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Sri Lankan parliament passes controversial Bill on China-backed Port City

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The growth comes after the Supreme Court prompt sure amendments, following over a dozen petition from opposing events which mentioned it “directly affected” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

The Sri Lankan Parliament on Thursday handed a controversial Bill on legal guidelines governing the China-backed Colombo Port metropolis, with a majority of 149 legislators – within the 225-member House – voting in its favour.

The growth comes after the Supreme Court prompt sure amendments, following over a dozen petitions difficult the Bill that political opposition and civil society teams mentioned “directly affected” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

The authorities accepted the amendments, pre-empting the requirement for a two-thirds majority or a referendum for passage of sure clauses, as per the Supreme Court’s willpower.

The $1.4 billion-Colombo Port City, was launched in 2014 in the course of the earlier time period of the Rajapaksa authorities, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the island nation. The mega infrastructure venture is at present being constructed on land reclaimed alongside Colombo’s iconic sea entrance, whereas environmentalists and fisher people opposed the transfer.

 

The Ranil Wickremesinghe –Maithripala Siripala administration too went forward with the venture, vowing to develop it as a monetary hub. Following their return to energy in November 2019, the Rajapaksa administration sought to expedite building work in addition to a authorized framework for what guarantees to be a tax haven for international traders.

In a two-day debate within the legislature, culminating in Thursday’s vote, authorities MPs defended the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill, pointing to potential international direct investments – upto $15 billion — and prospects for job creation.

Oppostion’s argument

Legislators from Opposition events together with the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB or United People’s Front) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) challenged its provisions that they mentioned infringed upon the nation’s sovereignty, gave the governing fee overarching powers, and immunity from Sri Lankan regulation, and threatened to create a “Chinese enclave”.

Some of the strongest assaults on the Bill, in the course of the debate, got here from Tamil MPs. Legislator and former Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran on Wednesday requested the federal government if its said coverage of striving for ‘One Country, One Law’ meant “Chinese law”.

Intervening within the debate, Tamil National People’s Front Leader Gajen Ponnambalam on Thursday mentioned Sri Lanka, previously, had obtained too near the U.S. within the Cold War period, prompting India to again and practice Tamil militant teams. The “China-centric” Rajapaksa administration was once more difficult the geo-political order within the area, he mentioned. Observing that the “Tamil nation” had paid a heavy value the final time Sri Lanka made such selections, he mentioned he opposed the Bill for that motive.

Tamil National Alliance MP and senior lawyer M.A. Sumanthiran mentioned the Supreme Court had made merely “cosmetic changes” to the Bill, whereas its basic character remained unchanged. Accusing the federal government of making a gift of a part of its land to China, the Jaffna legislator mentioned: “You say so much about [Tamil] Eelam, but this is Cheelam, [referring to China and Eelam, the Tamil name of Sri Lanka]….and it is Cheelam that you are enacting in your own laws, when you don’t have jurisdiction over that territory.”

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