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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

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J C Kariyawasam:

Fun loving and jovial

J C Kariyawasam, one of the last surviving gentlemen in the Track and Field administration, died recetly Affectionately known as uncle Kari to the athletes, he was the chief time keeper in the Amateur Athletic Association of Sri Lanka for many years.

He was also the President of the Ceylonese Track and Field Club for several years when the club flag was flying high having produced many leading track and field stars in the country. Professionally he was the Chief of the Meteorology Department. An unassuming track and field administrator, Uncle Kari was one of the very few who did not canvass or look for higher office but did a lot to help the athletes and athletics in general. As the President of the CR and FC he always supported all athletes and their welfare was his top priority.

Uncle Kari was married to his university sweet heart Lillian who was his soul mate and friend for 64 years. Until his death, aunt Lillian did everything possible to ensure that he was well looked after and comfortable.

During the years I knew them, I cannot remember having seen even a single time that they argued or for that matter disagreed. Even when they did, they disagreed together. Uncle Kari, was always a gentleman but was not afraid to take tough decisions when he had to enforce discipline. He was an ardent cricket fan also jointly with aunt Lillian produced three of Sri Lanka's best schoolboy cricketers Probodha, Prasanna and Pradeepa.

Uncle Kari was very fun loving and jovial and liked to listen to jokes from Tilan Perera. In the good old days when there was no TV, no one would leave home without listening to the morning news broadcast that was followed by the weather forecast and obituary notices. One day I listened to the radio and the forecast was bright sunshine with the possibility of scattered showers in the afternoon. As this was the ending to the weather forecast daily, I did not pay much attention and went to the Thomian grounds to witness an encounter between St Joseph's and S Thomas'. Sometime in the afternoon, dark clouds appeared followed by heavy rain. Suddenly I saw uncle Kari unfolding his umbrella. I asked him if he did not forecast bright sunshine for the day. As usual he started laughing and told me: "Did you not hear that the forecast also said of the possibility of scattered showers. Listen and be always ready for a rainy day."

Kari was also a pioneer of the Airport Club of Ratmalana and played tennis regularly. One of his memorable achievement was that when he was in sixties, he defeated one of our mutual friends Angelo who was much younger than him in doubles. He used to brag about it every time he met Angelo and me.

Although I am far away from Sri Lanka, I always respected and closely kept in touch with him and aunt Lillian. I am told that many track and field fans and administrators like KLF and Ransiri Wijedasa, Dunstan, Piti, Sunil, Tillan and host of others who knew uncle Kari were present at his home and the cemetery to bid him farewell.

May his soul rest in peace.

Shantilal


W. Karunajeewa:

An honest public servant

Karunajeewa, 'Karu' to his friends was a child of the 1956 era. When the '1956' social revolution took place, he was only 10 years.

Perhaps he may have waved a blue flag at that time. He entered the political scene after his education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy and his graduation from the University of Peradeniya. He contested the Mulugampola Ward of the Kandy Municipal Council and was elected.

Becoming close to Hector Kobbekaduwa, he entered SLFP politics, having worked with Kobbekaduwa for some time. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the then leader of the SLFP who was good at spotting talent made him the Administrative Secretary of the SLFP.

Soon a new chapter dawned. The Party went into Opposition having been defeated at the polls in 1977. A split occurred in the Party and this had to be managed if not healed. The Party was in disarray and its leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike was deprived of her civic rights. Karu had to keep the Party together and also look to the needs of the fighting factions. For Party supporters, a rift in the Party is the worst scenario.

There was a time when the Party office was closed and meetings could not be held. During this difficult time, Karu played a key role.

Party men were losing their jobs others often being arrested for false reasons. Many a time I have picked him up to go to the Narahenpita Labour Tribunal to appear for party men unjustly dismissed by the UNP government. He never looked for monetary gains and lived a simple life. He had a great dedication to the people of this country and to the members of his party. He was proud to be in the SLFP and never changed his political affiliation. The 18 years in the Opposition matured Karu and many SLFP supporters.

The landscape changed and the Party found itself in power. Being a close confidant of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he became the chairman of the Fisheries Corporation. The administrative skills he showed in the Party now began to show in the administration of the entities under him. He became the chairman of the Employees' Provident Fund. Finally, he was made the chairman of the People's Bank. He showed his ability as a Banker and laid to rest his critics who said he could not do this job. As bank chairman, he improved the Bank and presided over its destiny in its 50th year. The non-performing segment of the bank improved. He engaged in religious activities with the participation of the bank and brought it closer to the people.

The Bank was meant to be by its architects, a bank that served the rural poor. He worked without any holiday and his health began to deteriorate. One associates a Bank Chairman with a big showy home. He lived and died at Anderson Flats, a simple man. An honest public servant, dedicated party man devoted to his leaders, his life and work should be an inspiration to all others. We share the grief that he left us all with his family.

May he attain Nibbana!

S S Sahabandu

 

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