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COVID-19: Korea and Sri Lanka among safest places in the world – Korean Ambassador

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Korea and Sri Lanka have successfully contained COVID-19, which has made the two countries among the safest places in the world, Korean Ambassador Woonjin Jeong said.

“Korea is trying to provide tangible support to Sri Lanka to counter and combat COVID-19 this year, strengthening its cooperation to uplift public health in Sri Lanka”, he noted in a statement to mark the National Foundation Day of the Republic of Korea on October 3.

Korea, once an international aid recipient, has now become an aid donor. Korea has grown to become the first donor country recognized as such, coming from the ranks of recipient countries. Korea is thankful to the international community, including Sri Lanka for the support extended to Korea in the past. Now, the time has come for Korea to repay by joining the global efforts to assist developing countries, the Ambassador said.

Korea wishes to be a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for Sri Lanka to reach the pinnacle of national development and prosperity, he stressed.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1977, Korea and Sri Lanka have come a long way together to form a cordial bilateral partnership. Based on the mutual trust and respect both countries have built over the years, the friendship between two countries will grow from strength to strength in the years to come, the envoy further said.

Sri Lanka is not only one of Korea’s priority ODA cooperation partner countries, but also one of the top five countries that benefit from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea. The investment in various ODA projects and grants for Sri Lanka since 1987 is over 600 million USD. The Sri Lanka office of KOICA, which was established in Colombo in 1994 has assisted and funded commercial and infrastructure projects of Sri Lanka, thus augmenting the development of Sri Lanka, Jeong continued.

Korea has been promoting projects in the various fields such as education, transportation, water resources, sanitation and regional development in Sri Lanka. As a reliable friend, Korea is a trustworthy partner of Sri Lanka to meet the current needs of national development, he said.

Korea considers Sri Lanka as an important economic, trade and investment partner. In this context, Korea is extremely keen on boosting two-way trade and investment in ways which benefit the economies of both countries, he elaborated.

In particular, the ongoing labour cooperation also attests the close relations of both countries. Approximately 3,000 diligent Sri Lankan workers seek job opportunities annually, and around 23,000 Sri Lankan workers are presently employed in Korea, contributing to the economic advancement of both countries, the Ambassador added.

These workers transmitted as much as 520 million USD to Sri Lanka in 2019. The migrant workers bridge both countries in more ways than one, as they continue to promote favourable interests in Korea and raise awareness among the public even after they return to Sri Lanka. The expansion of migrant employment for Sri Lankans in Korea will result in furthering economic and commercial ties of both countries, he emphasized.

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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