Top Cabiner Minister decides to back Common Candidate Maithri
A top Lankan Cabinet Ministerial firebrand made the crucial career call of his political life on 22 December-and need for national unity underpins his crucial decision. “The decision was made having our community and national unity in mind” voiced Rishad Bathiudeen MP, formerly Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 22 December in Colombo.
Rishad MP was addressing local and international media at the opposition leader’s office, Colombo on 22 December afternoon, joined by Common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
“My party has come to the conclusion that there is no alternative but to leave the Government. The decision was made having our community and national unity in mind” said Rishad MP addressing the media briefing at the opposition leader’s office, Colombo.
Rishad Bathiudeen MP, the powerful Cabinet Minister championed the portfolio of Industry and Commerce from 2011 to 2014 December. Since taking over of the portfolio, Minister Bathiudeen has been in the forefront in representing Sri Lanka in several global, multilateral and regional foras. In August 2013 Minister Bathiudeen took over the Chairmanship of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Ministerial Council. Minister Bathiudeen was also instrumental in enlisting the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to secure copyright, patents and Geographical Indicators for Sri Lanka’s designs, creations and export product-lines i.e. Pure Ceylon Cinnamon, Pure Ceylon Tea, and in progress is an initiative to ensure Geographical Indicators for Ceylon Blue Sapphires. Minister Bathiudeen has also entrusted the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) which falls under his purview, with the task of achieving $ 20 Bn export returns by 2020.
The overall industry contribution to the GDP stood at 33% in 2013 and the value contribution of $21.8 Bn while overall export value in 2013 stood at $10.38 Bn.
Bathiudeen MP has also been listed as one among the top 500 most influential global Muslim Leaders in 2013/’14 published by Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC). He is the fourth Sri Lankan to enter this elite ranking since 2010-other entrants being Ms Jazima Ismail, Supreme Court Judge Saleem Marsoof, and M.I.M Rizwi Mufthi.
Previously Bathiudeen MP served as the Minister of Resettlement in which he served thousands of forcibly evicted Northern Sri Lankan Muslims and helped resettle 300,000 people displaced due to the war regardless of race or creed. He was also a recipient the sought after Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) award.
In his resignation communique to HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa dated 22 December, Bathiudeen MP stated: “With all hopes entertained by my party about the concern of my people having been shattered miserably, my party has come to the conclusion that there is no alternative but to leave the Government. Under the circumstances I hereby convey the decision of my party to leave the Government. I also take this opportunity to thank Your Excellency and the Members of the Government for the cooperation extended to me as a Minister in Your Cabinet since 2005.”