The Singapore immigration authority has detained several Sri Lankan travellers entering Singapore on tourist visas alleging that they may have entered in order to ‘escape’ to other countries using the City State as a port due to the on-going crisis in Sri Lanka.
Issuing an order of detention notice to one of the detainees, A. Mohan Asanga Sampath, the notice said, “An order has been made for your removal from Singapore under Section 25 (3) of the Immigration Act. Your detention is considered necessary until arrangements can be made for your return to your place of embarkation, the country of your birth or citizenship or any other port or place designated by me.
“Now you know that I, DSP Tan Seng Kianby virtue of the powers vested in the Controller of Immigration under Section 34 (1) of the immigration Act and duly authorised by the Controller pursuant to Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act, do hereby order that you be detained in IP Room,” the notice read.
Asanga Sampath who is currently detained is an accountant working for a leading construction firm in Colombo. He travelled to Singapore as a tourist carrying enough US dollars and had booked his hotel prior to his flight. He was to obtain an on arrival visa available to Sri Lankans according to Singaporean law.
He was detained at the airport on arrival yesterday (16), and was questioned over the crisis hit Sri Lanka.
Sampath was detained for over seven hours and locked up in a hotel room.
He spoke to Ceylon Today after Singaporean authorities handed over his phone for few minutes who then took it away from him.
Ceylon Today, contacted the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore to inform them about the incident and urged them to help those stranded in the City State.
“I arrived in Air Asia and the next flight is in two days so, they have detained me,” he told Ceylon Today, before his phone was taken away from him.
However, a source explained that it is unlikely that the decision by the Singapore authorities will change.
He also said, several others who had arrived in Singapore for on arrival visas were sent back on the same airlines to Sri Lanka and many others were stopped and questioned.
“This is due to the current crisis in Sri Lanka and Singapore authorities think that Sri Lankans are coming to Singapore to ‘escape’ from the current crisis and may try to leave illegally from Singapore,” alleged Sampath.
The Sri Lankan High Commission had tried to contact Sampath, but he said that his phone was taken away and had seen a miss call from the High Commission, but could not call back the mission office.
Previously, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stayed in Singapore for a short period after fleeing mass protests in Sri Lanka. Singaporean authorities had a tough time tackling the situation and tried to avoid media attention over Rajapaksa’s visit.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan