Banker, writer, musician, champion of social justice Saybhan Samat  It is with profound sadness that I write this tribute to Saybhan Samat, as I lament his passing away. Saybhan Samat of the Social Justice Movement led an illustrious life that benefited the community, society and the country at large. He left fragrant memories in the [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



Banker, writer, musician, champion of social justice

Saybhan Samat 

It is with profound sadness that I write this tribute to Saybhan Samat, as I lament his passing away.
Saybhan Samat of the Social Justice Movement led an illustrious life that benefited the community, society and the country at large. He left fragrant memories in the minds of the many whose lives he touched.

Hailing from a family of journalists, Saybhan was a writer in his own right, making significant contributions through his pen and grabbing the attention of the local and international intelligentsia.

He was a prolific writer, and his pet subject was the Malay community, whose ancestry he traced and whose customs he documented. He was generous to a fault, and always ready to help those in need.

He was also a top-flight banker who served with distinction at the Central Bank of Ceylon. Saybhan was multi-talented. Music was his second love. He could hold his own against the elite musicians of his day. He had his own band and they played at dances and gave charity performances at orphanages and hospitals.

He blew the saxophone with great finesse, playing Billy Vaughan favourites and “Teran Bulang”, my own favourite. His combo, along with wife Azeeza on the organ and the late Johar, would belt out favourite numbers. There was magic in his concerts.
To his beloved wife Azeeza, daughters Saqveen and Zahara and son Mahadi, I say:

Life is eternal and love is immortal
and death is only a horizon, and a
horizon is nothing save the limit
of our sight. That is the consolation
we are left with as we mourn the
profound absence from our midst
of your husband/father Saybhan.

May Almighty Allah grant him Jennathul Firdous. Inna ilahi wa inna lillahi Rajioon.

T. Aniff Ahamed

Your lively personality will live on in our memories

Padma [Shani] Jayawardene neE Gunewardena

In 1950, Padma together with a few others transferred from Visaka Vidyalaya to the university entrance science form at Ladies’ College because the latter had better facilities.

We promptly became good friends. It was as if we were on the same “wave length”. Besides, we had a common interest in sports.
Sadly, as so often happens on leaving school, we lost touch. I joined the Medical Faculty in Colombo, while Padma went to the Science Faculty in the newly established Peradeniya University. She became a star athlete there. I doubt whether her record in track events has yet been equalled.

I heard later, that after obtaining her degree and a brief stint as a teacher, she left for the UK.Then, in 1969, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to receive a postcard from a good friend, S.A. Jayawardene in England, informing us of his marriage to Padma!On my frequent visits to London, I regarded their place in Kew, as a home away from home.

Many were the jaunts we went on, exploring London, shopping in the West End and discovering the wonders of Kew Gardens.

Padma was a devoted and doting mother. A firm believer in ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ she introduced swimming and other sports to her son and taught him to cycle at an early age.

He is now a consultant nephrologist in England. She was justifiably proud of his achievements.An affectionate and caring wife, she shared many interests with her husband Saj; chief amongst them, their interest in cookery.

A few years back, on one of their many visits to Sri Lanka, we noticed that Padma was quieter than normal. There was no other change. She was dressed smartly, as usual, with matching accessories.

We were horrified to learn, later, that a tentative diagnosis of vascular dementia had been made. To complicate matters further, she had to have by-pass surgery. She continued to remain cheerful, delighting in her two young grandchildren, until the disease relentlessly took its toll.

She was supported by the care, love and concern of her husband Saj, her son Satish and daughter-in-law Catherine until the end.
Her lively and generous personality will continue to live in the memory of her many other friends here and abroad and myself.
Our sincere condolences go out to her family in England and her sisters and brother in Sri Lanka and Australia.

Premini Amerasinghe

The doctor who loved children and whose healing touch reached far beyond our shores

Dr. Terrence Perera 

Dr. Terrence Perera passed away a few weeks ago. He was 89 years. God had blessed him with longevity so he could live 19 years beyond the Biblical span of three score years and ten. He was the son of Isaac and Daisy Perera of Kohilawatte. Mr. Isaac Perera was a senior employee in the Engineering Section of the Colombo Municipal Council.

