Death of SL Gunasekera – a colossal loss to the country – An Appreciation
Posted on January 11th, 2015

Chanaka Bandarage

The writer had worked numerous times with the Great SL Gunasekera, and takes pride identifying himself as a close friend of SL.

For over 30 years SL was engaged in the struggle against Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka. Many times he was the lone voice against Tamil terrorism, especially in the legal scene.

SL wrote vigorously in multiple journals and attended meetings and forums. He represented the country at Thimpu Talks, on behalf of all peoples of Sri Lanka.

During the midst of the Tamil war, SL received death threats. He knew he would not receive protection from security forces; yet he continued his self -styled struggle against separatism.

A hallmark in SL’s struggle is that he constantly fought to preserve the unitary status of mother Lanka; without fanfare.

A man of steel, SL did not deviate an atom from his strong beliefs and convictions. No personal favours afforded to him could have persuaded him otherwise.

An unassuming man, SL was never arrogant or uppish. SL moved freely among people from all walks of life, especially the common man. SL had a passion to closely associate with the Buddhist clergy.

As a lawyer, SL acted for people who faced injustice and unfairness. He represented many victims of Tamil Tiger atrocities including armed services personnel. In such cases, he acted free of charge.

A brilliant Commercial lawyer; on social and justice issues, SL was a Humanitarian lawyer. His presence in the Court room was a beacon of light. He respected the judiciary, but was never scared to say what he had to. Judges showed respect to him.

SL travelled far and wide in Sri Lanka. He went to remote corners of the north and east and met Sinhalese villagers who were subjected to Tamil Tiger terrorism. SL met villagers who were persecuted by the Tamil Tigers. He frequently travelled to areas such as Aranthalawa, Gonagala, Weli Oya, Padavi-Sri Pura and Janka Pura.

SL met with Buddhist men who had their pregnant wives killed by the Tamil Tigers after slit-opening their bellies; he met Buddhist parents whose infants were smashed on floor after grabbing them from their breast feeding mothers; he met Buddhists and Muslims who saw how their priests were cold-bloodedly murdered by the Tamil Tigers inside places of worship.

SL met people from all 3 nationalities that encountered crimes inflicted upon them by the Tamil Tigers – the most brutal and heinous terrorist group ever. SL met victims of suicide bombings, rape, bus and train bombings.

SL on his own could not do much for these unfortunate people (Thawalma Foundation, which he was a member has done remarkable work in the threatened villages), he stood tall with them. He intently listened to them and after he returned to Colombo, gave them a voice.

Rural people identified SL as a simple, truthful and a trustworthy man.

In 2013, SL had a slip and fall injury in his house. He was in a coma for many months. SL’s wife, Nimal, looked after him like her two eyes. A remarkable lady of unprecedented courage, Nimal told the writer when he visted the sick SL late last year that she would care for SL for the rest of her life; if she had to sell family silver to safeguard this Great Sri Lankan she would gladly do so. Such was the pride and nobility of this family, who did not ask for financial contributions from anyone outside. The meritorious physician and family friend, Dr Anula Wijesundera was there for SL until his demise.

Why SL is Great?

SL was fearless, and fought with people in the highest echelons. In most battles – legal or not, SL came out the winner. SL had direct confrontation with the country’s heads of states. As SL did not expect favours from them, SL bravely and courageously fought for his causes. Even his enemies respected him.

SL was a man who never called a spade a diamond or clubs. He always called them a spade.

In 2013 SL worked tirelessly hard to work towards the abolishment of the 13th amendment. Being a visionary, SL saw that the 13th amendment is a ‘White Elephant’ of unimaginable proportion. He feared it will grow into such gigantic size, one day it would ‘destroy’ the whole of Sri Lanka. SL stressed that Sri Lanka should be brave to abolish the 13th amendment; it will be good for the country – for all its peoples. He thought the political leadership should be bold enough to explain the evils of the 13th amendment to people especially to minorities and India.

SL showed the massive social and economic advantages for the country should the 13th amendment be abolished. Today we allocate Rs 20 billion (or more?) a year, just to maintain the provincial council system. What is the gain to the country in return?  Absolutely nothing. Provincial councils have become a seed bed for corrupt politics, violence, drug deals and many other social ills.

