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Sending workers to Israel now akin to sending them to Hitler’s Germany: Hakeem

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ECONOMYNEXT –Former minister, MP Rauff Hakeem has opposed Sri Lanka’s plans to send 10,000 workers to belligerent Israel.Cabinet spokesman minister Bandula Gunawardena said this week that cabinet approved a plan to send workers to Israel’s agriculture sector.

“Sending our workers to a country that is committing war crimes is like sending workers to Nazi Germany, when Hitler was killing Jews, and there were labour shortages,” Hakeem said in parliament on Thursday (23). “We are forgetting the atrocities being committed in the occupied territories today.”

“We have to be sensitive at a time like this. This is like trying to light our cigarette with the flames of the burning Palestinian houses.”

Hakeem said he was at a diplomatic function this week, where several Arab leaders were present. They were bemused by the move he said.

“We don’t have to listen to Arabs, but they provide lakhs and lakhs of jobs to Sri Lankans. You can earn foreign exchange, but see the timing of sending Sri Lankans to such a place.”

Hakeem said he had told labour and foreign employment minister Manusha Nanayakkara, who is on a drive to send increased numbers of migrant workers abroad, that this was an insensitive thing to do at a time like this.

“It has an impact on our security as well as economic implications. When Dilan Perera was minister and a similar recruitment was made, they [Sri Lankan workers] were given military training at Diyatalawa to be sent to Israel.

“Because they had to work in farms which had been vacated by the poor Gaza [Palestinian] residents. These people are going to be sent there; their security is not guaranteed,” he said. “[They] are bombing hospitals, schools, children, women, old people in the thousands.”

President Ranil Wickremesinghe who was present in parliament at the time, replied that Sri Lanka’s stance on the two-state solution hadn’t changed, “We condemn Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The Israeli settlers in the West Bank must be removed. There has to be a political solution.”



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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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