Ninth recipient: Karu Jayasuriya awarded Lanka’s highest national honour

Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya Friday became the ninth recipient of Sri Lanka’s highest National Award of Sri Lankaabhimana, first received by the late President R. Premadasa when the title was created by the J.R. Jayewardene government in 1986.

Humbly accepting the honour, Jayasuriya said in a statement that the rule of the law is the only source of protection available to Lankans in present times and the country must be handed over to posterity as a better country than we were born into by upholding the rule of law.

Saying we’re now passing through trying times he declared: “We are passing through a violent storm and the course out of it must be wisely navigated if we are to survive. All need to join forces for that purpose. It is natural that there would be differences in suggestions on how to get out of this crisis and there could be debate. But we must all remember that only a joint effort would help us all,” he said.

“We must immediately jettison the narrow religious and racial supremacism first. We must keep in mind that it is a fallacy to expect victory only by championing the cause of getting power at any cost over the national and common good. We must not delay economic and political reforms needed for further strengthening the fundamental rights of people and restoring democracy in this land. We must maintain a balanced foreign policy giving due respect to the interests of our neighbouring countries,” he said.

Jayasuriya received the award at an Investiture held at the President’s House in Colombo. The decision to make this award was announced in a special gazette notification published on January 24.

‘Sri Lankabhimanya’ is the highest civil honour of Sri Lanka awarded by the President on behalf of the government. It is bestowed upon those who have rendered exceptionally outstanding and most distinguished service to the nation.

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 from the UNP in 1995.

He served in the Ceylon Army Volunteer Force as a gazetted officer from 1965-1972. He later joined the private sector and 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 a Director of the Export Development Board.

After leaving the private sector, Jayasuriya was appointed the Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Germany with accreditation to Austria and Switzerland in 1992, serving until 1994.

Those previously honoured with the Sri Lankabhimanya title were Ranasinghe Premadasa (1986), DB Wijetunga (1993), Arthur C Clarke (2005), Lakshman Kadirgamar (2005), AT Ariyaratne. Lester James Peries, Judge C.G. Weeramantry (2007) and WD Amaradeva (2017).

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