The Sunday Leader

Enter The “Stars”

By Raisa Wickrematunge

Sanath Jayasuriya

Former Sri Lanka cricket captain, Sanath Jayasuriya took a break from a match in Kandy to give The Sunday Leader a little insight into his decision to enter politics.

Q: Can you confirm that you will be running in the upcoming general election? If so, which party and what district will you represent?

A: Yes, I will be contesting in the general elections. I will be contesting from Matara, under the UPFA ticket. My family is from Matara, and my parents and brother still live there. So that is why I am contesting from Matara.

Q: Why did you decide to enter politics?

A: I wanted to do some work in Matara, and help the people of Matara District. I want to make them a better life.

Q: Why did you decide to join ranks with the UPFA?

A: I supported President Rajapaksa during his presidential campaign. So that is why I have decided to run from the UPFA.

Q: If you are successfully elected into parliament, what issues would you want to focus on?

A: As I said, I want to make a better life for people. One important issue I want to highlight is the need to create jobs, to alleviate the unemployment problem in the country. Also in Matara, the district I will be running from, there are many areas and towns which really need to be developed. I want to build them up. Of course, that will be a very big challenge. That is something you can’t do overnight, and would need a little more time. However I am willing to work hard to do that.

Q: Will you continue playing cricket?

A: Well, I asked for permission from the Cricket Board. I found that there was no such restriction which prevented me from contesting. So since there is no problem, I plan to continue playing cricket.

Q: Do you think you will be able to balance campaigning, and if you are successful, the work that comes with being an MP, as well as being a cricketer?

A: Yes, I think I can balance it. I have stopped playing Test cricket, so I have the time and ability to contest. Otherwise, there is no way I would have been able to. Also I will not be playing much cricket this year. I hope to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and the World Cup. That’s up to the selectors, of course. However overall I have time to concentrate on campaigning.

Q: Do you think your lack of experience politically will be a problem?

A: I know it is my first time contesting, and I may lack experience. However in any field when you start something, even in cricket, you should be willing to work hard. In cricket, you have to play for a long period before you can join the team. Politics will be very hard work, I know that. I know I need to earn the people’s support. And I am willing to work hard on the political side as well.

Q: Would you be doing anything to develop sports, particularly cricket, in your area?

A: Yes. If I get the opportunity to do so, I will work on all aspects. Not just cricket, but all sports. More things need to be done in the Matara District in that respect.

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Geetha Kumarasinghe

The Sunday Leader caught up with actress and producer Geetha Kumarasinghe, who told us a little more about her decision to enter politics and contest in the upcoming general election. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Can you confirm that you will be a candidate in the upcoming election? If so, which party and district will you contest from?

A: Yes, I definitely will contest in the elections. I will be contesting under the UPFA ticket. I won’t contest from Colombo because my hometown is in Bentota, in the Elpitiya electorate, Galle District. So I will be contesting from Galle.

Q: Why did you decide to enter politics?

A: I traveled all over Sri Lanka — from Jaffna to Galle, Matara to Kalutara. I have been to 17 places, and most of the people there thought that I should go into politics. They said, “You think in a different way, not like an actress. You speak from the heart.” Actually it is coming from my heart. It took a long time for me to take this decision because my daughter was not happy. She said “Ammi, why do you have to go into politics? What do you want?”

I didn’t come into politics to get a palace, because I have everything I could want. For the last 20 years I was traveling first class with my servants and I already have houses in other countries also. So I can be proud of that and I am well-settled because I have a lot of experience in life, both as a mother and as an artist. This is the correct time that I can do something for the sake of my country and my people.
I am a straightforward person, and when I take a decision, I will not consider myself. I will do what is favourable for others, and sacrifice myself for the people. I want to do something for my country that has given me a lot of love. Just enjoying myself in luxury, that’s not the kind of life I want. When I go to meetings, I like to meet the people. When they are all sweaty and hug me, I don’t mind that either. I feel they’re close to me.

I don’t even know when I wash my hair. I don’t go for a haircut. I don’t do manicures. I don’t do pedicures, but I am happy. I have given up all these things, I don’t know why. I am spending most of my time with the poor people.

Q: Why did you decide to join ranks with the UPFA?

A: I supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in his last campaign. He is the leader who got rid of terrorism. We now have peace in our country because of him, and that is hugely important. When President Rajapaksa came into power, at first we were in doubt, because so many leaders before him tried and failed to win the war. At the end of the day, he gave the country peace, so we all can be happy. Not just the Sinhalese, but Tamils, Muslims, Burghers. Everyone was so happy to see the war ended. That was the time I decided I must support Mahinda Rajapaksa in his presidential campaign. I knew him before that, when he was Minister of Labour. When there were garment factory strikes he would support female employee’s rights, and I joined with him in this.

