Rajapaksa regime tried to play China against India - Ranil

Rajapaksa regime tried to play China against India - Ranil

January 18, 2015   11:46 am

Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe says that the previous regime’s policy of playing China against India “came a cropper” and assured the new government will go back to an even handed approach to both neighbors.

“President Rajapaksa’s regime tried to play China against India and India against China but it came a cropper,” said Mr Wickramasinghe told NDTV.

In his first television interview since the results of the elections, Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister said that his government will redress the pro-China tilt of the Rajapaksa regime and that they will also look into billion dollar projects signed during the former President’s term including the ‘Port City’.

“We will continue the traditional policy of friendship with India while we maintain our friendship with China, Japan and other countries.”  

Mr Wickremasinghe told NDTV, “We are looking into all foreign contracts and local ones, and where there is corruption we will certainly ensure we take action whether it be Chinese or any other country.

During the Rajapaksa years, China invested an estimated $6 billion in Sri Lanka, some of it in strategic infrastructure projects like ports and airports while a $1.5 billion Port City complex is also being built by the Chinese on the Colombo seafront.

“We are also reviewing the Port City project”, he said, “Because we have not yet seen the feasibility study and the environment impact assessment. I asked when I was with the opposition, in Parliament, but the government didn’t help. Therefore we will have to look into the environmental and feasibility aspects.”

Sri Lanka’s economic dependence on China has left it heavily in debt, with almost $6-7 billion owed to the latter.

Asked whether he believed there had been corruption in the singing of the contracts, Wickramasinghe said: “We are looking mostly into the two reports, then we will know whether there has been corruption or not.”

Regarding the questions about prosecution for allegations of war crimes, the UNP leader stated that there position has always been that Sri Lanka is not party to the statute of Rome and therefore “whatever we do has to be within our domestic jurisdiction.”

“Jurisdiction to try any person who has committed a crime lies with Sri Lanka,” he said.

Asked whether his stand on the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation into the allegations remains the same as the previous government that the UN probe is not welcome, he said: “The UN can give its report. We will engage the UN on these issues.”

“That’s the difference. We are going to engage the UN Human Rights Council on the issues.”

“All we are saying is any criminal jurisdiction must be exercised in Sri Lanka.”

13th Amendment

Questioned about the new government’s policy towards providing full autonomy to Tamil areas, the Prime Minister stated that: “In principal all have agreed that the 13th Amendment should be implemented.”

“We are with that, we are only having discussions about the police powers and how it should function. That’s all.”

He stated that that police powers is a provincial subject and that there are “certain concerns” but expressed hope that establishing an independent commission on the subject would provide an applicable solution to the issue.

 

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