The Local Government polls have opened new doors for newcomers to test the waters in politics. Gayesha Perera, former Miss Sri Lanka and actress, who once contested the Provincial Council Elections in 2014, is once again contesting as a candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) from the Dehiwala-East Kawdana Ward this February. In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Gayesha shared how she is preparing for the elections;   

Q  Why did you want to enter politics?

My actual dream was to become a leader in this country. When I was crowned Miss Sri Lanka in 2006 I applied for four other international pageants out of which I won two. I always wanted to be someone who represented the people. Eventually I became an actress and I started getting closer to the people through arts. But now I want to do some service to the country.   

Q You contested the previous Provincial Council Election as well. What happened?   

I didn’t get any response during that election because all those people connected to Ministers’ including their children got elected. So this time I’m sure that it is an open platform for people to contest and I’m doing my best. I believe that the introduction of the 25% quota itself is a stepping stone for us women to move forward in politics.   

Q As a newcomer in the political arena, how will you reach out to the people?   

People want to live in a just society. I’m sure they are fed up of all the corruption that happens behind closed doors. They always like to see a new face in the scene and chances are likely that they will vote for newcomers. We have done many projects through the Gayesha Perera Foundation and have voiced out against various incidents including little Seya’s murder. In addition to that we sent relief during the floods and as such we not only help people in our electorate, but those residing across the country. One of its flagship projects includes the ‘Amma’ programme where we give away essential items to pregnant women.   

People want to live in a just society. I’m sure they are fed up of all the corruption that happens behind closed doors. They always like to see a new face in the scene and chances are likely that they will vote for newcomers

Q How are you preparing for the elections with the new election laws being imposed?   

We have door-to-door campaigns in addition to pocket meetings and indoor meetings which involve five or six people. People’s taxes need to be used for their own benefit, but it happens the other way round. We start canvassing at 2.00 pm and go on till 7.00pm. People need a leader who will talk on behalf of them; not someone who will give promises, fill their own pockets and walk away.   

Q What immediate projects have you planned in your electorate?   

Some of the main concerns include the sewage system, roads and drains. There are a higher number of mosquito breeding sites due to the negligence of people and the authorities. So we will find practical solutions for these concerns. We also have the Fire Brigade grounds which could be revamped in to a fully equipped playground and used by the youth in the area.   

Q What challenges do you face as a newcomer due to the presence of a mixed electoral system?   

It would have been better if the previous system continued. In fact it supports popular people. But this system is for the benefit of the people.   

Q Do you think that the Government took the correct decision in imposing a ban on the sale of liquor for women?   

A woman should have the freedom to do what she thinks is good for her. But having said that, I don’t think women need liquor anyway. There are other rights which they should fight for.   

Q How confident are you that you will be elected?   

I’m very confident that I will win. People like to see a new face in the scene. They want someone who will walk their talk. I have already toured once around the electorate. We will keep talking to the people and work for their benefit.   

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