24 October, 2021

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Colombo Port City & The Opposition Catastrophe!

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

The country like many others is engrossed in a calamitous situation due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic affecting the normal life of all citizens. Pandemic has shown clear signs of being continued unabated for some more time. Government with the Health Authorities are engaged with a full focus on its arrest and all the normal activities of the country are reaching a virtual stagnation causing it to cross the thresholds towards a total economic devastation. Naturally in such a situation the rulers have to while giving priority to the control and eradication of the pandemic, give equally serious consideration and attention not only to keep the economy from reaching a breaking point but to take measures for its resuscitation as an essential futuristic measure. Therefore, a pandemic is no reason for any country to forget about all other things. It becomes all the more important to address short term as well as long term plans of action on all other aspects mainly in the economic sphere. There is no justification or sense in the outcry to forget everything else and concentrate only on the pandemic situation.

The opposition political parties and some social groups are embroiled in a battle against the Colombo Port City (CPC) project to outwit the ruling coalition, rationalizing their stunt by attributing motives more appealing to the public faced with a disastrous situation, hence naïve to fall prey to such, instead of taking efforts to address the issues with a positive perception. The clergy mundanely more concerned with the day-to-day human needs and standards, appear to have joined in the campaign to support the opposition view unwittingly. Earlier they were voicing opinions about the dangers the project would pose to the sovereignty of the country alleging it is going to be a colony of the Chinese. It appeared that they have been misinformed by some politically motivated personalities whom the clergy relied on heavily. Now after the Supreme Court determination has dispelled those doubts, they are taking up a different position that the matter should not be rushed. Little are they concerned about the impending highly dangerous situation about the falling and failing economy, and equally less concern about the urgency to take remedial steps even for bringing delayed results. They compare the project in their own imagination with other totally incomparable cases. It is tricky and difficult for a society which is cultured to highly respect the clergy to make up the mind to counter them and point out their erroneous presumptions which we believe is due to two reasons. One is the failure of the government to convince them and give them correct information. The other is they hardly study what is available in black and white. That is why they make frivolous claims such as the agreement should be made public when the bill governing the entire operation is, in its totality gazetted , presented to the SC and debated in Parliament.

In the first day of the debate other than highly emotional outbursts full of misrepresentations and accusations levelled against individuals there were no meaningful suggestions by the opposition. 

Those legal eagles who gave deceitful views about the Bill have got the matters aptly cleared and bared (for the public benefit) by the Supreme Court leaving no room for any untrustworthy public comments in the future. One glaring example is the two objections raised citing Article 5 of the Constitution;

Viz.  i). “Parliament does not have any legislative power to pass the Bill since the Colombo Port City is not part of the territory of Sri Lanka” contending that Article 5 defines the territory of the Republic of SL and that the Bill seeks to add, to this territory an artificially created area.

       ii). It was also submitted that any claim to sovereignty to artificially created areas is governed by Maritime Zones Law and the United Nations Convention Law and as a matter of Sri Lankan Law and International Law, an artificially created area of land cannot constitute sovereign territory. Court Held that The Colombo Port City is part of the territory of Sri Lanka in terms of the law and Parliament has legislative power over the reclaimed area. This determination has dispelled several doubts that the persons who opposed the Bill on those grounds were attempting to make out. If their submission was established, we would have been left with a no-man’s land in our country adjacent to the Colombo City and the main harbor!

A public uproar is afloat about the SC determination, showing many provisions that require amendments to qualify the bill for a passage in parliament only with a simple majority. Some refer to it as a defeat to the government. The SC gave its determination after hearing the submissions made by several counsel on behalf of the petitioners and additional solicitor general who in the course of submissions conceded that amendments will be made to the following clauses at the committee stage; 6(1)(n),7(1),9(4),32, 45, 46(g), 62(5),63,72,74, Schedule 2, item 6 and the General amendment, the reference to “in the national interest and the interest of the advancement of the national economy”, wherever it occurs in the Bill, be amended to read as, “in the national interest or in the advancement of the national economy”

The final determination of the Court is as summarized below,

(i) The provisions of clauses 3(6),30(3) second proviso, 55(2) and 58(1) are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows:

3(6), delete words “provide such concurrence” and substitute therefor the words “communicate its decision”

30(3)delete the words “render such concurrence” and substitute therefor the words“ communicate its decision” 

55(2) delete the words, “provide such concurrence” and substitute therefor the words “communicate its decision”

58(1) Delete the words, “render such concurrence” and substitute therefor the words “communicate its decision”

The determination clearly indicated the inconsistencies observed and  the amendments needed  for the inconsistencies to cease.

