April 10 marked the 84th birth anniversary of my late brother, Dr. A. C. S. Hameed.
Early in his career, he was Director and Principal of Winchester College, Matale, a school that prepared students for local and foreign examinations in the English medium. In 1955, he started the Central Ceylon Muslim Assembly, and through this organisation the Kandy Muslim Training College was inaugurated.
My brother was interested in adult education and the teaching of English, and established a number of educational institutions in Matale and Kandy, particularly in the Muslim villages.
He entered Parliament in March 1960, first contesting the Akurana seat in 1960, which was later changed to Harispattuwa. He was successful in all the elections from 1960 until his demise on September 3, 1999, a rare record of 39 years as a Parliamentarian. The Harispattuwa electorate had about 14 per cent Muslim votes, about 1 per cent Tamil votes, and the balance 65 per cent being Sinhala Buddhist.
From 1977, every village in Harispattuwa was given two-storeyed school buildings, science laboratories, playgrounds, new roads connecting all the villages, electricity, water, with toilet facilities for most, and jobs for thousands, here and abroad.
He served every community equally and impartially and won the hearts of all. In 1977, after the UNP’s landslide victory, President J. R. Jayewardene appointed A. C. S. Hameed as Foreign Minister, a portfolio that had been held by the Head of State since Independence.
One of his first ministerial decisions was to remove all restrictions on the issue of passports, so that anyone could submit their birth certificate and national identity card and obtain a passport.
During his 13 years as Foreign Minister, A. C. S. Hameed served as chairman of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, from 1977 to 1979.
He was on the UN advisory Board on Disarmament Studies for 10 years. In 1981, he inaugurated the first meeting of Foreign Secretaries of South Asian Countries in Colombo to explore prospects for regional co-operation (SAARC). He took a great interest in trying to settle the LTTE-State armed conflict through negotiation, and was involved in the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987, the President Premadasa-LTTE talks of 1989-1990, and the All Party Conference of 1990-1992.
In 1989, he was appointed Minister Higher Education Science and Technology. During this period our country witnessed the gunning down of two Vice-Chancellors. He handled such explosive situations with the university students diplomatically and brought about a solution. In 1990, he served as Minister of Justice and Higher Education Planning. In 1993, he was re-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, till August 1994. In 1978, he was awarded a Doctorate in Political Science by the Hankuk University of the Republic of Korea, and an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Sri Jayawardenapura in 1990.
May Almighty Allah grant him a place in Jennathul Firdhous.
A. C. A. Ghafoor
Many were the lives she touched with her bubbly
and giving nature
Annouchka Weeratunga Fernando
The saying that ‘the Good die young’ is true in the case of Annouchka. It is sad to think that Annouchka, who was so bubbly and full of life, with her ready smile and infectious laughter, is no more. She will be sadly missed not only by her family but also the numerous friends whose lives she touched.
We recall during the country's worst period in July 1983, Annouchka as a young Bridgeteen, visiting the various refugee camps helping the affected persons. Annouchka's father, General TissaWeeratunga was then the Army Commander and some of us were nervous about her going to these camps but nothing would stop her.
She felt deeply for those affected and it is such genuine kindness and concern for fellow humans irrespective of social status, race or religion that made her throughout her life help each and every one who needed assistance.
We also recall travelling to the Niagara Falls, New York, and Boston, with Annouchka. She was so much a part of family to us and all of us enjoyed our trip, to a greater extent, having the pleasure of Annouchka's company. To her friends, Annouchka is irreplaceable, so how much more will it be for Terrence and the children?
She lived such an exemplary life as a human being who helped anyone when she felt they needed some assistance. We are sure Terrence and the children will continue to be looked after and cared for from her place nearer to God.
May God bless her and the family she leaves behind.
Siri and Hiranthi
You were the live wire that brought us all together
The day was April 15, 2011 when grief embraced our hearts as we came to know about the tragic death of our dearest friend, Trehan Fernando. The cruel hand of death suddenly struck when he was in the prime of his youth. One year has passed but the void created by his demise will never be filled.
