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Twinning Colombo Port City with City of Las Vegas initiated



Deputy President of the US-based Sri Lanka America Chamber of Commerce Aruna Abayakoon (extreme left) had discussions with Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board Chairman Suresh de Mel (centre) in Colombo with Chamber directors, Lalindra Wickremaratne and Douglas Perera

The Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce (SLACCOM), America’s nationally founded conduit for the promotion of trade, commerce and investment between Sri Lanka and the US, initiated the twinning of Colombo Port City and the City of Las Vegas, latter the global convention capital, to the delight of Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) chairman Raja Edirisuriya, in a productive dialogue he had with the Chamber.

In mid-January, the two-hour discussion on promoting investment, trade and commerce between the two nations, and most importantly the proposal to twin the two cities envisaging enhancing economic corporation, between Edirisuriya and the representatives of the SLACCOM, its president Sanje Sedara, Deputy President, Aruna Abayakoon and directors Douglas Perera and Daya Gamage took a positive turn when the BOI chief expressed his support and undertook to get Sri Lanka government’s serious concern to a range of proposals which emanated from the Chamber, SLACCOM spokesperson said.

During the dialogue – held in the United States – between the Chamber and the BOI Chief, it was disclosed that attracting conventions to Colombo Port City can be tied in to the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority which will act as a strategic partner to cross market conventions for Sri Lanka. Las Vegas has links with all the major cities and municipalities worldwide: resulting in countless cross-cultural business and education opportunities.

During the discourse between the Chamber and BOI Chief Edirisooriya, what emerged was that many of the new companies which are moving to Las Vegas are tech related and that Sri Lanka and Colombo Port City could get the necessary visibility by aligning with these companies. Colombo Port City will also have an opportunity to attract the US based tech companies to invest in Colombo Port City by expanding the economic zones by offering its quality work force and various tax incentives, it was disclosed.

In early January, three officials of the SLACCOM – deputy president Aruna Abayakoon, directors Douglas Perera and Lalindra Wickremaratne – were in Colombo meeting the officials of the BOI, one of whom was Executive Director Prasanjith Wijayatileke, and Export Development Board (EDB) Chairman Suresh de Mel to discuss trade, commerce and investment using the City of Las Vegas, the global convention capital and the all-year meeting venue of economic activists from far-away lands.

The discussions at Colombo meetings were made available to BOI Chief, Edirisoriya when Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce officials had discussions with him in the United States.

The Sri Lanka-America Chamber of Commerce three-member delegation that met BOI Executive Director Prasanjith Wijayatilake in Colombo apprised that with more than 10.5 million square feet of convention and meeting space, Las Vegas hosts nearly 60 of the 200 largest conventions and 20,000 meetings annually. 49.5 million people visited Las Vegas in 2019 , according to the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority. For the 11 months of 2021, visitor volume is at 29.23 million, a 64.3 percent increase over 2020 but 25.2 percent below pre-pandemic 2019.

During the Chamber officials’ discourse with EDB Chairman Suresh de Mel in Colombo trade shows (Las Vegas being a trade convention capital), explore opportunities in trade shows that EDB does not participate and support with resources, finding markets for a multitude of Sri Lanka’s export products such as Agri, hand crafts, IT solutions, wellness tourism, fisheries among others were raised.

The SLACCOM, whose professionals a drawn from every productive sector and regions in the United States, decided to base its functions in the City of Las Vegas in the State of Nevada as the city – for decades – developed its infrastructure to host global conventions and attract trade and commerce leaders year round.

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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage



‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament



Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics



SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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