(24.10.2013 – Email)
According to local and foreign media reports, the bill for the establishment of two casino projects, including one backed by Australian gambling mogul James Packer is withdrawn temporarily, after protests from within the ruling coalition’s ranks, is expected to be passed when it is eventually introduced because President Mahinda Rajapakse’s party has a majority in parliament.
As per Australian media, Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena denied the bill has been axed, saying it was being reworked so that the 10-year tax holiday was confined to the hotel operations and not the casino side of the business. The Minister expected the bill would be introduced in about a month, with the government hoping to take five per cent of all casino revenue irrespective of the profits.
According to a Minister’s statement given to Divaina, there is no decision as such to provide restriction for local gamblers to enter these casinos.
Whatever the level of opposition, it is definite that the government has determined to go-ahead with this project, similar to its determination to go-ahead with NCP election despite the level of opposition to it from nationalist groups. Apart from the JHU, all other political parties, UNP, JVP, TNA and individuals who are opposing the project are the very same people who oppose everything done by the government. Involvement of these opposition political parties, in fact, dilutes the opposition to the project since the general public knows very well that their opposition is not genuine.
One of the reasons justifying the establishment of casinos is that the casinos are already existing and nothing new. Today, the Minister of Higher Education says there is nothing wrong with Gambling as he himself played casino while he was in America. According to a main news item of Divaina, he is even encouraging Sri Lankans to play casino. It is not surprising, if the Ministers of the day encourage prostitution with the same experienced they may have with that profession too!
The SLFP led MEP formed by the late SWRD Bandaranaike made a silent revolution in 1956 by attempting to give the lost rights to the people who civilized the land for more than recoded 25 centuries. Thereafter the SLFP governments led by Mrs Bandaranaike also attempted to continue the steps taken in 1956 towards this direction.
Let us go through some of the main changes made since 1956 and their current status.
One of very first act of the MEP led by SWRD did was to stop horse racing, as gambling was not considered in line with the county’s culture. Although the horse racing is not yet commenced, there are other form of racing which we, as ordinary Sri Lankans, have not seen in our soil before, such as motor racing, are being introduced to satisfy the children of a high-ranking child of 56. It is pity to see that the very same SLFP which stopped gambling in 56, forgetting its past, is now trying its best to promote another form of gambling on large scale by inviting gambling mogul like James Packer and encouraging to play casino, saying that there is nothing wrong with it.
Among the handful of ministries (less than 15 ministries, as I remember) of the SWRD’s government, there was one newly created ministry of Cultural Affairs to uplift the countries Sinhala Buddhist culture. Do we have the same status to promote our culture within the largest cabinet (of the world) of the current SLFP led government?
The Sinhala Only as our Official Language is no more. Today some ministers of the SLFP see the official language Act of SWRD as the main cause for the Tamil Terrorism and they make public statements in support of their claim without knowing the real facts. While the SLFP led government of the day is making every effort to implement the Tamil as an official language throughout the entire country, it will be interesting to see the status of Sinhala as an official language in North and East of the country with time to come.
SLFP under Mrs Bandaranaike was against the 13th amendment and her party refused to contest the PCs at the beginning. But her daughter hijacked the party tried her best to reverse the 1956 policies with the full blessing of the hard-core federalists led by old Marxists parties. She managed to brainwash the SLFP politicians against the very principles of the party formed by her father in 56 and brought in many to support her Mahajana Party way of thinking. The current leadership of the SLFP is not only implementing the 13A as it is, without any apparent obstacles from his party or from the constituent parties who were vociferous against 13A earlier, but has promised to India to do more, even 13 plus.
President Mahinda Rajapakasa had to look for MPs in order to secure the numbers in the parliament after his first election as the President. He had no other alternative but to grab whoever who crossover from other political parties to form the required majority. As a result, number of hard-core federalists, UNPers who crossed over due to personal reasons and other MPs representing political parties formed on racial basis within the SLFP led ruling party are enormous and their influence in addition to corrupted officials, when reversing policies of 56 is not surprising at all.
– S. Akurugoda