UNP can fulfil people’s needs -Olympian Ruwini Abeymanna | Sunday Observer

UNP can fulfil people’s needs -Olympian Ruwini Abeymanna

Ruwini Abeymanna
Ruwini Abeymanna

UNP Ratnapura district candidate and sportsstar Ruwini Abeymanna said some UNP politicians left the party and joined the SJB for perks and privileges. That should not have happened. That is why I decided to contest the General Election under the UNP banner.

She said, “We cannot permit a party such as the UNP to be scuttled. So long as our party remains strong, it can fulfil the needs of the people.” Abeymanne said she is a ‘tenderfoot’ in politics compared to other political giants in the district and added that she will accept this challenge in the spirit of a sportswoman.

Q: What made you enter active politics and contest the General Election from UNP?

A: I contested the 2011 Pradeshiya Sabha election as well. As a sportswoman, I represented my country at the Olympics. I was born in Ratnapura and worked in Kuliyapitiya and Kurunegala. I witnessed the development in the district. Political leaders, irrespective of political differences, have developed the towns and villages in the district. I reached international level as a sportswoman. I could see how we are economically backward compared to other countries. I participated in the South Asian Games in 1999 and won a Gold Medal in Nepal. When I went to Nepal after 20 years, I saw as to how our rupee depreciated. I could witness the present plight in the Ratnapura district. Political leaders had initiated development, but the question remains as to whether the development has reached the village level. That is the reason that I decided to enter politics and do something for the betterment of the people.

I was the first woman who represented Sri Lanka for rifle shooting at international level. I was the only sportswoman who represented the Olympics from Ratnapura.

During my 30-year career as a sportswoman, I have won 23 medals, gold and silver by bringing fame and recognition to the district. My achievements have not been appreciated. I don’t know where the mistake lies. We will have to consider what would be the fate of the village children who have plenty of talents in sports.

Q: There is a trend that sport personalities are giving up sports and willing to enter politics. Is it the reason which compelled you to contest the election?

A: We came from the village. Some areas, such as Kesbewa and Maharagama have been developed. Today, we like to travel to Ratnapura via Kesbewa. However, Ratnapura and the suburbs have not been developed. There is hardly a colour light system in the Ratnapura town.

Q: Why should newcomers be elected to Parliament?

A: Today, the world has faced an economic recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This would affect our country within the next two years. There should be a vibrant Opposition in Parliament. Some UNP politicians left the party and joined the SJB for personal gains. That should not have happened. That is why I decided to contest the General Election under the UNP banner. We should not permit the collapse of a party, such as the UNP.

Q: As a sportswoman, you have represented the country at international level and reached the climax. What do you think about women representation in sports and politics?

A: Sometimes a young girl finds it difficult to travel alone. We can see how much our society has deteriorated. Women and children are subjected to harassment. Parents are impatient until their children return home from school due to the drug menace in the country. I decided to enter politics in the larger interest of women and children.

Q: Do you think that you would fulfil the pledges given to the people if you get elected to Parliament?

A: Definitely. I see the hardships faced by women. The Ratnapura district is mainly based on agriculture, such as tea, rubber and pepper. However, the people have no proper market to sell their products. If we can set up new markets for them, they would gain a fair price for their produce.

Q: What made you choose the UNP to contest the General Election?

A: I didn’t have an idea to enter politics as I was a sportswoman. I wanted to train a sports person like me to reach the Olympic level. I laid the foundation for that. The UNP is a strong party which has ruled the country for decades.

I could see a group of UNPers leaving the party for perks and privileges. If they fulfilled their duty by the people of Ratnapura, we don’t need to take part in active politics. We cannot permit a party like the UNP to be scuttled. So long as our party remains strong, it can fulfil the needs of the people.

Q: Do you think that you would be able to compete with the ‘seniors’ and get elected to Parliament?

A: I will try my best. I hope to develop the Pelmadulla electorate. Pelmadulla looks like a ‘Small Cabinet’ where there are six Ministers and two Provincial Council heavyweights.

I am a ‘tenderfoot’ in politics compared to these eight political giants. I will accept this challenge in the true spirit of a sportswoman. “I will go to the grassroots level to find the UNPers. In future, I would commit myself with my party peers to rebuild the UNP.”

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