Vivian notes Jaffna's significance for S'pore

Jaffna holds special significance for Singapore, with both sides enjoying strong cultural and people-to-people ties, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said after meeting top officials in northern Sri Lanka.

"Some of our pioneer leaders in politics, education and medicine had hailed from Jaffna. Today, we are here to strengthen these enduring ties and give back to Jaffna," he said in a post on Facebook.

Yesterday, he met the Northern Province's Governor Reginald Cooray and its Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, who shared insights into the development of Jaffna and the ongoing reconciliation efforts since the end of the 26-year civil war in 2009. It has been estimated that tens of thousands of people were killed in the civil war between the government and the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is on a four-day trip to the South Asian country that ends today, also took part in a handover ceremony for a donation of 500 books from the National Library Board to the Jaffna Public Library. This adds to the 11,500 books Singapore had donated earlier, he added.

He said he also visited the Jaffna Teaching Hospital and the University of Jaffna Medical Faculty to launch the Orthopaedic Development Programme spearheaded by SingHealth and the Lee Foundation.

"This is personally meaningful for me as I have had the privilege of learning from outstanding doctors of Jaffna origin during my days as a medical student.

"Glad to see Singaporean entities giving back and contributing to improving the healthcare of Jaffna," he wrote.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Vivian notes Jaffna's significance for S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe