Founder of the highly popular Galle Literary Festival and Australian Citizen Geoffrey Dobbs has been denied entry into Sri Lanka this morning after being deported last month, prompting Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to speculate in Parliament a short while ago that someone in the Rajapaksa regime may have an eye on his considerable property in the Galle District.
Dobbs who was asked by immigration authorities to leave Sri Lanka following spat with the Southern Province Governor Kumari Balasuriya just before CHOGM 2013, arrived in Colombo this morning but was not granted visa to enter the country. Dobbs had taken issue with the Australian Flag being displayed upside down during the preparations for the Commonwealth Summit in Galle and when his appeals were ignored by the Governor when he brought the matter to her notice, he proceeded to display the Sri Lankan flag upside down. The move irked the authorities who moved into high gear to deport Dobbs.
Raising the issue in Parliament, Wickremesinghe quipped: “Someone in the Government must be looking to acquire his property in Galle.”
The Opposition Leader noted that turning away an individual like Dobbs who had been a hotel operator and businessman in Sri Lanka for so long would hurt the country’s tourism industry.
After Dobbs’ deportation he had been advised to return to Sri Lanka and sort out his issues here, Wickremesinghe noted.
“But this morning he emailed me and said he had been denied entry to Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe told the House.
Dobbs, who was born in Britiain, was instrumental in organising the Galle Literary Festival that turned into a highly popular event for tourists and locals in Galle every January. The event, garnering high profile sponsorships like SriLankan Airlines and HSBC brought significant numbers of tourists and visitors to Galle each year. This year GLF was not held due to Dobbs’ poor health.