Dr. Perera received his education at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, where he carried away several prizes, especially in the Science subjects. After a brilliant school career, he gained admission to the newly created Medical Faculty of the University of Ceylon. He was one of the original students of this faculty. After passing the MBBS examination, he served his internship in Avissawella. He then won a scholarship to study in Britain, where he qualified for the MRCP and passed the Diploma (Chl).
On returning to Sri Lanka, Dr. Perera became a paediatrician.

This was largely because he was very fond of children. As a paediatrician he served in many parts of the island, including the Kalutara and Anuradhapura Base Hospitals.

After serving in the outstations, he was seconded for service at the Ministry of Health. However, he was later selected to be a consultant paediatrician for the World Health Organisation. Based in New Delhi, he rendered yeoman service in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia, and also Tibet and Mongolia.

During his more than 30 years with the WHO, Dr. Perera wrote several books on the healthcare of children in Southeast Asia. He returned to Sri Lanka in 1998.

Dr. Perera married Lakshmi Wickremasinghe, daughter of a doctor, in the late 1940s. He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in the late 1990s. I was one of those fortunate to attend both their wedding and their golden wedding anniversary. Dr. Perera and Lakshmi have three children – two girls and a boy, all very successful in their careers.
Dr. Perera was very fond of his grandchildren, and spoke of them with great pride. He was especially interested in his granddaughter Christine Sonali Merrill’s athletics career. She was the country’s sole representative in track and field at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where she took part in the 400 metres women’s hurdles. It is a pity Dr. Perera passed away before this event.

Dr. Perera was a practising Christian, and in his retirement was an active member of the Anglican Church of St. Paul’s, Milagiriya. He and his wife endowed four scholarships for needy Anglican children to follow a university education. He and his wife also spent much time working with the poorest of the poor in the slums.

In his association with any fellow human being, Dr. Perera always spoke courteously and conducted himself in a gentlemanly manner.

A large crowd attended the memorial service for Dr. Perera, remembering his life and work, held at St. Paul’s Church, Milagiriya, on August 18.

With the death of Dr. Perera we have lost a gentleman. These words of the poet Longfellow can be applied to his life: “Lives of great men remind us that we must make our lives sublime, and while departing leave behind us footprints in the sands of time.”

Herby Jayasuriya

It was a blessed day when your life touched mine

15th death anniversary of j Bakeer Markar, former Speaker

Marhoom Deshamanya Al Haj M. A. Bakeer Markar is an elaborate title for a very humble man, who was also a sincere and very giving human being. Bakeer Markar judged a man as a man, regardless of his birth. He did not ask what a person’s creed was. His life was focused on helping those in need.

Although he came from a prominent family of physicians, Bakeer Markar chose to be a lawyer. He became an illustrious lawyer, and was eventually made president of the Kalutara district branch of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. The Bar held him in the highest esteem.

Bakeer Markar was someone I was proud to call “friend.” He hailed from my village in Beruwela. He was familiar with all the Roman Catholic feasts that were celebrated. He graciously extended assistance wherever and whenever it was needed. He would always stop and talk to people; he knew most of them by name. People were mesmerised by this politician who was truly a man of the people, a quality rarely seen in today’s politicians.

As a lawyer, Member of Parliament, Speaker and leader, Marhoom Bakeer Markar was an individual par excellence. He bestrode the international arena like a colossus. He was the only Speaker who acted as Head of State, when both President J. R. Jayewardene and Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa were away to attend the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Marhoom Bakeer Markar maintained close ties with the media. He firmly believed that a free press was the Voice of the State. Here was a man who could walk with kings yet keep the common touch.

It was a most unusual and unique moment in the history of our Parliament when Bakeer Markar’s son, Imtiaz Bakeer Markar, listened as the Vote of Condolence was passed and tributes paid to his beloved father. In true gentlemanly fashion, before the Speaker directed Parliament to convey the message of condolence to the bereaved family, the son stood to humbly acknowledge the glowing tributes paid to his revered father.

Although time has passed and the years have taken their toll, I will always remember how we walked and talked; how we spent our moments together.

You passed through my life and left your mark – not for an hour or a day but a lifetime. As I honour you today, I want to say thank you for the wonderful impressions you left and tell you how blessed I was the day your life touched mine.

Ivan Kevitiyagala

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