A terrorist sniper's bullets felled a national hero on Friday night.
The perpetrators of this assassination had every reason to silence
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and everyone knew it.
was not just a long-standing grudge, but a calculated, cold-blooded
move to remove from the political firmament a man who had a supreme
commitment to a united Sri Lanka.
in the day, a husband and wife working in the state media were gunned
down for the same reason - to eliminate all opposition in the quest
for a separate state in the north and east of this country.
all the song and dance in some quarters about the security given
to the Foreign Minister, his private residence was guarded by just
four policemen. It was a clear and shocking lapse of security to
protect a known target - who had been warned by Military Intelligence
that the LTTE had upped the ante in its campaign to destroy him.
there's no purpose in crying over spilled blood now. A man who went
out on a limb for national unity has been eliminated. Probably not
since the turn of the last century - when a minority member of Sri
Lankan society, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan spoke on behalf of the
whole country - had a politician from a minority community been
so respected by Sri Lankans of all walks of life.
was not afraid to be different. A non-comformist from an early age,
he told his Christian father that he wished to go to Trinity College,
Kandy despite all his elder brothers having enrolled at Royal College,
Colombo. Having excelled in both studies and sports at Trinity,
winning colours in rugby football, cricket and athletics, the young
Kadirgamar was among the first batch of students at the Law Faculty
at the University of Peradeniya - a showpiece University in Asia
at the time.
out as a lawyer from Law College, he proceeded to Oxford University
where he had an early induction to politics by being elected the
famous Oxford Union's President, defeating a student who later became
a well-known British politician and Leader of the House of Commons.
returned to Sri Lanka to practise law, then went to the UN in Geneva
to take up a senior post with the World Intellectual Property Organisation
(WIPO), but returned to the country in the thick of political unrest
in 1989 to resume his law practice. By 1994 he was ready to plunge
into the whirlpool, if not cesspit, of Sri Lankan politics and his
underlying credo was to give back something to the country that
nurtured him through his life. To try and make the difference.
1994 elections propelled him to the high office of Minister of Foreign
Affairs, a position he recently said he was proud to have held for
almost ten years. The country was in the throes of a violent separatist
movement, which had its early direct backing by at least one foreign
neighbour, and later some kind of tacit support from the international
punishing schedules, Lakshman Kadirgamar had the confidence, the
diplomatic finesse, savvy and articulateness to walk through the
corridors of power in the world's capitals and talk as an equal,
advocating the cause of a small nation-state fighting for its very
survival. Totally committed to the defence of the nation and unity
of all her peoples, he succeeded in arguing her case. And he knew
more than anyone else, that he would have to pay the price for it.
ordinary Sri Lankans appreciated his efforts; some did not. All
for different reasons. In recent months, Kadirgamar took a back-seat
- not because he was against the peace process with the LTTE as
some mistakenly believe, but because he did not agree with the strategy.
As ever, he was unwavering in his commitment to a free and united
was not without warts, but he was a perfectly decent human-being.
Gentle to an extreme, he was one whom the old Americans would describe
as 'walk gently, carry big stick'. His interests were many and varied.
Just hours before his assassination he was telephoning people urging
them to purchase a book on the life and work of an indigenous painter
that he had been instrumental in having printed. This had nothing
to do with Foreign Affairs.
are now pouring in to a great man of our times. A democrat and a
man of peace who could walk with kings but not lose the common touch.
Yet, few have the courage to name the perpetrators of this death
or call for a laying down of arms. Such were the double-standards
of the international community that Lakshman Kadirgamar loathed.
some, his removal from the scene will no doubt be seen as the removal
of an irritant. To others, isn't this a wake-up call, if indeed
any wake-up calls are necessary as to the abyss our nation has plunged
voice of a liberal who embraced all religions and a man who stood
for the unity of all Sri Lankans has been stilled. There's no greater
deed than to serve your country and countrymen, and no greater glory
than to sacrifice your life in doing so.
played, Kadir," they would say to the young schoolboy from
Kandy. " Well Done, Sir," we say to him in death. And