Full statement made by Minister Ravi Karunanayake in Parliament – 10.08.2017
The full statement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ravi Karunanayake in parliament on 10th August before he resigns from his ministerial portfolio
The mainstream media in the country, websites and other social media made bald headlines about me in the last few days. Certain members of parliament too expressed different views. A no confidence motion against me has also been handed over. Therefore I thought of explaining my position to this respectable house.
A question was raised about my residency in an apartment on Monarch Residencies in Colombo 3. Therefore I testified before the Presidential Commission that probing the Central Bank Bond Issue. I, as a parliamentarian and responsible minister, thought that it is important to explain my position and express my stance before this honorable house.
First of all, let me explain the true factors about this matter.
We were compelled to shift to a new house as our Battaramulla residence needed some renovation. I did not use an official quarters as well. Therefore my family members looked for a place for us to stay. My family members told me that they found an apartment that owned by the daughter of Nahil Wijesuriya. Later, we shifted to that house.
Nahil Wijesuriya’s daughter is a school mate of my daughter. However, she was reluctant to lease her house in the name of a politician. Subsequently, my daughter has proposed her friend to lease the house in the name of a company owned by one of the school friends of both my daughter and Nahil Wijesuriya’s daughter – Arjun Aloysius. Later, the apartment was leased in the name of the particular company. Our daughter reimbursed the leasing fee to that company.
After some time, the owner of the apartment decided to sell her house and one of our companies purchased it. A bank loan was obtained from Seylan Bank for the purpose. I’ll table the documents with regard to that loan – Seylan Bank – Ref: No – WTL/CRD/2016 – 1535, September 29, 2016.
The loan installments on behalf of the company were paid by its Chairman. Entries with regard to all these payments have been included in company accounts. Therefore, there is nothing to hide in this process. More details could be provided to necessary authorities on necessary occasions at their request.
The close rapport I maintained with one of the great political leaders in this country Mr. Lalith Athulathmudali opened the door for me to enter politics. He was also not a person who made money out of politics. In spite of his humbleness, he was also humiliated by calling names such as the man who gulped down ships. Allegations were made against him. But all such allegations have been proved wrong in the course of time. I was a successful business entrepreneur when Mr. Athulathmudali introduced me to politics. I loosed my purse string lavishly for politics but Inever made any money reciprocally out of politics.
There is no necessity for me to own a house by illegal or inappropriate means. Majority of parliamentarians who represent this respectable house have visited my Battaramulla residence. Not only members of our party but also their counterparts in the Oppositionhave visited my home for various political discussions. Some of them visited in good faith. Some came just to enjoy meals and merry making. Others came to discuss party crossover as well.
All those who visited me know well about my assets. They also know that I have not made money through illegal means. They know that I have never used my political clout to make profit for my companies. Many of those signatories to the so called No-confidence motionagainst me are personally well aware that I have not earned any money out of politics.
In the past, no person even with a slightest affiliation to a minister had been summoned before a Commission let alone summoning a Cabinet Minister at that time. |We know how certain ministers who were intoxicated with power behaved in the past. We know how prime ministers functioned. Certain Presidents acted like Kings. Such people have still been attempting to cover up in impunity.
We do not follow suit. We respect the law of the country. We bow before justice. I went before the Bond Commission and was testified myself and proved to the world that we are practicing the new political culture and are respecting the morality of such new political culture.
The Presidential Commission was appointed to probe the Central Bank Bond Issue. But public dialogues are being held today on issues of private companies and leasing out of apartments.
When I was testifying before the Bond Commission, its Judges were compelled to intervene to nonchalant the manner the Additional Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department questioned me. He was warned. I am confident that the Judges of the Bond Commission would tread the middle path and actin unbiased manner to unearth the truth.
I am not going to talk in this house about the behavior of the Additional Solicitor General or him lacking professionalism in questioning a government minister. The reason for him to behave in such an aggressive manner would be revealed soon. His intention could be a showoff to win over a competition for promotion. It could be another reason either.
But I expect to reiterate here a different factor.
The Government Attorney General’s Department has full liberty today to question a government minister and even act in aggressive manner during questioning its own government minister.It had no such freedom even to open a file with regard to a government minister at that era, let alone questioning one of them. It did not have such guts either.
On the other hand, the Attorney General’s Department was so efficient to scrutinize 8803 pages within 48 hours. It is a positive trend.
We request the Attorney General’s Department to take prompt action in the same manner with regard to loans obtained by the country. We ask them to take the same rush with regard to various Acts introduced by the rule of the Good Governance. We ask them to maintain the similar efficiency in taking action against fraud and corruption committed by former ministers and MPs of the previous regime. To take immediate action with regard to 87 files on which FCID have completed investigations and have handed over to Attorney General’s Department for taking necessary legal action.
I have shed sweat of my brow for United National Party for the last 32 years. I faced many challenges when the party was in turbulences. I sacrificed my personal ambitions for the interest of the party. Consequently, I received death threats. False allegations were made and lawsuits were filed against me to that effect. Attempts were made to arrest me.
I was entangled into a foreign exchange entrap and was trialed for 10 years until I was acquitted by Courts. Mr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy who served for an accused of the same Case Mr. Raj Rajarathnam is the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka today. I am bringing these details into your attention to show that we were subjected to political revenge when we were in the Opposition. Now, character assassination has started.
