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Gotabaya Rajapaksa not accorded any privileges, immunity by Singapore govt: Minister

Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. File

Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled his country amid massive protests against his government last month, was not being provided any privileges, immunity or hospitality, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.

Mr. Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on July 13 and reached Singapore the next day in the face of public revolt against his government's mishandling of the economy.

The 73-year-old leader emailed his resignation letter to the Parliament Speaker on July 14, soon after he was allowed by Singapore to enter the city-state on a "private visit".

"In general, the Singapore government does not accord privileges, immunity and hospitality to former heads of state or heads of government," Mr. Balakrishnan said in a written reply to a question in parliament on Monday.

"Consequently, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not accorded any privileges, immunity or hospitality," he wrote in response to the question from parliamentarian Gerald Giam of the opposition Workers' Party.

Also Read | Brief history of the rise, fall of Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Replying to a question from ruling People's Action Party parliamentarian Yip Hon Weng on concerns that Singapore will become a "destination for political fugitives", Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said, "Foreigners who possess a valid travel document and meet entry requirements will be allowed to come into Singapore. We also, of course, reserve the right to deny entry to a foreigner if we assess that to be in our national interests." "If a foreigner coming into Singapore is wanted by his government, and his government has made a request, the Government will render assistance in accordance with our laws," Mr Shanmugam said.

Mr. Shanmugam added that travellers transiting through Singapore have "technically not entered" the country if they remain within the transit area and do not clear immigration.

"This is international law. Nevertheless, if we are aware of the presence of undesirable persons, we may still check them and take appropriate actions," Channel News Asia quoted Mr. Shanmugam as saying in parliament.

Also Read | Sri Lanka crisis: in depth

The government may accord additional security depending on the current and former status of any person, taking into consideration the safety and security risk that may be posed to the person and the general public, the minister said.

According to reports, Mr. Rajapaksa's short-term pass has been extended to August 11.

Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said last week that visitors from Sri Lanka who enter Singapore for social visits will generally be issued a short-term visit pass with a duration of up to 30 days.

Those who need to extend their stay here may apply online for an extension and applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, it said.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2022 8:44:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/gotabaya-rajapaksa-not-accorded-any-privileges-immunity-by-singapore-govt-minister/article65714595.ece