Addressing humanitarian concerns, govt’s priority – GL
* 95 percent of displaced already resettled
* Ex-combatants integrated into society
The first priority of the government after the war, was addressing
humanitarian concerns to ensure resettlement and reconciliation,
including early returns of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their
homes, External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris said. Briefing
diplomats, academics and officials on the current situation in Sri
Lanka, invited by the Institute of South Asian Studies of the National
University of Singapore to deliver an address on ‘The Current Situation
in Sri Lanka and The Way Forward,’ the minister said that after almost
three decades, the government has been successful in restoring peace,
stability and security in all parts of the country.
External Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris with Singapore’s
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam
He said that 95 percent of the displaced have been resettled in their
original places of domicile or in new homes.
“The very small number remaining in the camps stay there willingly.
They visit relatives and return to the camps of their own free will,”
the minister said.
Another crucial part of the humanitarian efforts made by the
government was the integration of ex-combatants into society.
Minister Peiris said that this was more a human story than a
political story, emphasizing that 140 of these young ex combatants have
been successful at the GCE A’level examination.
Referring to the political aspect of the current situation in Sri
Lanka, Prof Peiris said that the government has embarked on negotiations
with the elected representatives of the Tamil community and has already
completed five rounds of talks with Tamil political parties. On the
Tamil diaspora, Prof Peiris stressed that Sri Lanka was engaged in
talking to some sections inviting them to take a hand in the country’s
economic and social development and help improve the livelihood of
people in the North and East. “We encourage the Tamil diaspora to
involve themselves in developmental activities,” he said.
Prof Peiris who visited Singapore last week, also called on Tharman
Shanmugaratnam, deputy prime minister, Finance minister Manpower
minister and Monetary Authority of Singapore chairman and conveyed
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s message of congratulations on his new
Minister Peiris briefed the deputy prime minister on the current
situation in Sri Lanka and the government’s initiatives in respect of
reconciliation and steps taken toward economic development. He pointed
out that the numbers of IDPs have been drastically reduced and added
that the overwhelming majority of ex-combatants have been reintegrated
He pointed out that the government was keen on arriving at an
agreement with the Tamil political parties on appropriate constitutional
Minister Peiris emphasised that the government encourages the Tamil
diaspora to involve themselves actively in developmental activities.
Minister Peiris invited Shanmugaratnam to visit the country and see
for himself the new developments in Sri Lanka.
Minister Peiris also met Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Lim
Hng Kiang, and congratulated him on his reappointment to the new Cabinet
of Singapore. Prof Peiris said that Sri Lanka is very keen to expand the
scope of existing relations for mutual benefit.
The minister stated that the BPO/KPO sector in Sri Lanka is a fast
growing area where ample opportunities are available for Singaporean
business entities, seeking outsourcing.
This will enhance employment opportunities in Sri Lanka, he said.
Minister Peiris highlighted that Sri Lanka’s tourism which had never
grown earlier at the pace it is now growing is a sector that responds
fast to the growing dynamics in the renaissance period that began with
the conclusion of the 30-year long conflict.
The Singaporean minister said that the trajectory of the Sri Lankan
economy is very positive and the culture and the talents of citizens of
a country are key to the success of its development.
He mentioned that the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore has
been actively working with organizations such as IE Singapore and the
Singapore Business Federation to further increase awareness of emerging
business opportunities in Sri Lanka among Singaporean businessmen.
The minister also visited the S Rajaratnam School of International
Studies of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore which is
devoted to research into political violence and strategies with regard