“Sajith Premadasa camp that includes Mangala Samaraweera state the agreement the government intends signing with the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the USA is an exceptionally good agreement, and it would make available Rs. 88,000 million. They say our road network would have exceptional development. Meanwhile, the Rajapaksa camp that rejects the agreement through its henchmen states the agreement is an attempt to hand over about 20,000 acres from our country to the USA at Rs.180 a perch. They say a corridor would be created across the country partitioning the country with walls. Both these stories are blatant lies. The agreement would not create a fairy tale country nor will it create a bogeyman,” says the candidate of the National People’s Power (NPP) and Leader of the JVP Comrade Anura Dissanayake.
He made these remarks speaking at a propaganda rally held by the NPP at Anuradhapura.
Speaking further, Comrade Anura Dissanayake said, “With the election campaign a new discussion has commenced. It is the agreement the government intends signing with the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the USA. What is this agreement? Many ask us what our stand is regarding this agreement. The General Secretary of our party Comrade Tilvin Silva held a press conference on the 3rd of this month and told the public about our stand regarding the MCC agreement. Next, the National Organizer of our party Comrade Bimal Rathnayaka held a press conference and explained our stand.
As a political party, we do not reject bilateral or multilateral agreements. We always criticize, reject or accept agreements after considering its content. Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga, during her tenure, signed ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with the USA. Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power for ten years while this agreement continued to exist. We consider the agreement as one harmful to the country. In 2007 a defence agreement was signed between the USA and Sri Lanka. This agreement was signed by US Ambassador at the time Robert O. Blake and Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary at the time Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Despite being an agreement between the USA and Sri Lanka, both signatories were US citizens. The agreement allowed the USA to use our sky, land and the ocean for any military involvement in the region. Further, we are expected to provide infrastructure food, water, fuel to US troops. It is a very harmful agreement. It was the first such agreement the US manipulated in the world. We would be a US satellite in the event of war.
We took to the streets against the agreement as soon as it was signed in 2007. We made the people aware of it. We opposed in Parliament as well as outside it. We carried out agitations. When the agreement reached ten years of existence in 2017, Ranil’s government signed an agreement extending it. We opposed this as well. Now Ranil Wickremesinghe is attempting to sign a new SOFA agreement with more clauses added to it. We have already commenced a massive opposition to this move in Parliament. It is in such an environment that the attempt to sign the MCC has come up. Sajith Premadasa camp that includes Mangala Samaraweera state the agreement the government intends signing with the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the USA is an exceptionally good agreement, and it would make available Rs. 88,000 million. They say our road network would have exceptional development. Meanwhile, the Rajapaksa camp that rejects the agreement through its henchmen states the agreement is an attempt to hand over about 20,000 acres from our country to the USA at Rs.180 a perch. They say a corridor would be created across the country partitioning the country with walls. Both these stories are blatant lies. The agreement would not create a fairy tale country, nor will it create a bogeyman.
There are three main proposals to make available US$ 400 million from the agreement. One is to make funds available to develop the transportation sector. The second is making available funds to develop the road network. The third is the reformation of lad laws in the country. Our issue is with the third one. There is an issue when the USA gives funds asking us to change our land laws. Our land laws are complicated. They are more than 90 years old. Many came into existence in 1930. As such, there is ambiguousness in the ownership of lands. The farmer community is making a massive effort to clear the ownership of their lands. Very often in our country, the male is entrusted with the ownership of land. A daughter will rarely inherit land if she has brothers in the family. This is not fair. As such, the complexity in our land laws should be made simple. Also, we should understand the value of the land for our people. Our villagers have lands despite not having any other wealth. The land for our villager is a relationship. They would not want to sell their land like selling jewellery, a bicycle or any other possession. They have a bond with the land and would not part with it.
Also, there should be a solution to the complexity of our land laws. We also should stop the multi-national companies buying these lands once the complexity of the land laws is relaxed. We do not agree with the proposal by the USA to amend land laws. There is a hidden intention in such proposals. It could be a ploy to take over the lands. It should be said that they have taken our lands even without such agreements. Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over 5000 acres of land near Somawthiya to American Dole company. More than 2000 acres of land near Pelawattta Sugar company was sold to US Dole company. A large area of land from Inginimitiya was sold to Dole company. Two of the islands in the Kalpitiya area were sold to an Indian Company and a Danish company.
Rajapaksas who sold islands, lands belonging to farmers and handed over thousands of acres to US companies are now making a big rumpus about the MCC agreement. Why? This is their politics.
We assure the people in this country that we would never allow the agreement to be signed with the clauses regarding lands. Some ask us what would happen to the agreement if we come to power. There is a clause in the agreement that states if it is necessary, it would be possible to withdraw from the agreement within 30 days. If we come to power, it would not be necessary to reject the agreement. They would withdraw, for, they would withdraw as soon as we disagree with the eland issue. We would assure you that this agreement would be rejected and also the lands given at Somawathiya, Pelawatta, Inginimitiya, and lands at Monaragala planned to be given to private companies will be taken over and distributed among eh children of eh farmer community. We challenge Gotabhaya and Sajith to give that assurance without getting their henchmen to brag about eh agreement.
We ask the people in this country to elect a new leader and a new administration to the country on the 16th. Gotabhaya or Sajith and their administrations are not new to the country. They are the offspring of 71 years of corrupt administrations. You need not cast your vote to elect antiquity. Only the NPP can bring a new leader, a new administration and a new path to the country.”