was kind, compassionate and thoughtful
Dr. Ernest Abeyratne
December 10th is the seventh death anniversary of Dr. Ernest
F. L. Abeyratne, a rare human being who left an indelible mark not
only in the history of agricultural development in Sri Lanka but
also in the minds of his associates. His contributions to agriculture
remain unparalleled but more importantly his kindness, compassion,
thoughtfulness and understanding stand well above those of people
of the present day. While being rational and scientific in his approach
during his period of active service in the Department of Agriculture
and as FAO advisor, he continued the search for the fundamental
truths about himself and the world.
son of well-known paediatrician Dr. L. O. Abeyratne and an outstanding
product of Trinity College, he was able to instill a sense of purpose
and direction in the minds of his friends and colleagues.
thoughts that he is no longer with us and the sadness felt by his
family and friends, it is rewarding for us to reflect on this devoted
and highly-cultured individual who worked unceasingly to improve
domestic agriculture, plant and environmental sciences and latterly,
to the surprise of many, to understand and practise the scientific
principles of Buddhism. There is ample evidence in numerous reports
and journals of the contributions of this extraordinary person to
agriculture and his service to peasant farmers in this country.
efforts for the upliftment of the dry zone farmer in the mid-1940s
followed by his vision for agricultural development in the years
to follow undoubtedly helped Sri Lanka to get closer to the goals
of self-reliance and security in national food production.
and intellect made him give sound advice to policy makers of the
time. With his co-workers, he assisted the development of national
policies, plans and programmes in agriculture and took a leading
role as Director of Agriculture (1973-1977) to implement them.
To most of
us who worked very closely with him it is clear that he trailed
no politician. With him at the helm we all felt free to do our jobs
without fear or favour. His prime concern was his duty and he hated
too many holidays. Answering a query on permitting some workers
to work on a holiday, thereby incurring extra costs to the department,
he once told the Auditor General that though the AG and other public
servants may not work on public holidays, plants and pests do.
period of service at Maha Illupallama brought him in close contact
with the dry zone farmers. Not only did he venture into the traditional
agricultural practices but being a humanist he was able to get an
insight into the positive cultural trends among the people of this
region where Buddhism had flourished over a thousand years.
contributions to agricultural development deserve recognition. He
initiated the rice breeding programmes and his fellow researchers
continued the work so well that Sri Lanka became the leading rice
breeding country in the region. No doubt, this led almost to self-sufficiency.
He also helped
the other field crop sectors. But it is beyond this, that one begins
to see his biggest contribution to agriculture in Sri Lanka. He
triggered the interaction between research, extension and training
giving equality to all and providing a pathway for the dissemination
and practice of technology and a process of feedback from the users
of such technology namely the farmers. The farmer became the primary
partner and co-worker.
It is also
noteworthy that Dr. Abeyratne, inspite of the objections of the
newly emerging academics, recognised the services of those in the
middle and lower rungs of the Department of Agriculture. He opened
the doors of the United Agricultural Service to such officers.
Later he detached
himself from the day-to-day activities, thanks to his wife Ranee,
and undertook meditation and reflection on the Buddha's teachings.
This led him to write the book "Finding of Gauthama Buddha
on the Fundamental Realities of Existence", which was published
a few years after his demise.
It is indeed
a book to be read by all. As stated by Dr. C.R Panabokke in the
foreword to the book, it helps most people to grasp the underlying
scientific principles of the Buddha's teachings and sets out an
ideal that is attainable in one's own life. Dr. Abeyratne reminds
us that "even highly cultured and educated individuals are
sometimes capable of political bigotry, ethnic hatred and religious
intolerance". How true a commentary on contemporary society!
He calls for wisdom and understanding, peace and co-operation as
On behalf of
Dr Abeyratne's close associates, we join his wife Ranee and children
Ajith, Visakha, Senaka and Harsha on this anniversary to pay tribute
to a great man.
May he attain Nibbana
S.H. Charles Wijayawardhana
On November 12, there passed away an entrepreneur of extraordinary
talent and creativity. A genial, lovable and charismatic person,
Asker S. Moosajee bestrode the tourism industry like a colossus.
Educated at Oxford and a Barrister-at-Law, Asker was a visionary.
Together with Lakshman Kadirgamar and myself, he pioneered the "new
tourism" industry by opening the Serendib Hotel, at Bentota.
