Heeded call of Mahanayake Theras, voters - Hashim | Daily News

Heeded call of Mahanayake Theras, voters - Hashim

UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim yesterday said he had decided to accept his previous Ministry portfolio after giving deep consideration to appeals made by the most Venerable Mahanayake Theras, other religious representatives, his district voters, the Muslim community, the Prime Minister, the President and Minister Sajith Premadasa.

Former ministers Kabir Hashim and M.H.A.Haleem, who resigned from their ministerial portfolios earlier this month, were reappointed to their previous posts on Wednesday.

All Muslim ministers including cabinet, state and deputy ministers in the Government resigned from their ministerial portfolios on June 3 following several violent incidents targeting Muslims following Easter Sunday attacks.

Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development Minister Kabir Hashim issuing a statement to explain the reasons behind his decision to step down and re-accept the ministry portfolio said even though no allegations had been made against him personally the decision to step down was necessary to prevent communal violence from engulfing the country.

“As those who have worked with us can attest, we have always been ready and willing to make sacrifices and stand for accountability on behalf of the United National Party. Since our resignation, the government has made many strides towards addressing the threats faced by the Muslim community, although much more remains to be done. During this period, Sri Lanka’s Muslims had no representation in the government,” he added.

While noting that now was not the time for political leaders of any community to remain on the sidelines Minister Hashim said, “we urge all elected representatives of our party to let their every decision be guided by the voices of their voters above all others.

It is their needs that must inform our every move over the next critical six months. Our supporters are the lifeblood of our party. It is our job over the next several months to turn things around for the UNP and the country and to chart a new course for the government and the United National Party”.

Following is the full statement issued by Kabir Hashim, Minister of Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development:

In the weeks following the horrific terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, our government was unable to prevent communal violence and xenophobia from overtaking the country, dividing Sri Lankans along ethnic and religious lines. With the Muslim community and Muslim politicians coming under particularly fierce attack, we decided, to defend our community and party, to step down from the government, even though no allegations had been made against us personally. It is an unfortunate truth that this decision was necessary to prevent communal violence from engulfing our country.

As those who have worked with us can attest, we have always been ready and willing to make sacrifices and stand for accountability on behalf of the United National Party. Since our resignation, the government has made many strides towards addressing the threats faced by the Muslim community, although much more remains to be done. During this period, Sri Lanka’s Muslims had no representation in the government.

Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe has been a tower of strength in giving confidence to the people by working towards bringing back the country to normalcy. He has also been instrumental in resolving various genuine issues and grievances the Muslim community has faced.

From the day we stepped down, voters and district leaders in our electorates have been appealing to us to represent them in the government. Last weekend, our party’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa made a personal appeal for the Muslim community to have faith in the government and stand with them to serve the country and all its religious and ethnic groups. I am, especially, grateful for the statesmanship and political courage that Mr. Premadasa has demonstrated by taking such a stand in the face of stiff political opposition.

His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena and Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also spoken with us. We have had discussions with both the President and the Prime Minister on what more the government can do to address the challenges faced, not only by the Muslim community, but of all Sri Lankans who want our citizens to be united across ethnic and religious lines. The President has invited myself to participate at the National Security Council and has decided to hold weekly meetings with Muslim political leaders in his capacity as President and Minister of Defence, Public Security, Low and Order, to assure that Muslims receive equal protection under the law. This is a commendable initiative by the Hon. President.

As politicians, we must not forget that we owe our seats in Parliament to the voters who brought us there by exercising their franchise. Whatever interests appeal to us after we are seated in Parliament or in the Cabinet, our ultimate debt is to the electors who vote us into office. After giving deep consideration to the appeals made by the most Venerable Mahanayake Theras, other religious representatives, my district voters, the Muslim community, the Hon. Prime Minister, H.E. The President, and especially Hon. Sajith Premadasa, I decided to accept my original ministerial portfolio.

Some opportunistic politically motivated individuals try to create mountains out of molehills and create racial and ethnic tensions. They condemn the Muslim politicians when they resign from their portfolios and continue to denounce the same ministers when they re-accept their portfolios. This proves that their allegations are baseless and they are merely working towards misguiding the masses without any logical basis.

As revealed in our discussions with the eminent Mahanayake Theras and other representatives across various social strata, one of the main reasons for suspicions to arise against the Muslim community in addition to the Easter Sunday bombings were certain social and legal concerns. I hereby pledge to mediate to resolve the said concerns as well.

The action taken by the valiant security forces helped in restoring normalcy to civilian livelihoods. The support extended by the Muslim communities and the leadership was thankfully acknowledged by the security forces. Consequently I pledge, to not hinder the progress of such investigations in the future.

Now is not the time for political leaders of any community to remain on the sidelines. We urge all elected representatives of our party to let their every decision be guided by the voices of their voters above all others. It is their needs that must inform our every move over the next critical six months.

Our supporters are the lifeblood of our party. It is our job over the next several months to turn things around for the UNP and the country and to chart a new course for the government and the United National Party.


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