(ii) The provisions of clauses, 3(5) proviso, 6(1) (b), 30 (3) first proviso, 71(1) and 74 [interpretation ‘Regulatory Authority”] of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(iii) The provisions of clauses 3(4), 6(1)(u), 68 (1) (f) and 68(3)(a) are inconsistent with Article 76 read with Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution and cold be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(iv) The provisions of clauses 52(3) read with clauses 52(5) and 71(2)(p) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 148 of the Constitution read with Articles 3,4,and 76 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only wit the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of provisions of Article 83.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(v) The provisions of clauses 30(1),33(1),40(2)and 71(2)(1) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 14(1)(h)of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) f the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(vi) The provisions of clause 53(2)(b) read with clause 53(3)(b) of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 76 of the Constitution read with Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(vii).The provisions of clauses 60© and clause 60(f) of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 148 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided  for in Article 84(2) of the constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as given therein.

(viii) The provisions of clause 37 of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 12(1)and 14(1)(g) of he Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2)of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistency will cease if a new sub clause is added to clause 3 of the Bill restraining such authorized person making use of any exemptions or incentives granted under this Bill when conducting business outside the area of authority of the Colombo Port City to the detriment of similar businesses conducted outside such area of Authority but within the territory of Sri Lanka.

The SC  has examined the rest of the clauses of the Bill and determined that they are not inconsistent with the constitution. Government clearly announced that all the amendments suggested by the SC will be incorporated into the draft at the committee stage before approval.

There was a huge campaign to indicate that the BILL carried several clauses inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and it was something unprecedented. I wish to indicate the SC determination on the BILL entitled “ The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution”:-

Quote;

a) complies with the provisions of Article 82(1) of the Constitution;

b) requires to be passed by a special majority specified in Article 82 (5) of the Constitution;

c) that paragraphs 42(3), 43(3), 44(2) , 44(3),and  44(5) in clause 11 and paragraph 104B(5)© in clause 26 require the approval of the People at a Referendum in terms of the provisions of Article 83 of the Constitution.

The following short resume will help us to recap the significant events and developments associated with this project.

Project launched by Mahinda Rajapakse during his Presidency, on 17th September 2014

Estimated total investment for the project by Chinese Govt. was US $ 1.5 billion

Project envisaged the reclaiming of 223 hectares (579 acres ) adjacent to the South Colombo Harbor

MOU was to share the reclaimed land extent of 223 Hectares (579 acres), with125 hectares(310 acres) to be owned by the Govt. of SL; 88 hectares (220 acres)to be allocated to investor under a 99 year lease; 20 hecatares (49 acres ) to be given free hold to the investor company

MR govt was defeated and the Ranil/MS govt. suspended the project with immediate effect

MOU re-negotiated and the RW/MS govt. restarted the project;

Total extent of the land reclaimed to be allocated to UDA in place of Port Authority, 20 hectares to be granted on free hold basis too to be given under 99 year lease; The infrastructure expenditure (roads and beaches) to be shared by investor and SL govt.

The new agreement incorporated the following;

* To reclaim a total extent of 269 hectares( 660 acres) under the EIA carried out

* Allocate 2 hectares in lieu of compensation for the loss incurred due to the cancellation

* Agreed on a new Master plan for the project development

* Share the reclaimed area as follows;

1) 116 hectares (284 A)to be allocated to Chinese investor under 99 year lease period

2) 62 hectares (151 A) to Govt.of SL

3) 91 hectares (222.A) as Common Public areas

The following land mark events during Ranil/Maithri period shows their interest in the project then:

In August 2016, the project was revamped as Colombo International Financial Center and a fresh agreement was signed

In 2018 World City Summit, held in Singapore, Prime Minister Ranil W. was the key-note speaker and he promoted the revamped Port City project at a time when even the land was not ready

On 23rd July 2019,The parliament passed without a vote the resolution proposed by Home affairs and Local govt. Minister Vajira Abeywardena to include the reclaimed land area of the Colombo Port City to be brought within the area of authority and limits of the administrative district of Colombo.

