The Sri Lankan Embassy in Korea marked the 69th anniversary of independence from colonial Britain as well as thriving ties with Korea officially extending to 40 years.
The reception at Millennium Seoul Hilton drew dignitaries from both countries, including Kang Ho-in, Korean minister of land, infrastructure and transport, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Sri Lankan minister of disaster management, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Sri Lankan minister of public administration and management, and Chandrani Bandara, Sri Lankan minister of women and child affairs, the Korea Herald reported.
Since independence on Feb. 4, 1948, Sri Lanka has had to confront “formidable challenges,” including three decades of conflict, Gunasekera highlighted in a speech.
“Yet today, over seven years since the conflict ended, Sri Lanka stands proud in having successfully defeated the forces of terror and consolidated peace,” the envoy stressed. “We are engaged in a transparent process of bringing about durable peace and reconciliation to all people of different ethnicities and religions.”
The national unity government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has established the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, she noted. It has also taken “concrete measures” to strengthen democratic institutions, good governance and the rule of law, while combating corruption through constitutional, judicial and administrative reforms.
The relations between Sri Lanka and Korea are undergirded by some 25,000 Sri Lankan migrant laborers here, who work in the manufacturing, construction and fisheries sectors through the Employment Permit System, according to the ambassador.
“What really opened the door for our vibrant bilateral exchanges was cooperation in construction,” Kang said. He added that Korea had actively participated in various infrastructure developments of Sri Lanka, including the Puttalam housing project, Colombo port expansion project and waterfront resort construction project.
When Sri Lanka was devastated by a wave of killer tsunamis in 2004, Korea lent a helping hand in reconstruction and rehabilitation, Kang added.
“Sri Lanka has served as a vital hub of maritime transport across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe,” Kang said, calling the country “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean” as it is known. He encouraged Koreans to visit Sri Lanka and experience its Buddhist and other historic treasures, tropical natural beauties and Ceylon tea.
“Korea was the top investor in Sri Lanka in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Yapa. “Our government has an ambitious plan to attract foreign investments, including from Korea, by leveraging our locational advantage that links sea and air routes between Asia and Europe.”
According to the embassy, the Sri Lankan government’s main economic policy is to bolster international trade and investment by tapping global and regional value chains, and harnessing its fledging knowledge economy, for which Korea’s expertise is valued. There are 13 industrial parks and export processing zones for foreign investors throughout Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)