Long history of ties between Sri Lanka and Singapore

Sri Lanka and Singapore are more connected historically than many people realise.

The original "Pearl of the Orient" was responsible for inspiring much of the South-east Asian republic's progress in the beginning.

Sri Lankans came here in the early 1900s and sacrificed much during those early years of Singapore's history.

They were instrumental in helping Singapore on its way to becoming the vibrant nation it is today, by aiding developments in the fields of civil service, law, medicine, education, engineering, housing and sports.

Among the most notable was the late Mr S. Rajaratnam, who was Singapore's first foreign minister as well as a journalist by profession.

Today, the descendants of Sri Lankans include Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Indeed, Sri Lankans - mostly Tamils from Jaffna - made their mark here over the last 100 years as Singapore hurtled towards becoming a global hub for trade, manufacturing and finance.

However, while Singapore moved forward over the years, Sri Lanka became embroiled in a needless civil war, at great cost, setting it back years.

Now, Singapore stands ready to return the favour and contribute greatly to help Sri Lanka build up its infrastructure and service, return to being vibrant, and realise its objective of becoming a world-class commercial hub for South Asia (S'pore firms bullish about Sri Lanka amid news of FTA; Jan 23).

Manoraj Rajathurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2018, with the headline 'Long history of ties between Sri Lanka and Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe