Written by Staff Writer
13 Jun, 2019 | 9:36 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Former governor of the eastern province, M.L.A.M. Hizbullah today testified before the parliamentary committee to look into the 04/21 attacks.
Ravi Karunanayake: Even though we are not the majority in Sri Lanka, we are the majority in the world, what does this statement mean?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: The media had edited what I said, and only aired this particular part of my statement. I made such a statement to give courage to the people. To restore their confidence, and to encourage them to go forward with their businesses. I did not have any other idea. To be honest, I did not intend to even address the public.
Ravi Karunanayake: Are you publicly rejecting this statement?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: Sri Lanka is my country, and I have made several sacrifices for this country. This is me addressing the parliament three years ago. During my address, I referred to Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country, thrice. Following such remarks, the Muslim community even criticized me.
Ravi Karunanayake: Your name is being highlighted in the case of Zahran Hashim, as you had previously met him.
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: Yes, I had met him.
Ravi Karunanayake: On what basis did you meet him?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: After nominations for the 2015 parliamentary elections concluded, Zahran called all Muslim candidates to his office for a discussion. I was not the only one who attended this meeting. Election candidates from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Abdul Rahman who contested from Kattankudy, then Shibly Farook, they were all present.
Ravi Karunanayake: So are you saying that Zahran is not a terrorist?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: He is a terrorist. There is no doubt about that. He is a terrorist and a murderer. But in 2015 he was just a leader of a religious group and was not labelled as a terrorist.
Dr Nalinda Jayatissa: Have you ever made any complaints against the group led by Zahran?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: We had not met Zaharan and we did not know him. We only knew him as a religious leader. We lodged a complaint against Zahran, who we identified only as a religious leader and not as a terrorist.
Dr Nalinda Jayatissa: You are the prominent and leading politician in Kattankudy. All these incidents took place in Kattankudy. What was the reason for you not be aware of Zahran’s violent behaviour, when locals in the area were aware of it.
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: Honestly, I was not aware of his violent behaviour. If I was aware I would have informed the relevant authorities. He acted against me. When I learned of his death, I was the happiest person on earth. I have no opposition against me when contesting for the upcoming next elections. I am happy that he is not alive to contest for the upcoming elections. If he was a terrorist, I would have most definitely lodged a complaint him.
Ashu Marasinghe: You said that name boards in Arabic text were used to attract tourists to the area. When we visited the Kathankudi and the Batticaloa Campus, we witnessed date palms grown in the middle of the road. Why were date palms grown in this country?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: I initially decided to plant the foxtail palm. I even went to Pasyala to order this plant. I even discussed this matter with a Sinhalese doctor in Pasyala, who is an expert in this field. He said that the Foxtail palm cannot survive in such a warm climate The centre of the road also concentrates too much of heat. Therefore, the plant would die. He then proposed that date palms be planted instead. I was under the impression that date palm plants could be imported. However, the quarantine department did not approve. There is nothing special about date palm trees. The date palm is a plant that can survive the heat in the area, and that is why we planted them.
Ashu Marasinghe: What about palmyra palm?
M. L. A. M. Hizbullah: We chose date palms instead. However, palmyra palm could also be planted in the area.
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