Treha, as we fondly called him, was a friend sincere and true, a man with a deep sense of responsibility who accomplished everything that was devolved to him with a sense of dedication and devotion, be it in office, church, in the playing field or at home. He treated his seniors and juniors, the rich and the poor with equal respect. A true Thomian, he made his alma mater proud in both word and deed and lived those values instilled in him throughout his life.
Treha had an abiding faith in God and devoted his entire life to be a living testimony for Christ. From childhood he was an active member of the Junior Guild and the Youth Fellowship of Holy Emmanuel Church, Moratuwa and also sang in the church choir for a long time.
One of the few people you could call ‘a master of all trades’, he excelled in everything he did, be it studies, singing, acting, playing or debating. After leaving school, he joined Ernst & Young and began higher studies in accountancy. As a CIMA qualified accountant he had an illustrious career at Ernst & Young and was serving as a Finance Manager at Maldivian Air Taxi at the time of this tragic death.
He was a good sportsman and cricket was his first love. He was a part of the senior athletics team of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and later played for the Ernst & Young Cricket Team. A natural leader, he led from the front and never shied away from any challenge life threw at him.
Trehan was a person who lived his life to the fullest and touched the lives of others with care, concern and compassion. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. Anyone who ever met Treha would never forget his mellifluous smile and his generosity which earned him many friends. He was always the ‘live-wire’ of our circle of friends and the force that brought all of us together. He was a good son to his parents, a loving husband to his wife, a caring brother to his sisters and a dear friend and a pillar of strength to all of us. His loss is immeasurable but it has been an honour to those who have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 25 years.
"Treha, we will never forget those good times we’ve had together from our childhood. So brother, till we meet again in the Promised Land, to have another sing-song and a good laugh together as we used to; may the turf lie gently over you!"
Gayan, Geethaka, Ishan, Nishal, Praneeth, Prashan, Rashmika, Roshanka, Santhush, Sudharshana, Sulesh
A beautiful person in every sense of the word
I was fortunate to build up a close friendship with Aunty Chandra about 11 months before her passing away in January 2012. During a pilgrimage to India, I got to know aunty and her lovely relatives.
Aunty Chandra was a beautiful person in every sense of the word. Her kind ways coupled with her pleasing personality, won the hearts of almost everyone who knew her. She was a loving wife to Uncle Winnie, a caring and dutiful mother to her daughters Champika and Kaushalya and a most affectionate Athamma to her grandchildren.
She was an authority on culinary matters and loved seeing everyone enjoying the delicious dishes and sweets she turned out.
A devout Buddhist, Aunty was fortunate to associate with disciplined, erudite bhikkus whilst learning the Dhamma.
As stated in the Mangala Sutta, she was also fortunate to reside in a suitable locality (with relatives and friends who cared for her), to have done meritorious actions in the past to set herself on the right course.
She prepared her loved ones to carry on with their lives well, when she was no more and faced her final moments bravely.
In the funeral oration delivered by a distinguished Nayaka Thera, three outstanding qualities that illuminated her life were highlighted. (Nithi pansil rakinnee, Pirisidu sith atthee, Sodha gath ath atthee) - the first being a good Buddhist, diligently observing the five precepts, the second a virtuous human being with a genuine, pure heart, and the last, generous and always willing to help others.
She was a role model in life and in death. Dearest Aunty Chandra, may you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
Wanted: Great politicians to heal a wounded nation
The 19th death anniversary of Lalith Athulathmudali falls tomorrow
By S.V.D. Kesarralal Gunasekera
Nineteen years ago on April 23 as I sat on the hospital verandah unable to muster enough courage to see the slain body of Lalith Athulathmudali, I had a sad and strange feeling that that was the end of great politics in our nation. Today, as we are challenged by the international community I still feel his loss.
There are only two names that come to mind that could have saved the nation from the embarrassment that we are compelled to counter; Lakshman Kadirgamar and Lalith Athulathmudali. For our own misfortune, they are no longer with us. On the death anniversary of Mr. Athulathmudali, I would like to ponder what he would have done differently in a situation like this.
