando added.