Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is on an official visit to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives between 31 May and 2 June 2013 at the invitation of the Presidents of both countries.
The visit is meant to enhance and deepen relations and cooperation between Thailand and South Asian countries. Prime Minister Yingluck will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and President Mohemmed Waheed of the Maldives. Members of the private sector accompanying the Prime Minister will explore investment possibilities and boost commercial links with the two countries.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to discuss with the two Presidents trade and investment cooperation, particularly in tourism, construction, and agro-industry, as well as ways to promote cultural and technical cooperation, connectivity, and people-to-people contact.
In Colombo on 31 May, Prime Minister Yingluck will address the Sri Lankan Parliament. Later, she will depart for Kandy to pay homage to the chief Buddhist monks of Asgiriya Chapter and Malwatta Chapter of Siam Nikaya. In the evening, the Prime Minister will attend an Upasampada ceremony at the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple, or Sacred Tooth Temple, where an “Esala Perahera” parade will be held in honor of Thailand and the Thai Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Yingluck will also attend various functions to celebrate the 260th anniversary of the establishment of Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.
The year 2013 marks the 260th anniversary of Siam Wong, or Siam Nikaya, in Sri Lanka. In the middle of the 18th century, Venerable Phra Upali Maha Thera, abbot of Wat Dhammaram in Ayutthaya, headed a group of Siamese monks to the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. His mission was to ordain monks, which led to the revival of Buddhism there. At that time, Singhalese Buddhism in Sri Lanka had gone into a serious decline under successive Portuguese and Dutch colonial rules. The ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy, Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, then asked King Borommakot of the Ayutthaya Kingdom to help restore Theravada Buddhism in that country to its original state.
As a result of this endeavor to reintroduce Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a Siamese order of monks, known as Siam Wong, or Siam Nikaya, was established. The revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka reflects the unique Thai-Sri Lankan religious relationship. To celebrate this auspicious occasion the 260th anniversary of Siam Nikaya, Thailand and Sri Lanka have agreed to organize various activities and exchange visits and meetings, including the official visit of the Prime Minister of Thailand to Sri Lanka on 31 May-1 June 2013.
From Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Yingluck on 1 June will depart for the Maldives. This will be the first ever official visit of a Thai Prime Minister to the Maldives since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 34 years ago.
In addition to promoting bilateral ties, Thailand and the Maldives will discuss regional and global issues of common interest, including disaster management, climate change, social diversity, and cooperation between ASEAN and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).