Colombo, Jan 10 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s Joint Opposition, On Tuesday strongly emphasized that protests organised in the south was not against China, but was against the manner on which the government was carrying out the development projects.
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Leader and Joint Opposition Member, Professor G.L. Peiris told NewsIn.Asia that the government was not being transparent in its deals with the Chinese companies and people were being forced out of their lands.
He further said that the government’s claims that it would allocate 15,000 acres for development projects in the south was a clear violation of the people’s right as land was being taken forcibly.
“There are a lot of contradictory statements given by the government. No one is clear about what they are talking and the subject ministers have no idea what is going on,” Peiris said.
“We share the best relationship with China and we respect China for helping us. The protests in Hambantota is not against China in anyway but instead it is against the government,” he added.
JO Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila also maintained that while while opposition legislators were not against China’s decision to develop the island country, they were against the government’s ‘terms and conditions’ laid down to hand over an 80 percent stake of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company and the allocation of 15,000 acres.
Gammanpila said that a letter, mentioning its concerns were handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena last week.
They said if a possibility arises they will also discuss their concerns with Chinese officials directly.
“China is a very dear friend and we know they will understand our concerns” Gammanpila said.
He further said that the Hambantota Port will be crucial to determine Sri Lanka’s role in the future, and such valuable assets should not be handed over to any foreign country.
He said although the deal with the Chinese company was on a 99 year lease, this was beyond their lifetime, and China would be reluctant to leave the venture after 99 years.
“The government should not invite anyone who they cannot tell to leave. Such valuable assets such as the Hambantota Port should be within our control,” he said.
International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema said last week that no private lands would be used for the economic zone or any development project and over 95 percent of it would be on state lands.
He rejected the opposition’s allegations that people were being forced out of their lands and said such allegations were only to deter investments from coming into the island country.