Sri Lanka's 65th Independence Day was celebrated in Singapore on February 4, 2013 with a ceremony in the morning at the official residence of the High Commissioner Her Excellency Mrs Ferial Ismail Ashraff and a reception in the evening at the Hilton.
The ceremony in the morning brought together members of the Sri Lankan community who were welcomed by children representing the four main religions in Sri Lanka. Guests lit the traditional oil lamp and Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim clergy invoked blessings on Sri Lanka and its people. High Commissioner Mrs Ferial Ashraff read out the National day message of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa which spoke of harmony between the communities. At the end of the ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy a traditional breakfast spread which included kiribath and sweetmeats.
The Mission hosted a large number of guests at the reception in the evening at the Hilton that highlighted pure Sri Lankan hospitality. Ms. Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education graced the occasion as the guest of honour. Her Excellency Mrs Ferial Ismail Ashraff addressed the gathering where she spoke of the Sri Lankan Governments drive towards improving the welfare of its people through the alleviation of poverty and the establishment of social equity and harmony in the country. The High Commissioner also stated, “At present there are over 100 Singaporean companies in the country in full commercial operation. These companies are engaged in a wide range of activities and this reflects the confidence reposed by Singaporean companies in Sri Lanka”. Senior Minister Ms. Indranee Rajah then addressed the gathering and spoke of the historical ties between the two countries and the growing economic and political relationship. She concluded by congratulating His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the people of Sri Lanka.
The Members of Parliament from Singapore who graced the occasion were Mr. Alvin Yeo and Dr. Janil Puthucheary. Officers from Ministry of Defence and armed forces of Singapore included Major General Ng Chee Meng, Chief of Air Force, Col (Dr) Kang Wee Lee, Chief Medical Corps, Col Ravendran Gurusamy, Col Goh Wee Tiong, Mr Leonard Lim, Mr Heng Soo Yeow , Mr John A Samuel, Mr Rama Reddy, Mr Emin Ong, Ms Joan Choo, and others. Those present from government and the private sector, trade and tourism, industry and commerce symbolized enhanced ties in diverse fields between Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankans and Singaporeans both from the business and professional communities were joined by members of the diplomatic corps. Among the Foreign Service officers were Singapore's High Commissioner designate to Sri Lanka and Madam Karan Singh Thakral, Singapore's Ambassador to Jordan, Ambassador K. Kesavapany and Singapore’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Shabbir Hasan Bai. Foreign Heads of missions in Singapore that attended the Independence Day celebrations were Ambassador of Italy, Ireland, Myanmar, Qatar, Rwanda, Laos, Japan, Canada, Finland, Egypt, Peru, Ukraine, Israel, Poland, China, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and representatives from other Missions .
The Grand Ball room at Hilton entertained over 200 guests to an unforgettable evening. A team of Sri Lankan chefs flown in by the Mission, through the sponsorship of the Sri Lankan Airlines, for the occasion, treated guests to the sights, sounds and taste of Sri Lankan cuisine. The distinctive beat and aroma of the kottu roti station, the hopper station that dished out varieties of hoppers, stuffed rotis, traditional desserts and fresh juices were enjoyed by everyone. The guests were presented with a beautiful gift bag that included branded tea from Sri Lanka and a souvenir.