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Sri Lanka Original Narrative Summary: 27/05

  1. President Ranil Wickremesinghe discusses integrating the global ‘Starlink’ network in Sri Lanka to improve Wi-Fi connectivity outside Colombo: The TRCSL is assessing Starlink, with preliminary work almost done: Feedback from the Ministry of Defence is awaited for approval: SpaceX is expanding the beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, priced at $99 a month plus a $499 upfront cost.
  2. Three Opposition MPs depart from the BIA Airport on a diplomatic mission to Thailand, aiming to rescue 49 Sri Lankans held in a cyber camp in Myanmar and Sri Lankan war veterans caught in the Russia-Ukraine conflict: The delegation, including MPs Wasantha Yapa Bandara, J.C. Alawathuwala, and Sujith Sanjay Perera, will spend ten days negotiating with diplomatic officials and third parties in Myanmar and Russia: carry letters from Buddhist leaders and the Opposition Leader, and plan to meet Sangha leaders in Thailand and Myanmar, and diplomatic officials in Russia: The group left on SriLankan Airlines flight UL-402 to Bangkok.
  3. SLPP Anuradhapura District MP S.M. Chandrasena says the next President and the Government of Sri Lanka will be formed by the SLPP: acknowledges there were mistakes committed from their end: asserts Basil Rajapaksa is ‘a gamer’ who will probably contribute to the establishment of a SLPP-led regime in the upcoming elections.
  4. Several major global players, including China, India, the US, and France, are competing to invest in the country’s graphite industry: The interest comes in addition to the existing involvement of Canadian and Australian companies: Experts note that Sri Lanka boasts high-quality vein graphite in substantial deposits: Director General of the Geological and Mines Survey Bureau Prof. Ranjith Premasiri confirms that Chinese and Indian companies are among the interested foreign investors: Recently, Indian officials discussed advanced exploration and mining technologies, focusing on value addition for modern industries such as electric vehicle batteries and lubricants.
  5. Tea smallholders, who produce over 75% of the country’s tea, are concerned about the government’s decision to increase the minimum daily wage without securing additional revenue or consulting the industry: The wage hike impacts small and medium estate owners heavily, leading some to consider switching to other crops: They face challenges like high fertiliser costs and bureaucratic hurdles for subsidies: The new wage proposal includes a 70% increase to Rs.1700 daily, but maintaining this requires a minimum green leaf price of Rs.300 per kg, which is difficult due to auction price fluctuations: Estate owners suggest linking wages to productivity and propose various initiatives to enhance worker skills and industry integration, urging the government to set a US$5 floor price per kg for tea to support the wage increase.
  6. Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka for May are expected to exceed 100,000 but fall short of the projected 120,934 to 131,112: From May 1-21, arrivals were 79,431, slightly down from last year’s 83,309: The daily average of 3,782 is less than the 5,000 seen in previous months: The off-peak season and recent visa issues contributed to the decline: India is the top source of tourists (26%), followed by the Maldives (11%): Russia has dropped to seventh place, while Germany, the UK, and China are now amongst the top five markets.
  7. IGP Deshabandu Tennakoon announces the establishment of a special committee to determine if any individuals associated with the ISIS are residing in Sri Lanka: asserts an immediate probe has been initiated to address this concern: The committee incorporates with the TID, Intelligence Unit officials, and the STF, under the oversight of the DIG of the CID: Commenting on the links between the Sri Lankans recently apprehended in Gujarat, India, and the Easter attacks, the IGP said the Police’s legal division has been directed to thoroughly review the commission report and provide relevant details: notes there are currently no reports confirming such links.
  8. French Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jean-François Pactet passes away aged 53: The demise was reportedly due to a sudden illness: The Foreign Affairs Ministry conveys its deepest condolences on the sudden demise of Pactet: affirms all necessary assistance will be provided to the French authorities and the late Ambassador’s family.
  9. Veteran Sri Lankan musician Ananda Perera has passed away aged 67: His demise was pronounced while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy, according to family sources.
  10. Sri Lanka Junior Table Tennis players excel on the first day of the South Asian Youth Table Tennis Championship in Kandy: The Sri Lanka under-19 girls’ team won 3-2, and the under-15 girls’ and boys’ teams both secured 3-0 victories over Bangladesh and the Maldives, respectively: The under-15 boys’ team also had a hard-fought 3-2 win against Pakistan: The tournament continues today, with finals scheduled for May 29: Teams from Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Nepal are participating.

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