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JO criticism of SL-US agreements just like its stance on 1990 ambulance – UNP

By Nisali De Silva

UNP MP Hesha Withanage / Image credit: Facebook

Challenging Opposition criticism of the contentious Sri Lanka-United States agreements, the United National Party (UNP) today drew parallels between the controversy over the agreements with what it called alarmist propaganda surrounding the Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1990 ambulance service.

Speaking to journalists at Temple Trees this morning, UNP backbencher MP Hesha Withanage said some Opposition MPs are criticising the already-signed Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact for petty political gain.

When the Singapore FTA was brought forth, said Withanage, some Opposition members made similar claims.

“A few months ago, when the Singapore FTA was on the cards, some Joint Opposition members said FTA would even enable the import of Singapore’s garbage to Sri Lanka. But now no one talks about that agreement; nor has it caused any harm to the country. It was all a political show,” he said.

Opposition members also spoke against the 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service donated by the Indian Government, which he said now successfully helps many patients across the country.

“When the ambulance service was introduced, I remember how MP Udaya Gammanpila used to say that India donated the ambulances because India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) wanted to gather intelligence on Sri Lanka. The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) too threatened not to accept any patient brought to a hospital in one of those ambulances. Gammanpila’s hot air has been proven wrong as we can clearly see the ambulances helping patients all over the country,” he added.