Matara maulerís only aim to serve Matara
Mar 8, 2010
Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Sanath Jayasuriya who will begin a new innings by entering politics for the first time, contesting the upcoming general election on the UPFA ticket, says that serving the masses comes naturally to him. The veteran all-rounder at 40 still has no ambitions of saying goodbye to international cricket. In an interview with LAKBIMAnEWS, he insisted that in contesting from his home town of Matara, he has no intention of becoming a challenge to other established political figures in the area. Jayasuriya also stressed that he was more than capable of striking a balance between cricket and politics and that people should not have any apprehensions of him abandoning them after they send him to the legislature. Excerpts:

Q: After achieving global fame as a cricketer what drove you to politics?

A: Having already backed the re-election bid of the president at the last presidential poll, I had a very frank chat with the president himself and with other senior UPFA ministers and MPs and decided to become an MP. I also candidly believe that at this point of time it is not the done thing to desert the president having supported him to the hilt at the presidential election. Added to this has been the clamour of my fans, family and relatives --- for me to get involved in full time politics. The other important thing was my keenness to serve the people of Matara in particular, as serving the masses is an inborn quality in me and comes naturally . So after considering all this, I felt it was time to take a shot at politics and decided to take the plunge.

Q: What made you choose the UPFA in particular for that, as you could have even run from the opposition, going on your countrywide fame and popularity?

A: This was my personal decision to seek a parliamentary seat from the SLFP-led UPFA. As I told you before, having backed the president at the presidential poll, I had got to the point of admiring and adoring his steadfast and unwavering leadership --- and it more or less made me get involved in politics. The other thing which one cannot forget is that it was due to his capable handling of the security forces as Commander-in-Chief that the scourge of terrorism has been wiped out from the face of this land, after three decades. And I am a firm believer in the ability of the president to steer this country to a period of unprecedented development and I decided that the UPFA was the right party to be involved with for making my own contribution towards that end.

Q: You still have not called it a day in international cricket but did you ever envision a career in politics?

A: I always was of the view that serving the country would be my priority, be it in cricket or otherwise. Serving my home town of Matara was also at the back of my mind. This aim has been with me since my childhood and even during the calamity of the tsunami I did my best to help the people down south. And now at long last I have got the opportunity to work for my people and I intend to go out of my way to serve the people and cricket will in no way be an impediment in this endeavour.

Q: You say that cricket would not be a stumbling block, but how do you look to deliver the goods in two vastly or diametrically opposite fields?

A: As you would know by now, I have called it a day where my Test career is concerned, hence my only concerns would be 50-over and T-20 matches. Another thing I would like to mention is in my life I am known as being a person who knows how to maximize the time available , be it in cricket or a company job. And I promise not to go back on my word in serving the people of Matara and the rest of the country.

Q: People are of the opinion that politicians who promise to work for the people are known for ignoring the very voters who elected them --- how do you hope to be an exception to this rule?

A: As I told you before, serving the people comes naturally to me and the people of Matara have no qualms about electing me. By stepping into politics you simply get the opportunity to deal with people more than you do in a private capacity. What I mean is looking into the peopleís concerns at the town or village itself --- and this chance I would not get if I had continued to remain only as a cricketer.

Q: It is rumoured that with your entrance into politics from Matara, an experienced UPFA Minister has asked to be accommodated on the National List ahead of the April poll. Have you been a challenge to other established politicians of your own party?

A: I reject such allegations and could only scoff at such rumours. I have never challenged any Minister in the past and never intend to do so in the future. I am continuing my campaign with my supporters and by entering politics I would never hope to be a burden or threat to any politician either from the government or opposition.

Q: How would you describe your polls campaign so far?

A: It is progressing smoothly. I am also receiving a wonderful response from all the people in the Matara district and they are already coming with their problems to me. Once elected, I intend to look into them to the best of my ability.

Q: In a new UPFA government are you anticipating any ministerial post?

A: None whatsoever. I must state here clearly that I didnít take to politics with the motive of becoming a minister or to enjoy the luxuries enjoyed by a minister. My motive is to serve the people of this district and for that ministerial posts are virtually irrelevant or immaterial.

Q: Most sports stars by indulging in politics pledge to improve sports but they do precious little afterwards. What abut you?

A: I look forward with my heart and soul to break that trend for the good of the country. I know some have made this pledge in the past but have failed to deliver the goods! However, you must understand that everyone is not the same. I do not intend to follow in their footsteps and will strive at all times to improve the lot of not only cricket but all sports in general. I intend to do this to my level best.

Q: What would your final message be to the people of Matara?

A: I solemnly pledge to serve the people and I advice them not to believe the opposition which predicted that I will desert them and leave for Colombo once thay send me to parliament. This, I will never do and working for the people of Matara is my one and only goal in life.

Courtesy: Lakbima