EMIL JOSEPH AJANTHA COOREY Admired in the legal profession, he was a generous man The 15th death anniversary of  Emil Joseph  Ajantha Coorey, Senior Attorney-at-Law falls on November 29. On the very morning of November 29 2001 he came to Hulftsdorp and having appeared in a case went home.  In the same afternoon he glided [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka




Admired in the legal profession, he was a generous man

The 15th death anniversary of  Emil Joseph  Ajantha Coorey, Senior Attorney-at-Law falls on November 29.

On the very morning of November 29 2001 he came to Hulftsdorp and having appeared in a case went home.  In the same afternoon he glided away calmly and serenely.  His sudden death caused shock and sadness to the members of his family and to all those who knew him.

He hailed from a family of eminent legal professionals. He was the son of late Austin Coorey, a Senior Attorney-at-Law and of late  Muriel Coorey. His only brother Dr. Sunil Coorey is also a highly respected Senior Attorney-at-Law.

Mr. Coorey was a distinguished product of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo 10. He pursued his studies in law whilst serving in the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC and was successful in obtaining his Bachelors in Law Degree from the University of Colombo in 1974. Thereafter, he followed in the footsteps of his father and joined the legal profession in 1977. He was privileged to serve in the Chambers of the late President’s Counsel G. F. Sethukavalar.

He gradually built up his practice and at the time of his demise he enjoyed an extensive practice in the original and appellate Courts and was a well recognized and sought after lawyer in the fields of banking and commercial laws. Several of the leading Commercial Banks in this country were his clients. Mr. Coorey’s services to the legal profession and to the Bar Association were outstanding.

For several years he served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and later as an Assistant Secretary. He was elected as  its Secretary in 1993 after a keenly contested election. He was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Law Asia Conference held in Sri Lanka in 1993 which was an immense success. He was a member of the Council of Legal Education and  the Secretary of the Colombo Law Library at the time of his demise.

In addition he was the author of the Consolidated Digest of New Law Reports. He was instrumental in publishing the amended versions of the Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Partition Act which immensely benefited the members of the legal profession, the judiciary and law students. He had written extensively on Banking Law and his articles appeared in several prestigious journals.

His contribution to the legal profession, Bar Association and to society showed that he was a man of great insight and exceptional ability. Having done much for the legal profession and the Bar Association, he still had much more to offer.

Mr. Coorey was a devout Catholic. He practised his religion with dedication and devotion. His deeply rooted Christianity was the strength and vigour of his life and this permeated every aspect of his life, professional, domestic and social. He lived his Christianity to the very best of his warm and generous heart.

Mr. Coorey was a man of absolute honesty, integrity and fairness.  He shied away from personal glory and publicity. His devotion and uncompromising loyalty to his profession was never in doubt. By nature he was fearless and outspoken and he did not hesitate to make his views known in matters relating to the legal profession and the Bar Association however unpopular such issues were. This he did, without least considering the adverse effect such views would have on his professional career.  I am personally aware of one such incident which had an adverse effect on his professional career.  Similarly, he was always open to persuasion but having reached a decision he remained very firm about  it.

He was a skilful lawyer. Meticulous thoroughness in every thing he did was the key note of his success. He studied his briefs with great care and left no stone unturned in his client’s interests. The time he spent on a case was never relevant to the fee he received.

He never lost his temper but won his battles with gentle  and firm conviction. His compassion and kindness knew no bounds. Members of the profession and the judiciary always had the highest respect and regard for him. His qualities of honesty and fairness won for him the trust and confidence of the bench.

It is said that greatness is never measured by birth, wealth or fame, nor by the worth of one’s material possessions, but those in whose hearts you live. Mr. Coorey was a good example of this.

Undoubtedly, his central and pivotal driving force was his family. He was a loving husband to his wife Bernie and devoted father to his children Shivan and Shaleeni. Notwithstanding his busy practice and other related work, he always had time for his family.

The sacrifices he made towards his family have been immensely rewarded, as his son Shivan followed his footsteps in the legal profession  and his daughter Shaleeni, a Chartered Architect who holds a Doctorate in Architecture is a Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa. To the joy of the parents both of them are doing extremely well in their chosen professions.

Mr. Coorey and his wife Bernie never forgot to keep close contacts with friends and  relations and to assist them and to see to their needs.

Over the years there were several young lawyers who had the benefit of working in his Chambers. All his juniors were enriched by their association with him.

I had the rare privilege of serving in his Chambers for over eight years until his demise. The training and the experience I received under him benefited me immensely in my career as a lawyer. I am ever grateful to him for the knowledge, experience, guidance and the training I received whilst working under him.

Time will take away the edge of grief but memory turns back every page, every leaf, and I thank God that I have such wonderful memories of my senior. It is indeed a deep joy for me having known such a wonderful man.

“Your great countenance,

Your bubbling smile,

Your love and affection are no more,

But I know you are with the Angels

In God’s loving embrace”

Deep in our hearts he will always stay, loved and remembered. May his gentle soul rest in the peace of the Lord whom he served faithfully.

