Remembering a true patriot
Posted on August 12th, 2015

Editorial Courtesy Island

August 11, 2015,

Ten years ago on this day Sri Lanka lost an illustrious son at the hands of terrorists. Lakshman Kadirgamar was his name. A statesman par excellence, legal luminary and, above all, patriot to the core, he adorned Sri Lankan politics and infused professionalism into an ailing foreign service in his capacity as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He helped repair the country’s badly dented image and win over the international community and, in the process, had himself placed high on the LTTE hit list.

Kadirgamar, or Kadir as he was fondly known to one and all, was a lodestar in Sri Lanka’s political firmament. It was a pleasure to see the great man stand up, draw himself up to his full height, tower above others and thrust and parry during parliamentary debates. The late Anura Bandaranaike, one of the finest debaters Sri Lanka has ever produced, once took him on. Well read, Anura quoted Erskine May, Bertrand Russell, Bernard Shaw et al. Kadir, rose to his feet, adjusted his jacket, ran his tongue over his lips and cracked his characteristic grin. There was pin-drop silence. He treated the House to a superb speech, which he ended with these words: ‘Mr. Bandaranaike, I am braving real bullets and bombs and don’t think I will run away fearing your popgun oratory!’ And, a few moons later, he was felled by an assassin’s bullet!

The LTTE was not the only enemy Kadir had; some of his ‘friends’ sought to destroy him politically as he refused to soften his stand on terrorism for expediency. He resisted an attempt by the Chandrika Kumaratunga government to share tsunami relief with the LTTE in 2005 and incurred the wrath of the proponents of that hare-brained scheme. Orders were given to the kept press to target him. This newspaper offered him covering fire.

He politely turned down our offer, saying he did not want to embarrass President  Kumaratunga. That was Kadir! A government-controlled Sunday paper had lined up a malicious piece to tarnish his image in August 2005. But, the LTTE took him before its publication.

Kadir, referring to himself at the unveiling of his portrait in the Macmillan Room at the Oxford Union a few months before his assassination, famously said Oxford was the icing on the cake which had been baked at home. It was a pity that the other ‘cakes’, poorly baked in the City of Lights and other capitals with ‘Sri Lankan icing’ on them sought to destroy him politically out of sheer jealousy. He was unfazed. He knew the people loved him!

In 2004, Kadir revealed, with the help of a navy intelligence dossier, that the LTTE was moving its heavy guns to areas south of Trincomalee. He pointed out that the LTTE was making use of the CFA it had signed with the UNP-led UNF government to make preparations for laying siege to the Trincomalee Harbour and the Palali airstrip simultaneously and paralysing them with artillery fire so as to cut supplies to the North and trap tens of thousands of soldiers in the peninsula. Prabhakaran effectively used his heavy guns following the resumption of hostilities under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and shells landed on the Trinco harbour and the Palaly camp. Angered by our report on Kadir’s revelation the UNF government threatened to withdraw his special security in a bid to frighten him into submission. Kadir was made of sterner stuff! He did not give in. Sanity prevailed and the government changed its mind. It was sacked a few months later mainly on the basis of that intelligence report.

Kadir knew that talking peace with the LTTE was an exercise in futility. He insisted that the outfit be neutralised militarily for a solution to be found. Prabhakaran plunged the country into war about one year after Kadir’s assassination and the rest is history.

Today, there are no terrorist attacks. Children go to school without fear of being abducted and turned into cannon fodder. People of the North and the East are free to live, work and vote. The politicians who dared not open their mouths even for tooth extractions while Prabhakaran was around and shamelessly grovelled before him are today fighting for democracy! Kadir must be smiling––somewhere.

3 Responses to “Remembering a true patriot”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    A gentleman to the core, late Hon Minister Kadirgamar!!

    Why Chandrika did not make him the PM? we were expecting him to be the PM. Was it due to an internal party conflict??

    Lakshman Kadirgamar and Denzil Kobbakaduwa were the two huge patriots killed by bloody Velu.. They both were fit to run the country at the top level to prosperity with the love of people they attracted.

    Mother Lanka did not deserve the extended service of these two true sons of her…. It is pity.

  2. Lorenzo Says:


    “Why Chandrika did not make him the PM? we were expecting him to be the PM. Was it due to an internal party conflict??”

    Yes. JVP was a party to UPFA with 39 seats. JVP wanted either My3 or Kadir to be PM, NOT MR. But MR camp disagreed. My3 gave it up and went to Kadir’s house to convince him to agree to make MR the PM.

    It was a good choice because had Kadir contested the 2005 presidential election, RUN-NIL would have won!!!

    (NOT because Kadir was bad but MOST average people did NOT KNOW how GREAT he was.)

    Kadir was and will be the GREATEST TAMIL SL has ever produced.

    Agree about Denzil Kobbakaduwa a GREAT MAN and a patriot. SL should be lucky to have him as president or PM. BUT he could NEVER have WON the war unlike SF. Wars are NOT won by gentlemen but by the MOST RUTHLESS. A good commander is NEVER popular – Sun Tzu.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


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