Legislator urges voting rights for Sri Lankans back home

Sunil Handunnetti
Updated 23 January 2017
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Legislator urges voting rights for Sri Lankans back home

RIYADH: Visiting Sri Lankan legislator Sunil Handunnetti told Arab News that the country’s expatriates should be given voting rights, and that their community schools should be affiliated to the Education Ministry in Colombo.
Handunnetti, chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in Parliament, was on a brief visit to Riyadh to tell his countrymen about his brainchild, the Organization for Overseas Sri Lankans (OOSL).
Handunnetti, who was given a red-carpet welcome by his countrymen, met Sri Lankan expatriates in the capital and explored ways of assisting them back home.
He told Arab News that he was happy that Sri Lankan workers are happily placed in the Kingdom, but that their interests in their homeland had to be looked after.
“Irrespective of the period of stay in the Kingdom, Sri Lankans are natural citizens of the island and they should have their civic rights back home. They should be given voting rights to elect their own representatives to Parliament,” he said, adding that his organization would do its best in this regard.
He said returnees from the Kingdom should be given full assistance to earn a living back home, including a duty-free allowance to import machinery to continue their businesses. “They should be given a monthly pension to keep the home fires burning,” he added.
Handunnetti said he had visited some 20 countries and has set up the OOSL in 26 countries. “They have nothing to do with the local set up, and will only work for their countrymen’s welfare back home,” he added.
He said he would make representations to concerned authorities to make overseas Sri Lankan community schools affiliated to the Education Ministry in Colombo, so teachers and students will be treated as if they are in Sri Lankan government schools.
He lamented that Sri Lankan expatriates are treated as foreigners when they want to admit their children to Sri Lankan universities, and that they have to pay exorbitant fees.
He thanked Saudi authorities for hosting his countrymen and thereby helping their homes and motherland.


Two Holy Mosques program receives international award

The Two Holy Mosques program has received the Sharjah International Cultural Heritage award for its achievements. (SPA)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Two Holy Mosques program receives international award

  • The state adopted the program presented by the SCTH four years ago
  • King Salman’s initiative to care for cultural heritage is one of the outputs presented by the SCTH

RIYADH: The Two Holy Mosques program to care for the Kingdom’s cultural heritage has received the Sharjah International Cultural Heritage award for its achievements.
It was described as an unprecedented national program sponsoring projects and efforts related to all aspects of national heritage.
King Salman’s initiative to care for cultural heritage is one of the outputs presented by the SCTH, sponsored and financed by the country, and it is being carried out as part of the important initiatives of Saudi Vision 2030 with more than SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) allocated in the current phase. The initiative includes 10 courses, each under implementation consisting of a number of main projects that amount to more than 330 in total.
The state adopted the program presented by the SCTH four years ago and financed within the National Transformation Program with more than SR4 billion ($1 billion).
The program includes the establishment of 18 museums in the Kingdom, 80 heritage sites and opening them to visitors, the restoration of 18 villages and traditional towns to visitors.