Speaking in parliament, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), slammed the Colombo Port City bill noting the hypocrisy of Sri Lanka denying Tamils a right to self-determination on the grounds of “sovereignty” but permitting the Chinese-led Port City project.
The Port City bill was passed yesterday with 149 MPs voting for and 58 against the Bill. There has been widespread opposition to the bill with MPs from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the JVP-led National People’s Power (NPP), and TNPF voting against it.
Ceylon Federation of Labour has also raised concerns over provisions that would exempt employers operating within the Port City from compliance with Sri Lanka’s labour laws. The Hindu notes that the Union had fought and won a case in the late 1970s when the J.R. Jayawardene government tried to deny labour law protection to workers at the newly established Free Trade Zone.
General Secretary of the Federation, T.M.R. Raseedin, has warned that with the passage of the bill, “we will be going back to an era when ‘hire and fire’ ruled employer-employee relationships.”
Read more here: Sri Lankan Minister denies Chinese takeover
Loss of sovereignty
Ponnambalam noted that during the height of peace talks between the LTTE and the Government the LTTE put forwards the ISGA (Interim Self-Governing Authority) but “whilst the government was prepared to consider federalism on paper” it was rejected.
“As an interim measure itself, you rejected it. You chose to destroy, you chose to commit genocide, in order to prevent the Tamil people in some way of some sentiment of self-governance. But today you have no qualms, no hesitation for creating a similar situation for other purposes [...] for serving the interests of competing global political powers”.
He further added that:
“It is the Tamil nation that has suffered the most due to your geopolitical extravaganzas”.