Protesters keep up pressure on government over casinos
Activists and faith groups unite against Sri Lankan gaming projects
A number of protests have taken place against the casino proposals
After a series of protests, the government has suspended final approval for two casino projects, including one backed by Australian tycoon James Packer.
Packer's group, Crown Ltd, proposes to invest US$ 400 million in a luxurious casino and hotel complex, while a local firm is planning a similar development in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
The government bill which would give a green light to both projects and grant them a 10-year tax break was due to be passed this week. But concerns raised by opposition lawmakers, religious leaders and civic right activists led to its suspension.
It will be tabled again with amendments in the first week of November.
Dissatisfied that the suspension is only temporary, opponents urged a complete halt to the bill at a hastily assembled rally in Colombo yesterday.
“We urge the government to bury this bill forever,” Buddhist leader Ven.Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero told the gathering.
Sri Lanka’s Congress of Religions has also condemned the casino projects.
“Investments should be encouraged in the country’s agriculture sector,” said Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, co-chairman of the congress, in a statement.
“We should not allow foreign investors to exploit the country’s resources.”
Around 6,000 people attended the fourth World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in the Philippine's Archdiocese of Lipa
Yanghee Lee given full access to most areas to investigate human rights situation
Pontiff advises young Catholics on how to be real Christians
Muslim cleric's alleged insult against Dayak tribal people threatens to get out of hand
At least 11 dead as southern areas left reeling following floods caused by heavy downpours