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Namal, Sajith hail election of Vanushi Walters to New Zealand Parliament

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Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa hailed the election of Vanushi Walters to the New Zealand Parliament. She is the first Sri Lankan-born Member of New Zealand’s Parliament.

“Heartiest congratulations & best wishes to SL-born New Zealander, @vanushi_walters  on being elected as the Upper Harbour MP in northwest Auckland. I also congratulate @jacindaardern on being re-elected as NZ PM & her party’s resounding victory in the #NewZealandElection2020,” Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa tweeted.

“I extend my heartiest congratulations to Hon. Vanushi Walters on becoming the first Sri Lankan-born member to be elected to the House of Representatives of New Zealand. Myself and all fellow Sri Lankan’s wish you the very best in your public service career,” Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa tweeted.

Labour’s Vanushi Walters won the race to be Upper Harbour MP in northwest Auckland, taking over from retiring National MP Paula Bennett.

She claimed a narrow victory over National candidate Jake Bezzant, a former tech company chief executive and cricketer for Hamilton, receiving 14,142 votes to Bezzant’s 12,727.

The Sri Lankan New Zealander is a lawyer and advocate with national and international experience. She has spent nine years in the community legal sector, six years as an International Board member of Amnesty International, and has worked in private practice, the public sector and the community sector.

She has a track record of working to ensure fair employment conditions for workers, and she’ll continue to support job security and opportunities for workers post COVID-19. Vanushi wants to see greater availability of affordable and healthy homes and access to legal help for anyone who needs it. Vanushi is currently a Senior Manager at the Human Rights Commission and a Trustee at Foundation North, New Zealand’s largest philanthropic funder of community projects in Auckland and Northland.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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