M’sians in Sri Lanka advised to be cautious

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s High Commission in Sri Lanka has advised Malaysians residing in the island nation to be cautious and always adhere to the rules and regulations there following the ongoing economic crisis and security situation in that country.

In an email interview with Bernama, the High Commission said during the emergency situation when the curfew was imposed, Malaysians are advised to stay indoors.

“As for Malaysians planning to travel to Sri Lanka, they should consider postponing their trip until the curfew has been lifted. This is to prevent unnecessary inconvenience on their arrival in Sri Lanka,” the High Commission advised.

On the total number of Malaysians there, it said currently, there are 85 Malaysians registered with the High Commission in Colombo.

They are mainly Malaysians working in Sri Lanka including their family members and Malaysians who are married to Sri Lankans. Most of them are staying in the capital city of Colombo.

It said that to be in constant touch with the High Commission, a WhatsApp group plus social media such as Facebook and Twitter had been set up for easy communication with Malaysians residing in Sri Lanka.

“We are always ready to render our assistance to any Malaysians in distress,” it said when asked if the High Commission was fully prepared to face any eventualities, including the need to assist Malaysians if the current crisis continues to persist.

On its general assessment of the current economic and security situation, the High Commission explained that the economic situation in Sri Lanka today is critical as essential items such as fuel, cooking gas, medicines and certain food items were not readily available in the market.

“Many vehicles had to line up to buy fuel. There are also frequent electricity cuts daily. The Sri Lankan rupee has lost almost 90% of its value since April 2022. This has triggered multiple price hikes that caused high inflation in Sri Lanka,” it said.

The High Commission said that the Sri Lankan people were very frustrated with the bleak economic situation and many of them have taken to the streets to protest against the government.

“Unfortunately, the one-month-old mostly peaceful demonstrations were disrupted when they were attacked by pro former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters on May 9. As a result, a curfew has been imposed until May 11, 2022,” it added.

Asked whether Malaysian companies have been affected in any way, it said so far, they have not been badly affected by the economic crisis in the country.

Malaysian investments in Sri Lanka are mostly in sectors like telecommunication, Information Technology (IT), financial, lubricant manufacturing and general trading. Malaysian total investment in Sri Lanka is around US$2.6bil.

Our single largest investment is Dialog Axiata in the telecommunication sector, it said.

In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries registered a respectable US$730mil.

“Bilateral trade recovered quickly after the devastation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the High Commission added.

Rajapaksa on Monday (May 9) announced his resignation from his prime ministerial post as violent protests broke out.

Sri Lanka, with some 22 million population, gained independence in 1948.

The island nation is now facing its worst economic crisis since independence, stemming from a foreign exchange shortage which in turn led to acute shortages in essential supplies such as fuel, cooking gas, food and medicines.

Protests, which have been ongoing for days, triggered by the economic and political crises, witnessed the worst clashes on Monday, which killed seven people and injured more than 200.

A ruling party’s Member of Parliament also died in the violence. – Bernama