The lone crusader for Justice Kandiah Neelakandan When H.L. de Silva, PC, died, S.L. Gunasekera  said that the last of the Mohicans had  departed.  Today, with the greatest sorrow and trepidation we were informed of the death of a very redoubtable warrior that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has known, from the day [...]




The lone crusader for Justice

Kandiah Neelakandan

When H.L. de Silva, PC, died, S.L. Gunasekera  said that the last of the Mohicans had  departed.  Today, with the greatest sorrow and trepidation we were informed of the death of a very redoubtable warrior that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has known, from the day of its inauguration. There were great battles won by individuals to ensure that the people enjoyed the freedoms the BASL was there to protect. But, soon after they relinquished their positions as office bearers, they went back to defending people with grievances, and he was the only warrior who relentlessly, for two score years, wielded his armour and his shining sword in the protection of the Judiciary, the BASL and the people.

He was sometimes a lone crusader, without the protection of an office, but it did not hinder or deter him of his conviction to ensure justice to the oppressed.  His enormous resources, incomparable gift of organizing events, his eye for detail and the consummate manner in which he, against diverse odds undertook various tasks, made whatever he touched turn to gold. The office bearers of the BASL benefitted immensely due to the insurmountable energy and skills with which he acted. The Law Journal stands as an epitome of his indefatigable, human spirit which would last for generations.

It is with joy that I recall the pictures of this great warrior sitting besides Chief Justice Shiranee Bandaranayake when she was impeached.  Of the thousands of other Attorneys who would readily have been her Instructing Attorney, she chose this great warrior to be her most trusted faithful ‘man in armour’.

I came to know of his departure when someone gave me a call. After a number of years, I was emotionally moved.  There were even droplets of tears that fell. I was surprised, as there were hundreds of other people who I have witnessed the passing away of, but never have they made me writhe  in grief, as when I  heard of the unexpected removal from our midst of my friend and a man almost as important as most presidents of BASL he worked with.

When I decided to contest for the post of Secretary of the BASL in 1989, he steadfastly supported me and I was able to get 80% of the votes of Jaffna and the Eastern Province.  His whisper in the ears of his colleagues and friends in remote Bars in the country was sufficient to get the Bar to gel together  and vote for one individual who had been preferred by him. I won the elections with a large majority and made him my Assistant Secretary, which was my prerogative as the Secretary.  With him and Desmond Fernando, as the President, we created history in the BASL. The National Law Conference was his idea and he worked tirelessly and remorselessly to ensure that it was the best conference organized by the BASL held up to that date. President Premadasa, who was the Chief Guest, was overjoyed to see the magnificence of the Law Conference that had been staged by my friend, without whom it would have been a total failure.  From that day onwards till his death, he was involved in the activities of the BASL and took part in debates and supported the Executive Committee without reservation.

When I was the Secretary of the BASL I was identified as an enemy of the Government and was accused as a JVP sympathizer by the PRAA.  I received a message from Ossie Abeygunasekera that the PRAA was trying to kill me, and to be careful as they had planned to come to my home to kill me.  Immediately, I contacted President Premadasa and my teacher Lalith Athulathmudali, who was the Minister of National Security.  They assured me that they did not have any interest in killing anyone least of all the Secretary of the BASL, but said, there was no way in which they could guarantee  my safety as there were armed gangs roaming the streets killing with impunity.  My crime was that I was instrumental in getting the entire Bar to protest against the killers of Wijedasa Liyanarachchi.  I had to leave my residence and stay in safe houses and when I told my predicament to my friend, he took me to a rich Tamil business friend of his and I stayed in that palatial house for four days until I went to Hong Kong to attend the Law Asia conference. This is a secret that my friend had not even told his own family.

Kandiah  Neelakandan is no more.  Even if a Mohican appears in the horizon I do not think a lone warrior of the calibre  of Kandiah Neelakandan would be reborn, as he was an individual who would equally, passionately and tirelessly work for the BASL and the legal community without holding any office and sans any publicity, plaudits or laurels.

His courage and convictions on important matters like the impeachment of the Chief Justice and when the Judges of the Supreme Courts were beleaguered by continuous Contempt and Scandalization of the Courts, made him to volunteer to be the Instructing Attorney for no fee or reward.

Kandiah Neelakandan will remain supreme in my mind and in my heart amongst all those who worked closely with me. Therefore, he should be remembered as a living legacy for generations to come. He has proudly defended the freedom of our motherland and has been involved in many cases in instances where the Executive, with all its power strived to take away the freedoms of the ordinary people.

 Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, PC

Your  altruistic attitude towards humanity will be your legacy

Dr. A. J. M. J. B. Walalawela

“Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because the day is come” -Rabindranath Tagore

Walale as he was known to his friends was a charismatic, soft-spoken young medical student when we first met him at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Sciences within the University Campus at Peradeniya on January 18, 1972, the date he referred to as the ‘jour de gloire’ in his editorial for the souvenir published at the Reunion in October 2016.

