- Declares his innocence, says decision to step down taken to protect party and Govt.
- Will continue to serve the public and UNP, conspiracy to destabilise Govt.
- Roasts previous regime for “swollen heads” and failing to investigate crimes
- Insists no allegations against him, blames media, says Jesus and Buddha were also wrongfully accused
- Hopes AG has same focus on 87 files on corruption as bond investigations
- Proud to step down, says history will judge his “sacrifice”
Delivering a climactic twist to the controversial bond saga, former Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday tendered his resignation in a hard-hitting parliamentary statement and sat with party backbenchers after insisting he was proud to be part of a Government which has delivered good governance.
Addressing the House yesterday on a personal privilege issue, Minister Karunanayake stated that despite his innocence, he was compelled to take the bold decision to step down from his ministerial post to protect the Yahapalana Government, the United National Party (UNP) and the country.
“We will not let these power-hungry elements attack the United National Party. We will not let these power-hungry elements dismantle the Yahapalana Government. We cannot let them make use of the 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. History will decide my place,” said Karunanayake.Karunanayake met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over the weekend and again on Tuesday before meeting with both the Prime Minister and President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday.
“During my career, I never earned anything through illegal means. I only lost my money because of politics. I didn’t earn from politics but spent my private money,” he told Parliament.
Karunanayake charged that individuals who had even the slightest connection to a Minister were not summoned before a commission previously. He alleged that key ministers and the President acted with “swollen heads” in the previous administration.
However, he said he would respect the law and bow before it. Karunanayake pointed out that the task of the presidential commission was to investigate the alleged bond scam but instead it had made “renting a house” the talk of the town. Nonetheless, he expressed confidence the commission would complete its task competently and assured he would continue to keep a close eye on the proceedings.
“We hope the Attorney General’s department will show the same efficiency with regard to the 87 files submitted to the department by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division against the members of the former government.”
Karunanayake dwelt extensively on his services to the party and efforts to win the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015 for his party and ‘yahapalanaya’.
Karunanayake also went on to say he was unfairly targeted through the baseless allegations directed at him and the media acting as judge and jury. He also recalled that even though there had been previous allegations against him nothing had ever been proved.
“The media in this country acted in a unique manner during the last 10-12 days. It is their opinion that I should be led to the cross and crucified. I will not be afraid of this. Jesus Christ was accused wrongly. The Buddha was accused wrongly. According to the eight worldly conditions in Buddhism everyone will have to face challenges and situations similar to this.
Karunanayake remained defiant even when announcing his resignation, emphasising the fact that he was proud to step down as it was a symbol of the new political change achieved by this Government. He stressed that he would continue to serve his “people, party and country” and “stand for the truth.”
“I will continue my struggle to eliminate crime and corruption from my country. I will remain dedicated to the causes of the 8 January revolution. I did not take the decision to resign with regret. I am proud to set this example.
“I sacrificed 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. Therefore, I am proud of my decision.”
PM hails RK move
- Says no similar example in Sri Lanka’s political history
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the resignation of Minister Ravi Karunanayake was a significant move which would help to create a new political culture in the country.
Commending Karunanayake for his selfless move, the Prime Minister said: “The Assistant Leader of my party told me that he needed to resign from the ministerial portfolio. I told him to make that decision after discussing it with the President.
He met with the President on Wednesday. Later he went to meet the President with me and Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and handed over his resignation.”
According to the Prime Minister, the resignation indicates that the Government will not interfere with the probe conducted by the presidential commission investigating the bond issue.
“There is no similar example in political history. This is an unprecedented instance. The incumbent Government has realised its good governance goals. When in this country has a minister been summoned before a commission? When has a Minister resigned to making a speech or two? We are introducing a new political culture. If anyone in the UNP is accused of stealing we will remove him or her. We will not harbour thieves,” added the PM.
“I did not accuse anybody. I just explained the party’s position on thieves. Why are you shouting? You are reacting just because you are upset? The reaction indicates there are thieves. You have sand thieves there. You have sil-redi thieves there. You have drug dealers there. There are tsunami thieves, carom board thieves and cement thieves. That is why they got so upset. You were unable to investigate any theft for 10 years. You killed Lasantha Wickrematunge, you abducted and killed Eknaligoda.
“Minister Karunanayake did not go before the Supreme Court to obtain a stay order to avoid the commission. He went before the commission, made his statement, came here and resigned to take a back seat. We saw what happened to Priyasath Dep under the previous government. When Dep was acting independently he was transferred to the Supreme Court to prevent him becoming the Attorney General. But Dep was lucky and became Chief justice. Today the media has freedom. I remember there was a time when the media called us traitors. They even called for my resignation. Today everyone is called a thief. The person who writes that we are thieves is also a thief. Today the media has the freedom to write anything,” said the Prime Minister. (AH)
Who is the next FM?
Speculation was rife over the next possible Foreign Minister after the resignation of Ravi Karunanayake with political circles narrowing on four possible shortlists.
One is the current Minister of Development Assignments Tilak Marapana but it was alleged that two powerful Ministers have opposed this move since Marapana had to resign as Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms in 2015 over the Avant Garde case.
Another candidate is Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera being asked to revert to his former portfolio.
The third name is Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissnayake whilst some also pointed to Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.
The final decision on the new Foreign Minister will be announced following consensus between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Analysts said the new appointment likely to be temporary with indications that Karunanayake, will make a comeback after the conclusion of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Treasury Bond scam.