I would like to send my best wishes to everyone in Britain and Sri Lanka celebrating Aluth Avurudda and to all Tamil communities celebrating Puthandu today.
I know this is an incredibly important time when millions of people will be coming together with families, friends and neighbours to celebrate their new year.
But it is also a time to remember that Britain’s Tamil and Sinhalese communities are huge success stories and doing great things for our nation. I see this contribution every day. I see how Tamil and Sinhalese businessmen and women are boosting the economy by creating jobs and opportunities. I see how you contribute to our public services – as teachers in our schools, doctors in our hospitals. I see what you do in building strong communities. You play an immensely positive role.
When I met with President Sirisena in Malta last year, I announced a significant increase in UK support for reconciliation and human rights, recognising the considerable progress Sri Lanka has made and helping to ensure that President Sirisena can advance the important reform work he has already begun.
I look forward to working with the Sri Lankan government and I hope that this new year will bring communities closer together in helping to heal the wounds of the past.
To everyone celebrating Puthandu and Aluth Avurudda, I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.