( August 10, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake resigned from his ministerial portfolio today after delivering a statement in Parliament.
Minister Karunanayake told the Parliament that though he was not responsible for the allegations levelled against him he was resigning in order to protect the government.”I never made use of my position to make money,” he said.
He said it was unprecedental for a minister to be called before a commission during the previous government but he did so by setting an example of the “Yahapalanaya” government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe said that Mr Karunanayake met him over the weekend an expressed his intention to step down after informing President Maithripala Sirisena.
He said accordingly when the President returned from Kandy yesterday, the letter of resignation was handed over.
Welcoming the resignation as ‘bold step’, Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan noted that Minister Karunanayake has not been found guilty of wrong doing in any competent courts. He appreciated his decision to resign in the interest of country and government which came to office under the banner of Good Governance.
The AG must show the same efficiency in other cases
I resign with pride
Arjun, Anika and my daughter were school friends
This is the promise of good governance, delivered
Foreign Minister Ravi Karuananyake making a 20-minute long statement in Parliament yesterday resigned from his ministerial portfolio.
Commencing his speech at 1.30 p.m, Karunanayake explained the reasons for his resignation the crux of which was his current residence at the Monarch residencies. He said that it was due to the incumbent government’s policies, that a Minister of his seniority was questioned and thereafter tendered his resignation.
“The Attorney General’s Department has been able to question a minister of this government due to the new political culture that has been brought about by the good governance government,” said United National Party Deputy Leader and former Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
He said that his resignation from the Ministerial portfolio was historic since a Minister or even someone related to a Minister during the previous regime could not be questioned by the Attorney General’s Department.
“Even the Deputy Solicitors General could not open a file of such a person during that period,” said Karunanayake. “I resign from my ministerial portfolio reflecting this new political culture that has been brought about by the good governance government.”
He also said that the Attorney General’s Department reviewed a report of 8803 pages within 48 hours related to his matter which was commendable and a good sign.
“I request them to exhibit the same efficiency in the matters related to the loan obtained by the government, at the bills brought in by the Yahapalana government for the benefit of the country and in cases against the ministers of the previous government,” MP Karunanayake said.
“We hope the department would show the same efficiency with regard to the 87 files submitted to the department by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) against the members of the former government.
After making his statement he left his front row seat to become a backbencher where he was greeted by handshakes by government members.
He said that the Media and some opposition politicians demand that he be crucified over the issue being probed by a Presidential Commission of inquiry on the treasury bond incident. “I decided to resign to set an example for the good governance policy we introduced and I do so without regret,” Karunanayake said. “I am proud to sacrifice my position. I do so for my party and people whom I always considered above me and my personal gains.”
He said that allegations were made against him during the recent past in the media and social media and there had been a debate over this issue and some members raised it in parliament too. He added that a no confidence motion too had been submitted against him.
“Therefore,I thought of making an explanation to Parliament,” Karunanayake said. “I have given evidence with regard to this before the Treasury Bond Commission. I have a house in Battaramulla and it was under repair. I needed to find a new place. I do not have an official residence. My family members too were looking for a suitable place. They told me that there was a house available at Monarch Residencies and it belonged to Nahil Wijesuriya’s daughter who is also a school friend of my daughter. We moved to that house. Nahil Wijesuriya’s daughter did not want to rent the House to a politician. Therefore my daughter proposed to rent the house to a company belonging to Arjuna Aloysius who is a school friend of both my daughter and Nahil Wijesuriya’s daughter. The house was rented in the name of that company and later my daughter settled the amount to that company. As the owner of the house decided to sell it, a company owned by our family decided to purchase it .”
He added that they obtained a loan from the Seylan Bank for that purpose. He tabled the documents pertaining to the loan facility No Seylan Bank REF No WTL/CRD/2016-1535, 29 September 2016.
“I joined politics after working with former Minister Lalith Athulathmudali who too had been accused wrongly by his opponents. He had been described as a person who swallowed ships. I was a successful businessman before I joined politics. During my career I never earned anything through illegal means. I only lost my money because of politics. I never earned from politics,” Karunanayake said. “I have no need to acquire a house through illegal means. Many MPs in this House know that I have a house at Battaramulla. Not only those in our side but also those in the opposition too have come to that house. They came there to have political discussions, as friends, to eat and drink and enjoy and sometimes to crossover to this side.”
He also said parliamentarians all knew of his assets. “They have come to my house. They also know that I have never earned through illegal means. They also know that I never made use of my political power to earn money. Many of those who signed the no confidence motion against me too are aware of this fact,” Karunanayake said. “Have you ever heard of an occasion when a minister had been summoned before a commission. We know the conduct and behaviour of the ministers of former regime with heads swollen from power. The presidents used to act like kings. They always bypassed the law. They are still trying to do so even after losing power.”
He said that the they were not like that. “We respect the law and bow our heads before justice. I displayed that sign of a new political culture by giving evidence before the Presidential Commission,” Karunanayake said. “The commission was appointed to investigate treasury bonds. But now the talk is about a private companies and renting houses.”
He also said that the Judges of the commission had to intervene and warn on several occasions against the Additional Solicitor General who questioned me at the treasury bond commission. He added that he believed that the judges of the commission would ascertain the truth at the end of their deliberations.
“I would not talk of the conduct or lack of professional manners of the ASG here,” Karunanayake said. “We soon would know as to how and why the ASG behaved in such an aggeressive manner at the commission. He could have been motivated in a race for obtaining promotions or there could be another reason.”
