ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament which has robbed the language freedoms of citizens and expropropriated their land in the past using its lawmaking powers, will be moved to stop sports stars from selling their medals, the island’s sports minister has said.
Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera had told parliament that laws should be brought to block sportstars from selling any medals acquired at international sports events.
The move to impose state controls on sportspersons come after Susanthika Jayasinghe, an athlete, said she wanted to auction her Olympic silver medal to raise money to look after her kids.
The government up to that time had apparently been paying her a monthly salary.
Minister Jayasekera had claimed that the medal ‘belongs to the country’, according to media reports.
In Sri Lanka members, of the elected ruling class get a pension for life after being in office for five years, a tax free luxury car permit every so often which is sold for as much as 20 million rupees, while ordinary citizens pay taxes through their nose to even buy a motorcycle.
Sri Lanka’s elected ruling class had also viciously undermined the property rights of citizens, expropriated their land, prevented crops of their choice being planted on their own freehold land, or blocked them from using agricultural land for higher yielding purposes such as industry or housing, liberty activists say.
Freehold land rights were established in Sri Lanka during European rule, before that practically all land belonged to the king.
A law that robbed the language freedoms of people after gaining self-determination from British rule, eventually contributed to the bloody ethnic conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Jayasekera had claimed the medal ‘belonged to the country’ on the basis that the elected ruling class and bureaucrats had spent tax funds collected from fellow citizens for her training.
But sportstars in free countries have absolute ownership of their medals and are free to do anything they want with it.
There are no readily accessible records of even private donors who funded sportstars even claiming any rights to the medals won by athletes or attempting undermine their property rights.
Swimmer Anthony Ervin sold his Sydney 2000 Olympic medal on Ebay and gave the proceeds to help victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. In 2016 he made a miraculous come back at age 35 and won another medal.
Hockey Player Mark Wells sold his medal for 310,000 dollars to help pay medical bills.
Most countries also pay reward money for sportstars who win Olympic medals. India is said to pay around 75,000 US dollars, Italy 181,000 and the US Olympic committee pays 25,000.
But there is no record that the elected ruling classes of those countries had tried to curb the property rights of their sportstars.
Liberty activists say the right to life liberty and property should be enshrined in Sri Lanka’s new constitution so that the car-permit selling members of the elected ruling class cannot block the freedom of a sportstar to sell their own medals whenever they wish.
The casual disregard for property rights of citizens had also made it difficult for the country to attract foreign direct investments.