President Sirisena’s Speech on Rule of Law being violated by Parliament in sale of State Land

President Sirisena in an emotional address to the nation & pouring out how he weathered 3 1/2 years until it came to a breaking point, President Sirisena addressed the Nation on 28 October 2018 & explained the reasons that prompted the removal of Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. What is this new practice adopted by Parliament bypassing the Rule of Law for passing land statutes divesting land to foreigners ignoring the President & even the cabinet? How is this possible? It is our understanding that no Bill can pass without the Presidents seal – or has this been changed without the Presidents knowledge? This requires immediate public attention in particular to the new Land Ordinance Special Act that would enable the sale of crown land to private parties was to be valid for only 7 years.

What kind of new procedure is this? Lawyers & legal entities as well as patriotic groups representing Sri Lanka’s interests must come forward to find out how the Rule of Law is violated in parliament. If the Supreme Court is the upper guardian of the country’s land we must have provision beyond the 7 day to petition the courts regarding dangerous land deals.

This cannot be allowed to become a practice by any government in power.

Legislation is one of the most important instruments of government in organising society and protecting citizens. It determines amongst others the rights and responsibilities of individuals and authorities to whom the legislation applies. The statement of the President proves how democracy has failed & the onus is on officials to now take correct that failure.

We now come to the crux of an important & oft ignored issue that needs to have immediate attention of the citizens & policy makers. One of the 3 allegations made against Ranil Wickremasinghe & reason for removal from post of PM was the detrimental sale of national assets to foreigners.

In his speech of 28 October 2018 he elaborates how Ranil delayed passing the amendment to the Bribery Commission Act that would have punished wrong doers within a year, he cited the fraudulent sale of EAP to a foreigner without tender, he also claimed many other assets had also been given to foreigners without tenders.

The President also says that the Committee set up by RanilW to manage the economy was fraudulent & to counter it the President had set up the National Economic Council which faced impediments by RanilW who had advised the international monetary body paying the economic expert to withhold monthly emoluments. Our question is, the Head of State, Govt, Cabinet is not the PM it is the President. If anything fraudulent was happening the President is well within his rights to take action. As per Presidents speech a series of malpractices had been carried out by RanilW three months into coming to power in January 2015 starting with the Bond Scam – if MPs were arrested when coming to give statements to the various commissions set up after 2015, why was did the same not happen to the sacked PM? The President owes the citizens an explanation.

As citizens, we need to demand the President reveal what these sales to foreigners without tenders are.

The President says that construction contracts were given to foreigners without tenders, we want to know what these contracts are & what foreigners have been given them & the exact nature of the transaction.

The President gives the example of the Kandy Highway Project – who is responsible & what are the punitive actions that can be taken by the State and more importantly what action will the President promise to take to ensure nonoccurrence of similar sales?

The most detrimental incident mentioned in the President’s speech was the Land Ordinance Special Act & a Paper establishing a Land Bank that had been presented to Parliament in mid-October 2018 which the President claims he had objected & not allowed to pass cabinet.

If this Land Ordinance Act had been passed 83% of crown lands would have all been privatized & the eventuality of them falling into foreign hands would have been detrimental to the sovereignty & territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. The President says that the land privatization bill was part of the political & economic vision of Ranil Wickremasinghe.

Given that we know how Bills have been passed of late wherein what is passed at Committee Stage is not the final Bill that the UNP Speaker ends up giving final seal of approval to, our next question is what else has Ranil’s Government done to wriggle through & override state procedures?

We ask this question because RanilW government has set up quite a number of task forces that are manned by foreigners overriding even Ministry approvals & working closely with UN & other foreign bodies to completely change the state administrative mechanisms currently practiced & have them all plugged to the UN systems so that the international bodies can manipulate our resources & assets. This is indeed a very dangerous scenario. 2003 RanilW said he would bring legislation to remove land given for agriculture.

We cannot become another landless natives like in Hawaii –

To claim ownership to their own land Hawaiians have to pass a blood test – Is this what we want happening to us in Sri Lanka?