On being awarded his medical degree the young Dr. Walawela was posted to the General Hospital Badulla where he undertook his early training followed by a tenure as a medical officer at Minipe and then at Deltota in the Central Province. Towards the end of 1983 he worked in the Sultanate of Oman for a brief spell. He married Nilani Ratnayake, a school teacher on September 19, 1985.

Attracted to the speciality of medical administration he took up the position of Deputy Director at the University Hospital at Peradeniya serving the people of Kandy, his place of birth. He took special responsibility for the education of those professions allied to medicine especially the area of nursing. He was then promoted as the Regional Director of Medical Services for the district. He was a skilful and fair but firm administrator with an affable personality who upheld the ethos contained within the national policy of providing a free medical service to the people of Sri Lanka.

He was subsequently appointed by the Health Ministry as the Director of National Quarantine Services taking charge of preventive health with the main focus on the ports of entry playing a vital role at the peak of the Avian A HIN1 flu epidemic. He represented Sri Lanka at the ASEAN conference  held  in 2009 in the  Philippines; chairing some of the plenaries addressing the challenges posed by the Avian flu epidemic in the South East Asian region. He was also called in to manage the crisis that followed the scandal in connection with the importation of ‘ digestive’ biscuits from India around the same time.

Walale retired from the national health service in 2010 at 60. Being a workaholic he accepted an offer as the company medical director for a private sector establishment, the Ihala Kothmale Plant, based in Talawakelle where he spent the next two years. Failing health at this stage meant that he was unable to continue with this job. He returned to Kandy to spend his remaining days at Katugastota in his family home with his wife and children.

Jayananda Bandara Walalawela was born on November 9, 1950 in Kandy to Mr and Mrs Jayasekera, one of six children. Mr Jayasekera was a direct descendant of Dingirirala who living in the village of Walalawela in the Hanguranketha district rebelled along with Puran Appu and Gongale Godabanda fighting the foreign dominance by the British Raj in the mid-18th century.

He received his primary education in Kandy at Vidyartha College moving on to St Sylvester’s with academic achievements at both schools. Walale entered the University of Ceylon as it was then called in 1972 to read medicine at the scenic Paradeniya campus.

A very modest man of ethical principles focused on simple living, he defied many of his contemporaries during the 1983 civil unrest and the ensuing turmoil, treating the victims of violence with compassion, something his son Niluksha recalls with pride.

An avid reader, a linguist with an aptitude for Sinhala, English and French, Walale was a great admirer and follower of the late Prof Ediriweera Sarathchandra, the renowned playwright and dramatist. Gifted with a liberal mind and incisive analytical skills, he was a caring father and loving husband. Daughter Chamalka reminisces how Walale discouraged them from sitting their year 5 scholarship exams for he believed that children should learn but not be compelled to compete at this young age; a view that is shared by many contemporary western educationists promoting equality.

Walale was a grateful servant of his alma maters actively contributing to the OBA functions. He had an interest in tennis, rugby and cricket volunteering as a sports medical officer to various organisations. He accompanied the SAARC team to India in the early 90s as its medical officer. He wrote to the newspapers in his spare time and also organised several blood donation camps.

Although a quiet and unassuming introvert, he was a raconteur of class fondly remembered by his batchmates as the great networker who brought them together to Kandy in October 2016 to celebrate a reunion 40 years since graduation, a remarkable feat given that this batch is now scattered all around the globe. Many of his friends will recall the trouble he took to attend the event with Nilani despite his poor health for he wanted to be among us celebrating the big day. Little did we realise that it was going to be our last meeting in person!

A nominal Buddhist but with an altruistic attitude towards humanity, Dr Walalawela’s legacy could be described in the words of Martin Luther King Jr who once said, “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important”.

May his soul rest in peace.

Dr Chandra Abrew, Dr Gamini Jayasekera, Dr Nanda Wahalawatte, Dr Sathi Ariyanayagam

We will always keep your memory alive

Lakshmie De Lanerolle (nee Seneviratne)

 It is almost five years since you left us leaving a deep void in our hearts.   During these five years there is not a single day that we have not thought of you and reflected on the good times we had with you.  No amount of words can describe how much we still miss you. To overcome our grief we have focused on continuing all the good deeds and meritorious activities you had initiated and had been doing all your life.

The commemoration of the fifth death anniversary fell in January this year.  There was a Pirith ceremony on the night of the 20th followed by a Sangikkadana for 25 monks on the 21st at our residence in Kalutara.  It is our fervent hope that the merits gained through these activities could shorten your journey through Sansara and enable you to attain the sublime state of Nirvana.

Your loving Aruni  and Devika


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