ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 04

Picking the best men

By Esther Williams. Pix by Mettasena.

It was a celebration of men who best represented their gender in Sri Lanka. The awards ceremony of Male Icons 2006 held at the Hilton Colombo on June 14 acknowledged seven well-rounded individuals who had achieved an outstanding level of success while making significant contributions to society.

Commending them on their achievements, the chief guest British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott spoke of the importance of role models in society – people others look up to and emulate. “Leaders should set high standards for others to follow,” he said adding that they should live by sound values and adhere to those values in dealing with life’s situations.

As expected the male icons were well known in their respective fields. Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotalawela, Deshamanya Ken Balendra, Dian Gomes, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Bathiya Jayakody and Santhush Weeraman received their awards from Mr. Chilcott.

Dian Gomes, Santhush Weeraman and Mahela Jayawardena receiving their awards from Mr. Chilcott

The glittering event was sponsored by the Hameedia’s Magazine – Man’s Mission and The Daily Mirror in association with Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM). President of SLIM, Sarath Fernando said, “Such events give opportunities to do away with differences and get together as fellow citizens.”
Having been in the garment industry for over two decades, Hameedia’s Managing Director, Fouzul Hameed had seen that enough recognition is given to people for their looks and personal achievements but not for their values or contributions to society. “I wanted to bring such contributors to the forefront and give our future generations their role models – leading to a better Sri Lanka,” he said.

SLIM’s Nimal Wirasekara informed the audience of the judging criteria that stipulated 15% for appearance, 20% for dress sense, 25% for personality, 15% for contribution to society and 25% for achievements. “It was a daunting task to go beyond looks to cover achievements and contribution to society, making them complete male icons,” he said.

Interestingly, seven women made up the panel of judges, headed by former Mrs. World, Rosie Senanayake. Kamini Mukundan said that they initially received over a thousand nominations of which 150 were short listed before being presented to the panel. Every Sri Lankan it would seem had an opportunity to nominate an icon.

“Women, they thought would be less biased when judging the icons and view the men from a different perspective,” Angela Seneviratne said. She believes that if made into an annual event, it would encourage young achievers to also get there. “What’s the use of a good personality if you do cannot do something good for society?” asked judge and Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe 2005, Rozanne Diaz. She personally believes that youth would look up to all the icons selected by them.

“It had a lot to do with total personality – and all that I would expect from a man,” Nayana Karunaratne said, adding, “An icon should not only be smart and well groomed but also put 100% commitment into what they believe and thereby command respect of the society.”

Accepting the award Dian Gomes spoke of the importance of integrity, courage and forthrightness.“We have to do what is right and not be political minded,” he said.

Stating names of the country’s great icons, Ken Balendra said, “Great leaders are those who fought for our independence, leading the country to progress rather than those with their own agenda.” Mahela Jayawardene said that it was a great honour to accept the award. “It shows that all our hard work under the sun is being appreciated.”

The evening saw a bevy of entertainers in the form of the Ravi Bandu troupe, Ashanthi who sang her own composition, ‘Reach up to the Stars’ and the singing sensation Natasha who in turn celebrated the distinguished icons.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.