An irreparable loss
and Road Development Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle became the
latest victim of a brutal terror attack by the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) yesterday.
The late Minister was a vociferous critic of the LTTE who
exposed their sheer ruthlessness at local and international fora.
A thorn in the side of the LTTE, he was in the group's 'hit
list' for quite some time.
Minister Fernandopulle was very much a man of the people.
Many advised him to restrict his movements or refrain from
attending public functions following the assassination of
Minister D.M. Dassanayake as it was widely believed that the
actual target was Minister Fernandopulle. But he did not give
Instead, he continued to participate in public functions and
speak even more vehemently against the LTTE. Unfortunately for
the nation, the LTTE used his very affinity with the people to
He dedicated his life to serve the people. He could have led
a comfortable life as an attorney-at-law, but his true calling
was serving the public. The people in turn had immense faith in
him and he was returned to Parliament with a large number of
votes on several occasions.
His political superiors who realised his immense potential
gave him many responsible positions in Government and he never
betrayed their trust, earning plaudits for whatever job assigned
to him. He was always loyal to his leaders and to the SLFP.
His latest project, as Highways and Road Development
Minister, was the rapid construction of flyovers in many parts
of the country. The Peliyagoda flyover was built and
commissioned in a world-record 60 days and he recently started
work on the Panadura flyover on March 31.
He had presented plans to build more than 200 bridges and
flyovers islandwide to ease traffic congestion and link villages
to cities. He also took a keen interest in building expressways
that would link Colombo with the main cities.
As a Trade Minister, he championed the cause of the consumer
and made every attempt to reduce the cost of living. On a global
level, he spoke of the need for the developing world to get
together on trade and development matters.
Along with MP Anura Bandaranaike, who also passed away
recently, he was one of the finest speakers in Parliament. It
would not be wrong to say that he was one of the finest orators
in the country as a whole.
His impeccable command of all three languages, his sharp and
witty responses to Opposition queries and his superb knowledge
of the subject matter of the ongoing debate were hallmarks that
distinguished him from many other MPs.
He was never at a loss for words and articulated the
Government's viewpoints with clarity and precision. His replies
invariably silenced even the most vociferous Opposition MPs.
There is no doubt that his colleagues on both sides of the House
and media personnel covering Parliament will miss him immensely.
He was an outspoken critic of the LTTE's terror tactics, both
in and out of Parliament. He sometimes courted controversy with
his statements on the LTTE and terrorism, but remained
unapologetic even under pressure. He firmly believed that
terrorism should be eradicated in order to find a lasting
solution to the national issue.
But he always took pains to point out that the Government's
campaign was only against the LTTE, not against the Tamil
people. He firmly believed in democracy and pluralism and argued
that both Easterners and Northerners should get a taste of
He was one of the most enthusiastic campaigners for Eastern
elections and was to lead the Government's polls effort in one
of the districts. He could not live to see the Eastern election,
but conducting it peacefully and democratically will be a
fitting tribute to him.
Filing the void created by his untimely demise will be no
easy task. His experience, insights and political acumen were
sorely needed at this juncture when the Nation is poised to see
the Security Forces embark on a journey to liberate the
remaining areas of the North from the grip of terrorists.
Sri Lanka needs more patriots of his calibre to make this
noble mission a success. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle will thus be
deeply missed and gratefully remembered by all patriotic Sri