[APPRECIATIONS - (30-07-2018)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (30-07-2018)]

E. A. Ariyapala

An asset to community

I learnt the sad news of the passing of my former colleague E. A. Ariyapala recently.

We had worked at the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (previously named the Ceylon National Chamber of Commerce) for 28 years. He had joined the Chamber before me as a teenager and when I left in 1996, he was still in service.

I believe that throughout his 40 years of service, he worked with dedication, manning important income-generating services of the Chamber, along with other activities.

I felt it was my duty to see him finally depart, but had difficulty in finding his residence in the interior of Pannipitiya.

When I finally did reach it, I was fortunate to have been able to participate in the last rites, while offering him a silent prayer. It was an emotional farewell for me.

Ariyapala looked peaceful, calm and prepared to make his last journey to the undefined beyond.

He had apparently had a premonition of his mortality. At the get-together the former staff of the Chamber had held in June, 2017, he had told the organiser of the function that he would not be around for the next get-together.

Ariyapala had reason to be contented with the life he lived as it was a blameless one. He was a devout Buddhist, a loyal family man, a good friend and colleague, as well as a dedicated officer. He was indeed, an asset to the community.

Ariyapala and I met for the first time in 1969, when I joined the Chamber as an Assistant Secretary. From the outset of my employment, I felt that he was well-immersed in the work of the Chamber.

We then had a small secretariat at the head of which was John Rodrigo, an intellectually-inclined and able official who was a part-time political activist. He was also the Mayor of Negombo at the time.

Given the post-independent liberal atmosphere, the private sector showed commendable progress. As a consequence, the Ceylon National Chamber too, gained strength.

Throughout those early times and during my career there that ended in 1996, we had the fortune of having some outstanding leaders of private enterprise at the helm of the institution, in the form of its office-bearers and the council.

It was the combination of the former and a professional secretariat, that guided the destinies of this great institution.

However, back in 1970, both Ariyapala and I watched with concern, the country's political developments. We witnessed a strident cry against capitalism and its concomitant private enterprise system. This ultimately won mass appeal and led to the electoral triumph of the socialists.

We feared that the private sector, especially the segment that genuinely contributed to the country's growth as well as its pivots such as our Chamber, would face tough times ahead.

However, what followed was somewhat of a deviation from the above.

The new government at the time, despite being anti-private sector, was also aware of its efficiency and its role in areas such as export trade and industry. Thus, it could not be dispensed completely. The private sector also had an able defender in the form of John Rodrigo, who was elected to the National State Assembly in 1970.

At the stage of the Chamber's history, it reached a status of high importance. John had powerful ministers as friends who called at the Chamber and sought economic data.

It was at this point that he frequently requested Chamber staff to ferret out such data from the library. In this task, Ariyapala played a useful role.

During the following years, the Chamber initiated new services and further expanded its areas of operations such as measurement certificates on export cargo, issuance of customs statistics, while expanding its panels of surveyors.

Ariyapala had a hand in all these areas of work.

In order to meet the needs of a diversifying base, the Chamber recruited fresh staff. All of them were university graduates, and some of our work went into economic research.

John Rodrigo left the Chamber on being appointed Ambassador to Italy in 1973. Theo Seneviratne then succeeded him as the secretary. In 1983, I took over from Theo for 13 years as the Head of the Secretariat.

It was during that period that I became fully aware of the excellent qualities, including the loyalty and faith in the system of administration demonstrated by E. A. Ariyapala.

By that time, he was well into the intricacies of Chamber work and had proven to be a capable assistant who intermingled with his superiors with the ease of a seasoned player, which indeed, he was.

Before I end this appreciation, I need to mention that on my return to the place where I had parked my vehicle after the funeral, I realised that Ariyapala had lived his last years in idyllic surroundings. As far as the eye could see, it was a vast sheet of greens, ideally suited for a man of peace such as Ariyapala.

May his sansaric journey be peaceful and short.

Jagath Savanadasa


Dr. Malcolm Mendis

Gentleman par excellence

It is with grief that I pen these few lines about Dr. Malcolm Mendis, who was a good friend of my father Mervyn Perera. It has been 28 years since he entered eternal glory to be with his maker. His death anniversary fell on July 15.

Dr. Mendis hailed from a respectable Catholic family in Moratuwa. He was the elder son of Maurice Mendis, a reputed lawyer of high integrity. His brother Derrick gave up a lucrative career as a chartered accountant to don the Jesuit garb, while his only sister Charmaine, joined the religious order of the Sisters of Perpetual Succour.

Dr. Mendis, after completing his education at St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa, entered the Ceylon University from where he joined the Ceylon Medical College. He then passed out as a dental surgeon and served the public for over 30 years in various dental clinics in the island.

His last station was his hometown, Moratuwa, at the De Soysa Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Mendis carried out his professional duties with meticulous care, in a spirit of self-sacrifice and dedication. He treated both the poor and rich alike and had an abiding interest in the welfare of all his patients.

At dental clinics, he was sought after by patients who were confident of his painless extractions.

His genial qualities and winsome ways were endearing to all. He always stood for truth, justice and charity, and was a man of peace who always strove to diffuse goodwill, harmony and amity to everyone around him.

He was a gentleman par excellence and was a genius at making friends. He was always cultured, bright and cheerful. He always played the role of a good Samaritan to the underprivileged.

His outlook on life was broad and philosophical. His noble thoughts transcended the barriers of caste, creed and religion.

May hosts of angels lead thee to paradise!



Rita Perera

Devout Catholic

It is with profound sorrow that I write a few words in appreciation of my mother Lidamulaga Rita Catherine Perera (nee De Silva), who passed away peacefully on July 10, 1998. She was 63 years old at the time of her death. This year was her 20th death anniversary.

My mother was the youngest in a family of three that hailed from Polkotuwa Road in Rawathawatta, Moratuwa. She was the daughter of Gradiyawasam Lidamulage Elarian John de Silva and Annie Margret Fernando.

Her only brother, L. Francis Joseph Silva (Chandra), later retired from the local government service. My mother and loku amma were more friend than sisters.

My mother married K. Joseph Mervyn Perera (my father) of Frazer Avenue, Moratuwa, late in life. He retired as a timekeeping clerk at the Colombo Port Commission (now the Sri Lanka Ports Authority).

After my fathers' death in 1987, when my siblings and I were still young, my mother took much interest in providing us with a sound education.

The last time I saw her; in December, 1997; was at my brother Ranjan's wedding. She was a devout Catholic who always prayed at the nearest church. She never failed to carry out her daily religious observances, while attending Holy Mass at St. Sebastian's Church, Moratuwa.

My mother's demise was a big loss to all of us, particularly to her only daughter and loving sons.

May her soul rest in peace, is my humble prayer.

Prabath Perera


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