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We are opposed to bifurcation of Asia – President



President Ranil Wickremesinghe took the stage at the ‘Nikkei Forum: Future of Asia’ held in Tokyo, Japan today (25).

Addressing the Forum, President Wickremesinghe highlighted Asia’s significance as the world’s largest economy, home to 60% of the global population, and a major contributor to global growth.

He emphasized the region’s potential for continued growth, supported by China’s recovery, India’s domestic demand, and the contributions of advanced economies like Japan and South Korea.

3 key challenges

President Wickremesinghe also highlighted three major challenges facing Asia during his address.

He said democratic values and human rights, climate change and trade integration are key challenges and emphasized the importance of respecting the diverse political systems and definitions of human rights across Asian countries.

Stressing on climate change, which poses significant threats to Asia, the President added that rising temperatures in the region, leading to severe weather events & rising sea levels, are impacting the livelihoods, food security, & exports of Asian countries.

Noting that by mid-century, rising waters will impact nearly a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region, the President told the Nikkei Forum, “It is regrettable that as many as eight of the fifteen countries affected by climate change are from Asia.”

Economic powerhouse & most dynamic region

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that Asia has become the global economic powerhouse and the most dynamic region, with its economy already comparable in size to Europe and North America’s economies.

We are opposed to bifurcation of Asia

In his address, President Wickremesinghe also focused on trade integration and debt sustainability and highlighted the risks faced by Asian countries, emphasizing the importance of upholding the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, rejecting economic coercion and decoupling

President Wickremesinghe further emphasized that Asian countries do not want to be forced to choose between global powers & highlighted the economic interdependence between ASEAN countries and China and expressed opposition to the bifurcation of Asia.

“Consequently, the pressure on Asian countries to choose between the US and China is being resisted by many. We are opposed to what my friend Vivian Balakrishnan, the Foreign Minister of Singapore, calls the bifurcation of Asia. We in Asia don’t want to choose between U.S. and China. Many of us cannot make that choice because we have already made our choice, and that choice is Asia. We want an Asia that can accommodate the Indo-Pacific, the BRI, as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.  The BRI is a strategy to increase China’s influence in Asia and Africa through economic means. We, the members of the BRI, have no security arrangements with China, nor do we intend to enter into any security agreements with China,” the President said.

Open ended dialogues

President Wickremesinghe also supported a cooperative approach by Japan and called for open-ended dialogues among Japan, China, India, and ASEAN, adding that it is crucial for the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous Asian region.

A unified, Asian voice
“A single Asian voice devoid of disharmony needs to be present at COP 28. The success of this conference will depend on the ability of the key Asian nations to come to an agreement,” he added.

“Sri Lanka welcomes the pledge made at the G7 Hiroshima Leader’s Communique to reject decoupling and its strategies in favour of economic resilience and economic security. To this end, the G7 has undertaken to engage in dialogue and follow a cooperative approach within the group as well as with global partners – including developing countries,” the President further added.

He also pointed out that it is appropriate that the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core be upheld.


Indian-owned ship held in Colombo after oil spill; travel ban imposed on captain




The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has taken custody of a ship which had caused an oil spill while anchored at the Colombo Port.

A spokesperson of the MEPA stated that legal action has been initiated against the company that owns the ship and the relevant insurance company regarding the oil spill. Under the Marine Environment Protection Authority Act, the MEPA is seeking compensation for the incident, the authority revealed.

The ship, owned by an Indian company, had recently arrived at the Port of Colombo for maintenance activities. A special investigation conducted by MEPA had revealed a leak of hydraulic oil from the ship. The company’s owner has admitted to the incident and agreed to provide compensation, according to the MEPA.

Furthermore, the Colombo Magistrate Court has imposed a travel ban on the captain of the ship preventing him from leaving the country, as per a request made by the Colombo Port Police.

(This story, originally published by has not been edited by SLM staff)

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5 companies fined Rs. 1,243 Mn. for illegal gold imports




State Finance Minister Dr. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that five companies have been identified for illegally importing gold into Sri Lanka during the past few years, and fines of Rs.1,243 million have been imposed on those companies.

The Minister said that one of the related companies was ordered to pay Rs.179 million as fines.

Emphasising that from now on, all licensed institutions carrying out import of gold goods should avoid these illegal acts, the Minister said that the relevant institutions will also be charged fines for the gold purchased by even third parties considering the production reports.

He said the efforts to stabilise the state revenue of the country are currently being carried out by closing all the loopholes related to the loss of state revenue gradually.

Certain parties who import gold goods have turned this into a big racket and therefore there is a mafia around it.There were various challenges and threats when the government tried to curb this mafia initially.

The Minister further said that there were various levels of threats, pressure and intimidation, and the government did not waver in the face of all these challenges and moved to the second step.


(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Teachers & Principals launch TU action




Teachers and principals in schools across the island will engage in trade union action today.

Convenor of the National Collective Against Teachers’ and Principals’ Salary Disparities Venerable Ulapane Sumangala Thero, says teachers and principals will report sick today.

The decision has been made due to the lack of solutions provided to issues related to salary anomalies.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Education confirmed that schools will operate as usual today and tomorrow.

Meanwhile, The strike initiated by non-academic employees of state universities continues for the 29th consecutive day.

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