Wasalatantirige Hector Perera
Posted on June 25th, 2010

Garvin Karunaratne
Former Government Agent, Matara District.

Wasalatantirige Hector Perera, a true patriot who was instrumental in establishing the Tyre Factory is no more. He passed away from us at the beginning of June and I was sad not to be at his funeral. It was he as the Chief Chemist of the Rubber Research Institute that was sent to Russia to familiarize himself with the Tyre factory mechanism and to guide the Tyre Factory to success.

Because of his foray into the field of Law in his mid years many do not know of the contribution he made to our country in establishing the Tyre factory.

Though I have been out of Sri Lanka for many a year I had the good fortune to spend time with him a few months ago and heard from him the ardous task which he performed with great devotion. The value of his contribution is evident in the tyres of very good quality that rolled from the Tyre Factory. Closetted in the Districts as a member of the Administrative Service working on the Paddy Lands Act, I had little or nothing to do with Industries. His achievement as the Chief Chemist in charge of establishing the Tyre factory was something unknown to me. By the time I came into the field of small industries in 1970, he was gone to Law.

Other specialists are bought over to mess up and sabotage such ventures. The tyre companies were against Sri Lanka getting a tyre factory, because that would undo the bread and butter of those companies whose sales would be reduced and therein lies the greatness of his contribution..

Alas all the good work done by our patriots are undone through the process of privitization which was our fate from 1977 onwards- giving away our well established assets and the tyre factory was one of the Jayawardena misdeeds. Now it is in the hands of an Indian Giant

It was a tyre factory that according to Hector Perera could have been developed to ,produce all the tyres that Sri Lanka needs. Sri Lanka produces the best quality rubber in the world, but unfortunately even today we import the bulk of our tyres and other rubber products.


Hector aiya was a cousin of mine. His room, at his home at Madampitiya, Modera was full of all sorts of experiments and guarded property against inquisitive younger ones like me whenever we visited him. He was a brilliant student at the University and he was whipped up by the Rubber Research Institute which sent him away for further studies in London. He was someone whom we adored. In 1954, just after graduating from Peradeniya, I spent a week with him at his residence at Katukurunda and can recall how he plodded me on for public service.

Latterly Hector aiya was bought over by Advocate Ambalavanar to retire and pursue legal studies. That too failed to hold him and he became a serious student of Buddhism in his later years.

It so happens that a few of us human beings are called by an unknown force and put in charge of various important tasks at various times.

We may not do anything important for a while but we do get bestowed with important tasks and are afforded the chance to excell. That has been the experience of my life too. Hector Aiya when he got the chance excelled in his performance; he did contribute his mite for Sri Lanka, a task that is not well known but deserves to be remembered by all of us.. His contribution shades the contribution that many others have made. He is a true patriot.

May he attain the bliss of Nibbana

Garvin Karunaratne

Former Government Agent, Matara District.

21/6/2010, Shendanoagh National Park, Virginia, USA


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