On 29th October 2019, SL president Sirisena attended a deed transferring ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat attended by Chinese Ambassador in SL to officially transfer the land reclaimed(269 hectares) in the Colombo Port City project to the Sri Lanka Urban Development Authority.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    8

    Most Sri Lankans love China and hate India.

    All Tamils and Muslims hate China and mostly love India.

    So the port city thing is another victory for most Sri Lankans and a defeat for Tamils and Muslims.

    But this is not a one-off event. Beijing is here to stay!

    • 3
      1

      Do Muslims love India, especially Modi’s?

      • 1
        0

        Compared to China, yes because roots are in South India. Modi is not India. Modi is just a temporary politician.

        • 0
          0

          Hindutwa has dominated Indian affairs since the demolition of Babri Masjid.
          India’s love for Pakistan is something to the liking of Muslims I guess.
          Do Muslims here also love how Kashmir has been treated that is from years before Modi.
          *
          Seriously, are you in touch at all with Indian affairs? Or is it yet another shot in the dark?

    • 4
      1

      One doesn’t have to be stupid to be Gatam. But it helps a lot.

    • 6
      1

      GATAM,
      Are you saying only Sinhalese are Sri Lankans and Tamils and Muslims are not Sri Lankans? Are you also saying Sinhalese are origins from China and Tamils and Muslims are origins from India?

  • 11
    2

    Now that Colombo Port city is established, it’s time to think about Galle Port city and give it to who else but China. More money will then flow into Rajapakse coffers. Don’t forget the money launderers from inside and out.

    Sri Lanka can gradually have a pearl necklace provided by China. If the politicians don’t know any conventional way of developing like what Singapore did, this surely is a more creative way to do it with other people’s money and resources and fill your pockets too.

    Appe Aanduwa bandwagon moves on happily.

  • 6
    1

    Rusiri, Rajapaksas managed Port City as they managed Covid. PC may take time but we may not have to wait that long to know the consequence of Covid Tsunami.

  • 4
    1

    “The clergy mundanely more concerned with the day-to-day human needs and standards, appear to have joined in the campaign to support the opposition view unwittingly. Earlier they were voicing opinions about the dangers the project would pose to the sovereignty of the country alleging it is going to be a colony of the Chinese.”

    This is a question raised by Rusripala for those clergy who were against to the Bill which gives parts of Sri Lanka to China.? He accuses the clergy supported the opposition against Rajapaksas and these clergy are against to the country. Is it true?

  • 6
    1

    Rusiri, did you get your visa and custom clearance to visit PC ???

  • 3
    0

    Mr Rusiripala Tennakoon,

    Thanks for the impartial opinion.

    Who better than you to give an honest impartial opinion, uh?

    The country is blessed to have people like you!

  • 0
    2

    The Port City Bill: Second reading passed in Parliament is a great blessing to our Nation. It will now have to go through the 3rd., reading with the amendments requested by the Supreme court incopted accordingly. The Bill will now be referred to the Committee of the Whole Parliament in terms of Standing Order 57, the proceedings of the Committee which is conducted in terms of Standing Orders 93 to 99.
    After due process, it will go for a 3rd., reading and then voting. Being voted at the 3rd., reading the Bill will become law.
    This law will change the Socio-Economical and Social development of our “Maathruboomiya” in the future, the benefits that will be “REAPED” by our younger generations in the coming years by the grace of God AllMighty. It is a pity that those MP’s and the opposition that voted against this bill at the 2nd., reading have still not understood the value of this Colombo Port City Project.
    THEY HAVE VOTED NO “JUST TO VOTE AGAINST IT”. Idiots.
    It is a pity that our law makers, MAJORITY of the 225 in parliament are all idiotic fools who sit in parliament consuming our tax money being elected by the innocent people who are hoping for a better future.

  • 2
    0

    Srilanken stupid leaders betray the nation, while Samoas do their job to the best.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NS3UoI2g2o

    This is a great example that CHINESE investment injections would not welcome by any developing nations equally. 0.2 mio small nation has rejected CHINESE port offer.

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