False charges against MCC like Sri Lanka Suwaseriya ‘Indian invasion’: Mangala
ECONOMYNEXT – False charges against grant funding by America’s Millennium Challenge Corporation was similar to a campaign against a Voice of America relay station which involved political activists and clergy, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
There would be no American invasion under the MCC agreement, he said.
Samaraweera said straw man arguments were being made by the Government Medical Association and other opposition activists.
The GMOA had made similar false accusations against the Suwaseriya Ambulance service saying there would be an Indian invasion but it had not happened, he said.
People now know the truth, he said.
Sri Lanka had a history of false strawman arguments (billo), he said.
“When the Voice of American radio station was set up in Iranawila the Catholic and Bhuddist clergy also protested,” Samaraweera recalled.
“It was said that US military and the CIA would come. All kinds of dire predictions were made. Nothing happened. Many years alter the land was handed back to the Treasury.
“Please read MCC agreement. It is written in English because we are signing with a foreign country. We are getting 500 million dollars grant to improve roads, to modernize the land registry and improve traffic management.”
Activists published a book against the Iranawila VoA relay station at the time making various claims, observers say.
It claimed at times was a submarine very long wave (VLF) communications unit (the VOA station used frequencies allocated for Short Wave broadcast stations below 25MHz) or a listening post of the National Security Agency.
Claims were made that fishing would be destroyed, fishermen would be barred from fishing.
It was also claimed that citing a VOA relay station in Sri Lanka would raise geopolitical tensions.
Many political activists were unaware or deliberately ignored that there was a VoA relay station in Ekala since the 1950s already using many of those frequencies already and land and it was going to be handed over the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
They were unaware that a German relay station was operating in Trincomallee, and Voice of Japan was also being relayed from Ekala at the time.
Samaraweera said the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had also protested at the time.
Similar protests were also made by the Church and Bhuddist clergy against a Kandalama Hotel, which has now won global awards as an eco-friendly hotel.
The reason cabinet had approved the agreement now was to be make it to a deadline of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Board in December.
“Under the agreement itself we cannot implement it until it is approved by parliament,” Samaraweera said.
“That is a condition. There is no condition about an economic corridor or giving land. I heard a claim that land will be given a 182.10 rupees an perch. Even 10 cents. There is nothing like that. If anyone can see it please sho and I will retire from politics.
“The only other conditions are that we should respect human rights and give media freedom.
“If you stop the project, Sri Lanka would lose. Those who are trying to stop the project are jealous. (Colombo/Nov06/2019)