State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal dismissed allegations that the Colombo Port City would be a “Chinese Colony”, pointing out that it will be administered under Sri Lankan law.
He said that the Colombo Port City would be a catalyst for economic revival as it would provide over 83,000 high-paying employment opportunities and will completely change the economic fabric of the nation. “It would be the single biggest investment in the history of Sri Lanka attracting not only Chinese but other investors from all over the world.”
Addressing a news conference in Colombo on Friday (April 16), State Minister Cabraal came out strongly against comments made by US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Alaina B. Teplitz who said that Sri Lanka may be creating a haven for money launderers and other nefarious actors through the Colombo Port City development.
He said that this was a very unjust and unfair comment. “The Government and several other bodies will and have taken every effort under international laws to scrutinise investors and can assure the public that such activities would not take place.” He challenged the Ambassador to provide him with even one instance of such a ‘shady’ activity. Cabraal said that the Ambassador should also note that small countries with a population of less than 650,000 have invested heavily in the US.
SLPP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe at a media briefing held at the Abhayaramaya temple, Narahenpita on Thursday (April 15) said the Colombo Port City would become a Chinese colony and foreigners can acquire that land and sell it. He said he was opposed to the sale of the Hambantota port during the Yahapalana Government, adding that one of the consequences of that deal was the utter rout of the UNP.
Rajapakshe said the Government is trying to hand over the Colombo Port City to China through the Port City Economic Commission Bill adding that certain parts of the bill were unconstitutional and very dangerous. Responding to a question raised by the journalists on the critical remarks made by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, State Minister Cabraal said MP Rajapakse had not even asked a question about the Bill during the Parliamentary Group meetings.
The State Minister said he would have explained to the MP had he inquired from him about the legislation. “I am sure he will understand if I explain to him the real situation with regard to the legislation.”
Cabraal said, “It was wrong of Rajapakshe to hold a press conference and utter things to the media as all Government MPs will have to maintain collective responsibility.”
Thirty-eight United National Party (UNP) members of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) had recently met Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa and had discussions on issues of mutual interest. According to SJB sources, the discussions had revolved around current political and social issues.
The two sides had discussed action to be taken in future with regard to identified key issues. Thirty-eight UNP members had said that they were willing to work with the SJB on political matters as well social matters confronting the country.
UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardana told the media that the UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will most likely swear-in as MP, filling the party’s vacant National List Parliamentary Seat. He told the opening ceremony of the UNP office in Galle last week, that the party has taken a unanimous decision that Ranil Wickremesinghe should take the sole National List seat allocated for the party.
Abeywardana said, “The UNP is a party which is prepared to change its political strategies to suit the contemporary political setup of the country. He said not only the UNP members but every politically motivated person will agree with the party decision.”
He said Wickemesinghe is the most suitable political leader at present to fill the National List vacancy in the context of the contemporary complex political situation in the country. Abeywardana said that Wickremesinghe has a history of not doing any harm to the country every time he became the Prime Minister, and that Wickremesinghe is the only leader who could save the country from the current economic abyss.
Not a racist party
Participating in several road development programs in the Trincomalee District, State Minister Nimal Lanza said that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is not a racist party even though some are trying to drag it into racism.
Minister Lanza said, “We are not a racist party. We work with all races, religions and parties. The SLPP is a party of all Sri Lankans. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or UNP, SLFP or SLPP. We want only to develop the country.”
He said that the Provincial Council Elections will be held soon. “Those ordinances will be brought to Parliament to amend the laws in this regard. The Provincial Council System has been established. Therefore, it cannot be abolished.” He said that in a democratic country, democracy cannot be disregarded. “It is the right of the people to have Provincial Council Elections.”
Namal goes to Angunakolapelessa
Minister Namal Rajapaksa visited imprisoned former SJB Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake at the Angunakolapelessa Prison on Friday (April 16). The Minister had left the Angunakolapelessa Prison after talking to Ranjan Ramanayake for about half an hour. Ramanayake is currently being held in the E ward of the Angunakolapelessa Prison.
He lost his parliamentary seat due to the conviction and subsequent imprisonment. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa had also visited Ranjan Ramanayake serving his sentence at the Angunakolapelessa Prison on the eve of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year on April 13.
SJB Hambantota District Parliamentarian Dilip Wedaarachchi had accompanied Premadasa to meet Ramanayake. Speaking to journalists outside the prison, Opposition Leader Premadasa said he will continue to seek justice for Ranjan Ramanayake taking all possible democratic and constitutional measures.
Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that the statements made by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, who was a Cabinet Minister in the Yahapalana Government and the Deputy Leader of the UNP at the time of the Easter Sunday terror attacks, accusing the Government of trying to hide the masterminds of the terror attacks is ridiculous.
The Minister pointed out that the previous Yahapalana Government was trying to hide the masterminds behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks and the current Leader of the Opposition who was a prominent member of it should also bear responsibility for these attacks.
The Minister was responding to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa accusing the present Government of trying to hide the masterminds of the Easter Sunday terror attacks. Minister Ranatunga said that providing security to the country and the people is the ultimate responsibility of every Government and pointed out that the Yahapalana Government has failed in their duties and therefore everyone in that Government should be held responsible for Easter Sunday terror attacks.
He said that the TNA and the JVP which helped maintain the Yahapalana Government could not escape their responsibility. Minister Ranatunga said even though Sajith Premadasa held a highly responsible position in the previous Government, he did not raise any voice against the Easter Sunday terror attacks or its investigations. “People of the country should understand why the present Opposition Leader, who was silent then, is shedding crocodile tears over the Easter Sunday terror attacks today.”
Backbenchers visit Carlton House
A group of the backbenchers of the ruling party had visited Carlton House, Tangalle on April 13 to greet Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family for the New Year. The Premier had a cordial chat with the Government lawmakers and wished them and their families and the entire country, a happy New Year.
The Opposition lawmakers and certain sections of the Maha Sangha have raised concerns over the recent statement made by State Minister Dilum Amunugama who said that if this status quo doesn’t change, then it will force the President to become “a Hitler”.
State Minister Amunugama at a recent media briefing said people who voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to power expected him to play the role of a dictator and get things done but today, were blaming him for the lack of progress by his Government. Responding to the State Minister’s claim, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that what Sri Lanka needs is not a murderous Hitler-style regime but a regime that keeps the people alive.
Premadasa said, “Leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi have taught the world many lessons. Therefore, our country does not need a murderous Hitler-regime. Our country does not need a culture of assassination. What we have to do today is to keep people alive.”
The Chief Incumbent of the Abhayaramaya temple, Narahenpita, Ven. Murutthettuwe Ananda Thera told reporters he doesn’t believe that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will become a Hitler on any grounds. Ven. Ananda Thera said we condemn such statements and pointed out that Sri Lanka had been visited by Buddha thrice and that Buddhism is based on kindness.
SJB National list Parliamentarian Harin Fernando had told the media that he will inform the nation about a major political decision he is to make in Parliament soon. He said, “I will not reveal what I am going to do now but will make a special statement in Parliament soon and will take my decision on behalf of former SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake.”
Speculation is rife that Harin Fernando will resign from his seat as a national list MP and allow Ramanayake to come to Parliament to fill the vacancy. MP Fernando had told the media that he will not reveal anything till he makes the special statement in Parliament. MP Fernando at a recent meeting had said that he will take a political decision in the first week of May on behalf of Ranjan Ramanayake who was sentenced by the Supreme Court to four years rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court. MP Fernando had said that he also plans to request the Government to grant a pardon to Ranjan Ramanayake.