Karu Jayasuriya bestowed with the country’s highest civil honour – ‘Sri Lankabhimanya’ Award
The ‘Sri Lankabhimanya’ Award, the highest national award given by the Government of Sri Lanka to a Sri Lankan citizen or non-Sri Lankan individual was conferred on Parliamentarian Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday (February 03).
The former Speaker received the award at a Ceremony of Investiture held at the President’s House in Colombo this morning, the President’s Media Division (PMD) reported.
The decision to award the accolade was announced in a special gazette notification published on 24 January.
‘Sri Lankabhimanya’ is bestowed upon those who have rendered exceptionally outstanding and most distinguished service to the nation.
Only five Sri Lankans can hold this honour at the same time, which means that if five recipients of the award are alive, the award cannot be given to a sixth person. However, the award can also be given posthumously.
Addressing the ceremony, Karu Jayasuriya said that what should be done at this point of time is not the struggle of racism, but to work to create national harmony.
He also requested all parties and opposition parties to join hands to ensure that the next generation would be handed over a glorious country having rectified the shortcomings that have occurred over the past 75 years.
Jayasuriya pointed out that at no time in his political career had he criticised or offended anyone and said that he had never engaged in any illegal activities.
He said that as a result of an effort to create a new political culture, on the advice of the Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, he had dedicated his political career for justice and fairness and this National Award is a tribute to the policies he followed.
Jayasuriya recalled that he entered politics on the invitation of the current President Ranil Wickremesinghe after he became the leader of the United National Party and said that he is happy to work in close contact with the people.
He also stated that during his tenure as the Mayor, he was able to create a new culture in the Colombo Municipal Council and its success was even recognized internationally.
Jayasuriya, who served as the Speaker of Parliament from 2015-2020, has also held a number of cabinet ministerial portfolios since he embarked on his active political career in 1995 representing the UNP.
Prior to commencing his political career, Jayasuriya served in the Ceylon Army Volunteer Force from 1965-1972.
Jayasuriya, who later joined the private sector, has served as the chairman of National Chamber of Commerce, SAARC Chamber of Commerce, Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association, Sugar Importers’ Association and Sri Lanka Business Development Centre. He was also the Director of the Export Development Board.
After leaving the private sector, Jayasuriya was appointed the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Germany with accreditation to Austria and Switzerland in 1992, serving until 1994.
The award was presented most recently in 2017 to W.D. Amaradeva for his contribution to the Sri Lankan music industry. In addition, the Sri Lankabhimanya award was also bestowed on former presidents Ranasinghe Premadasa and D.B. Wijetunga, scientist Arthur C. Clarke, Laxman Kadirgamer, A.T. Ariyaratne, Lester James Peiris and Christopher Weeramantri.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Mr Saman Ekanayake, Presidential Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Mr Sagala Ratnayake, Government and Opposition Ministers and Mr. Karu Jayasuriya’s family members participated in this event.