He further said that the Attorney General’s Department and Solicitor Generals have the freedom of questioning a minister of their own government under this government. He also said we had a time when the Department of the Attorney General was afraid of questioning ministers. He added that they were afraid even to open a file connected to the ministers of that government.
“The Department of the Attorney General could review a document of 8,803 pages in 48 hours. It is good sign. We hope the Attorney General’s Department would show the same efficiency to investigate the loans obtained by the governments and at the bills brought in by the Yahapalana government for the benefit of the country and in cases against the ministers of the previous government. We hope the department would show the same efficiency with regard to the 87 files submitted to the department by the Financial Crimes Investigations Divisions against the members of the former government,” Karunanayake said.
“I have worked tirelessly for 32 years for my party. I have been with the party during the times of hardships. I faced numerous challenges on behalf of the party. I received death threats. There were cases against me. There was one case pertaining to foreign exchange and it was heard for 10 years to harass me. Finally the court set me free of all charges. In that case, Raj Rajaratnam too had been accused. Indrajith Coomaraswamy who worked for Rajaratnam is the Governor of the Central Bank today. I dwell on these matters to show how the opposition harassed us and took political revenge. They took political revenge then and are now engaged in character assassination.”
He further said that not only was he harassed but his family members too were subjected to much harassment. He added that they once sent a skull to his paralyzed mother. He also added that they had sent parts of bodies to his wife and children. He added that despite all those harassment, he worked for the benefit of his party members. He said that he prevented the split of party. He worked to defeat conspiracies against the party leadership. He always protected his party and party leadership.
“I would continue to stick to that policy,” Karunanayake said. “I will always protect the party, partymen and its leadership. I would set my party above me. We worked for a regime change in 2015. We joined with all progressive forces to effect a regime change. We brought forward a common candidate. It was I who gave the swan symbol for the common candidate at the presidential election. I did all this for the future of this country”.
He said that he used the ministerial portfolio to serve the people, to give justice to his party supporters who had been suffering for more than 20 years. He added that all those in this House know that his phone was kept on 24 hours. He did not make use of his position for his personal gain but for the benefit of the party.
“The portfolios, positions and posts are temporary,” Ravi Karunanayake said. “What would last is only the work we did and our honesty. This is the hard fact so many would not realize . They think that power and posts would be there forever. They always dream to remain in power and to regain it even after losing it. They would do anything for that purpose. They would not give damn for this country if they can take power.”
He added that they changed all these with the Janurary 8 revolution.
“There is no basis for any allegations raised against me. I have no link to any of these allegations. But some groups and media have made me guilty already. The media in this country acted in an unprecedented manner during the last 10-12 days. It is their opinion that I should be paraded to the cross and crucified there. I will not be afraid of this . Jesus Christ was accused wrongly. The Buddha was accused wrongly,” Karunanayake said. “According to the Ashta Loka Dharma (Eight worldly conditions) any one would have to face challenges and situations similar to this. I have the strength to face these challenges. I have observed that there is a conspiracy to destabilize the Yahapalana regime making use of the allegations against me.”
He said further that he felt there was a plot to disrupt the work launched by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for restoring democracy. “Those who were rejected by people, engaged in various frauds and corruption, committed crimes are there in this conspiracy against the government. Their wish is to regain power in order to get away from the crimes they committed,” Karunanayake said. “We would not let these power hungry elements to attack the UNP. We would not let these power hungry elements to dismantle the Yahapalana government. We cannot let them make use of allegations against me to attack my party, my government and our work for democracy. Therefore I decided to resign from my post setting an example.”
He said that history would decide his place.
“Many previous leaders of my party had been wrongly accused in the same manner. Sir John Kotelawela, Dudley Senanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, R Premadasa and J.R Jayewardene all have been accused wrongly in this manner. But later all those charges were proven false ,” Karunanayake said. “The Holy Quran has said that the truth cannot be suppressed for long and those who try to suppress the truth will be defeated. That is why I say that the history would do justice. Thirukkural Tamil poem instructs us to follow the path of the righteous and to do the right thing always. My wish is to do the right thing always and to serve honestly. Come what may I would continue to serve my people, my party and my country. I will always stand for the truth. I would continue my struggle to eliminate crime and corruption from my country. I would remain dedicate to the causes of January 08 revolution.”
He said that he did not regret his decision to resign but was proud to set the example.
“I sacrifice my position for the honour of this august assembly. I sacrifice my post for the benefit of our party and all those who love this party. I sacrifice this post for the benefit of all those people in my electorate. I sacrifice this post for the benefit of the new political culture we introduced. I sacrifice this post for the democracy of this country. I sacrifice this post for the continuance of our government,” Minister Karunanayake said. “Therefore I am proud of my decision.”
“I have to mention here the mental pressure undergone by my wife and children. Some sections of media try to assassinate the characters of my wife and my daughters. They have become subjects of false accusations. They are undergoing so much pressure. But their support and love to me too have helped me make this decision. I love my wife Mela, my daughters Onella, Shenella and Minnella for that strength. I love you always,” Ravi Karunanayake said. “There is one stanza in Dhammapada that comes to my mind at this point. It says: If one wrongs a person who should not be wronged, one who is pure and is free from moral defilements, the evil falls back upon that fool, like fine dust thrown against the wind. There is another stanza which says: As a mountain of rock is unshaken by wind, so also, the wise are unperturbed by blame or by praise.”
He said further because of those reasons he was a proud person to take that decision on behalf of his party, his country.