Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Vijitha Herath says that the work on the Nelum Pokuna Theatre was not started by Mahinda Rajapaksa but by him as the then Minister of Culture in 2004 and by the end, Mahinda Rajapaksa came and named it after him.
He said the Chinese government at the time had come up with a different building plan, but by arguing with them, even by threatening to stop work, he persuaded them to build it in the structure which it is today.
“Take a look at the countries of the world. There is no country as fortunate as Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has the largest gem in the world – the blue diamond. The man who can give economic advice to build Singapore is in Sri Lanka today. As you may have seen, the man who recently got involved in planning to build the cities of the United Arab Emirates – Dubai and Abu Dhabi was none other than a man born in Hikkaduwa in the Galle District and now living in Canada. So these are the people of our country.
When Gotabhaya Rajapaksa became President, they spent their own money and paid for the ticket to come to Sri Lanka. Because they thought such a country would be formed. They voted with confidence. But now it has broken down. We guarantee, there will be no theft, no fraud under our control. We have proven it by practice.
We also had responsibilities in the Ministries. To this day, no one can accuse us of stealing. We have not done so.
It was not Mahinda Rajapaksa who started the Nelum Pokuna Theater. In 2003 we at the Ministry of Culture started it. We took over the Nomads ground for the Ministry of Culture and then build the Theater there. We negotiated with China and signed the agreement. China promised to bring us loans and aid. Then they made a model like the BMICH.
I said; ‘No, this is our country. Even though it is your money, this is the cultural headquarters of our country, it should be done according to our architecture. ‘
The Chinese said, ‘No, we provide the money, we have to build it in the way we want it.’
I said ‘then let’s stop the work’.
They took the model to President Chandrika Bandaranaike. She observed it and said, ‘He is right. This is our country. The National Art Theater should be according to the Sri Lankan architecture.’ Then they agreed to build it according to our architecture.
After that, we sent a team including Professor Nimal de Silva of the University of Moratuwa to China for two weeks. The Chinese architecture team brought to Sri Lanka. The two teams sat together and did the drawing. In fact, the concept of the Lotus Pond was conceived by an unknown person- A Supervisor working at the Polonnaruwa Cultural Fund. The Yapahuwa lion is quite similar to the Chinese Lion. Mixing both together we started the work at Nelum Pokuna National Art Theater. Chandrika Bandaranaike brought the Tsunami Relief Board to divide the country. We left the government. In September 2005, President Chandika Bandaranaike laid the foundation stone. Then in November Mahinda Rajapaksa became President, he came and opened it, the building was named The Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) – Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre”
Vijitha Herath said this addressing a meeting held in Galle recently.