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

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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.

Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on July 13 and reached Singapore the next day in the face of public revolt against his governments 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,” Balakrishnan said in a written reply to a question in parliament on Monday.

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“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.

Replying to a question from ruling Peoples 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,” he said.

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 Shanmugam as saying in parliament.

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, Rajapaksas short-term pass has been extended to August 11.

Singapores 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.


(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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