In August 2016 and Indian paper carried an article English laws to apply to Colombo port city, says Lankan PM” that then PM RanilW) had said that a British team would arrive to work out modalities. The same British law applying has been rumored to apply to the ‘economic corridor’ that is being proposed to cut across Colombo to Trincomalee where most likely foreign corporates would operate under British law. With so many stringent land laws & statues as per our understanding, how can these foreign projects take place under the guise of ‘investment’ when crown land is being leased for 99 years completely overlooking a string of other hazards likely to arise from these investment agreements which have not been taken to account or ignored simply because a large chunk of money is presented as investment! We do not elect a government burdening the tax payer for these legislators to be doling out our land with the possibility of not recovering land for generations & furthermore endangering the future of the people’s sovereign rights as a result of foreign corporates using the power of their wealth & international pressures to silence the rights & freedoms of the Sri Lankan people. By the manner NESTLE has acquired water in North/South America & Africa & people are now having to pay for water on the prices Nestle decides!

This is our understanding of State Land

  • As per Supreme Court Land Ownership Bill Special Determination No.26A-36/2003 State land is held by the state in trust for the People.
  • State land is vested in the Central Govt & can only be alienated under the seal of the President – therefore how can sales be done fraudulently without the seal of the President? If this has been done is it not illegal & what is the action that can be taken. If financial transactions have taken place there needs to be some means of legally recovering this.
  • Provincial courts have no purview over state lands.
  • A private party cannot make a prescriptive claim on state land (section 15, Prescription Ordinance
  • State Land is administered by the Land Development Ordinance which grants permits to cultivate & develop land & issued with certain conditions primary of which is that they cannot be leased or mortgaged.
  • What are the Acts/Bills that have been brought since 2015 that are detrimental to the country & overrides even the President of the country?
  • If the President has to have final say in all land transaction how can Ministers or their Ministries decide on granting or even sale of land to private parties even foreigners?
  • What is the Land Policy of Sri Lanka & when is it going to be made public to the People?

Globalization is all about converting sovereign lands into new statue laws that the West can directly control. Western governments push their hegemony via western corporates. When strong laws, policies & legal apparatus for violators are lacking as well as stringent processes that maintain checks & balances, it becomes easy for anyone to bribe a Minister or official & get crown lands passed. The Bimsaviya also has many a shortcoming which need to be immediately addressed. We should learn from the manner that land is being sold to developers & local government authorities are passing these without proper assessments all of which are likely to cause future issues. We need to also wonder if these land currently being sold to developers & building of apartments is a means of drawing people from lands to live in high rise apartments thus freeing their land for foreign corporate initiatives?

As per the speech by the President, inspite of existing laws new statues had been drafted as per a virtual dictatorship by the sacked PM – the views of the cabinet & the President had been ignored. However, it is our understanding that no Bill can pass without the Presidents seal – or has this been changed without the Presidents knowledge? If so all these need to have immediate public attention in particular to the new Land Ordinance Special Act that would enable the sale of crown land to private parties was to be valid for only 7 years. What kind of Act is this?

Govt lease has to be registered in the land registry for the public to see including all land given to corporates (local or in partnership with foreigners) land is a capital asset of a country & it must have regulated ownership. In the West one cannot even paint one’s house without local authority approvals!

All lands must be registered in the land registry. There must be a very clear transparent democratic principle & policy for any land transaction in Sri Lanka.

If the Supreme Court is the upper guardian of the country’s land we must have provision beyond the 7 day to petition the courts regarding dangerous land deals.

The Supreme Court, Lawyers & legal entities as well as patriotic groups representing Sri Lanka’s interests must come forward to protect Sri Lanka’s land from all these internal treacherous elements as well as ensure we have all laws in place to ensure no investor walks away with our land freehold!

Lawyers please come forward to protect the land rights of Sri Lanka for Sri Lankans & the sovereignty of Sri Lanka!

No development can result in Sri Lanka losing its ownership of land & having that passed on to foreign hands!

What is the point in saying Sri Lanka’s sovereignty is inalienable & with the People when a Govt elected for a term thinks STATE LAND is their personal property to sell claiming that to be a FOREIGN INVESTMENT – what eventually happens is we loose our land, the foreigners walk away with the profits & turn our citizens into cheap labourers & the govt MPs pockets the commissions!

This cannot be allowed to take place. President Sirisena removed Ranil as PM because he brought the Land Ordinance Special Act to privatise all 83% of State Land that would have ended up in foreign hands leaving the citizens landless.

WAKE UP PEOPLE…. we know that if the new constitution was passed we would have had 9 independent separate provinces & our families would have been separated like Africa when Africa was divided. Do we want this to happen to our small island nation?

Shenali D Waduge

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