Stanley Jayaweera A cultured man in the best sense of the word Stanley Jayaweera, who died on February 4,  belonged to that rare and memorable generation of Sri Lankans, who carved a name for his country and society, wherever he spoke and worked. He was born in 1927. As these rare travellers leave us one [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Stanley Jayaweera

A cultured man in the best sense of the word

Stanley Jayaweera, who died on February 4,  belonged to that rare and memorable generation of Sri Lankans, who carved a name for his country and society, wherever he spoke and worked.

He was born in 1927. As these rare travellers leave us one by one, we can only but admire, appreciate and recall their catholic and superior tastes, enthralling conversations, analytical intellects, and the warmth and affection of their friendships.

On reflection, as to what was so compelling about their rounded personas, is the realisation that they were a generation of select persons who were possessed of sustained convictions, which sustained them throughout the colonial and the independence eras. They brilliantly repudiated the Yeatsian statement, “The best lack all conviction”.

On the contrary, the best of them had an abundance of convictions.

Stanley had multiple identities. A Thomian and Anandian education, a University College maturation passing out in 1949, an abundance of idealism and passion for national liberation, a long and distinguished career in the highest echelons of the Foreign Service, a special relationship as confidant of Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, a passionate Civil Society spokesperson and activist, a regular freelancer to the newspapers, an unconventional Buddhist, a social carer and a family bulwark— the list is obviously incomplete.

This much is clear. The generational milieu in which Stanley’s personality was formed, was qualitatively and substantively different from those of post-independence. Their education marked them out and gave them a distinctive roundedness. As a result, they were equipped with critical standards and sensibilities, which made them cultured individuals in the best sense of the term.

For example, they were able to embed their qualities of nationalism, with a corresponding respect for the other. This made them modern individuals with insights and perspectives out of which their newly independent societies were laying a special kind of new valuational foundation.

They were driven by authentic roots and sources. Their nationalism was focused on the complex task of nation-building.

The best part of Stanley’s working life was as a professional diplomat. He worked in Singapore, India, Russia, Pakistan and Germany. He was trained in the fledgling foreign service by doyens like Gunesena de Zoysa. He was in the first or second batches of the service. He was the Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Madras and was one of the most perceptive analysts of South Indian politics. He believed that this posting was far more strategic than Delhi.

We had several conversations about Mrs. Bandaranaike’s historic negotiation of the Sirima-Shastri Pact with her counterpart, Lal Bahadur Shastri. In the Lankan delegation, the officials were N.Q. Dias, Victor Tennakoon, W. T. Jayasinghe (Controller of Emigration and Immigration) and Stanley (Senior Assistant Secretary Defence- Citizenship Division). During the negotiation, it was apparent that both sides were very far from a meeting of minds. Mrs. Bandaranaike was advised by her officials to withdraw from the meeting. She pointed out that further negotiation was futile and politely left the table. They went back to their hotel and were preparing to leave for home the next morning. Then, Mr. Shastri sent her a special message and called for a special meeting that night itself. The meeting was only for the two Prime Ministers. In a 45- minute meeting, mutual agreement was reached, and what became the Indo-Ceylon Agreement of 1964 was signed the next morning. This is a historic instance where the personal chemistry of two statespersons, prevailed over the conventional wisdom of star bureaucrats.

The Civil War years radically altered the patterns of day to day social intercourse in the country. Civil society was caught up in the centre of this decline. Fear reigned, and social life took a deep dive towards being home- bound during leisure hours. This changed environment saw the emergence of a new breed of civil society or voluntary organisations, in direct response to articulating the needs of civilian life and ensuring that the rule of law prevailed at a time when normal democratic processes were being rolled back. Stanley played a progressive and determined role in the life of many such organisations.

One of the first was Avadhi Lanka, and the Citizens Movement for Good Governance or CIMOGG was another. Both these were founded by committed and concerned retirees, who sustained an abiding commitment to open and critical discussion of civilian concerns and challenging the excessive dominance of the state from an independent perspective. Stanley was one of the most prominent and determined members of both organisations. The Friday Forum was another such initiative. His voice of sanity and good sense was always respectfully listened to by his peers.

The articles Stanley wrote to the daily newspapers on the rights, duties, values, expectations of civil society were beautifully crafted and crystal clear and cogently argued. They were a treat to read. His self-confidence and personal stature was such that he did not fear or bow to any member of the power structures. There was nothing personal in them. They all concerned critical issues of debate in contemporary society.

Among his favourite topics were recent political history pre and post independence, foreign relations with India and the world, Sir D. B. Jayatilleke, C. W. W. Kannangara, the music of Sunil Shantha, the University College Mela and Buddhism and Hindusm. Once again, a very incomplete list.

Susil Sirivardana

Deloraine Brohier

Thank you for your beautiful friendship

Deloraine and I grew up pursuing different interests, she her writing and I my painting, yet we became close friends and soul mates.

We were both blessed with wonderful caring parents who encouraged us to develop our talents and they supported us wholeheartedly.

Both of us had a close bond with our fathers. My father Clement Alles passed away at the age of 100, her father R.L. Brohier at 87. Both our mothers died young.

I first met Deloraine at artist Harry Peiris’s ‘salon’ where he would invite a few like-minded, intelligent cultured people for ‘a chat and a cup of tea’. Harry Peris was a founder member of the Group of ’43 and its secretary. He later formed a charitable trust, the Sapumal Foundation at his lovely home, at 32/4, Barnes Place, Colombo 7. The Sapumal houses the best collection of Sri Lankan contemporary art.