A big way of paying respect and gratitude to SL would be to agree to abolish the 13th amendment. At a time when the country is experiencing unprecedented political change, to march forward, the country must have a serious discourse about abolishing the 13th amendment. Ordinary people should express their state of mind to the government and politicians. It is a good thing to trim down the enormous powers of the Presidency by way of Constitutional change, it is equally good if legislatures – especially Tamil, could agree to abolish the 13th amendments (provincial councils) – this will be the best way forward for a unitary Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka flourished as one nation under the pre-1978 Constitution. It is time that we go back to same. All peoples – Sinhalese,  Tamils and Muslims would immensely benefitted if Sri Lanka has a strong central government, with Village Councils (Pradeshiya Sabhas)  looking after  the people’s needs at grass root levels. Sri Lanka is not India; it is too tiny to be managed by so many layers of governments, such as now. It is one of the most governed states in the world – thus the huge  economic drain and other burden on the people.

Though born to a Catholic family SL lived an agnostic. He was a citizen at large – a colossal figure of mother Sri Lanka. The whole nation can be immensely proud that it produced such a unique, gigantic  figure.

 

4 Responses to “Death of SL Gunasekera – a colossal loss to the country – An Appreciation”

  1. Samanthi Says:

    I earnestly believe that other patriots like Messrs Gomin Daysri, Kapila Gamage and Chanaka Bandarage etc will fill the vacuum created by the untimely passing away of Mr. S. L. Gunasekera.

  2. douglas Says:

    I have associated him closely purely on professional/official duty and connected functional matters ,during which time, we discussed on many matters including political and very many social subjects prevailing in the country. I found him to be a very great SON of Sri Lanka who never ever compromised his LOYALTY and PATRIOTISM to the country. His FEELINGS towards those “down trodden” living in the then “Boarder Villages” were beyond comparison and penning in a brief comment like this.

    He was never a Professional who worked looking to make a life of “Abundance” and led a very simple life. In one of my consultations and as usually engaging in discussions on political matters, he wanted to present me one of his books titled “Tigers,’Moderates’ And Pandora,s Package” (published in 1996); I refused “politely”. But the very next day, first thing in the morning was to walk into the book shop and “BUY” it paying Rs.300.00. When, I told him next day, I “bought” that book; he had a hearty loud laugh and said: “I knew why you refused to accept it and at the very moment a feeling went through me that you would “BUY” it”. He did not forget to say “Thank You”. This book along with his another book titled “Indo-Lanka Accord – An Analysis” (published by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party in August 1987) are some treasures I hold in his memory. HE WAS A GREAT SON OF HIS AND MY MOTHER LANKA.

    GOD BLESS HIM AND MAY HIM REST IN PEACE.

  3. douglas Says:

    Continued…. I hold a mirror to his HUMILITY and HUMANITY by quoting the “Dedication” he wrote in his book “Tigers,’Moderates And Pandora,s Package” : –

    ” I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO THE MEMORY OF A MAN I NEVER KNEW, THE LATE IVAN BOTEJU, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE”

    Note: This “Unknown Man” was the ASP of Kalmunai, killed by the “TIGERS’ whose dedication to call of duty has been described in that book.

  4. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Thank you Chanaka Bandarage for letting people like me to add few remembrance comments. I like to point out what Chanake forgot to focus on. It is the OUTSING of this one eyed clown Chandrika. If not for SLG, Chandrika, Ranil, Eric Soldrehime and Prabhakeran would have segmented the country and the great constitution of the Republic probably scribed and an UN written constitution would be in place. When Jayantha Liyanaghe filed a case against TNA in the supreme court, he did not know how to fill the forms. The clerk of the court told him how to do it. It went through. I thought this case needs an experience attorney, and contacted SLG. First by e-mail the by a phone call. He told me that he has retired from politics and now he enjoying life at his coconut estate. Then he recommended an constitution attorney whom was unknown at that time. (Today this man is a big name like Gomin) SLG also explained to me what resources are needed to support the filing. So I changed the subject and told him about planting Dwarf mango trees between the Coconut trees. These have to be imported from Thailand. I told him that I am 71 yeas old and living in USA and do not have resources to come to SL. Some how our communication channel faded away. Eventually Jayantha Liyaneghe withdrew his case against TNA. Thank you Douglas for the title of his book but please let us know the publisher’s name and the ISBN number. Lets do some thing that has a high probability of success. Lets start a fund and a petition to support a motion; to erect a statue for SLG inside the Supreme Court complex. Now, some thing that Chanaka and Douglas did not know.” MR wanted to give SLG a ministerial position in his first cabinet. It was the two common Law crooks CHAMPIKA AND RATHANA THERO who oppose it. They said that SLG will be tool of the Catholic Church. Because of Chanaka’s article, I feel relived that I paid my last respect to a person whom I admired but never met physically; but communicated via the e-mail and the telephone for a short time.

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