Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday criticised the move to lease some 15,000 acres of land in Hambantota to China and said he was against giving out such a large extent of land.
He said what they envisaged was giving selected amounts of land for investment only.
Speaking to Newspaper Editors at his official residence in Colombo yesterday, the former president said the present government was now trying to appease China, after reprimanding it earlier. “China was not treated properly when they came into power. We built the Airport, the harbour, the convention centre and others on a plan. That’s why they can now sell at a much higher price than the loans obtained for the airport and the port. They are accusing me of obtaining loans but now they are selling at a much higher price than the obtained loans and saying it is to settle the debts. They must not know arithmetic then,” he said.
When asked about President Maitripala Sirisena’s claim that the former President called a premature election knowing the debt crisis that the government was going to get into, the former president dismissed it saying that if he was in power there would not have been an economic crisis. “There is no truth in those claims. He should know it because he sat in most of the government meetings including cabinet meetings. These are childish, immature talk. I don’t like to talk about those now,” he said.
On the eve of his departure to China, the former president said he was all for bringing in new foreign investment, but was against the policy of selling off the country’s resources.“I am not against investment; some of the investors who come even come and meet me. I tell all of them to come and invest. I don’t block them. But the problem many have is the instability of the government,” he said.
The former president said the main reason for the present economic problems was because the present government stopped all development work on January 8, 2015.
Speaking about the proposed constitutional reforms of the present government, the former president said the government was trying to take everyone for a ride by putting out various reports. “They are trying to fool us. This has been decided by Sumanthiran, Jayampathi, the Diasapora and foreign powers. The question we ask is this. First talk of the main things which is whether it is unitary or federal,” he said.
When pointed out that the government had indicated that the new constitution was going to be of unitary nature, the former president said it should not be just confined to mere words. “What has to be discussed is the framework. Whether the framework is going to be unitary or federal. Why are they allowing foreign powers to meddle in our affairs? ” he asked.
The former president said a new police unit is being created similar to the FCID to scare the politicians, civilian activists and monks who speak against federalism and the new constitution.
When asked about his views regarding the Muslim issue that happened during his government and the similar development taking place now, the former president said it contributed much in his losing the election. “ Those who did these things those days are doing the same now. They did it then to send me home. Now they are doing it to protect this government. To divert attention from the problems faced by the government. To bring the new constitution,” the former president said.