Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sri Lankan woman charged with murder in Singapore

A 31-year-old Sri Lankan woman in Singapore was charged on Thursday with the murder of a 32-year-old Indian national.

The dead man, Murugaiyan Selvam, an assembly worker, was found lying motionless, with head injuries, on his bed in a room at Kaki Bukit Crescent on Dec 4.

The woman, Tharmalingan Puwaneswary, who works here as a maid, was arrested by police in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

She was charged with killing Murugaiyan at the Kaki Bukit building between about 11pm on Dec 3 and about 9.15am on Dec 4.

She has been remanded until her case is mentioned in court again on Dec 24.

Anyone convicted of murder faces the mandatory death penalty. (Straits Times)
Daily Mirror

Monday, December 14, 2009

We should not forget Rizana


Early this year it was reported that Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker, who met Rizana in prison, said the maid looked sick and that the doctors had advised her to undergo surgery for hernia.

Prolonging the anxiety and worry of an innocent, poor house-maid is abominable.

It was indeed heatening a couple of years ago to see the concern for Rizana, a poor girl from Mutur, facing the death penalty in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . The concern for her was unprecedented. When foreign human rights organizations brought her predicament to light, the government, social organizations and individual Sri Lankans did everything possible to alleviate the suffering of this poor girl.

It was reported that Sri Lankans working in Saudi Arabia even collected money for her. These actions only proved humanness of all Sri Lankans whether they be Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. It was a beautiful gesture that underscored communal harmony and fellow feeling.

However, one hardly hears anything about Rizana’s fate. To be suspended in a position between life and death will certainly cause clinical depression or an anxiety disorder which even may result in schizophrenia and possible suicide.

It is in fact the duty of all Sri Lankans human rights organizations and social service outfits to agitate for the release of Rizana. If we remain silent the Saudi regime will surely behead her in public.

The media, human rights organizations, our foreign ministry and all those who were concerned about Rizna’s plight have lost interest in her.

The last heard from Sri Lankan Ambassador Abdul Ajeed Mohammed Marleen now deceased was "that Rizana would have to wait until the case is taken up again. The date for the next hearing is unknown... Some reconciliatory efforts with the deceased infant’s father Al-Otaiba would prevent the maid from languishing in jail for a longer time." He did not elaborate.

Apparently the Foreign Ministry has conveniently closed the file on poor Rizana.

Early this year it was reported that Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker, who met Rizana in prison, said the maid looked sick and that the doctors had advised her to undergo surgery for hernia.

Prolonging the anxiety and worry of an innocent, poor house-maid is abominable.

Saybhan Samat

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Malaysia tells Lankan would be immigrants no to be duped

Foreigners, especially those from Sri Lanka , who were brought into Malaysia illegally with the promise to be sent to other countries, have been urged to be wary of unscrupulous agents.

Malaysian Nanban, quoting Suhakam commissioner Datuk N. Sivasubramaniam, urged these foreigners not to be fooled by such agents, saying that the organisation had received many complaints concerning the matter.

“These refugees, especially Sri Lankans, are brought illegally into this country and promised by the agents that they can seek residence in Australia , Canada and New Zealand but they end up getting stranded here,” he said.

The agents, meanwhile, took all their money, and some even took money from the refugees’ contacts in the other countries, he said.

Sivasubramaniam urged the refugees to contact their respective embassies, Immigra-tion Department or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for update on their status of application. (The Star online)

New envoy assures to look after interests of Lankans in Saudi


Mohammed Rasooldeen

The new Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Kingdom said his mission in Riyadh was to serve all Sri Lankans in the Kingdom and look after their interests in Saudi Arabia and promote bilateral relations between the island and the Kingdom.

Ambassador Ahmed Aflel Jawad , who arrived in the Saudi capital last week told the Daily News that his mission is to work for the welfare of the 500,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom and strengthen the two-way relations between the two countries in trade, political and cultural fields.

Saudi-Lanka ties

* 75 percent of Lanka's exports to Kingdom tea

*Lanka most attractive investment zone in Asia

* Increase in Saudi tourists to Sri Lanka

To serve his countrymen in the Kingdom, Jawad said he will coordinate his activities with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and other related agencies in the Kingdom.

In the field of trade between the two countries, he observed that 75 percent of the island's exports to the Kingdom is tea and the balance include some 15 products from Sri Lanka . The envoy said there are plenty of other non-traditional exports that could find easy access to the Kingdom's market.

He stressed that he would also make all efforts to encourage foreign direct investments from the Kingdom since the island could offer a wide range of opportunities for Saudi investors coming to Sri Lanka .

" Sri Lanka is the most attractive investment zone in Asia ," Jawad said.

"I am happy to note that there is a 101 percent increase among the Saudi tourists to Sri Lanka with the end of the ethnic conflict on May 19", he noted, adding that the hill resorts have become popular destinations among the Saudis visiting the island.

The ambassador inaugurated the Charity Fair organized by the Sri Lankan Expatriates Society in Riyadh Thursday. The proceeds of the fair will be diverted to the Free Medical Clinic managed by the society.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Labour Dept puts online tabs on law violations

Source ::: The Peninsula

Doha: The Ministry of Labour is set to introduce an online system which will enable it to detect any violation of labour law by employers, including the delay in disbursement of salaries.

The Labour Department is also planning to introduce a campaign — Qatar Gate— to create awareness of workers’ rights.

According to the online system, which is proposed to be launched early next year, employers have to enter the details of workers in a specially designed electronic programme.

