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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

Job opportunities for Sri Lankans in Gadafi-land

By K.T.Rajasingham

Colombo, 14 December, ( Sri Lanka is to build two hotel schools and a nursing school in Libya. Already Libyan Government has entered into an agreement with Sri Lanka, for the construction and running of two hotel schools, in Tripoli as well as in Bengasi and also to train Libyans in the hospitality trade. The proposed nursing school is to train nurses and paramedics needed in Libya. Teaching and coaching in the hospitality and the health sector too are to be conducted by professors and professionals from Sri Lanka. It is a complete package. Colonel Muammar al-GaddafiColonel Muammar al-Gaddafi

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella speaking to Asian Tribune in an interview conducted over the telephone, said that already Agreements have been signed for the setting up of these academies and also to supply required manpower to Libya from Sri Lanka.

Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare & Government Spokesman for Defence and National Security Keheliya Rambukawella said now arrangements in Libya are being worked out and Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been invited to visit Libya.

Accordingly, Sri Lankan President will make an official visit to Libya on their invitation, most probably in the first quarter of next year.

When commenting about establishing a Sri Lankan Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, he said that a Sri Lanka Embassy will be set up. We are making all endeavors. We have principally decided on that and now we have to work out the modalities. He said that in the beginning it will be a Representative Office to look after the welfare of the Sri Lankans who will be working in that country.

Given below the excerpts of the interview Asian Tribune had with Keheliya Rambukawella, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare & Government Spokesman for Defence and National Security:Minister Keheliya RambukawellaMinister Keheliya Rambukawella

Asian Tribune: Have you decided on a person to be the Ambassador?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: Not yet. What happened is, when I spoke to the Foreign Minister, he was talking about lack of funds. So I suggested at least we need a Sri Lankan’s Representative’s Office in relations to the Agreements we have signed to provide manpower to Libya. So in principle Foreign Minister and I have come to an agreement that in the absence of a full-fledged Sri Lanka Mission or a Consulate General’s Office, then we will have temporarily a Sri Lanka Representatives Office by our Ministry in combination with the Foreign Ministry to deal with the labor contracts we have hitherto entered into.

Asian Tribune: Why can’t one of your officer be made either an Ambassador or a Consul General. There were precedents to that effect. Last time, if I remember correctly, we had in Belgium an officer from Trade Ministry as the country’s Ambassador.

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: One of the officers from the Foreign Employment Promotion Ministry will be appointed in order to meet the requirements by which we have entered into an agreement and MOU with Libya to provide manpower.

Asian Tribune: Why not that particular officer also be delegated with the diplomatic responsibilities of an Ambassador?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: The understanding is that our Ministry will set up an office in Tripoli, Libya and the representative office will deal with the labor matters keeping in line with the MOU we have signed.

Asian Tribune: What will be his diplomatic position?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: He may hold some sort of a position, but still not decided. It is understood that when you say a Sri Lanka Representatives Office concerning the labor matters in terms of the Agreements and MOU we have entered into to provide manpower to Libya.

Asian Tribune: When is your delegation going to Libya to do follow up regarding the Agreement and MOU Sri Lanka has entered with Libya?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: It should be within the first quarter of next year. Now the Libyan has written to us. They have indicated that they will accommodate three team of not less than ten people in the Health, Education and in the Tourism sectors.

They wanted minimum one, but in fact they wanted us to set up two hotel schools in the two main cities in Libya, and also a Health academy to train paramedics such as nurses and alike.

Asian Tribune: It seems it is a fantastic offer and a big job?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: Yes it is a very big job. Very big assignment. They trust in Sri Lankan’s ability to train Libyan students in the hospitality trade, as well as in health sector. We are involved in four big areas – one is construction, others are in the hospitality industry, Health Industry, and Education.

Asian Tribune: Are you also going to set up any educational academy or any Universities?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: No .. no .. they wanted our professors to teach in their Universities.

Asian Tribune : On the construction side?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: They wanted people from Sri Lanka in all fields from Engineers down to laborers

Asian Tribune: In the Health sector. They wanted an academy to train paramedics?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: That’s right. Paramedic’s means nurses, technicians and it will be in the form of an academy.

Asian Tribune: In the hospitality sector?

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: We have to set up two hotel schools. They said at least one but they prefer to have two in their two main cities.

Asian Tribune: It is a great assignment and you have achieved it as a Minister of Foreign Employment and Promotion. Congratulations.

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: Thank you Rajah. Libyans wanted immediately, if possible one thousand doctors and one thousand nurses.

Regarding Sri Lankan professionals, Libya has faith in us because; they have had long and very strong ties with Sri Lanka. During the time of Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, we hosted the Non-Aligned Conference in Sri Lanka and Libyan President Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was the key player in that conference.

Asian Tribune: Yes … yes, I still remember it very clearly. During those days I left the Independent Newspapers of Ceylon who published Sun, Dawasa and Dinapathi, also sixteen other publications, but I was freelancing for them. I still remember how Muammar al-Gaddafi was unmindful of his personal security, getting down from his vehicle and shaking hands with ordinary Sri Lankans who lined up in the streets to have a glimpse of him. At that time Gadafi was a young man with very handsome personality.

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: Yes. .. yes.

Asian Tribune: Very handsome, stunning .. Heartbeat of many. I saw him and I was detailed to cover him for the newspaper.

Those were very wonderful days? Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was born in the year 1942 and assumed office as head of Libya when he was just 27 years, on 1st September 1969.

The Fifth Summit of the Non Aligned Conference was held at Colombo (Sri Lanka) in August, 1976 and about 86 countries participated in that conference.

At that conference opposition of radicalism and expansionism was declared. Arab cause was supported and USA was criticized for its aggressive policy on Vietnam and Cuba.

Minister Keheliya Rambukawella: Yeah …. I remember. That time I was at the BMICH and was listening to Arch Bishop Makarios of Cyprus over the radio as he did not participate in the conference.

- Asian Tribune -

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