First and foremost, he would have analysed and understood the reality of the matter. He had the wisdom that in the arena of world politics, might is right and not the other way around. For example, everyone knows that there are human rights violations in China. But given China's economic might, no one dares challenge it. In dealing with certain countries this is a fact and he would have explained this even to the head of state. Sadly, the inability to see the reality and make disciplined steps to redress the situation is dragging us further into the issue.
Mr. Athulathmudali was accepted nationally and internationally. Educated at both Oxford and Harvard, his oratory skills made him shine both as a scholar as well as a politician and statesman. He possessed the lingo of international politics and was on par with other players in the global political arena. He was well read and had up to date knowledge on almost everything.
During the time when he held important Cabinet portfolios, he demonstrated that he was both competent and confident. President J.R. Jayawardene trusted him to lead many ministries, including Trade and Shipping, Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives, Education and Higher Education and National Security. In the Cabinet, his peers accepted his word and his juniors looked up to him in awe.
There was a time when people of the calibre of Mr. Athulathmudali were invited to address conventions by international organizations and UN bodies, especially the UNCTAD. But in the last decade or so, we rarely see any politician being sought after in that manner. Such invitations carry a lot of weight and recognition. But it is sad that Sri Lankan politics has been producing court jesters and not orators in the last few decades.
Mr. Athulathmudali had both national and international media wanting to grill him. He faced some serious media attention in the 1980s after being interviewd on LTTE issues by Channel 4 on British television. The transcripts of that interview, which are in my possession, show how professional he was in countering the arguments. Today, the only countering we see is pointing fingers at other nations and saying, they too are violating human rights. There is a saying 'When in a hole; stop digging'. By pointing fingers at other nations, we are inadvertently admitting that we too have violated human rights.
His first principle in dealing with media was to be fully informed. The other was that he was the single voice that represented the country. In the present day context, the inability to have one voice is clearly seen by the conflicting statements being made by ministers. It also shows that the ministers are not in agreement with what is happening. Mr. Athulathmudali would have brought the entire Cabinet to comprehend and consent to the proper course of action in this situation.
His professionalism also showed in the way he handled media interviews. He would never antagonize the interviewer. His attempt was always to convince the interviewer and through that the audience.
Mr. Athulathmudali was full of political acumen, words hardly used for politicians today. He used every opportunity to attune himself to what is happening and that gave him an advantage of being able to foresee problems.
He would have foreseen this situation far before the end of the war and anticipated the repercussions. He would have even come up with a plan of action following the end of the war which I am certain would have included a dossier to educate all these countries and the Human Rights Council, diplomatic engagement at the highest possible level, mediation with key countries and constant communication. He would have used diplomatic channels to the hilt to ensure that our story is heard and understood. What we have not understood is that if we continue to collide with the countries which raise concerns, there is no escape. And if we fail to let professionals handle this situation the results will be far worse.
Mr. Athulathmudali was a politician who knew himself. Today, we see politicians who are unaware of themselves taking seats in the parliament. Some are well educated in the English language while others believe that because they are members of parliament they are well informed of everything.
There are so many things which we can learn from Mr. Athulath-mudali's speeches (which he wrote himself) including a clear policy of not insulting anyone. While it may be entertaining to listen to politicians insulting one another as well as world leaders, it shows a definite lack of respect and class.
Many people ponder whether the strategy is to entertain the local crowd and keep them misinformed of what we are facing? If that is the case then surely the nationalistic strategy is working well, but we must also be mindful that we are losing credibility in the world. During Mr. Athulathmudali's time he ensured that the country did not lose internationally.
One question we need to ask ourselves is what we have achieved after the end of the war. Have we improved our education? Have we become more united? Have we been able to manage our own economy? Are corruption and crime on the decline? Have media standards dropped to despicable levels? Is everyone who has a different point of view labelled 'traitor' and is nepotism the way forward.
At a time when the President needs all our support to steer this country towards lasting peace, politicians of the calibre of the late Mr. Athulatmudali are sorely needed to heal this wounded nation.