Mohammed Saeed Al Nuaimy, Director of Labor Inspection Department at the Ministry of Labour, told an Arabic daily that the new system will help monitor whether firms are strictly abiding by the Labour Department’s guidelines on the operation of labour camps.

Al Nuaimy said the Labour Department, as part of the Qatar Gate campaign, would open a counter at the airport and distribute literature detailing all the necessary information needed for the newly-arriving labourers.

The booklets would be published in different languages for the convenience of the workers. The duty officer at the counter would give necessary instructions to the representative of the companies who reach the airport to receive the new employers.

Specific directives have been given to the companies on the facilities to be offered to the workers at the camps — more than four workers should not be living in a room; windows must be covered with iron nets as well as glass.

The rooms, in addition to being properly ventilated, must be big enough to meet the specified size requirement. The employer must make sure that there is proper air circulation in the rooms.

In no way, are labourers to be allowed to sleep in corridors or on roof-tops.

The Department has been working on creating a database of all companies and commercial establishments since last July, Al Nuaimy said.

Meanwhile, the Inspection Department, established according to the Emiri decree No. 35 of 2009, will continue its routine periodic inspections at the work sites, companies and labour camps.

He said the operations of two companies were suspended for one week this summer for violating the Labour Department’s directives over the break in working hours.

Sri Lanka Elected to United Nations Migrant Workers Committee

Sri LankaColombo, 08 December, (

Ambassador Prasad KariyawasamSri Lanka's candidate, Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam was re-elected to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), to serve a four-year term, until the end of year 2013, at the election held in New York on 3rd December 2009.

The election was held at the Fourth Meeting of the States Parties to the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

The Committee, as its main responsibility, monitors the implementation of the Convention and it is the most comprehensive international instrument that deals with the rights of migrant workers. The Convention is an important component of the core international human rights treaties in the UN Human Rights Treaty System. It came into force in the year 2003,and as of today, forty-one countries have become Party to the Conventiones.

Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam was elected as the first Chairman of the Migrant Workers Committee in year 2003. In addition to Sri Lanka, candidates presented by the Philippines, Guatemala, Turkey, Ecuador, Mali, Jamaica, Senegal and Azerbaijan, were also elected as members of the Committee. With the election of these nine members, the Migrant Workers Committee (CMW) now comprises a total of 14 elected members, who are experts on human rights.

- Asian Tribune -

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sri Lanka may feel effects of Dubai crisis

Sunday December 05, 20

By Natasha Gunaratne

Dubai’s recent financial woes may affect Sri Lankan job seekers in the future if there is a downturn in employment in the Gulf state. Chief Executive Officer of SriLankan Airlines, Manoj Gunawardena told the Business Times this week that so far the airline’s daily flights to Dubai have not been affected but that they are keeping a watch on news from the Gulf nation. Dubai sent shockwaves through the financial community last week when it announced it was seeking a delay in meeting its debt repayments, totalling a staggering US$80 billion from various international banks including banking giant HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank.

Emirati men follow the market's movement at the Dubai Financial Market in the Gulf emirate. The Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock markets plunged by 6.25 percent and 5.91 percent respectively in early trade, adding to the heavy losses amid continuing concern over Dubai 's debt woes. AFP

“This is a busy travel period and bookings are made in advance,” Mr. Gunawardena said. However, he explained that there is a time lag in any upturn or downturn in bookings. “Part of our business is carrying employment seekers to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). If there is a downturn in employment or a downturn in the construction industry, there might be a decline.”

A senior economist explained that remittances from Dubai may not reduce much as Sri Lankan workers are quite intrepid and will move on to Saudi Arabia which is embarking on a massive and much more sustainable infrastructure development programme for middle class cities and educational and industrial complexes which will last for over a decade. However, he said that holders of Sri Lankan government bonds might think twice about subscribing to future issues.

The economist added that unless significant economic growth and export diversification happens soon, the Sri Lankan government could face the threat of higher inflation in 2012 and a weakening debt service capacity for the government. The coming elections will be watched closely and it is hoped that once they are concluded, the government that is formed will set the stage for a strong structural basis for rapid economic development. President of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies Association W.M.P. Aponso said construction workers from Sri Lanka were sent back from Dubai during the early stages of the global recession but the problem has subsided to a certain extent.

He said only time will tell how Dubai ’s latest financial crisis will affect migrant workers in construction although the services sector should remain unaffected. “It all depends on the improvement of Dubai ’s financial situation.” Mr. Aponso said migrant workers are also going to Doha , Qatar – in large numbers -- for work.

Banking experts say Sri Lanka does not have much exposure to Dubai and will not be affected by its recent financial troubles. One senior banker in Sri Lanka told the Business Times that only the international banks which have loaned money to Dubai will be seriously affected.

He said Sri Lanka does not have much in terms of imports or exports with Dubai except for tea. He added that it is up to the monetary authorities in Dubai to find a solution to the problem.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the Dubai government would issue US$20 billion in long-term bonds and that the first installment of US$10 billion was fully subscribed by UAE’s central bank. The bond issuance is expected to provide Dubai with necessary liquidity to substitute the liquidity that has dried up globally in the last 12 months and accordingly, meet all upcoming financial obligations.
The Journal further stated that the cash infusion from the UAE comes as Dubai ’s once soaring real- estate market comes crashing down.

Falling prices, some down by 50% or more, have burned speculators who never intended to hold onto properties in the first place. Sales have plummeted, crimping cash flow for developers which are now scrambling to shed employees, cancel or postpone billions of dollars worth of projects and extend installment plans to avoid missed payments.