Newly-appointed Governor of the Eastern Province, former minister, Rohitha Bogollagama said the immediate task would be to strengthen the understanding between the people of the Province and the Government, and between the major communities in the region. In an interview with the Nation, Bogollagama said the new role was an opportunity to focus on the reconciliation process that has been initiated by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Following are excerpts:

Q. You have taken over as the new Governor of the Eastern Province. It is a province which has faced the conflict. It is also a region where people of all three main communities of Sri Lanka reside. What are the challenges?

A. Basically, there is no challenge as such. It is an opportunity to put into test the reconciliation process initiated by His Excellency, President Maithripala Sirisena, in delivering on the manifesto that he was elected for. And I have taken this task as an important milestone in the post-conflict scenario that is unfolding in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.

All three communities being present and being represented at the Provincial Council, is an ideal opportunity to showcase to the world how best national integration and reconciliation can be worked out in the most tested manner.

Q. What will be your immediate task as the new governor of the province?

A. The immediate task is to ensure there is confidence building, which will lead to the trust of the people of the Eastern Province on the government and amongst the communities for interaction and greater connectivity to be built. The trust is vital in a diverse society where racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity is present. But, we can work towards one goal and that is the goal of unity amongst all communities.

Q. The role of a governor has also been debated since of late, especially in the Northern Province. How do you look at your new role, especially in the context of a new Constitution coming in? Would you also look into corruption?

A.  I think we have the correct tools to measure and manage affairs. There is a council that has been elected by the people, and they have to face the people in terms of their record of conduct.

And here is democracy working at its best after a long period of absence of rule of law and true democracy. So, therefore we must with the spirit of cooperation, dialogue, and with greater transparency, and enshrining these principles in our work role will help us to manage the affairs of this council.

Q. The Eastern Province has so much potential in terms of tourism and other sectors. In addition, there are also other development  projects that have been earmarked for the province. Would these projects also be in your priority list?

A. Of course yes. The President has entrusted me with the responsibility of being the Governor in order to ensure that there is not only the status quo being maintained, but investment, economic enhancement, law and order requirements, security of the people, are all being encompassed in an agenda for the greater good of the people of the Eastern Province.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is keenly following on the development agenda, and his main task is to promote investment and tourism in these regions. And I am there to contribute to realise these goals of both the President and the Prime Minister.

Published in the Nation on July 16, 2017


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