C. R. de Silva Commemorative Book launched at inaugural Memorial Oration
Posted on November 13th, 2016

The Island

November 12, 2016, 9:13 pm

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Editor Senaka Weeraratna presenting the book to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa with Chief Justice K. Sripavan and Attorney-General Jayantha Jayasuriya at the event.

The inaugural C. R. de Silva Memorial Oration was delivered by former Attorney-General Palitha Fernando, PC. at the BMICH in the presence of a distinguished gathering comprising the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (Chief Guest), Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeal, members of the Official and Unofficial Bars, old boys of Royal College, including a sizeable number from the RC 1960 group, and Kamalini and members of Chitta Ranjan de Silva’s family, among others.

The event was held in Committee Room ‘B’ of the BMICH on Monday Nov. 7. Two Senior Buddhist Monks representing the Amarapura Nikaya were also present on the occasion.

The day marked the third death anniversary of Chitta Ranjan de Silva, former Attorney-General.

The proceedings commenced with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by a number of distinguished guests including, former President Mahinda Rajapakse. Viren Corea, attorney-at-law compered the proceedings.

Shehan de Silva (State Counsel and son of C. R. de Silva) delivered the welcome address. Kapila Waidyaratne, PC, Senior Additional Solicitor-General gave an introduction to the Orator, Palitha Fernando, former Attorney-General, who spoke on ‘The Role of the Attorney- General of Sri Lanka and the Rule of Law; with Special Reference to the Criminal Justice System’.

At the conclusion of the 45-minute lucid presentation on the numerous challenges faced by the Attorney-General’s Dept. in carrying out its vital functions in administering and sustaining the Rule of Law including an overworked staff with limited office facilities, the guest-of-honour and speaker Palitha Fernando, PC, was presented with a Plaque of Appreciation by Mrs. Kamalini de Silva (widow of the late C. R. de Silva), Chairperson of the C. R. de Silva Memorial Trust.

Printed copies of the Memorial Oration were distributed to each and every invitee.

The Memorial Oration was followed by a short Video clip of ‘The Life Journey of C. R. de Silva’.
Next, Dr. Ajita Wijesundere, Chairman of the C. R. de Silva Book Project Committee and member of the RC 1960 Group, spoke. In his short address, he recalled the days of his childhood in the Royal Primary School beginning with the Lower Kindergarten which he entered in 1954 as a five-year-old child along with Chitta Ranjan and another 140 children. Ranil Wickremesinghe and Dinesh Gunawardena were also in that batch. Anura Bandaranaike joined this group in 1956.

Dr. Wijesundere specifically referred to a seating arrangement in the Sixth Year Class of H. P. Jayawardena (1959), which had Ranil Wickremesinghe seated at the end of a vertical row and immediately in front of him sat Chitta Ranjan de Silva.

Who would have thought that the boy seated behind Chitta Ranjan would one day become the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (on four occasions) and the boy seated immediately in front of Ranil Wickremasinghe would one day become the Attorney-General of the country?, asked Dr. Wijesundere.

He then went on to explain for the benefit of the audience on how the ‘1960 RC Group’ was composed. It comprised the boys from Royal Primary School who entered Royal College (RC) in 1960 together with another 35 students from other schools who passed a competitive examination to enter RC.

He then dealt with and enumerated the high achievements of this group both within and post- school in numerous professions and fields and singled out Ranil Wickremesinghe as the most successful and highest achiever of the group in becoming the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on four different occasions.

Dr. Ajita Wijesundere then dealt with the book that was to be launched on that occasion entitled ‘C. R. de Silva – A Public Figure – Childhood Memories and Appreciations’, published by Vijitha Yapa Publications.

He said that the book comprises thirty six (36) contributions by various authors that have been arranged into major parts such as childhood, family life, Royal Primary School (RPS) and Royal College (RC), Sports i.e. Rugger, Law College, Official Bar, Unofficial Bar, national endeavours i.e. LLRC, and Humanitarian Services e.g. Animal welfare based on the concept of Ahimsa.

Dr. Wijesundere made some salutary references to the Editor of the Book, Senaka Weeraratna, for his labour and dedicated effort within a short time frame to compile the numerous articles and material for purpose of publication, before concluding his speech.

Next, complimentary copies of the book were presented by the Editor to the Chief Guest, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and other Guests-of-Honour seated at the Head Table, which included the Chief Justice K. Sripavan, the current Attorney-General Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, and former Attorney-General Palitha Fernando, PC.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his speech said at the outset that Chitta Ranjan de Silva was his classmate with his pet name “Bulla’.

“The late Mr. de Silva chaired the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Its recommendations were controversial; I agreed with some and disagreed with others. I asked ‘Bulla’ you could have hit harder but why you didn’t do it. He said he would have put something more but chances of being accepted were far less. I wrote a document but could not persuade. There are some things in the LLRC to be rounded up and finished up in the coming years,” the Prime Minister said.

He paid a glowing tribute to late Mr. de Silva by recalling that the late Attorney-General was a man who stood for the Rule of Law. “Bulla believed that the judiciary should be above controversy. If the judiciary is controversial, the Rule of Law would suffer. You have to uphold the Rule of Law. To that all of us are committed whatever differences we have. I am happy as ‘Bulla’ was one of those who contributed to keep the Rule of Law alive,” he said.

Attorney-at-law R. Jayapriya de Silva, Trustee, C. R. de Silva Memorial Trust, delivered the Vote of Thanks.

The proceedings concluded with the rendering of a melodious heartfelt pre-recorded song paying tribute to the wide ranging services and inspiring legacy of Chitta Ranjan de Silva.

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