Q: If you are successful in the general elections and are elected, what do you plan to do as an MP?

A: I know that people don’t have a lot of things in my district. They don’t even have drinking water. I went yesterday to a rural place in Elpitiya, called Diyakitulakanda. You can’t believe how hopeless the roads are. They don’t have electricity, they don’t have anything. They asked me, please do something. If you come into politics we will vote for you. I am so happy that they had faith in me and I will never break that.

Other than that, I have a lot of plans. I want to help the unemployed, especially the graduates. My motto is that all the graduates and educated people should have a job. The family has to take the burden, when their children can’t find jobs. Some of them have had to lease their properties to give education to their children. I also want to promote the cultural gifts the Galle District has to offer. We have the best dancers, the best drummers, and the best artists, but they don’t have proper respect. That’s why these things are now fading away. I want to give them respect, give them a place where they can perform their art.

Tourism is an important industry for our country, and we should encourage it. There is a very good idea to start a golf course in the south. Most of the foreigners when they come to Galle or Hikkaduwa will get bored of swimming. They can’t swim 24 hours for two weeks. They need some other activities. If you start Asia’s biggest golf course definitely these people will spend more time in Bentota and Hikkaduwa, and more people will have jobs, and the village will be different. I want to promote cultural villages, where foreigners can go and see the cultural dancing and so on.

I have also been involved in the garment industry. If I open up one factory in each electorate in Galle — that is, 10 factories, I can give jobs to 50,000 women. Of course this will be with the help of other people, I know how to do that because I have good connections.

And I think everybody should have power, electricity. And we have to do something for the hospitals. I have a lot of ideas. Sometimes I feel I will spend every last penny that I have earned up to now for my people.
I will always stand by the people in my electorate as well as Galle District.

Q: You mentioned that one of your plans is to build more garment factories, should you be elected. Do you think the recent suspension of the GSP Plus scheme will negatively affect the garment industry?

A: I am directly accusing the UNPers who have gone to the world and spread a lot of things. I have been in the garments trade and realise that we have to get the GSP Plus scheme back. However there are other ways. Even though the GSP plus suspension affected us, still we are doing fine.  The main advantage of the GSP plus is to help us compete with other countries, but there are so many other ways you can get orders. Only those people who are depending on the scheme will be affected. I want to continue with my plans for the garment industry, with or without the GSP Plus scheme.

Q: Considering you are the only woman running for parliament from your district, what are you planning to do for women’s rights?

A: So many women from down south have gone abroad for work to places like Singapore, or Dubai. I want to do something for the maids and domestic helpers going abroad. We have to give these people knowledge and security. We have to fight for their rights. I will be the correct person to do that. And I will not only fight for Sri Lankan workers, I will go to the world. I can support them in every aspect and will try to do my best. Fishermen’s wives need equal rights like any other woman. Housewives also need rights, they need freedom. Some of them are working like unpaid servants. I will organise a lot of things not only for Galle District, but for the whole country, even to Jaffna.

Q: This is your first time contesting. Do you think your lack of experience as a politician would be a problem?

A: Not at all, I have a lot of experience. I always had good political connections and followed politics in Sri Lanka for many years. If General Sarath Fonseka can run for president without any experience, why not Geetha Kumarasinghe? I have always exchanged my opinions with the people. I am one of the people. So I can do politics better than Fonseka. He was such a newcomer. If he thought he could do well, I can do ten times better than him because at least I have come from that area (Galle).  I know what they want and I can help them. Some people compare me with Anarkali Akarsha. But Anarkali is a sweet baby compared to me.

Q: Do you intend to balance your acting and producing career as well?

A: For the last five years I never took any role. I got nine offers, as a leading actress but I refused. The reason is not politics, but I was not happy with the roles I got. I have won the Best Actress award seven times. Twice I was elected most popular actress in this country. So I have to maintain that. I have my own production house, I have produced a lot of films, very popular movies. I can’t say no, that I will not act, in fact maybe I will. But my first preference is not acting. I am going to represent my people.

Q: What about your family?

A: My daughter is in the USA in university. She will probably stay there — her ideas are different to mine. Most of the time I am alone here. If I win I will go down south because I love that place. So many beautiful places there. Now more and more I don’t like to stay in Colombo. I would spend most of my time down south and I was always proud in my life to tell everybody ‘I am a down south girl.’

