Karu Jayasuriya – Speaker of the 8th Parliament of Sri Lanka

Published : 9:29 am  September 2, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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karu2Karu Jayasuriya who is considered a liberal democrat with gentlemanly politics has never got his image tarnished with allegations of corruption or misdeeds and comes from a respected business and plumbago mine owning family in Mirigama at Hapitigam Korale in Gampaha and is the eldest son of a five member family.

Incidentally, the Speaker in the Sri Lankan Parliament has more power bestowed on him under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The duties and responsibilities of the Speaker become more significant in the backdrop of the new unity government led by the UNP expects to introduce a new Constitution and Parliament cannot be dissolved until it completes four and a half years.

Mr. Jayasuriya received his early education at Kandangamuwa Vidyalaya at Mirigama and secondary education at Ananda  College, Colombo. After completing his schooling career, Mr. Jayasuriya obtained professional qualifications by securing membership with the Institute  of Chartered Shipbrokers, London (A.I.C.S.) in 1965 and a Fellowship (F.I.C.S.).

He underwent further training in ‘Commodity Trading’ with the Baltic Exchange in London, followed by Advanced Management Training (AMP) with the leading European Business School INSEAD in France. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FICT).

Incidentally, Mr. Jayasuriya is a pioneer in promoting the concept of good governance and free and fair elections before many even had any concern about it.

Mr. Jayasuriya joined the Sri Lanka Army (CVF) and served as a commissioned officer during 1965 – 1972.
He is related to the Seneviratne clan in Attanagalla who used to fight a losing political battle with Bandaranaikes for a long time in the second half of the last century.

Mr. Jayasuriya married Dr. Wasantha Gunasekara Owitigala. He is a father of two daughters and eldest daughter is married to UNP stalwart and former Minister Navin Dissanayaka.

In 1972, he left the Army to join the private sector. With his business acumen, dedication and efficiency rose to the level of one of the most sort after business managers in a few years time and by the end of 1980s, he had served in a large number of companies either as a chairman, Managing Director, Executive Director or the CEO.

Mr. Jayasuriya served as Chairman of several professional bodies such as The National Chamber of Commerce and The Sri Lanka Business Development Centre. He was also a Director of the Export Development Board.

He was the Chairman of the Organising Committee of ‘Expo 1992,’ the first International Trade Fair held in Sri Lanka, and rendered an immense service to its great success. This was the most successful International Trade Fair held up to now, which attracted over 5,600 foreign visitors.

Mr. Jayasuriya was bestowed with national honours, ‘Deshabandu’ in recognition of his contribution towards the development of the Export Industry. His services to the country were further recognized when the then President of Sri Lanka appointed him as the Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1992, with concurrent accreditation to Austria and Switzerland. He served in this capacity until June 1994, when he voluntarily relinquished his duties. His short but dedicated services were duly recognized by these countries.

Mr. Jayasuriya was invited to join the United National Party (UNP) in December 1994 and was appointed the Secretary – Coordination of the party. Within a short space of time in May 1995, he was elevated to the position of Party Chairman, unanimously. At the local government elections in March 1997, he was nominated by the Party as the Mayoral candidate. He won the election, polling the highest number of votes in Colombo, and was elected as the Mayor of Colombo. He assumed office as the 23rd Mayor of Colombo on April 15, 1997 polling nearly 250,000 votes.

The city of Colombo underwent a dramatic change during his 20 month regime securing recognition as the best city in the SAARC region and one of the best managed cities in Asia. Mr. Jayasuriya was also honoured as the most innovative Mayor in the region.
Mr. Jayasuriya contested the Western Provincial Council Elections in April 1999 as the Chief Ministerial Candidate of the UNP and polled a record number of over 260,000 votes. He then resigned as the Mayor of Colombo and assumed duties as the Opposition Leader of the Western Provincial Council. His non-confrontational approach was well received at all times by the ruling administration, which implemented all his proposals. Here again it was a short assignment of 18 months.

For the Parliamentary Election in the year 2000, he moved over from Colombo District to Gampaha District and at the Parliamentary Elections held in October 2000, he was elected to Parliament with a total number of over 255,000 votes from the Gampaha District. He polled the second highest number of votes in the island. He was appointed as Deputy Leader of the UNP in October 2000.

At the Parliamentary Elections in 2001 he once again led the UNP to victory in the Gampaha District. Mr. Jayasuriya’s 22 months tenure as the Power and Energy Minister will be remembered by the people of Sri Lanka, since he restored the then eight-hour power cuts to full restoration of continuous power supply within 155 days of assuming the portfolio.

He introduced a new management concept to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the Ceylon Electricity Board by delegating full managerial and commercial freedom to professional management boards those were able to work independently and produce good results.

He was sworn in as Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister in January 2007. Minister Jayasuriya was able to introduce far reaching changes to the administrative set up, such as citizens charter, public day and visits to remote areas with a full team of officials monthly to settle unresolved problems. He also headed a special committee appointed by the President after liberation to restore civil administration in the Eastern  Province within 180 days. Civil administration in the Eastern Region was achieved successfully. The entire public services went through a rapid transformation to ensure a people friendly, effective and courteous service.

Mr. Jayasuriya set a new political culture in Sri   Lanka by not using posters, banners, cut outs, polythene and non criticism of those with opposing political views, qualities which are appreciated by the society. This became a model followed by few others in subsequent years.

Incidentally, Mr. Jayasuriya is a pioneer in promoting the concept of good governance and free and fair elections before many even had any concern about it. It was Mr. Jayasuriya who first brought the Right to Information Bill, a vital prerequisite for good governance and media independence and also played a big role to enact the 17th Amendment to the Constitution during the 2002 – 2004 UNP rule.

Karu’s experience as a Military Officer, Private Sector CEO, Trade Chamber Leader, Diplomat, Mayor of Colombo, Provincial Council Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Minister adds up to make him a politician with a proven track record, respected and loved by the people.

Next to the incumbent President of Sri Lanka, Jayasuriya has been bestowed with high ranking titles by the religious bodies of Sri Lanka such as ‘Deshamanya Shasanabandu,’ ‘Sarartha Dharshi Jananayaka,’ ‘Lanka Ranjana – Janahithakami’ and ‘Sasana Ranjana.’
In 2015, President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Mr. Jayasuriya as the Minister of Public Administration, Provincial Councils, Democratic Rule and Buddha Sasana after his victory in the election.