This was at a time when tourism was in its infancy in Sri Lanka.
and boldness paid off when the trade picked up and the hotel did
so well he opened the Serendib Group of Hotels, a chain which included
the Dolphin Hotel, Club Paradise, Reefcomber, Hotel Sigiriya, Sindbad
and many others.
in many international trade fairs and fora promoting Sri Lanka as
a tourist destination. His services were recognized when he was
called upon to serve as Chairman of the Tourist Board from February
1988 to February 1989.
his tenure as Chairman, he actively participated in the industry
giving guidance and direction. He was a member of the tourism think
tank and the Presidential Task Force on Tourism.
Asker was also
actively involved in founding the Swiss-Asian Hotel Management School,
which fostered talented young people and helped launch them into
successful hotel careers.
He was a highly
respected member of the Sri Lankan Bohra community. Unknown to many
he helped and guided a large number in their careers.
An astute businessman,
Asker helped expand the Moosajee Group of Companies. He also served
as Chairman and director of a host of companies including the Gold
Coin Feedmills (Lanka) Ltd., Beira Brush Co Ltd., Beira Panawood,
Serendib Flour Mills, ETA Lanka Ltd., ETA Melco Engineering (Pvt.)
Ltd., Ascon Construction and Investment (Pvt.) Ltd.
Asker was also
a family man. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather and dear
friend. He leaves behind a void which cannot be filled.
Kingsley T. Wickramaratne
Governor, Southern Province
A friend, benefactor
To the Sun
Who has shone
To the Moon
Who has gone
To the milk-white
Lily white star
A fond goodnight
Wherever you are
It is said that
God calls first those whom he loves most. Tuan Nagara Jurangpathy
or Shaam to all his friends went to his eternal rest at the prime
of his life on September 12, this year.
I came to know
Shaam nearly 30 years ago. We immediately struck a friendship due
to his amiable and affable nature. He was handsome, debonair and
soft- spoken. He stood tall above the rest spreading confidence
in all around him. He was a great lover of sports, especially cricket
and football and it was a treat to listen to him discussing sporting
Shaam was born
to a highly respected Malay family. He, with his brother-in-law,the
late Fuard Uduman were pioneers in starting a private security firm
which grew to be one of the leading security outfits in the country.
Later he started his own security company which provided a good
service to many leading institutions.
a large staff especially in the security business is no easy task,
he treated his employees humanely, always caring for their needs
and at times going out of his way to help them in times of need.
I am personally aware that he ensured that all labour law requirements
were scrupulously followed in dealings with his employees. When
he was very ill the first thing he did was to ensure job security
for all the employees. He arranged for their absorption into another
establishment ensuring that they received all the benefits they
would have received if they had continued in service in his firm.
suffered a lot of pain during his illness, he bore it with great
patience and courage, never complaining. Even in his last few days
when he was bed-ridden he would always nod and try to smile, acknowledging
the presence of his friends at his bedside.
He was a devoted
and caring husband to wife Faleela, Principal of Muslim Ladies College.
Their home was always open to friends. He was a devout follower
of his religion and lived his life according to its teachings.
associates and employees have lost a great friend, benefactor and
guide and his wife a good and caring husband.
days of laughter and icy chocs
I write this on Hema Kanthasay's first death aniversary
with feelings of happiness for the beautiful memories I have of
her and feelings of sadness that she is no more with us.
demise last year came as an unbearable loss to the staff and students
of Methodist College, Colombo. She was a devoted friend and dedicated
She was a gentle
person of impeccable character. By nature, modest and shy she never
asserted herself. Her words were few and softly spoken - never did
a harsh word escape her lips. Patient and accommodating, she never
complained when overloaded with work. This was Hema, my devoted
I always think
of the happiness and joy we had together, when I pass Buchanan Road
in the school bus, every morning.
I have still
not found a person to sit beside me, in Hema's seat at the lunch
table. It was the time we sat together to talk about home and school.
It's hard to
express the fun we had at staff picnics, also the annual fancy dress
for the staff when younger members played netball with the school
laughed at us whenever both of us enjoyed a "Jumbo jolly"
or icy choc at the tuckshop.
great knowledge and experience in art she was very humble.
In Hema we
could see devotion, friendship, love of God, strength of conviction,
diligence and love of beauty.
The last birthday
card Hema sent me had the following verse:
It means so
much to have some one like you to rely on, to talk to, share things
with that's why I wish you happiness and a year that's as special
for you as you are to me.
I should say
the same to her in return.
We thank God
for the life and work of Hema. The vast crowd that attended her
funeral last year, bears testimony to her popularity and the affection
of her loved ones.
Mrs. K.N.Shafie Marikar