K. Ganeshalingam A man who did much for the city of Colombo It is hard to imagine that 10 years have elapsed since the demise of Ganesh. He was a popular figure who served everybody regardless of caste, creed, race or religion to the best of his ability. Ganesh was born in Puloly in the [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



K. Ganeshalingam

A man who did much for the city of Colombo

It is hard to imagine that 10 years have elapsed since the demise of Ganesh. He was a popular figure who served everybody regardless of caste, creed, race or religion to the best of his ability.

Ganesh was born in Puloly in the Jaffna peninsula on January 3, 1938 and was a son of  Mr. Kanagasabey a well-known lawyer who had a lucrative practice. He had his early education at Hartley College, a famous educational institution that has produced many eminent personalities. For his secondary education he moved to S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia. It is significant that though the family consists of eight children (six boys and two girls) he was the only one sent to Colombo to pursue his studies. He was in the boarding at S. Thomas’ College and shone at both studies and sports.

Ganesh was extremely intelligent, though he did not devote as much time to his studies and was not a bookworm. He came under the tutelage of Rev. Roy H. Bowyer-Yin a famous Cambridge University College scholar who whilst serving as Chaplain at S. Thomas’ College also taught mathematics in the University entrance class. Ganesh had no difficulty in obtaining entrance to the University of Ceylon. During those leisurely days University students did not engage in strikes or hartals but most of them seemed to be youth who were keen on changing the world. This was a phenomenon not only confined to our country. They had socialist ideas and were keen on the upliftment of society in general. Elections at University were taken seriously and were  a matter of prestige. Ganesh contested and never lost an election. He then moved on and joined Ford-Rhodes-Thornton & Co. to study accountancy. He was popular with his colleagues and superiors because of his friendly disposition. Thereafter, he launched into many business ventures, all of which proved successful because of his hard work, attention to detail, and business ethics.

Politics was always a passion with Ganesh. He took an active role in this and was a popular Mayor of Colombo. He did much for the city, widening roads, uplifting shanty dwellers, making arrangements for garbage clearance etc. At most social gatherings Ganesh was the centre of attraction as he always led the discussions on the latest political developments in the country and his views on what should be done. He was articulate though not dogmatic or inflexible and even those who may not have agreed with him never felt any animosity towards him as they accepted he was sincere in his beliefs.

He was loyal to his Alma Mater and helped S. Thomas’ in whatever way he could. He was a live wire in the Mustangs Tent at every Royal-Thomian match.

A famous Spanish historian stated that ‘Those who forget their past are condemned to relive it’. Ganesh believed in this and never forgot his roots. He was always keen on helping his ancestral village. Sadly, the conflict that prevailed in Sri Lanka at that time, prevented him from visiting the village as often as he would have liked to. Ganesh was fortunate in having a contented family life. His wife Yamuna, daughter of a well-known physician in Point Pedro, Dr. P. Sri Padmanathan, was a great source of strength to him in all his endeavours and stood by him in good times and bad. His two children Menaka and Kantheepan were a great source of joy to him, and both of them live and work in London. He has two grandchildren who have excelled in their studies.

Except for one, all of Ganesh’s other siblings live overseas. This is a sad predicament in which most Jaffna Tamils are placed in today. Though he had many opportunities to migrate, he always stated that he would live and die in the land of his birth.

As Mayor of Colombo, what brought him most joy was the opportunity to receive Pope John Paul II in January 1995. He was also touched when he received a note from Mother Theresa, in which she stated ‘Dear Mr. Ganeshalingam this brings to you my humble gratitude on behalf of all the poor. God Bless you’.

Ganesh has left us. Yamuna has done much to keep his memory alive. Our prayers are with her and other members of his family that God will be with them in their grief.

Rajan Asirwatham

Morgan Fernando

 You were the life of any party

Dearest Sudu Seeya,

It has been a year since you passed on, and I think of you constantly. You were always the life of any party, with your hilarious jokes and witty humour. I will always remember how I would visit you every year for Avurudu, and never realized the time passing as you entertained me with your elaborate stories, until Ammi came looking for me. I miss seeing you standing at your gate each morning, with your cheerful good morning.

You were such a live wire within the family, and one of my favourite granduncles. Thank you for the wonderful food and company that you always offered us when we visited your home. You taught me that we must live life to the fullest, and never miss any chance to live it up to the maximum that we can. I admire how you never let your age or health deter you from travelling, whether it be in Sri Lanka or overseas, and spending time with your friends.

You were a vibrant presence in all the organisations you were involved with, and always threw the membership of those organizations the best functions. Sudu Seeya, you may be gone but your memories will always live on in our hearts. Until we meet again in Sansara.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

Thomas Campbell

Janani Wijetunge (Grandniece)


I think of you and pray for you every day

It’s incomprehensible that 10 years have passed since we lost you. My heart still aches with all that same pain when I first heard you had passed…. I will forever regret not being by your side.

I think about you every day, pray for you every day and miss you every day.

I think about what a wonderful grandfather you would have been to our kids. The bird houses you would have taught them to build, the paper planes you would have taught them to make and the waves you would have taught them to ride. The simple things in life that you appreciated. I see so many beautiful facets of you in them….and I’m thankful.

Recently, we went over some of your black and white photos of your many European travels. I wish you were with us to revisit and talk about your adventures to the kids. We hold on to your memory with so much love, so much care. A precious token of what we have to cling on to.

Thank you for your unconditional love. But most of all, thank you for being my dada.

With all my love, Shima


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