Sri Lanka: Minister's Involvement In Fake Passport Of Chinese Man Sparks Controversy
Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 26: State Minister of Urban Development and Housing in Sri Lanka, Arundika Fernando, issued a letter on May 19, 2023, to the Immigration Emigration Controller General, requesting the release of the Chinese man who arrived with a fake passport. This incident has raised concerns about the level of corruption and disregard for law and order displayed by politicians who hold power over the country’s public servants, True Ceylon reported.
In a shocking incident, an alleged Chinese investor managed to enter Sri Lanka using a fake Guinean passport, highlighting the extent of influence exerted by Chinese individuals over Sri Lankan politicians. True Ceylon is a media house from Sri Lanka providing updates related to political news of the country.
Chinese individuals involved in development projects in Sri Lanka or in other countries have become adept at deceiving government officials, often relying on corrupt politicians to escape repercussions habitually by giving kickbacks, True Ceylon reported.
The letter sent by State Minister Fernando requested permission for Li Pan, holder of passport Bearing no: EA9528151 issued by the People’s Republic of China, to enter Sri Lanka without any hindrance. The purpose of his visit was stated as investing funds in housing projects under the purview of the ministry.
Sri Lanka’s undisclosed relationship with China involves secretive methods employed by the Chinese, including resorting to force and providing kickbacks to Sri Lankan officials, in order to achieve their objectives. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is known for its aggressive approach, raising concerns about debt sustainability, lack of transparency, environmental impacts, and strategic motives, True Ceylon reported.
The initiative is often viewed as a means for China to expand its influence and gain geopolitical advantages in the regions where its projects are implemented.
On May 18, the Chinese investor and two companions arrived at Katunayake Airport on an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai. The Chinese investor had presented a forged Guinean passport to the immigration officer, but the fraud was later discovered. Despite apprehending the Chinese national, immigration officials intended to deport him back to Dubai, True Ceylon reported.
However, he managed to contact State Minister Arundika Fernando, who promptly intervened by faxing a letter to the Controller General of Passport, requesting the release of the Chinese man and his companions. The government has claimed that appropriate action will be taken, but the individuals remain at large in Sri Lanka.
In another incident in March, Sri Lankan officials arrested over 30 Chinese nationals involved in online fraud based on an Interpol alert. These individuals had entered the country on tourist visas and had defrauded people for more than two months. The arrests were made in the Western province of Sri Lanka, True Ceylon reported.
Prior to arriving in Sri Lanka, the group had been involved in a global fraud operation, swindling approximately SLR 300 million from victims worldwide.
The Chinese Embassy responded to the fake passport incident, urging Chinese citizens visiting Sri Lanka to strictly abide by local laws and regulations while respecting religious and cultural customs.
The embassy acknowledged the reports and stated that an investigation was underway, without confirming or denying any involvement in securing the release of the Chinese man. The misuse of power by politicians in Sri Lanka, however, has drawn severe criticism.
The release of an investor engaged in housing projects who used a fake passport to enter Sri Lanka cannot be dismissed as a minor issue. There can be other fraudulent activities he can engage with, True Ceylon reported.
Many have questioned the Controller General’s decision to release the individual with a forged passport, especially after a cabinet minister issued an order preventing deportation and blacklisting. This incident has raised concerns about influential individuals bypassing the law due to their connections in Sri Lanka.
While India has historical and cultural ties with Sri Lanka, its engagement with the country has not been as extensive as China’s. China has been successful in attracting the Sri Lankan government for many projects, sidelining India, True Ceylon reported.
Factors such as political differences, regional rivalries, and differing priorities have influenced Sri Lanka’s inclination towards China.