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Muza pledges true development in Colombo; No mere beautification at cost of people’s misery

Aug 26, 2011 4:04:25 PM - www.ft.lk

UNP’s Colombo mayoral candidate A.J.M. Muzammil yesterday pledged that if elected he would ensure true inclusive development sans mere beautification of the city, whilst expressing hope that the upcoming polls and their run-up would be free and fair.
Muzammil made this promise, other observations on the current status of Colombo, its future challenges as well as some remarks about his main opponent Milinda Moragoda in a statement.
Here are excerpts:

I am deeply humbled and extremely honoured to accept the nomination the United National Party has bestowed on me as its Mayoral candidate.

The Colombo Municipal Council has been a bastion of the UNP for generations; thereby proving time and time again that the trust the people have placed in the UNP is steadfast. It is an enduring symbol, a torch, passed on from generation to generation ensuring a victory for all UNPers.
I firmly believe that it is also a sacred covenant in which the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our people are enshrined; the people who believe that when it comes to matters of development, economy and administration none can deliver on its pledges better than the UNP. To me, this overwhelming demonstration of their faith is as great a burden as it is a privilege, and it is incumbent on me to leave no stone unturned in addressing their pressing concerns pertinent to the administration of the council.

My erstwhile opponent is Milinda Moragoda, who was a former colleague and a party man who has earned my respect for being the gentleman he is.  No doubt, we will be pitted against each other in the months ahead in what I am sure, will be a stimulating rivalry.
I believe that like me, Moragoda also wishes the forthcoming election to be conducted in a civilised manner, different to the other elections, as it is centered on a coveted seat of power. I have no doubt that Moragoda would also wish, as I do, to adhere to the highest norms of decency and democratic values in the forthcoming election.
Experiences of recent elections spanning the country have portrayed the brutality and tyranny of a regime intoxicated with power. It is my sincere wish that my opponent will continue to be guided by the norms of gentlemanly conduct and ensure that democratic values will prevail. Though he comes before the people today representing the ruling UPFA, it is my unreserved belief that the guidelines of decency and true democracy will prevail and might will not triumph over right.
I believe that Moragoda and I can face this election together with the civilised principles and practice of good governance, which were inculcated into the politics of yesteryear. This is the pivotal crux on which rests the truth and trust of our people’s expectations. This is what the people are asking for and this is what we will give them. Today, they hunger for a political culture devoid of nepotism, barbarianism and reprobates, which unhinge our society.
Neither the UNP nor I can withstand the full might of the State and its infinite resources, which will invariably be levelled against us. However, I believe that our people deserve a free and fair opportunity to exercise their franchise, devoid of intimidation and reprisal. Towards this end, I hope that Moragoda will work with me to ensure that our voters’ franchise is protected.
The people in the capital of the ‘Miracle of Asia’ in this much-acclaimed post-war golden era are facing tremendous challenges.
In what is actually a blatant land grab, deemed the beautification of our city, poor people are ruthlessly evicted from the homes they have lived in for generations without compensation nor have they been given notice. Economic development has taken on a whole new dimension with some of the most valuable properties in Colombo transferred to foreign nationals – more often than not, under the cover of darkness. Transparency has become merely yet another word that can be found only in the dictionaries of our country.
Colombo most certainly needs and deserves to be environmentally uplifted and beautified, but not at the expense of the poorest of the poor. A city lives and breathes because of its people; you cannot ruthlessly deprive them of their homes for the cause of beautification. We, in the UNP, cannot condone beautification at the cost of people’s misery. How can any government justify upgrading a city by leaving its people homeless and destitute?
The late President Premadasa hailed from the heart of Colombo and was cognisant of the suffering, misery and appalling conditions which were a way of life for the majority of Colombo residents. His political vision was geared towards a constructive change in their living conditions. This is the true measure of beautification, which the UNP also believes in today.
Any government must have a basic environment ordinance with fundamental measures to conserve and create a pleasing environment. Every citizen should be a leading character in the activities, not forced aside through intimidation. If every citizen voluntarily participates, we can together create a truly beautiful Sri Lanka with our own hands.
Standing before you as the UNP Mayoral Candidate, I pledge to change all the aspects that disturb the people and bring them suffering, committing myself to addressing the causes for their ongoing misery, pitted as they are against the might of the State, which bulldozes over their dreams.
The Municipality will seek to conserve and create environmental beautification activities and support what is truly legitimate. Nowhere is there an economy sans people; likewise, Colombo would not exist without its people. I therefore urge you, the residents of Colombo, to demonstrate unequivocally, that you are a force to be reckoned with; a force that will not relent in the face of oppression.
I dedicate myself to you, the people of Colombo. It will be a heartfelt honour to represent you. I will strive to be helpful to you and fulfill the pledges I make.