Following is the speech delivered by UNP Mayoral Candidate A.J.M. Muzammil at the UNP’s Young Professionals Forum last on Thursday:
First of all, let me extend my sincere thanks to Harshana Rajakaruna and the other members of the United National Party Young Professionals for granting us this opportunity to share our views in respect of the forthcoming Colombo Municipal Council election.
My choice to contest the CMC election was a unanimous decision of the party.
This election is a vital election which will decide the fate of the country for a couple of years and the future elections that we have to face. In other words, I would say, this is the last bastion of the UNP.
The foundation that has been built over the years by late J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and our present Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that the UNP reign within the Colombo Municipal limit was never defeated. And I am sure that with all your support we will win this election.
As you can see my friends, I am not a cosmetic man.
Time to make a stand
The time has come my friends for us to make a stand. To make our voices heard. The Colombo with the Port. The Colombo with its investors. The Colombo with its schools. The Colombo with the Museum. The Colombo with its art. My friends, Colombo is in our hearts. Some of these monuments are landmarks.
The whispering willows on Independence Avenue have a history. Its leaves in the wind, whisper history to us. These trees watched our first Prime Minister parade down that avenue. One must have a great reason to bring those giants down.
And think my friends, when a 60 year old tree can be felled in minutes, you hold power in your hand. Now imagine that power in the hands of children. Can they think? Can they appreciate our history? However, we must not blame them. This is why they are children. Remember, with power comes great responsibility.
We have moved our Army headquarters to make room for a hotel. We have moved the Fish Market out of the city limits. Is security not important? How many direct and indirect beneficiaries of the fish market do you think have been affected? Over 30,000 people and families who depend on this business have been affected.
Tomorrow I am sure that the Manning Market will be shifted too. There are plans to move the Central Bus Stand at Pettah. Soon Galle Face Green too will be sold to some foreign party. Today, it is a fact that the Bloomfield Grounds together with the racecourse is in transit to be handed over to another foreign company. Is this what you want?
How you spend 8 October will determine whether you endorse this. This is the day you design and chart the course of Colombo for your children, your grandchildren and your great grand children. Do not take this lightly?
I remember how our late beloved leader, Ranasinghe Premadasa, never touched any historical monuments, even though some of the greatest and fastest development work that Sri Lanka had seen was carried out by him.
His was a model of non-intrusion. His work stands testimony to his efforts even today. His ‘Gam Udawa’ has continued by progressive governments under various names. That is fine. He was the first to chart a programme of shelter for all and if I remember correctly he was the first in the world to do so. Some laughed at him, but those who benefitted from this programme would die for him.
Development must take place. Yes. Development has to take place. But the benchmark must never be another’s. We have to first represent our electorate. Our people are the ones who elect us to office. How can we then move these people to other locations forcefully. Which man in his right mind would vote for a man who will throw him out of his house first and then altogether from the city?
The Municipal Council, its members and the mayor in particular have a great responsibility to the people of Colombo directly and then to the people beyond. Colombo is where most spend their daylight hours. During the day you are in Colombo and it is only when the sun sets that you return. I will give you a Colombo that is clean in more ways than one, whether it be garbage or corruption.
I urge you to vote for the United National Party, because the CMC is our last chance. The last opportunity that you have to defend your rights. This is the time my brothers and sisters to give meaning to your vote. Let your voice be heard. Do not give up on the power of your franchise.
Suffrage is difficult to lose as we can see it happening right now right here. It can only be regained at great cost. Around us and around the world, countries are fighting regimes that have denied them this right. Our situation is far better. We have something that around the world, blood is being shed for.
Do not give up on your tomorrow, your children’s tomorrow, and your grandchildren’s tomorrow so easily. Make your voice heard. Let us build that wall of greatness. Let us return the power to the people. I am a mayor who will stand by you. I will listen to you. I will listen to every one of you. I am available to the public daily at my office on Dean’s Road and my home daily. Let me hear you. Tell me how I can serve you better.
The CMC is an institution that has been in existence for over 100 years. But never before has the CMC been at the centre of such a struggle. A struggle for humanity, a struggle for dignity and a struggle for the return of power back to its people. This is a long and arduous journey. And I am confident that this is the point from which the greatest party in the history of Sri Lankan politics rebuilds itself.
I have the necessary skills, courage and experience to win this election. Believe me and have patience in that we can overcome this struggle. 8 October is the day on which we return Colombo back to its people. This is not a scented garden. This is a real city, where people live and people work. Let us keep it that way. Let me, together with your blessings, build a beautiful tomorrow. A tomorrow that has meaning.