PM tells JO : You have US citizens & agents among you

Ranil Wickremesinghe at Parliament

Prasad Kariyawasam was appointed to the post of Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US by the former government, and they are now creating a fuss that Kariyawasam is an American agent, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe observed in Parliament yesterday. The PM said this in response to a query raised by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa with regard to giving former Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam a Parliamentary consultant post whereas his salary is paid by the US government.

The Prime Minister said that he was not consulted when the appointment in question was made and that appointment could have been questioned at the Party Leaders’ Meeting where it could have been reversed.

“I was not consulted when Kariyawasam or Dr Amunugama was appointed as consultants. You could raise this at the Party Leaders’ Meeting and take it up with the Speaker next week.”

“Now, if you have a question about whether Kariyawasam is an American agent, then shall we find out who introduced him to the US? He was appointed as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US by the former government,” the Prime Minister said.

He noted that it was the former government which signed the ACSA (agreement with the US) as well. “All we did was to renew it. Is the ACSA harmless and beneficial to the country when you sign it, and not so when we renew it? What is this double standard? You have American citizens and agents among you. Let’s hold a debate on this. It is you who handed over the Foreign Service to the US. Now you are accusing us.

This Parliament receives assistance from various countries and institutions. They invite the parliamentarians and its staff for foreign tours. They hold workshops here. We as parliamentarians go abroad on the invitation and grants from China, the US and the EU. Now you can make a choice if you are against accepting the help and assistance from these foreign countries and whether you would want to accept these foreign tours again or not. So hereafter we will not give the opportunity to go abroad to the opposition. Only other parties could go because only the opposition are opposing such assistance,” Premier Wickremesinghe said.

(Source: Daily News – By Camelia Nathaniel / Sandasen Marasinghe and Amali Mallawarachchi)