The setting up of factories in Hambantota with foreign investment with the mediation of the government is commendable, former Speaker and Joint Opposition Parliamentarian Chamal Rajapaksa said in Parliament yesterday.
He made this observation joining the debate following the special statement made by Joint Opposition member Dinesh Gunawardena.
Rajapaksa said the harbour was constructed not to keep it without setting up factories.
“The factories should be set up in Hambantota and it is beneficial for the country,” Rajapaksa said. “But they should be brought in a manner that would not be harmful to the country and it should be decided by way of discussions.”
He said that land has already been acquired for the industrial zones in Hambantota.
Rajapaksa said if there is a need for more land, they should be acquired from suitable places. He added that there are lands in Monaragala, Matara and Embilipitiya.
“However an agreement was entered into with China Harbour Company in 2014 which granted lands to them only for the operation,” Rajapaksa said. “I can submit it to you for your information.”
He said Oppositions in a democratic country always stage some kind of protest against whatever move taken by a government whether it is constructive or not.
“The people had a suspicion over the statements of taking over 15,000 acres, frame work agreement and 99 year agreement with the China Merchant Company,” Rajapaksa said. “However since the Premier met the Tissamahararama Nayaka Thera, a massive destruction was prevented.
It was laudable that he met the Maha Sanga. But it did not clear the people’s suspicion. That is why the people decided to stage a peaceful protest.”
He said the theras who went there from Colombo were assaulted.
“If you see the videos on a private television channel you could see who had stones and poles in their hands,” Rajapaksa said. “They were assaulted in the presence of the Police.” The former Speaker added that the people from Colombo had been taken to the Hambantota conference hall and the following day, assaulted the protestors under the influence of liquor.
He said he hoped the Prime Minister would look into this matter.