At the funeral we sang ‘Lead kindly light..’ and the line ‘So long thy power hath blest me, sure it will still lead me on..”

How true, how sad.

May Angel faces smile on you ‘Delo’ ( as we used to call her) and true peace be with you.

Thank you for your beautiful friendship of long years…always encouraging me to keep painting.

Bless you.

Marie Alles Fernando


A multi-faceted personality endowed with great qualities

Wing Commander Noel Fernando, an exemplary Air Force officer and gentleman par excellence passed away peacefully on January 27.  It is with profound grief that I write a few lines on my dear and lifelong friend whom I have closely associated  with for over six  decades.

Noel had his education at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia. He played cricket and “fives” at College. He loved his alma mater and was very proud of her.

His name will go down in the history of sports, as the man who officially formed the Squash Federation in Sri Lanka and promoted the game of squash. A fine Squash player of yesteryear, he excelled in the Masters Game.

In 1981 he was bestowed the title of Father of Squash during the Asian Squash championships in Sri Lanka. He was the 63rd President of the Rotary Club, Chairman of the Mission of Seafarers, President of the Travel Trade Association and twice elected as the President of SKAL.

I first met Noel in January 1955 when we were undergraduates at Aquinas University and our friendship continued until his demise. Noel was the second son of a respectable devout Buddhist family of four brothers and three sisters. With the demise of his father Noel took over the responsibility of looking after the family with exemplary care, dedication and affection.

In 1955 when the Air Force advertised officer vacancies in the Air Traffic branch together we applied also making applications for officer vacancies in the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Navy.

We were fortunate to be selected as Pilot Officers to the Air Traffic Branch of the Sri Lanka Air Force and commissioned on June 15, 1957. In October 1957 we proceeded to the U.K. for training. We received our training with the late N. Sangarapillai and Joe Abeykoon initially with the Royal Air Force in the Isle of Man and subsequently at Grantham- Derbyshire. Returning to Sri Lanka in December 1957 we were deployed on Air Traffic duties at Katunayake.

Noel apart from excelling in his primary duties made a tremendous impact participating in all social, religious, sports and other activities.

In 1960 when I got married, he was my best man and performed the formalities with exacting precision and affection.

A multi -faceted personality with varied interests, he actively participated in all these, though my contemporaries found it difficult to understand how he had the energy and capacity to do them all. In the mid 1960s the development and expansion of the Sri Lanka Air Force was restricted by the lack of foreign exchange. Development and expansion was inextricably interwoven. With the availability of foreign exchange Noel after intensive feasibility studies on his own initiative and in consultation with Air Chief Marshall P.H. Mendis made a proposal to establish a Commercial wing especially to fly tourists and others in Air Force Helicopters with a view to earning foreign exchange. Ably supported and guided by Air Chief Marshall Paddy Mendis this project was a tremendous success and helped the country earn much needed foreign exchange. Noel was constantly commended for his initiative and dedication to duty.

A multi-faceted personality endowed with rare qualities Noel made a tremendous contribution in every activity he undertook. A fine conversationalist with a flair for public relations he was a great asset to the Air Force and private organizations he served.

After an impressive and distinguished service of 22 years, Noel retired from the Air Force on September 6, 1979. He joined Thomas Cook as the Managing Director and completely restructured the company enhancing its business image.  Subsequently as General Manager of Finlays Travels he made a significant impact earning a reputation as a distinguished and respected personality in the travel trade.

Noel married Hyacinth who was a great strength to him in his challenging duties and looked after him with admirable care and affection.

Noel’s love, affection and dedication to his family was admirable. A devout Buddhist he practised his religion unobtrusively, observing the four “Sathara Brahma” – loving, kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity. He gave generously to places of religious worship. Throughout his life he epitomized kindness, love and compassion for the poor and marginalized.

Noel was a wonderful friend who reached out to his friends particularly in times of distress. He was steadfast in his loyalty to his friends. He was my friend and guide upto his demise. I have lost my dear friend who is irreplaceable and an emptiness remains in me that I cannot seem to fill.

In the words of Charles Colton, “True friendship is like sound health, the value of it is seldom known until it is lost”.  I thank God for his life. I will not say farewell because I know we will meet again.

 J.T.Rex Fernando



A loss to his patients and loved ones

I came to know Dr. Rasheed when I joined the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) in Dharan, Saudi Arabia in 1994. He was one of the finest persons I had ever met. I cannot forget the concern and interest he showed, when my wife fell ill in Dhahran. Dr. Rasheed got the KFUPM medical centre to conduct numerous medical tests that contributed to my wife’s recovery.

During his recent illness, his wife Nilufer, son Dr. Rifeth and daughter Sifara took great pains to bring him back to active life. Unfortunately this was not to be.

Dr. Rasheed had his early education at Royal College and Thurstan College, Colombo. Subsequently he entered the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, Pakistan to study medicine. After qualifying he proceeded to USA to do his post-graduate studies. After his postgraduate studies, he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Paediatrics in Toledo, Ohio.

Since then he has been working as a paediatrician in many countries including his mother country Sri Lanka. He was the Chief Paediatrician attached to the medical centre of the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Dharan for 23 years. The services he rendered to the children of the KFUPM community during this period are invaluable. He was always available whenever a child needed the attention of a doctor, irrespective of whether it was daytime or middle of the night.

After his return to Sri Lanka, a few years ago, he worked at the Sulaiman’s Hospital in Colombo. His recent departure is a great loss to his patients, relatives and friends.

May his soul rest in peace!

Dr. G.M.S de Silva



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