Will probe corruption - Arnold
BY Mirudhula Thambiah
Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) Jaffna District Mayoral Candidate Emmanuel Arnold said issues within the TNA coalition and criticism against the party will not affect its victory at the upcoming Local Government (LG) elections.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
What are the main promises given in your election manifesto?
A: 'Towards a Clean Green City' is our motto. Right to Art and Culture, Solid Waste Management, Drinking Water Facilities and Public Health, Infrastructure Development, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Financial Administration are the main features of our manifesto for the Jaffna Municipal Council.
We will follow modern mechanisms in the process of garbage disposal and waste management. Jaffna City is currently facing an issue with garbage management and we promise that modern techniques will be adopted to keep the city clean.
We will also ensure purified water for residents. We will take necessary steps to provide clean drinking water and introduce a suitable sewerage and drainage system for the Jaffna Municipality area as a solution for the ground water pollution.
A new traffic plan will be implemented within the Jaffna Municipality. Around 100, 000 - 120, 000 people enter Jaffna city on a daily basis and traffic congestion within the city should be reframed to avoid discomfort for commuters. There will be new parking facilities within Jaffna for those who enter the city.
I would like to point out that we promise to probe into the corruption that occurred in the Jaffna Municipality.
We have thoroughly observed the administrative methods in counties and cities in the most developed countries. Therefore we will adopt similar development activities within the Jaffna Municipality.
Although we may face difficulties in implementing the development projects, in future when there is a political solution and when power is devolved, we will be able to to implement similar development projects in county councils and city councils.
What facilities would you provide for people at the grass roots levels?
A: We have faced many elections since 2009. Although people exercise their democratic right at every election, we don't see any development in the life styles of people at grass roots levels. There are many people within the Jaffna Municipality area who still do not have any basic facilities for their well being.
Most grass roots level low income people live in the eastern part of the Municipality, especially in Colombuthurai, Vasanthapuram and Periyathottam. People in these communities have resettled in their villages and are without support.
At the same time, some families in coastal areas are without any livelihood support in the post war period. Although authorities provided assistance, it is inadequate for families to cope with their day to day needs. We have even seen 100-150 families from these areas that do not have proper sanitary facilities.
Therefore we will implement a special plan to uplift their life styles by providing them basic facilities such as sanitary facilities, drinking water and livelihood assistance.
There had been various issues within the TNA coalition and criticisms regarding the party in the North and East. How will these issues reflect in your victory at the upcoming elections?
A: I don't think such issues will affect our victory at the upcoming elections. We have a clear stand since 2001 after establishing the TNA coalition. EPRLF broke away from our coalition and we did not ask them to leave the coalition. After the breakaway, they were not in a position to contest under their symbol, thus collaborated with TULF led by Anandasangaree.
Their main aim is to criticize TNA to make it unpopular. They believe such criticisms will make us unpopular along with our leaders Sampanthan, Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathiraja. But they are unaware that we are becoming popular at national level and international level. We managed to contribute to the interim report of the Constitutional reforms.
Therefore we are quite confident that people will give their mandate to us at the upcoming LG elections like in the past.
Recently, people were disturbed over the building of 1,000 Buddhist temples in the North and East according to the election manifesto of the UNP. How do you view this situation?
A: It is quite clear how the people of the North and East would think. Their historical existence is unique and different. Therefore if they are to build 1, 000 vihares in the North-East, we do not have to mention it, but it is clear how people would react to it.
We do not have any objection in ensuring the foremost place for Buddhism, but other religions should be treated equally.
However it is unnecessary to build viharas in areas where non Buddhists live.
We do not have to emphasize to people, they know it well that TNA will not allow any authority to unnecessarily build temples in the North and East.
If you become the Mayor of Jaffna, how will you tackle the illegal activities, especially the drug issues?
A: There are a number of wine stores that have been given licences in an illegal manner within the Jaffna Municipality. The process of giving permits to liquor shops is in a mess, we will be vigilant in distributing licences to liquor shops.
Although proper procedures are followed in providing licences to liquor shops, drugs are illegally sold in some of these shops.
They are brought into the city from the coastal areas. Therefore we will pressurize the police to take necessary steps to curb the situation and take stern action.
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