Q: Sarath Fonseka has gone on public record saying he wanted to fight corruption, and alleged there was a lot of corruption in the government. What do you think of that statement?

A: The opposition is always like that. They will always sling mud. But why should I have to talk about others? First of all I have to talk about myself. If anybody can accuse that I have taken a cent from the government or anybody, I will stop politics today. I still have time. I haven’t taken a pin. Very simply I can say my money is hard-earned. I have proved myself and I don’t want to fight with these people. Believe me, I don’t lie. You must have heard politicians talk like this. I want to be an example for politicians. I will even give my salary to the people. I want people to trust me, not only as an actress but as a woman who has experienced a lot.
I rose to the top in the film industry. I will rise to the top in politics as well.

100 Comments for “Enter The “Stars””

  1. Why all these rousing words coming , the trick was done by the MR brothers to safe guard the “TAHRUNAYATA ANAGATHAYAK”, to get a boost for his son . So these cricketers and other actresses and thugs were taken into this fold to help the MR family. When they are being intimidated and asked to come forward they had to do. But THE TRUMP CARDS ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE VOTERS. They must teach a lesson for this idiots, who boast as Educated, Modaya

  2. san

    All these cricketrs and actors and actresses are framed by the government so that they can run their family ruling

  3. ayesh

    With this I totally lost the RESPECT I had for Sanath. Sanath is no different from other GREEDY politicos. We all know Sanath will be playing for IPL from Mid March Until Mid April. Means Sanath WILL NOT be here for the election. IF he is honest he should cancel his IPL contract and do his campaign here. BUT that is highly unlikely ! So just like the rest of Mahinda cohorts Sana wants his CUT too And he want it right now !

  4. Noel

    How funny our parliament is going to look like in the near future, people with beauty and talent, but with no brains, it is a shame to have leaders of this calibre, who is Geetha to compare herself with the General? What a stupid woman she is, her ignorance has gone berserk. yes all of us do know that you have excellent contacts with all the top politicians, men of all walks, that is not new. Pl shut up.
    With regards to Sanath, I have lost all the respect i had all these years.

  5. gamini

    Your are overrating yourself. Othere must talk about you, For god sake dont blow your trumpet.

    You are no comparison to SF. Please shut up

  6. gamini

    We have never heard Sanath helping another cricketer in need. This is how he is groomed by his family.

    To me if he is entering polictics, he is doing it for his personal needs and not for sake of serving people.

  7. SB

    I am very sad about Sanath. Same as Ayesh said, we lost faith on him. Look at Sachin Tendulkar. Look at our own Murali. They represent everybody. They are real gentlemen. Ok. Let’s make up our minds. Sanath, who brought fame to our country, is no more. Is dead. Let this fellow dance to the tune of selfish Politicians. Ultimately when he realizes the reality, it will be too late.

  8. justitia

    The huge amount of personal abuse/allegations is simply staggering.I do not know whether all of these are true.
    But it is true that those who enter politics especially on the winning side will come into a large amount of unearned income. To start off, the duty free vehicle each is entitled to, can be “sold” for a clear profit of at least Rs 10 Million. The “rent allowance” to all MPs is now Rs 100,000 per month. The perks – half dozen official vehicles & drivers so that even one’s kussyamma can go to the market in style, ‘jobs’ for the wife, older children & close relatives – under various designations – ‘private secretary’, ‘coordinating secretary’ stc.
    If one becomes a ‘minister’ – though MR says that he will prune down the cabinet, this will never happen – many other perks such as free travel abroad as ‘member’ of many ‘delegations’ etc.The minister’s salary is reported to have been increased to Rs 170,000 per month !!
    The ‘ten percent’ on ‘contracts’ is there for those who are smart enough. Also ‘skimming’ off the top of funds owned/earned/inherited/acquired by State Enterprises is up for grabs. There is no effective “bribery Commission” or COPE reports ( sure to be suppressed ),to worry about.
    Sanath and Geetha know all this very well. If all these were not there ( like in the days of Dahanayake ), they will not dream of contesting.

  9. Lucky senanayake

    Geetha says ” I dont lie’ OMG she is a lier of the first grade. She has an arrogance and selfishness bigger than that. Geetha loves only Geetha, nobody else. She will use everybody around her including her family for her advantage and throw them under the bus once used.
    Yes she matches perfectly to MR’s condom policy…

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