The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill, which attracted the attention of Sri Lanka and the international community has faced strong opposition from the Opposition parties, was passed by a difference of 91 votes in Parliament. The bill was passed by a majority of 149 votes in favor and 58 against.
The Rajapaksa government has easily pushed the bill in parliament to keep the country focused on the fear of corona across the country. There are also some criticisms that this is why the corona fear peaked during this period.
But the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has now announced that it received 150 votes in favor of the referendum. 150 votes are needed to get a parliamentary majority. The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has now put forward the notion that 149 has been reported due to technical glitches found during the electronic voting.
The Speaker has announced that an inquiry will be held in this regard. However, the bill was passed with the amendments made by the court, so this could be implemented without the two-third majority that is with 149 votes.
Thus, the formation of an autonomous island of China in Sri Lanka is confirmed. Opposition parties vehemently opposed it. The United States, an international power, had registered its opposition. Neighboring India did not speak openly but indirectly expressed its dissatisfaction.
Beyond all this, the bill was passed last Thursday after a two-day debate in parliament, giving China a permanent seat in the Indian Ocean region. Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections. Importantly, the Colombo Port City Commission has powers similar to those of a separate country. They pointed out that this was a threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
In this context, let us briefly look at how this bill was passed in Parliament and how the major parties reacted. After the debate on the bill ended in Parliament, a second reading was put to the vote. The bill received 148 votes in favor and 59 votes against.
The amendments were then tabled by the government at the committee level and the ruling party did not agree with the amendments put forward by the opposition. Thus in three situations referendums were held on the amendments put forward by the Opposition. In the third reading that followed, the third reading of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was passed by a majority of 91 votes in Parliament. It was then announced that it had received 149 votes in favor. However, the PPP has now announced 150 and created a new controversy.
As the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was tabled in the House on April 8, petitions were filed in the High Court by various parties in this regard. The High Court forwarded its interpretation of the Bill to the Speaker and the Speaker informed the House on the 18th. The High Court’s interpretation stated that a referendum and a two-thirds majority in Parliament were required to pass certain clauses in the bill. As well as proposed amendments. If those corrections are made, two-thirds are not necessary!
Announcing its acceptance of the High Court’s amendments, the government held a two-day debate in Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday. In this context, United People’s Power MP Lakshman Kiriella, the prime whip of the opposition, arose on Thursday, the last day of the debate as the government sought to pass it, and asked the speaker to register his opposition to the bill without seeking a vote.
Meanwhile, the JVP MP Vijitha Herath demanded a vote to pass the bill. The referendum was then held electronically. In this, the state party and the state’s partner parties voted in favor of the legal source. Opposition parties include the United People’s Force and its allies, the Tamil National Alliance, the JVP, and the Tamil National People’s Front led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. The Tamil People’s National Alliance, led by Vigneswaran, and Rishad Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon People’s Congress, voted against.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, led by Rauf Hakeem, abstained from voting, while opposition Muslim Alliance MP Alisabri Rahim and independent MP Athuraliya Ratna Thera voted in favor of the legal source. Opposition parties such as Arvind Kumar, Ishaq Rahman, and Diana Gamage voted in favor of the 20th Amendment.
As Opposition parties have asked for voting on a few clauses in the bill, they have also asked for changes in many clauses. Many of these changes were rejected by the government and the clauses were passed without amendment.
Minister GL Peiris on behalf of the state denied the allegations made by the opposition. Minister GL Peiris said, “The financial power of Parliament will not be affected in the slightest by the Colombo Ports Commission Act, and the entire financial power of the port city will be subject to the Constitution.”
“Everyone knows that foreign exchange is essential for the country. It is necessary to earn foreign exchange so that the country’s debt burden does not increase further. We live in a very competitive world. Foreign investment is needed to attract foreign exchange. We need to create new companies to encourage investment. The Port City of Colombo is created as one such body.” said the minister.
Nevertheless, the opposition was not prepared to accept this in any way. Opposition leader Sajid Premadasa’s comments are significant.
Opposition leader Sajid Premadasa said, “The current Port City Bill is a greater betrayal than the Kandy Treaty signed in 1815. The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill is a major threat to this country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political freedom. It is a violation of the Constitution.”
Beyond that, the source of this law was prepared by the lawyer of a foreign company. Sajith Premadasa pointed out that 34.6 percent of the clauses in the bill are unconstitutional as confirmed by the High Court judgment.
The bill has been passed amid fierce objections from the opposition parties. Special permission must be obtained to enter the port city under this Act. Only the US dollar will be used there. The customary laws of Sri Lanka would be invalid there.
The Colombo Port City Commission will have all the features of a separate country, including the fact that Sri Lanka’s tax laws will not be enforced there. On the other hand, it is not known to what extent the information published on social networking sites that a passport has been prepared for the port city is true.
It is unthinkable that China, which has spent billions of dollars to change the map of the island of Ceylon and set up a separate, massive city by the sea, will hand over the power to manage it to Sri Lanka or another.
To do so would mean that the vast amount of money China has spent on it and the efforts made for it would be meaningless to China. So, of course, China would have put pressure on the Rajapaksas to bring in the necessary legislation. It is in this background that this bill has been prepared.
Like it or not, a massive Chinese city has sprung up near Colombo. From here you can fully spy on the port of Colombo. On the contrary, it poses a major challenge to India’s dominance in the Indian Ocean region. All moves against it by the United States, India, and the European Union have failed and a Chinese city has emerged on the island of Ceylon!