Speaking at a massive rally at the Galle Face Green, where the JVP-led National People’s Power (NPP) movement nominated him as their Presidential candidate, Dissanayake said the desired transformation requires a change in each and every citizen and urged people from all walks of life to rally around him and his party.
The JVP is fielding a Presidential candidate of their own after a lapse of 20 years with the last being Nandana Gunathilake, who came third in the contest then.
“To transform this country, we need a corruption-free new political force, honest professionals, and a dedicated working class. Only then can we create a ‘National People’s Power’, which will lead this country in one direction towards prosperity. We pledge our commitment towards this transformation and will end it successfully,” the JVP leader said.
Dissanayake assured he would honour the trust of those who join this transformation and deliver his promises. “We will honour your trust and we will live up to our promises. I invite all the communities in this country to show what people’s power really is. We are committed to bringing in a new political culture that will not disregard the people’s mandate. We will walk the talk,” he said.
On the economic front, he said the trajectory of economic downfall must have to be stopped and a new economic model must be introduced. “It is important that we consider the whole spectrum of the economy and bring a new economic model that will benefit all sectors. Through this, we hope not only to uplift the living standards of the people, but also to improve the social status of farming, fisheries, and plantation sectors, which have been neglected for years,” he added.
He pledged to provide a respectable lifestyle to all the working class and support the aspirations of the youth in the country while creating a mechanism to look after the elderly.
Pointing out that the country is currently divided by ethnicity, religion, race, and sex, Dissanayake promised that under his leadership, Sri Lanka will be united.
“No racist can ensure public safety. They can only increase barricades. Public safety can only be ensured by creating national unity. Divisions by ethnicity, religion, race, and sex do not help any nation to progress. The diversity of language, culture, and people must be accepted and given equal respect. I ensure I will lead a united Sri Lanka where everyone will have their own identity and be treated equally and equitably. I will create a meaningful national unity in this country,” he said.
Dissanayake said a special focus will be given to human capital development, which is considered the most powerful resource Sri Lanka holds at present.
“It is important to create an environment for people to be open-minded and have freedom of expression. Only then can we have sustainable development in our human capital,” he added.
He claimed that Sri Lanka has already become a dumping ground for the world’s hazardous trash and assured to revert this to a liveable green environment for future generations.
“We are now stuck in a dangerous trap. Our land, water, and air are filled with hazardous chemicals and trash. We have become a dumping zone for global garbage now. Our children are eating toxic fruits and vegetables while they drink polluted water. We need to restructure this system and concentrate on environmental conservation. I will put an end to the use of hazardous agriculture production and create an environment liveable for all beings,” he said.
The party announced that the NPP – comprising the JVP and several democratic, left, and progressive political parties, civil society organisations, and individuals – put forward a person with “significant experience – a strong personality who is against arbitrariness and corruption, loves the country, and is acceptable to all who hope for an alternative leadership to the country” as the Presidential candidate.