DEW Gunasekera the Chairman of the initial COPE – the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprise – declared that in light of various inactions, Ranil Wickremesinghe cannot morally hold on to being Prime Minister.
Speaking to a local media outlet, the veteran politician described a series of events which led to his view on the holder of the ‘first amongst equals’.
Mr Gunasekera was the first asked by then Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to form a ‘good’ committee and address the issue thoroughly. Later when he wanted to present an interim report to the Speaker three UNP members of his committee objected saying they wanted a full report. Mr Gunasekera described this as a delaying tactic and compared it to the second COPE (under Chairman Handunnetti) where several UNP members insisted on making so-called ‘footnotes’.
The Communits Party icon also described how he questioned Arjuna Mahendran the beleaguered former Governor of the Central Bank. Mr Gunasekera had asked him of his nationality and Mahendran confirmed it as Sngaorean. When Mr Gunasekera asked him why he would not want to take up Sri Lankan nationality Mahendran had said he did not wish to lose his Singaporean nationality.
Mr Gunasekera had then asked him about the oath taken by all public officials. Mahendran had said that as he was a foreigner he was unable to do that. Thus, said Mr Gunasekera we had a situation where the most prestigious government service job was held by a man a public servant who did so without taking the oath.
Mr Gunasekera was the person credited for asking for the appointment of a Presidential Commission. However he bemoaned the fact that the Commission did not have judicial powers, saying “If the Commission was given some judicial authority from the constitution then Ravi Karunanayake and others would have been imprisoned already. Now we have to go through this again. It will at least take another year, for this case to be taken up before court. Take a look at the newspapers after the Parliament was dissolved and read the speeches delivered by Ravi Karunanayake, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Ranil Wickremesinghe. All these were done to protect Arjuna Mahendran. They said the problem was related to the procedure of the Issuance of Bonds. Arjuna Mahendran said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed him to follow that procedure and he acted accordingly. He said this before me. He swore before making this statement. I told him he should swear on a Bible, I have never said that before at the COPE. I did that as Arjuna Mahendran was the only public sector official in our country to not have taken an oath.”