|Friday, 10 January 2003|
The first ever Sri Lankan Parliamentarians' delegation was held in Saudi Arabia recently on an official invitation of Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid, Chairman of the Shura Council (Parliament). The delegation returned after a successful trip to the Kingdom. The 13 member delegation was led by Speaker Joseph Michael Perera.
They had an audience with King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz and the Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz at the Al Yamama Palace in Riyadh. The delegation was also officially received by the Governor of the East Muhammad Ibn Fahd.
The Sri Lankan Parliamentarians had extensive discussions with officials of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh and Jeddah. Speaker Joseph Michael Perera impressed upon them on the great potential available in Sri Lanka for investment and tourism. The Speaker also briefed them on the prevailing peaceful environment after the present Government came into power, the scenic beauty and the golden beaches and gems of the country.
The Saudis showed a keen interest in visiting Sri Lanka. According to the Saudi Chamber of Commerce Chairman, around 150,000 tourists are going to Malaysia annually and if the Government would undertake an extensive promotion campaign, they will eagerly visit Sri Lanka too. Governor Prince Mohamed Ibn Fahd expressed his eagerness to visit Sri Lanka and witness it greenery, waterfalls and the luscious tea plantations.
The Saudis are also eager to invest in Sri Lanka for packaging and distributing tea in the region. The Chairman of the Chambers informed the delegation that they have seen enough of the West and the time is opportune to them for looking towards the East and venture more in to places like Sri Lanka.
The Chairman of the Shura Council (Parliament) of Saudi Aabia Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid warmly greeted them upon their arrival at the Council Headquarters.
The Sri Lankan Speaker expressed his satisfaction on the effective functioning of the 12 Member high-powered Committee of the Shura Council, which is akin to the consultative committees of our Parliament. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs A.H.M. Azwer explained the concept of the consultative committee system and functioning of the COPE, Public Petitions Committee, Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on High Posts. 'Public grievances could be aired by submitting petitions through MPs in Parliament.' Minister Azwer's initial remarks in Arabic was greeted with appreciation by the Members. Western Region Development Minister M.H. Mohamed, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse, Joseph Pararajasingham M.P. and many others addressed the Council.
The Shura Council is an impressive building which is well equipped with modern technologies. Their methods of preserving documents, archives and Members' voice cuts too were impressive. The Sri Lankan delegation was happy to observe that the Shura Council comprises of highly qualified members. All 12 members of the High Committee are PhD holders, which is regarded as the most academically qualified Cabinet in the whole world.
The Members have the full freedom to vote for or out vote any Motion. They can even summon the Ministers before them and examine, question seek verification regarding any section of the bill they were to vote for. Prince Muhammad Ibn Fahd informed that 90% of the decisions made by the Shura Council are implemented by the Government.
The Saudi-Sri Lanka Friendship Association was also formed during this visit. The Sri Lankan delegation also visited the prestigious Faisal Foundation in Riyadh and the ARAMCO Petroleum Headquarters in the East of the Kingdom. This area is the oil producing headquarters of the world, with its largest oil deposits in the world. They were shown a latest three dimension film on the entire production of petroleum and its by products. Five thousand years of human history and the continuous relationship between humans and energy production was featured in the film.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia I. Ansar, Consul General in Jeddah A.C.M. Ibrahim also accompanied the delegation. The Sri Lankan communities in Jeddah and the Dhammam held two banquets for them. The delegation also comprised Members of Parliament A.H.M. Fowzie, Cegu Isadean, Ravindra Randeniya, W.D. Ekanayake, Piyasoma Gamage, M.S. Thowfeek, Assistant General Secretary of Parliament Dhammika Disanayake and Sarath Radalage of Foreign Relations and Protocol office.
Produced by Lake House