Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan will meet the Chief Minister of the Northern Province CV Wigneswaran during his 3 day visit to Sri Lanka.
After meeting Mr Wigneswaran in Jaffna, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister will participate in a donation ceremony at Jaffna Library and launch the Lee Foundation-Singhealth Orthopedic Development Programme at the Jaffna University Medical Facility.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister is also set to meet Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Tuesday for bilateral talks, followed by official statements to the media in Colombo.
Whilst in Colombo Dr Balakrishnan will meet Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayaka and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan.
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In July last year, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his government was looking to expand relations beyond Colombo and reach out to Jaffna, after signing a series of free trade agreements with Sri Lanka. At the time he also noted how “Jaffna Tamils in the Straits Settlements’ civil service helped to lay the foundation for Singapore’s administrative and government services” and spoke of Singapore’s first foreign minister Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, who was born in Jaffna (See our obituary here).
Singapore has previously assisted with Jaffna Library restoration projects, announcing a youth development program in 2014 designed to help 3,000 youngsters in the district and donating of 10,000 English books.
In 2011, the government announced a new Tamil-language elective for high-ability secondary and junior college students who want to go deeper into the language, its literature and culture under the National Elective Tamil Language Programme (NETP). When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Singapore in 2015, it was Mr Loong who gifted him with a copy of the Tamil Murasu, which first reported on India’s recognition of Singapore as an independent country in 1965.