Sooriyaarachi to be laid to rest Wednesday

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 February 2008, 21:51 GMT]
The remains of former Port Development Minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party-Mahayana Wing (SLFP) (M) Coordinator Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, who was killed in a car accident Saturday at Thambuththegama, Anuradhapura was kept in Jayaratne Funeral Parlour in Borella Sunday morning for viewing by public to pay their homage, and was later taken to his residence in Kandana, sources in Colombo said.

A large number of politicians including Cabinet ministers D.M.Jayaratne ,C.B.Ratnayake,Mervyn Silva and members of the ruling SLFP , opposition members of parliament Arjun Ranatunge,Laxman Seneviratne,Abdul Cader,Wijeyadsa Rajapakse,Ravi Ratnayake and United National Party (UNP) National Cordinator S.P.Dissanayake many Buddhist monks and supporters of the late politician filed past the casket paying their respect.

The casket carrying the remains of Sooriyarachchi was then taken in a procession to his residence in Kandana at 12:00 noon.

Late Sooriyarachi, born in September 8, 1969, was 45 when he met with his tragic death. He is survived by his wife Dilrukshi and four children, two daughters and two sons.

Sooriyarachi who initially expressed interest in national politics in 1989, entered in main stream politics in April 2004 during the presidency of Chandrika Bandaranayake, winning Kelaniya electorate.

He was a retired officer of Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and also held important jobs including the post of Commissioner of Food Department and also held various positions in Ruphavagini Corporation.

Mr.Sooriyarachi, who won the 2004 General elections in Kelaniya electorate served as Minister for youth affairs and Sports.

Sooriyarachchi, who was one of the chief campaigners along with Mangala Samaraweera for President Mahinda Rajapakse at the presidential election, was sworn in as Minister of Ports Development by Rajapaksa on assuming office. He later became the Minister for Skills Development and Training. In addition he also accepted the added responsibility of a non cabinet position of Minister for Ports.

However, soon his relationship with the President soured and a serious difference in opinion developed. Sooriyarachchi alleged that President Rajapakse and his campaign team entered into a secret deal with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) to enforce a boycott in the north and east of the November 2005 presidential election. He presented a motion calling for the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to probe the allegations.

He also moved the Supreme Court to stop the sale of National Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) shares in Sri Lanka Telecom to Maxis of Malaysia. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Less than six weeks after Sooriyarachchi’s sacking, the government filed charges against him under the Offences Against Public Property Act for the misappropriation of a state vehicle and had him remanded. During his time in remand, Sooriyarachchi refused to take refuge in a hospital and did his time in Welikada prison until he was enlarged on bail by the Avissawella High Court stating there was no basis for the allegation.

It is significant to note that his tragic death occurred exactly on the date of completion of one year from the time he left the party in power. After being stripped of his cabinet portfolio and sacked from the party, late Sooriyarachi On June 19, crossed over to the opposition with fellow SLFP Member of Parliament (MP) Mangala Samaraweera, forming the SLFP Mahajana Wing, or SLFP (M).

Mr.Sooriyarachi then entered into talks with Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leader of UNP and on July 19, formed a National Council composed of UNP and SLFP (M) and held a number of conferences and general meetings against the government.

Just two weeks ago, the Attorney General filed two indictments against Sooriyaarachchi, one in Colombo on the vehicle issue and another indictment in Polonnaruwa for an alleged murder during the 2002 UNF government.

The cremation is scheduled to be held 13 February Wednesday 3:00 p.m. at Khanate cemetery, Borella.


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