-Varuna  Senadhira

Razvi Razeen

He was always eager to welcome people into our home and into his heart

It is with disbelief that I acknowledge that it has been a year since my father’s passing. It is said that time is a great healer but my mother and I remain suspended in time.

My father passed away whilst we were on holiday in India. We had spent a few days in Sri Lanka and attended a family wedding and by the time we had completed the first leg of our trip it seemed as if Dad had seen and spoken with many of the people closest to him.

Dad seemed so interested in everything we encountered in India. An avid Bollywood fan since childhood he was truly excited at the possibility of spending more time in the country. On our third day in India Dad passed away very suddenly in Bodhgaya.

The suddenness of Dad’s passing was excruciating and a very difficult year has followed.Through this time we have been the beneficiaries of so much kindness, love and support and I wish to say a heartfelt  thanks to all those who have helped us.

Dad may have left Sri Lanka when he was in his early twenties but it remained home to him and his love for this beautiful land never ceased.We were often entertained by Dad and his classmates’ antics at Carey College. He was very proud of his school where he took an active part in sports in particular. He and his brothers were popular students who somehow excelled in their studies despite their active social calendars. He also enjoyed his time at Technical College.He basked in tales of his childhood and those he shared these experiences with always remained close to his heart.

Dad had a loving family including eight energetic siblings. They are all without exception fun loving, generous and genuine individuals who love to socialise, especially with each other. Though life has taken them to opposite corners of the globe they relish nothing more than a family holiday or occasion so that they have an excuse to see each other again. My Dad loved growing up with his siblings and was fortunate to remain close to them throughout his life as well as forming strong bonds with their husbands, wives and children.

My parents met at Technical College whilst studying CIMA and were married many years later in the UK.  He was a Muslim and my mother is a Buddhist and mixed marriages were not common then. However, they were able to sustain a loving marriage and became an integral part of the lives of their respective in-laws. My father in particular, became very dear to my mother’s relatives many of whom feel his passing very profoundly. Cultural differences have always been of little consequence to my father and he was always eager to respect the beliefs of others. He keenly showed through example that there is very little that divides people and much more that unites them.

Dad was the social butterfly of our family. He loved being surrounded by people and was always eager to welcome people into our home and into his heart. He was particularly in his element at our annual summer BBQ. He was one of the few people I know who could get on with anyone and saw the good in everyone. I believe that my father felt truly enriched by sharing his life with others.

Dad would always be one of the first on the dance floor and one of the last to leave it at any social gathering. He never lost his sense of fun and did his very best to make sure that everyone around him enjoyed themselves as well.

Dad had an infectious sense of humour and one could not help but smile and laugh along with him. I often tried to perfect my “unimpressed by Dad’s lame joke look” but I never succeeded because he was just hilarious. Cheeky till the very end, I cannot say that his jokes were always politically correct but he delivered them with charm. Even in his last hours he haggled with a sarong seller on behalf of one of the aunties we met in another tour group and laughed away with everyone we met.

Through Dad I have largely seen the value of being a good humanbeing. He believed in the importance of helping others with very little regard to the cost to himself and the equal importance of not expecting anything in return. He would happily give up his last penny to help another person.

I cannot end without saying that I had the best Dad ever. He was such a big kid; always playing the fool, making me laugh and of course thoroughly spoiling me.  Despite his fun-loving nature he imbued me with a strong work ethic. He would tell me to aim for the stars and I will at least fall on the roof.

Dad, we love you so much and I hope wherever you are now it is abundant with love, laughter and joy for you truly deserve nothing less.

-Natalie Razeen

Adhil Bakeer Markar

Inspired many to achieve their goals

My friend, brother, colleague and mentor, Adhil was a visionary leader. I first met Adhil the day I started recognising faces. We learned, played and sometimes even fought together. I remember being the secretary under his presidency of the Star Right Club when it was taken over from our elder brothers almost 18 years ago. He was a good leader from a very young age. It was generous of him to invite me to stay at his home for my schooling. We’ve been roommates since then. I remember the times when we used to have more than four alarms to wake up early and start studying. He was one of the main reasons for my achievements and his inspirational words still ring in my ear.

Adhil’s vision was to excel at everything he engaged in. He captained the cricket team at Royal College and Asian International. He was also the runner up in the popular Schoolboy Cricketer contest. And he did finally achieve his desire of playing at Lords a few days before his demise.

His sole reason of pursuing his Bachelors within Sri Lanka was to meet and engage with potential leaders of this country. He believed that he wouldn’t get the same exposure in a foreign university for his undergraduate degree. His hard work and the effort he put in to get through the LLB degree with flying colours still fascinates me.

Adhil started the Youth Model United Nations with the dream of initiating the MUN concept for youth in Sri Lanka. Being the founding Secretary General, he went all over the country to enlighten the youth and bring them down to Colombo to give them the necessary exposure. These conferences gave him the opportunity of meeting people from different parts of the country and discussing relevant issues with them.

