Tourism during the Rajapaksa regime naturally brings to mind the conduct of the then chairman of Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidanapathirana and his goons squad. On the night of 24 December 2011, they had killed British man Kurram Shaikh and raped his girlfriend during a Christmas party.
No one is likely to forget how that incident brought a very negative impact internationally on Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. We do not know if Namal and his followers had thought of promoting the country as a destination for free sex and free death. They had made more such interventions in the tourism industry and the details are now coming to light.
Rajapaksas had tried to conceal it, but the untiring efforts of the Swiss embassy exposed yet another dastardly act by the lawyer Namal.
Jayantha Premalal Warnaratne of Seenimodera, Maigampura owned a 4 ½ acre coconut cultivation facing the beach in Tangalle. In 1994, a Swiss named Hans Rudolf Neururer obtained it on a 99 year lease and thereafter it came to be known as the ‘Swiss Watte’.
Hans used the money he collected by selling his other properties and the money he had set aside for retirement, and bult a tourism resort there. It became a successful venture with mainly Swiss nationals patronizing it. In a last will, Hans transferred the ownership of the resort to his wife Sylvia Neururer. Investigations are underway to determine as to why he had suddenly wrote a last will.
Hans was murdered in 2004, soon after Mahinda became prime minister. People of Tangalle know who the killers are. But, no one was brought before the law and it became yet another unresolved crime.
The widowed Sylvia came to Sri Lanka, filed a case in the Tangalle district court and obtained ownership of the resort. But, knowing the death threats to his late husband and how he was killed, she had not intention of running it. She gave it on lease to ‘Nawa Jeewana’, a Swiss NGO for disabled children and returned home.
‘Nawa Jeewana’ had only a few years remaining to work for the well-being of disabled children. 2007-2008 is the period the Rajapaksas were at their helm in government. The henchmen of Namal entered ‘Nawa Jeewana’ by force and expelled them. The NGO could not challenge Namal’s powers and his henchmen came to occupy the property.
In the meantime, Namal got Tangalle court lawyers to inquire into the ownership of the property. They found the deed that transferred the land on a 99 year lease by Jayantha to Hans. By 2010 Namal and his cronies were maddened by power. Using Jayantha, Namal found a way to deceive the law.
He used one of his closest friends, Ranasinghe Arachchige Ajith Chandralal Ranasinghe of Millennnium City, and transferred the property to his name with a mention of a Rs. 20 million payment to Jayantha and even destroyed the folios for the 99 year lease to Hans. That was something impossible, but at the time Namal had the ability to do even that.
Sylvia became helpess and kept her silence for several years. After the Rajapaksa regime collapsed in 2015, she complained to the presidential secretariat and the prime minister’s office through the Swiss embassy. Even if they had lost power, Rajapaksas, being the cunning fellows they are, had been able to keep that covered up under the ‘Yahapaalanaya’ for two years.
But, the Swiss embassy persisted, and last week the presidential secretariat handed over the matter to the CID. Several arrests are to be made over this. The Swiss embassy as well as multinational companies involved in tourism in the country are keeping a close watch on that.
That is the conduct of the so called advocate Namal Rajapaksa who lectures before the media. The yes-men of Namal know only that he obtained 98 marks for one subject at the law college examination. However, it again appears that he had obtained the full 100 marks at the subject of law breaking.