Legislator urges voting rights for Sri Lankans back home

Sunil Handunnetti
Updated 23 January 2017

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.

FaceOf: Shoura Council member Lina Khaled Almaeena

Lina Khaled Almaeena
Updated 21 April 2018

FaceOf: Shoura Council member Lina Khaled Almaeena

  • Almaeena began her career as a writer and a journalist
  • Almaeena was appointed as a Shoura member in 2016 by King Salman

Lina Khaled Almaeena is Shoura Council member, businesswoman and philanthropist. She was born in Jeddah. She holds a BA in communications from George Mason University in Virginia and a master’s in psychology from the American University in London.

Almaeena began her career as a writer and a journalist. She participated in writing programs for Saudi radio and wrote for Almadinah newspaper.

The Shoura member, an avid sports lover, has been trying to encourage Saudi women’s involvement in the sports sector since her return to the Kingdom in 2000.

She founded Jeddah United, Saudi Arabia’s first private female basketball club, in 2003 and has since established a private company to run sports events and expand the sports scene in Saudi Arabia.

In 2004, she was selected to address the French Senate on International Women’s Day.

Almaeena is a member of the Young Saudi Business Committee and Sports Investment Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kingdom Young Business Women Council.

She was 71st on a list of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East by Forbes Magazine in 2014. She also won the entrepreneurship award at the Women Leaders Forum in 2010 and is one of the few Saudi women to have climbed Mount Everest.

Almaeena was appointed as a Shoura member in 2016 by King Salman, charged with advising the Cabinet on legislation.

She is a supporter of women entering football stadiums and being more involved with sports.

Earlier, she said: “It’s not simply about the empowerment of women in sports from an athletic point of view. I’m also looking at it from an economic perspective.”

“It’s a golden age for Saudis and, as women, we’ve come a long way. We’re living in an era of historical change, and we’re making up for lost time.”