SLFP spokesman and National List MP Thilanga Sumathipala yesterday said that former lawmaker M.L.A.M. Hizbullah shouldn’t be allowed to retain control of the Batticaloa Campus (Pvt.) Limited also called the Sharia University under any circumstances.
Hizbullah functions as the founder Chairman of the Batticaloa Campus situated on Hizbullah Mawatha, Punani.
Former Deputy Speaker Sumathipala said that no one should be permitted to pursue an agenda inimical to national security.
The MP said so in response to a query raised by The Island at a press conference called by the SLFP at the former Deputy Speaker’s Punchi Borella office.
Sumathipala said that measures taken to counter the threat posed by the existence of the Sharia University in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks shouldn’t be undermined by political considerations. The SLFPer said that he opposed privilege status for the Batticaloa Campus (Pvt.) Limited on the basis of it being established with secret foreign funding.
The MP was responding to The Island query as regards the culpability on the part of President Maithripala Sirisena and the SLFP on the accommodation of defeated candidate Hizbullah on the UPFA National List before appointing him the Eastern Province Governor in January this year.
Hizbullah was summoned by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday attacks in addition to the Parliamentary Sectoral Subcommittee on higher education and resources regarding the setting up of the facility.
Lawmaker Sumathipala, while describing Hizbullah as a SLFPer and a friend emphasized that regardless of the former MP’s relationship with the party, the Batticaloa Campus should be transformed to a defence university. Lawmaker Sumathipala said that tangible measures should be taken immediately to bring it under the armed forces without being worried about the legality of the funding received by the Batticaloa Campus.
MP Sumathipala said that the Batticaloa Campus could be taken over without any hindrance. The MP recalled the circumstances under which the Waters’ Edge and the Sri Lankan Insurance Corporation were taken over following Supreme Court rulings.
However, Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee headed by Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, in a private member’s motion recommended that the Batticaloa Campus be named University of Batticaloa.
MP Marasinghe, who is also a member of the PSC inquiring into Easter Sunday attacks told The Island that the legality of an agreement signed by the then MP Hizbullah, in his capacity as the Chairman of Sri Lanka Hira foundation, on Aug. 15, 2013, in respect of the proposed Batticaloa Campus could be challenged. The UNP National List MP questioned as to how the then Minister Dullas Alahapperuma and MP Hizbullah finalized this agreement.
Prof. Marasinghe’s group pointed out in its report that the Batticaloa Campus received Rs 3.6 bn in seven transactions. The report called for a proper inquiry to ascertain what it called questionable foreign remittance.
Lawmaker Sumathipala said that the Easter Sunday attacks caused instability and uncertainty.
Asked how he as a member of parliament felt about wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in spite of not having any experience in political office received SLPP nomination as its presidential candidate, MP Sumathipala said that the Easter carnage facilitated Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s entry into active politics.
When The Island pointed out that entry of Gen. Sarath Fonseka and Gotabaya Rajapaksa into active politics in 2009 and 2019, respectively proved the deterioration of parliamentary system, the SLPP fielded the former Defence Secretary because it prioritized national security in the wake of Easter attacks.
MP Sumathipala emphasized the pivotal importance of political and economic stability if the country was to attract foreign investments. The successful conclusion of the conflict in May 2009 brought the stability required to secure foreign direct investment, the MP said.
Sumathipala contested Colombo at the last parliamentary election in August 2015. President Sirisena accommodated him on the National List after he was rejected by the electorate.