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President appoints members of Port City Commission: TN police placed on high alert fearing disturbances

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday appointed the members of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission while India put the Tamil Nadu police on high alert.

The Hindu reported that the Indian police were concerned about the possibility of some pro-LTTE group agitating in Tamil Nadu against Sri Lanka and China over the Colombo Port City.

Gamini Marapana, PC has been appointed the Chairman of the commission comprising Treasury Secretary S. R. Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Water Supply Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Ex-BOI Chairman Saliya Wickramasuriya, Managing Director,Orel Corporation Kushan Kodituwakku, Managing Director of Mercantile Investments and Finance PLC Gerard George Ondaatjie and Chairman/Managing Director of McLarens Group Rohan De Silva.

Parliament last week passed a law for the forming of the commission to govern the China-funded $1.4 billion Colombo Port City, being constructed on reclaimed land by the Colombo’s sea front.

 

As per the provisions of the bill the President has the powers to create the commission which would be a single-window management committee for the special economic zone, which is on 269 hectares of reclaimed land along with tax and duty concessions for both domestic and foreign investors.

Meanwhile, The Hindu yesterday said that the Tamil Nadu police have been put on high alert after Sri Lanka passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill giving “complete control” of the Port City, coming up in the capital, to China.

The report, quoting sources, said that passing of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was a major diplomatic and strategic concern for India as China’s footprint would increase in the neighbouring countries, the sources said the move evoked instant protests from not only Opposition parties in Sri Lanka but other organisations like the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. “Acting on intelligence inputs, Director-General of Police J.K. Tripathy instructed senior police officers across Tamil Nadu to intensify vigil to thwart any attempt to stage protests in front of Sri Lankan or Chinese establishments in the State.

“Referring to statements of a Tamil nationalist group leader that the silence of the international community on the issues in Sri Lanka had caused “great unrest and outrage among Tamils”, the police chief said there were possibilities that members of the pro-Tamil organisations or sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may condemn the Sri Lankan government for approving the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill and attempt agitations targeting Sri Lankan and Chinese establishments.”



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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