Adhil represented the Sri Lankan youth at the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York and delivered the national statement to the secretariat. I have personally witnessed him at meetings and always felt proud of his humility.  He worked at the Attorney General’s Department and was invited to join the National Youth Services Council as a Director of the Board of Management in 2015.  He managed his time to work with NYSC despite being busy finishing his degree.

Adhil was a kind, honest and very genuine individual respected by everyone. I can’t thank him enough for his influence in my life.We all believed Adhil would become a great leader and carry forward his father’s legacy by continuing his service to the nation.  He was one of eight in the island to receive the prestigious Chevening Scholarship to read for his Masters in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. He left the island about a month before his untimely passing, which was the last time many of us saw him.

In spite of the pain, we felt comfort when the entire nation prayed for him. And we believe he is in a better place and pray to Allah that he be elevated to the highest station in Jannah. He will be most certainly missed and remembered as a role model among many.

- Ashqar Haleem

Fr. Derrick Mendis

He served humanity of all races and persuasions

I had the pleasure and privilege of making the acquaintance of Derrick Mendis over 50 years ago when both of us served articles in the same firm of Chartered Accountants. Acquaintance bloomed to friendship until his death a month prior to his 80th birth anniversary on November 7, this year.

However his hallmark was the loud laughter brimming with sincerity that attracted most of us to him. Oliver Goldsmith the 18th century Anglo/Irish wordsmith it was who described the hoi-polloi in the village in his classic ‘The Village Schoolmaster as“….the loud laughter that spoke the vacant mind.” But Derrick had a fulsome mind as his colourful career in every sense of the word unfolded. Let it be also known that he was more a Bohemian in character and not a staid book-worm as he successfully completed all his academic and professional examinations with consummate ease.

After leaving St. Sebastian’s College Moratuwa, Derrick joined St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, straight into the University Entrance class, and promptly carried away all the collegiate prizes on offer. Entering the University was a mere walk in the park and having earned a degree cum laude at the Peradeniya University in economics, Derrick then won a scholarship to follow a course in Chartered Accountancy – in those times articled clerks had to pay the Principal a princely sum of Rs.2,500 and thus began his career as a fledgling Accountant.

During all of this time, his cousin and friend, Egerton Perera, and Derrick were soul-mates and continued their amazing relationship, through College, University, and as students who passed all their examinations with ease in the field of Chartered Accountancy until both of them decided to enter the Society of Jesuits together. A story fit to adorn the pages of Ripley’s ‘Believe it or Not.’

It was freely said that there was no party in Moratuwa without Derrick. A versatile instrumentalist with a stentorian voice, he was a virtual one-man band. His principle in life was to make others happy and thereby serve himself a tad of happiness into the bargain as well.

Although it has been reported that he served the Jesuit community for over 50 years, I beg to disagree. Fr.Derrick served humanity of all races and persuasions to the best of his ability while his life was simplicity itself. Restricted to a simple motor scooter as his mode of conveyance his most relaxing exercise was going for a swim whenever possible. He retained his common touch at all times. As Rudyard Kipling referred in the well-known poem ‘If’ to those who ‘walked with Kings but kept his common touch’ I can confirm that he ‘walked’ with a Queen in Sri Lanka. It was actually a relationship of noblesse oblige though a symbiotic one.

There is another aspect of Fr.Derrick that needs be mentioned. He was always pleasant, cheerful and ready for a laugh with all and sundry. However he abhorred, insincerity from whatever quarter it emanated from and sometimes was forced to voice his feelings in no uncertain manner – which did not make him very popular in certain quarters. Fr. Derrick was actually a rebel with a cause.

As an amateur poet, he compiled a couple of books and the proceeds on the sale of these books went straight into the coffers of the Society for Upliftment and Rehabilitation of Persons Affected by Leprosy (SUROL). Not only did he write the poems but personally marketed the books as well. That was Fr.Derrick.

Knowing the capabilities of Fr. Derrick, he was posted by the hierarchy to ‘difficult and challenging missions such as Balapitiya’ and thereby hangs a story – not a tale. It was in 1974, that Fr.Derrick met Lal Weeraratne a simple Southerner who simply adored Fr.Derrick and their relationship lasted up to the latter’s dying day. Not only did they enjoy the company of each other but the valiant efforts by Lal and his family when Fr.Derrick was at death’s door until Lal could assist no more is a tearful story by itself. I pay my humble tribute to Lal and his family for the magnanimous and devoted medical succour they gave so unselfishly when all seemed lost to Fr.Derrick. It is a great pity that a man who gave so much joy and happiness to others was subjected to a lot of sorrow when he needed love and understanding.

Of course, Fr. Derrick succumbed to the Universal Law that all component phenomena are subject to change, decay and ultimate dissolution.

May you rest in peace Fr.Derrick.

- Mahinda Wijesinghe







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