Visit of Prime Minister John Key To Sri Lanka
Posted on February 17th, 2016

Dr. Chula Rajapakse MNZM Spokesperson, United Sri Lanka Association

Hon John Key
Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Dear Mr. Key,

The Sri Lankan community in Wellington and New Zealand are delighted to read that you would be making your second official visit to Sri Lanka from the 24th to 26th of February, We trust your visit  along with the accompanying business delegation would help to bolster the considerable trade between the two countries that already exists at around $325 million dollars .Investment in Sri Lanka with agricultural and industrial investments in the many investment promotion zones  through out  Sri lanka is the highest priority requirement of Sri Lanka today.

We would also hope that you will witness first hand the considerable efforts that has been made by the new administration at achieving ethnic reconciliation.

Permit me to draw attention to a few significant achievements  in this regard in the last few months.Viz. the appointment  of the Chief justice, Governor of the Central Bank, the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand all drawn from the Tamil community. The return of large areas of the Northern province to it’s Tamil owners as the Security Services reduce considerably the high security zones in this region , even though they are mindful that the international  diaspora that funded three decades of terrorism  based in some parts of the west still remain largely intact with their war chest of billions of dollars.

Last but not the least was the singing of the Sri Lankan national anthem in both Sinhalese and Tamil at the SL independence day celebrations on the 4th of February in Colombo. This example was followed when the community welcomed it’s new HC to their midst on Friday the 12th of Feb in Wellington.

Given these substantive initiatives we would hope that NZ would support the President & Prime Minister as they negotiate the tricky path to reconciliation further with the legal inquiries into allegations of war crimes in the last weeks of the liberation war from three decades of terrorism, as required by the UNHCR resolution of September 2014. As the High Commissioner of the UNHCR on his visit to SL last week conceded the preference of the GOSL is that the judiciary involved should be drawn from the ranks of the Sri Lankan judiciary now headed by an ethnic Tamil himself. He further went onto state  that though this is not their preference , the  UNHCR would be prepared to support the GOSL on what ever they decide on in the end.

As far as the Sri Lankan community in New Zealand and Australia are concerned one of their prime priorities is improved access from these regions to Sri Lanka and indeed to all of South Asia including , India,Pakistan and Bangladesh. These countries together account for nearly two billion people with large numbers from these countries being resident in Aus/NZ so accounting for the large traffic from here to south Asia not while there is also  the ever increasing outflow of tourist traffic from South Asia to Aus/NZ with it’s attended income to Aus/NZ.You may realise from your own journey to Colombo how you had to go to east Asia  before accessing Colombo in south Asia, an avoidable expense and time , had there been a direct access to Colombo. In fact there is a glorious opportunity for an airline to provide this access to Colombo, the southern most port of call for the South Asia region and with coordination with local airlines in Colombo to provide the connections to New Delhi. Mumbai. Chennai, Karachi  Decca etc etc and so draw in traffic to these destinations too. There is no reason why New Zealand and Sri Lanka cannot together seize this opportunity. I hope this issue is also spoken of in your dialogue.

On a personal note, as I write to you from Lisbon where I arrived yesterday to make a presentation at a rheumatology conference, I chose  the most direct rout to Europe on an Emirates A 380 flight that flew right over Colombo, which was the flight path from “down under” to Europe in the fifties as the shortest rout before the down turn of South Asia and the rise of  east Asia. With the realignment of axis new opportunities arise to be grabbed!

Once again  I wish to convey the best wishes of our community for a successful visit to  Sri Lanka, hope fully advancing some of the issues raised above.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr. Chula Rajapakse MNZM

Spokesperson,

United Sri Lanka Association

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