Text and Pix by P.D De Silva
It was the Secretary of the SriLankan Airlines Pilots Union that advised President Mahinda Rajapaksa not to extend the agreement with Emirates, according to former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa was addressing intellectuals present at the forum ‘Viyathmaga’ (Professionals for a better future) held at a hotel in Palatuwa, Matara on 27 November.
“It was I who facilitated the meeting between the pilots union and President Rajapaksa. In most probability it was on their recommendation that President Rajapaksa did not extend the Emirates contract. When I met this pilot recently he said that every aviator values an alternative aerodrome. He also said that even though the union had recommended to SriLankan’s board that the Mattala International Airport be used as an alternative during the period the BIA was undergoing repair it was not happening simply because the present Government wanted to prove that Mattala was an unwanted investment and a white elephant.”
“Developing infrastructure is important. Speaking about the Hambantota Port, it should be accepted that it takes time for any new venture to become profitable. The facilities available at the port should be marketed. Shipping companies also need time to change their ports of call as they would have signed long-term agreements with other ports,” he added.
“Today even the media balance their news. The media don’t publish the true facts. The media should not balance their news but publish the truth as stated.”
Members of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Dullas Allahaperuma, Kanchana Wijesekera and Niroshan Premarathna as well as a large number of intellectuals from Matara were present at the forum.