Remembering a veteran journalist
I miss you so
He had his own time rhythm
Remembering a veteran journalist
The fifth death anniversary of veteran journalist and former Chairman
of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Eamon Kariyakarawana, fell on
He was 67 years old at the time of this death.
Born on Christmas Day of December 1930, he was a devout Catholic. An
old boy of De Mazenod, Kandana, Maristella, Negombo and St. Joseph's, he
started his career in journalism in 1950 by joining the 'Gnanartha Pradeepaya'
newspaper. In 1951, he joined Lake House as a staff reporter. Working as
a courts reporter both in Sinhala and English, Mr. Kariyakarawana was the
centre of a controversy when he published his book, Bandaranaike Ghathana
Later he went on a journalism scholarship to Australia for two years.
He was editor of the 'Janatha' until he left Lake House in 1968.
Being a close friend of then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, Mr. Kariyakarawana
worked as Editor of 'Udaya', which was begun by Esmond Wickremesinghe on
behalf of the Premier.
After being appointed Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
in 1978, he used his business skills to improve its economic stability.
By modifying the outdated radio permit system, he was able to get huge
financial benefits for the SLBC. The payment of royalty for all songs broadcast
was also introduced during his time.
The SLBC's provincial channels 'Rajarata Seva', 'Ruhunu Seva' and 'Mahanuwara
Seva' were launched in his era.
After six years, Mr. Kariyakarawana resigned from the SLBC. On a request
made by Commerce and Shipping Minister, Lalith Athulathmudali, he was appointed
Chairman of Ceylon Ocean Lines, where he served for four years.
In 1989, he contested the Gampaha District on the SLFP ticket. He was
also the Editor of 'Sirilaka', the SLFP newspaper.
The youngest brother of Sri Lanka Press Association President, D.F.
Kariyaka-rawana, he authored many books including 'Taruna Viplawaya', 'Mehema
Jeev-itha', 'Han Kook Manse', 'Selected Asian Stories', 'Yugayaka Awasanaya',
'Nippon'' and Bandaranaike Ghathana Naduwa'.
I miss you so
P.S. de Silva
To my dearest daddy
Oh! my daddy, to us you were so wonderful
Oh! my daddy, to us you were so good!
Gone are the days when you would take me on your knees
And with a smile, you'd change my tears to laughter.
Oh! my daddy, so funny yet so adorable
Deep in my heart, I miss you so today.
Daddy, you were the most knowledgeable person we have known.
You were the most methodical person we have seen.
And you were the greatest adviser we have ever had.
I will always love you and remember you daddy.
May you attain Nibbana!
He had his own time rhythm
Harindranath George Dias
We met for the first time, 50 years ago, on July 1, 1951 at the University
of Ceylon, Colombo. George was one of a group of seven freshmen from Royal
College, along with T. Vairavanathan, J.P. Madanayake, K.M.J. Fernando,
Sivarasa, Tara (Mano) Amarasingham and Ernest Corea.
Being batchmates, we soon became close friends, with many an interest,
bringing us together-English with Prof. E.F.C. Ludowyk, Economics with
Tawney Rajaratnam and H.A. de S. Gunasekera, the University Singers' Choir
(conducted by Robin Mayhead), the Dram Soc., the English Literary Circle,
the Music Society, the SCM Choir, the University Students' and Sports Councils,
and at all events at the university, in general.
As sixth formers at Wesley, we had heard of George, long before we met
him! We had had the common objective of entering the University of Ceylon,
at a time when Sir Ivor Jennings was its Vice Chancellor. It was then a
university moulded in the rich traditions of British universities recognized
by the entire Commonwealth. George was one of Royal's outstanding English
scholars, and was admitted to the university, with an 'Exhibition' in English.
To his many nephews and nieces - some of whom, like Lakshman and Lilamani
Sirimanne we came to know, well- he was just their lovable 'Ja-Marma -a
childlike abbreviation of an epithet that had been foisted on him at Royal!
George (Hari to his mother) was a refreshingly unconventional person.
His sense of humour was subtle, and kept us, 'seismic with laughter'.
Fame as a ruggerite was thrust on him, when - a year later - we had,
relocated in the brand new 'Peradeniya Campus' of the University of Ceylon.
The annual Colombo-Peradeniya campus encounters had been initiated, which
included rugby football. And rugby players were sorely in need at Peradeniya.
Colombo had several players of the ilk of Michael Abeyratne (Trinity Lion)
whereas, the Peradeniya team had a mere six or seven undergraduates who
had played rugby football, at some time! Only Tara Amarasingham and S.A.B.
