|Saturday, 16 February 2002|
Felicitation to M. Sivasithamparam
I am highly pleased and overjoyed to transmit this message on the occasion of the felicitation ceremony conducted by the Karaveddi Vigneswara College Old Students' Association Colombo Branch to our Patron M. Sivasithamparam who is affectionately know as 'Siva'.
Siva Annan is a distinguished old student of Vigneswara College, Karaveddi. Vigneswara College was founded by Gate Mudaliyar Veeravaku Chittampalam (popularly known as 'Sithamaniam') in the year 1917. He is the grandfather of Siva Annan from his father's side. In 1920, Gate Mudaliyar chinnathamby (popularly known as 'Ponniah Maniam') took up the administration of the College as Manager. He is the grandfather of Siva Annan from his mother's side.
Siva Annan is born to a ruling family in short a Royal family. Although he is the grandson of two Gate Mudaliyars who were well known public figures, he is a very simple man who moved freely with the common man. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but he was unlucky as his mother passed away within a few days after he was born. He does not know his mother and all efforts made by him when he was a Member of Parliament to get a photo of his mother to see how she looks like failed.
He was educated at Karaveddi Saraswathy Vidyalayam up to Grade III and thereafter he had his education at Vigneswara up to his Cambridge Senior. While at Vigneswara College he passed the Cambridge Senior and London Matriculation Examinations at the first sitting.
Siva Annan passed both Cambridge and London Matriculation Examinations. He was a brilliant student. He was a leading figure in the Vigneswara College Parliament where he was elected as Speaker. He was the Deputy Speaker of Sri Lanka Parliament and he always said that the experience he gained at Vigneswara College Parliament helped him a lot in his work as Deputy Speaker in the Sri Lankan Parliament. In fact, Dr. N. M. Perera, an outstanding politician commended highly Siva Annan for the way he handled a complicated issue in Parliament as Deputy Speaker. He always says with pride that he owes a big debt to Vigneswara in that what he learnt at Vigneswara is an unshakeable asset to him in his life and that he is today in this high position because of Vigneswara College. He has always been fully and actively involved in all activities of Vigneswara.
As Member of Parliament, he has put up a building for Vigneswara which stands as a monument for this good work to his alma mater. The old students of Vigneswara had done well in all walks of life in Sri Lanka and abroad in the field of Engineering, Medicine, Law and Accountancy.
Prof. Sivathamby is a brilliant scholar with unparalleled eminence. We felicitated him recently for the rare and unique honour he had won in being the recipient of the V.K. Award from the Tamil Nadu Government. He is our patron and he works hard for our College. The other patron of our Association is Mr. Kanagasabai - a leading businessman. Our college had three M.Ps in parliament. An old student of our College who welcomed Jawarhalal Nehru in 1930 when he came to Karaveddi has found a place in the Autobiography of Nehru.
He is a leading criminal lawyer. He was a shining star at Law College. He led the Law College Debating Team against the University Team and the performance of his team at the debate won the admiration and commendation of the Judges of the Debate. He was awarded the Gold Medal in address to Jury. This was the first time in the history of Law College a first year student had been awarded a Gold Medal. His performance as a Criminal lawyer was excellent.
He had appeared in several big cases free and won the cases. Some of them are Kuddimani's case, Kutchavely robbery case, Ratmalana bomb case. He had appeared free in a series of cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
He would have been a billionaire by now if he had continued his legal practice. When the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka was passed he did boycott Parliament and refused to take oaths under the Sixth Amendment which is a prerequisite for practising as a Lawyer. From 1983 onwards he could not practice as a lawyer and his financial loss is colossal.
He is sincere politician, I say 'sincere' as politicians when they get elected to parliament simply say 'God bye' to the electorate and come back with a smile and worshipping hands only when elections are scheduled.
Siva Annan is an exception as I can recall that when he was a Member of parliament residing and practising in Colombo he came every weekend to his Karaveddi home where people were in queues seeking his help. He has a smiling face and winning ways. An incident which occurred in the year 1970, when I was on a holiday in Karaveddi still lingers in my unforgettable memory.
A Teacher from his electorate came to him on Sunday evening and insisted that Siva Annan should accompany him to the Education office in Jaffna to get his transfer cancelled.
Siva Annan explained to him that he had to travel to Colombo that night as he had an important murder trial the following day in Colombo. The teacher was not prepared to listen to the story regarding the important murder case.
He said "Sir somehow or other do something for the case but come with me to Jaffna Education office tomorrow". Siva Annan who is too good to everyone agreed and wanted the teacher to come to his residence at 8 a.m. to go to Education Office Jaffna. He telephoned Colombo on Sunday night and made arrangements regarding the case. It is surprising to hear what happened Monday morning. The teacher came to Siva Annan's residence at 7.30 a.m. and said, "Sir I am unable to come with you as the labourers are already in the paddy fields for harvesting. You may please go and get the transfer cancelled".
I happened to be at the residence of Siva Annan at that time. I was anxiously waiting to see how he would react. He did not say anything. He went to Jaffna Education office in his usual transport for which he paid and got the transfer cancelled. This is the type of perfect gentleman Siva Annan is - It was because of his good qualities simple and humble life he was able to win the hearts of the people. It was a miracle that he was the only Tamil Congress candidate to win the Elections in March 1960 and July 1960 when Federal party had a resounding victory all over. In 1977, he was at his zenith in that his party TULF won 16 seats and was able to have its leader at that time as the Leader of the Opposition.
He contested Nallur and the majority he had was second to Colombo Central which was a multi-member constituency. He always goes on a low profile. He was disheartened when TULF lost the Elections. I still have the letter he wrote to me after he lost the Elections. It is creditable that his party has done well in the recent Elections resulting in his being appointed a nominated Member. His lion-like roaring voice is now being heard in parliament. He has sacrificed a lucrative legal career and also his personal life for Tamil cause. His spruced tongue oratory advocating the cause of Tamils in and out of Parliament is commendable. He has led the delegations and represented matters on ethnic issue before the Committees in Sri Lanka during the regimes of J. R. Jayewardene, Srimavo Bandaranaike, Premadasa and Chandrika Bandaranaike. He has also had endless discussions on the ethnic issue with Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He has done well but it is unfortunate that the ethnic problem continues to remain.
I have been closely associated with Siva Annan from my childhood more closely from the 1960s when he was first elected to parliament to represent Udupiddy. He was the architect of my marriage. He flew from Colombo for my wedding at Karaveddi in the 1960s. He also was present on the day of my being sworn in as attorney at Law in the Supreme Court, despite his tight work schedule. He has an unconquerable cheerfulness and a charm of manner when he greets people. He is a man of exceptional sincerity and depth of vision. He was designed by God with an authentic stamp of greatness.
I have no words to describe him but I reserve my comments about him for a later day when I get an opportunity to write an appreciation of him in case I am destined to live longer than he does live. I say so, as Seniority is not the deciding factor for one to be called up.
I take this opportunity to extend my sincerest thanks to him on behalf of our College Old students' Association Colombo Branch and I wish him long life. I conclude by saying that our executive Committee made a unanimous decision to felicitate him and immediately after the decision was made the entire Committee proceeded to his residence and he persuaded us not to have a Ceremony but our persuasive power being strong he had no option but to agree and say 'yes'.
- V. Vimalarajah
President, J Karaveddi Vigneswara, College Old Students', Association Colombo Branch
Produced by Lake House