Speaker thanks South Korean Government for PCR test kit donation worth USD 3 million | Daily News

Speaker thanks South Korean Government for PCR test kit donation worth USD 3 million

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane extended his gratitude to the government of South Korea for donating PCR test kits worth USD 3 million to be used in Sri Lanka under the ‘Stay Strong’ campaign to strengthen Sri Lanka’s anti-COVID-19 campaign, the Parliament Media Division stated in a press release.

The Speaker said that such collaborations between countries remind that international cooperation is a very strong mechanism to reduce the impact of global crises. He said this while addressing the formation ceremony of the Sri Lanka – Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association in Parliament, yesterday, the statement read.

South Korean Ambassador to Sri Lanka Woonjin Jeong and several Cabinet ministers, state ministers, and Members of Parliament took part in the meeting, which was presided over by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane and Parliament Secretary General Dammika Dassanayake.

The Sri Lanka – South Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association was established in 1984, before a residential embassy of Sri Lanka was set up in Seoul (which took place in 1987). It goes down in history as the first Parliamentary Friendship Association established in Sri Lanka, the statement added.

The Speaker, in his opening speech, welcomed the Ambassador and the Members of Parliament on behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

“At the outset, I wish to awake your memories on the diplomatic relations established between our two countries. Before the commencement of the formal diplomatic relations by establishing an Embassy with a resident Ambassador for South Korea in Colombo in 1977, there have been many instances to substantiate our deep-rooted friendship. I am pleased to mention that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea celebrated its 43rd anniversary on December 8, 2020,” Speaker Abeywardane said.

“This Association was inaugurated in 1984 when E.L. Senanayake was the Speaker of Parliament. Senior Parliamentarians of the time; such as Ranil Wickremesinghe, late Dharmasiri Senenayake, and late Norman Waidyarathna; have held the Presidency of the Association, which attests the strength of the Association,” he said.

“I am delighted to learn that the Speaker of Republic of Korea called to form an Inter-Parliamentary Diplomacy Forum between the Parliamentarians of South Korea and selected countries of South Asia in July, 2019; the Sri Lanka – South Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association is one of the initial members of this Forum,” the Speaker added.

“I must not forget to extend my sincere appreciation for the employment opportunities provided to the Sri Lankan expatriate labour force. Around 24,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers live and work in South Korea, contributing to the economic advancement of both countries. The total remittances from Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Republic of Korea in 2019 were approximately USD 520 million; their contribution to the Sri Lankan economy is vital as well,” Speaker Abeywardane said.

“Excellent bilateral relations between the two countries are marked by regular exchanges of high-level visits over the years. I would like to recall the official visit of former South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won to Sri Lanka in August 2013, as well as the State visits made by our former President to Korea in November, 2017, which strengthened the relations of the two countries. I hope there will be many more bilateral and study visits between the two countries at a legislative level as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic dies down,” he added.

While addressing the gathering, South Korean Ambassador Woonjin Jeong said that South Korea and Sri Lanka look forward to working together to face the future challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

“I am honored to say that this is one of the oldest Parliament Friendship Associations in the world. We have longstanding bilateral ties, and they will continue to grow and thrive in the future,” he said.

Incumbent President Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara was unanimously reelected as the President of the Sri Lanka – Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association, while Pramitha Bandara Thennakoon was elected as the Secretary.