Dias (Trinity Lion) were players of repute!
So, talent scouts, spurred on by many a dispenser of goodwill, set out
to discover rugby talent from among the assembled spectators at Peradeniya.
The popular notion was that if one had been at either Trinity or Royal,
preferably, they would know the game, anyway. Hence, were the first to
be press-ganged into service! ... and so began George's rugby career at
Peradeniya. He had entered the grounds as a carefree, happy would be spectator,
only to be conscripted into the team! Tara's spare jersey - many sizes
too large for him - and Ivan Ondaatje's "shorts'' - which reached half
way down his calves, or beyond, completed his outfit, spiced liberally
with safety pins hilariously provided by Shelagh Pereira (As he seldom
wore socks, with his pumps or grecian slippers), nobody bothered to find
him maroon stockings. He had to wear homebody's tennis shoes, anyway!
He was cast in the role of scrum half. There were now two Dias' in the
Peradeniya XV - S.A.B. the formidable Trinity Lion; and our very own, deligthful,
George. Peradeniya's myths and legends (compiled by the likes of Anton
Dahanayake) hails the day as a red letter one for George. Wai Tsing Pakstun
who was reading for an English Honours degree - a keen rugby fan - had
been mesmerized by George's dazzling performance, on the field; and so
began, a brand new chapter in his life!
Typically, nothing rattled George. He was calm and placid at all times!
He was unique in that he had his very own, esoteric, time rhythm to which
he 'moved'. Clocks and watches were useless appendages to him. Prof. Ludowyk
always had one of his lectures from 8 am to 9 am. He arrived early, to
catch us fresh. In his entire university career, however, George was, perhaps,
present on four or five occasions, at the 8 o'clock lecture, so much so
that he was sent for one day, and words of wisdom 'poured' into his ears.
"Even though one finds it extremely difficult - nay, well nigh, impossible,
to get up early, in the cold, crisp mountain air of Peradeniya, I always
commence my lecture at eight! ..... and you are an extremely valuable member
of my class.....Œ
Shortly after Ludo had got it off his chest, George had been observed
leaving Jayatilake Hall, before 8.45 am! A Herculean effort on his part
to avoid the slings and arrows of his mentor.
Legend again has it that on his very first day at St. Joseph's College
(Darley Road) as a brand new teacher (his first job) the senior prefect
had queried, why he had arrived late! He had been mistaken for a new student
(white shirt, white 'long' and pumps). This was the characteristically
At the Bank of Ceylon, as a trainee executive, he was often threatened
with dire consequences (such as, being sent up to the General Manager)
if he did not display an acceptable degree of keenness in the rather tedious
process of being fashioned in the conventional image of a banker! Never
did he let it be known that the ogre at the head of his bank was his amiable
brother-in-law! He did not expect, or demand, preferential treatment from
His meteoric rise in the banking sector was a sequel to his quick acquisition
of the requisite knowledge (in his own style!) as well as his knack of
dealing kindly with people, in a manner, most considerate and fair.
I recall how the People's Bank image in Kandy skyrocketed with his leadership,
and the style of management he provided his staff, as Regional Manager
of the Bank's Central Region. He had moved to the People's Bank, shortly
after its creation, to infuse into the organisation a vibrancy and dynamism
it sorely lacked at the beginning. The fledgling bank was no more than
a mere government department, with inroads made into its administration
by the common or garden type of politician.
George was quickly moving up the administrative ladder, as a very capable
officer of the highest integrity. His promotion as Deputy General Manager
of the International Division (People's Bank) merely reiterated the fact
that he was a versatile banker.
With the formation of the National Savings Bank (formerly, the Post
Office Savings Bank) and his appointment as its first General Manager,
he created history, by setting very high standards of management in a totally
people-oriented arm of the banking industry. High standards set by him
in building the public image of the NSB as a very safe, reliable and efficient
organization, gave it a great impetus.
He next joined the ABN Bank, at a very senior level in the management
cadre; to once again, move on, to take up more responsibility, at an international
level, as the Girard Bank's Representative for South Asia. This bank was
later renamed, the Mellon Bank.
I was away in Canada when he died. We had planned to meet in December,
to sing Christmas carols and enjoy the rich fellowship of friends and family
in this season of love and forgiveness.
This was not to be....
We shall, no doubt, meet again, though not on this earth, in places
rich in memory and carefree laughter.
May flights of angels sing him to his rest....!