Singapore will continue to support Sri Lanka in its developmental efforts as your country embarks on its process of rehabilitation, reconciliation and growth. As a friend of Sri Lanka, Singapore wishes Sri Lanka well, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam said.
"We hope to see an enduring peace in Sri Lanka, one that would facilitate the development and growth of the country and its people," Singapore President said in his speech at the state banquet hosted in honour of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
With the end of the conflict in 2009 and the return of peace, Sri Lanka is perched on a new cusp of development and growth, Singapore President said adding that he is optimistic that there will be more Singapore companies that will venture across to participate in the present and future prospects of Sri Lanka.
Full text of the speech:
Your Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa
Ladies and Gentlemen
Ayubowan, Vanakkam. It gives me great pleasure to welcome your Excellency and Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa to Singapore. I am indeed honoured to host Your Excellency on your first State Visit to Singapore. The visit is a timely testament to the warm relationship between our two countries.
Sri Lanka is no stranger to Singapore. One of the early architects of Singapore, the late S Rajaratnam, was a Sri Lankan who left an indelible mark on Singapore's history. Among his many achievements, we wrote the Singapore National Pledge, which continues to be recited daily by all our school children, reminding us of the core values of unity and multi-racial harmony that form the very foundation of a peaceful and prosperous Singapore society. Today, Singaporeans of Sri Lankan ancestry have done very well in areas ranging from education to medicine to law. They continue the tradition set by the early pioneers, contributing to the development of Singapore's economy, culture and society.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Sri Lanka in 1970, the friendship between our two countries has blossomed. People-to-people linkages continue to grow over the years, with Singapore playing host to many visiting Sri Lankan professionals, students and travellers. Singaporeans, whether they are of Sri Lankan heritage or not, are working with Sri Lankans in the rebuilding of their country. Let me just mention one such effort. Last year some Singaporeans got together to refurbish and enhance the services of the Children's Section of the Jaffna Public Library. Supported by organizations such as the Singapore International Foundation, the National Library Board, the Prima Group and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this project demonstrated the underlying bonds of friendship and goodwill between our peoples. New friendships were also formed as librarians from the Jaffna Library came here for training and impressed our librarians with their enthusiasm and dedication to bring new outreach programmes and skills home. The ties have been forged serve to bridge the miles that separate us across the waters of the Indian Ocean.
With the end of the conflict in 2009 and the return of peace, Sri Lanka is perched on a new cusp of development and growth. I understand that 2011 was a record year for visitor arrivals- with tourists flocking once again to your beautiful beaches, historic temples and heritage monuments. Foreign investors are also returning to tap on Sri Lanka's economic potential. Just last year, Mustafa announced a $ 144 million dollar investment in Sri Lanka.
There are some 300 Sri Lankan companies registered in Singapore. Singapore companies like Prima, Shing Kwan and Pico have also long invested in Sri Lanka, and continue to step up their operations. On its part, the Sri Lankan government has identified construction and industrial park development, as well as InfoComm Technology development, as priority sectors for investment. These areas coincide with the niche competencies of many Singapore companies. I am optimistic that there will be more companies that will venture across to participate in the present and future prospects of Sri Lanka.
It is thus fitting that earlier today, a Memorandum of Understanding on Investment was signed between the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). In congratulate the BOI and the SBF for taking this important step forward. It signals their mutual interest and commitment to work together and pave the way for greater economic cooperation between our two countries.
Sri Lanka plays host to the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The Sri Lankan government and businesses will no doubt be busy preparing the venue for this biennial meeting of political leaders. It has been almost a quarter of a century since a country in the Asian grouping in the Commonwealth has hosted CHOGM. Singapore looks forward to taking part in the 2013 CHOGM in Sri Lanka.
Since the inception of the Singapore Cooperation Programme in 1992, Sri Lanka has consistently been among the keenest participatory country in our programmes. Over 1,800 Sri Lankan officials have been trained in various fields like finance, economic development and public administration. Singapore will continue to support Sri Lanka in its developmental efforts as your country embarks on its process of rehabilitation, reconciliation and growth. As a friend of Sri Lanka, Singapore wishes Sri Lanka well. We hope to see an enduring peace in Sri Lanka, one that would facilitate the development and growth of the country and its people.
Ladies and Gentlemen
May I now invite you to rise and join me in a toast to the good health and well-being of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa;
The peace and prosperity of the people of Sri Lanka; and
The enduring friendship between Singapore and Sri Lanka