Not only me who was forced to face political oppression. My paralyzed mother was sent severed human heads while my wife and children were sent lopped off human limbs. All of them were terrorized. Amid all such encumbrances, I performed my share of duty on behalf of UNPers. Certain attempts to divide the party were prevented. Conspiracies to change party leadership were defeated. I protected the party and its leader as well.
I will stand for my policy forever. I swear to protect our party supporters, our party and the party leadership as well. At that point, I give priority to my party rather than my personal goals. I think of my country.
We firmly believed that all progressive forces should unite themselves to defeat Rajapaksa regime at the Presidential Election in 2015. We proposed to field a common candidate to contest the election. When Mr. Maithripala Sirisena was nominated as the common candidate for the Presidential Election, I was the one who proposed Swan as the election symbol for the common candidate. I did all that for the future of the country.
Let me now to announce my stance.
I used my ministry portfolio to serve the people, to mete out justice for party supporters who were subjected to various deprivations for over 20 years and to do the right thing for the country. Members of both the ruling party and the Opposition know that my telephone was switched on round the clock. I used my positions to serve the nation and not to enjoy power and privileges.
All these positions, parliamentary privileges, ministry portfolios and power are impermanent. Then, permanent things are the service we rendered, our virtues and our honesty. Many of them do not realize this general truth. They think that positions and political power are to enjoy forever. Although they are a defeated clan, they have been day dreaming of power and ready to go all out to commit any low actto regain power. Their sole ambition is to regain power at the expense of the country.
But we toiled to introduce a different social culture after the victory of January 8th democratic revolution.
There is no concrete foundation to the allegations made against me. I have connection to none of them. But certain groups and certain media have already come to conclusions to say that I am at fault. Our media houses may have not utilized their scribal prowess and airtime in the past to that extent they use it to create news out of me during the last ten or twelve days. Some of them want to crucify me. I am not shaken by them.
Insults were hurled at Jesus Christ, The Buddha too. Everybody has to face such vicissitudes in life. I have full strength to face all such ups and downs in life. However what I foresee is that there is a conspiracy to instable the rule of the good governance by making me a political scapegoat.
I feel that an attempt has been launched to sabotage the democratic progression being carried out by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those who were rejected by the people, others accused of fraud and corruption and those who committed grave crimes in the past have been hatching this plot. They are in an attempt to regain power in order to escape from the punishments in line for the offences they committed during the previous regime.
These power greedy opportunists and conspirators cannot be allowed to destroy United National Party. No they are permitted to unstable the Good Governance administration. We cannot let them sabotage the democratic progression of the President and the Prime Minister either. We cannot allow them to weaken our efforts of rebuilding the country that was destroyed in Rajapaksa regime.
Therefore, setting precedent for the entire country, I decided to resign from my Ministry Portfolio.
The history and time would decide what is in store for me in the political landscape of this country.
Simultaneously, allegations of this nature were leveled against powerful past leaders as well. Allegations were made against Sir John Kotalawala, Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, Minister Gamini Dissanayake, President R. Premadasa and President J.R. Jayewardene. At last, history proved that all such allegations against all of them were baseless.
I quote Holy Quran:
“Despite untiring efforts to hide the truth, Truth cannot be concealed. Those who attempt to shield the truth would finally face extreme downfall”.
I quote again from a Tamil Book called Thirukkural:
“Do things morally right, at all times, at all places”.
My intention is to do correct things and my ambition is to serve honestly. In spite of any allegation, I incessantly appear for the truth. I swear to fight to eliminate crime and corruption from this country. I sweat my brow to look after my party supporters. I make repeated commitments to safeguard the political and social values we restored through January 8 revolution.
I have neither regrets nor shock to take this crucial decision but, I took it with great pride.
I sacrificed my position for the dignity of this respectable house. I sacrifice it for the sake of the ministers and parliamentarians who really love our party, especially the party backbenchers. It is a sacrifice made for the sake of voters of the Colombo district and all those who love UNP. I dared to sacrifice my position to introduce a new political culture in this country.
I sacrifice my ministry portfolio for the sake of a civilized rule of government. I sacrifice this position to protect the democratic rule of this country. I sacrifice my position for the Unity Government of the President and the Prime Minister. Therefore I am proud of my decision.
Here, I should mention about the mental agony being suffered by my wife and children. Some of our media resorted to assassinate the characters of my wife and daughters as well. They have also become victims of this witch hunting. They have been under pressure and being humiliated. In spite of all these encumbrances, they stood strong by my side to take this decision. For their commitment, I thank you my wife Mela, daughters Onella, Shenella and Minella. You all love me forever and, my incessant love is always with you.
One of the stanzas in the Dhammapada or The Buddha’s path to Truth states:
“As a single slab of rock, won’t budge in the wind, so the wise are not moved, either by praise or by blame”.
Another stanza similarly explains in this manner:
“Whoever harasses an innocent man, a man pure, without blemish, the evil comes right back to the fool, like from dust thrown against wind”.
Therefore, I say again, I am proud of my decision. I put country before self and also my party before self.