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DateLine Thursday, 18 October 2007

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Young Lankan in the race to become London Mayor

Chamali Fernando is the youngest person to have been short-listed by a mainstream political party to be a mayoral candidate for London. 28-year-old Chamali, a barrister from Finchley (North London,) has a tough task ahead.

To win the race she will have to first beat the other two short-listed candidates (both middle aged men) from

Chamali Fernando

 her own Liberal Democrats party and then defeat the eight-year Labour high profile incumbent Ken Livingstone and ward off Conservative Celebrity Politician Boris Johnson MP. When asked how she would tackle such senior political heavyweights, Chamali stated that she would push celebrity to one side and force the debate on party policy.

She argues that her daily courtroom battles with senior legal figures have prepared her for what lies ahead.

The Mayor of London is one of the most high profile political jobs in England with a budget of 10 billion Sterling Pounds and overall control of 32 London Boroughs. Her parents are well known members of the Sri Lankan diaspora in the UK.

Her mother, Wanitha Fernando (born in India to Sri Lankan parents from Moratuwa) is a magistrate and previously lectured in midwifery having studied and trained in England some 40 years ago. Chamali’s father Sumal Fernando (from Kalutara) is a respected solicitor-advocate who made political history in the UK when he became the first Sri Lankan ever to contest a parliamentary seat in England.

Chamali was interviewed on the Politics Show on BBC London where she described herself as “part of the new breed of politicians fixated on delivering practical policies and being accountable to the electorate.”

Chamali Fernando is expected to bring an element of glamour and colour to politics in the UK, very often dominated by white middle class males. The Times described her as “beautiful, which is incredibly rare in politics.”

On the Politics Show, Chamali came across as confident, inspiring and a much needed fresh face to British politics. Chamali stated that “the political climate in London has changed; people are fed up with Ken Livingston’s passion for waste, contempt of office and failure to deliver.”

Chamali might be young but the British press have described her as “a right firework” (the Daily Mail) and “a drill sergeant,” (the Times). British Blogs stated “Chamali Fernando was first up and completely wowed everyone in the room. She was confident, passionate, articulate and managed that difficult feat of appearing to be intelligent and serious whilst also being fun and down to earth.”

Chamali strikes as a serious contender in a serious political race. Andrew Gimson in the Telegraph stated “Chamali ought not be written off in this race.” Chamali continues to practice as a barrister combining civil and commercial work with representation of suspected criminals in some very high profile cases.

Above all, she is extremely passionate about “giving something back to such an iconic and magnetic City which has given her a fantastic cultural and educational experience.”

Her passion for London combined with her commitment to the protection of the environment will stand her in good stead in the race to be Mayor of London. Chamali is the first ever female Asian candidate to stand in this race and has generated a real fizz in the English media.

Chamali schooled in the Midlands and despite being a Buddhist, at the age of 8 was sent to a Catholic Boarding School in rural England for what she describes as “a remarkably fun, well disciplined and all-rounded education, which toughened me up for the world outside!”

Year on year she was made Form Captain at school. Chamali excelled in sports, captaining both the Netball and Rounders teams at school. She became Head Girl of her High School and read Law at University College London, completing the Bar Vocational Course at London’s Inns of Court School of Law.

Chamali trained as a pupil barrister in commercial and civil law at the Chambers of a Senior Conservative Party Member of Parliament Tony Baldry.

Chamali is a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

For the last six years, she has participated in Revels which is a barrister’s acting and drama group and was recently promoted to Producer of the Annual Show.

- Asian Tribune -


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