Upali instrumental in introducing television here – Amunugama

Felicitation of Sunil Ratnayake


Special Assignments Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama recently said the late Upali Wijewardene, the founder Chairman of the Upali Group of Companies, had been the first to suggest to the late President J. R. Jayewardene that television be introduced to Sri Lanka.

Participating at the Sunila Prathibha ceremony at the BMICH to felicitate Sunil Ratnayake’s outstanding service to the Sriā€ˆLankan television for three decades, the Minister said: "It is as if the fate had decreed that I participate in this function today. It was I who was most involved in the negotiations to bring television to Sri Lanka. I went to Japan for negotiations. Something that most people do not know is that it was Upali Wijewardene who first suggested to President J R Jayewardene that television be introduced here. He went to Japan often in connection with Mazda cars he was assembling.

"Later President Jayewardene spoke to me and said since I was the Secretary to the Ministry of State I should initiate action in that regard.  A question at that time was how we should introduce new technology to Sri Lanka. It was difficult to infuse new thinking through traditional media. We therefore felt the need for introducing television to Sri Lanka.

"I can reveal another secret. We did not know anything about the technical aspects of television. I asked President Jayewardene what we had to do. The President gave some good advice. He asked me to go and consult Sir Arthur C Clark. . We are very happy that Sunil Ratnayake was also with Arthur Clark.

"D. B. Nihalsinghe was one of those who entered the television field at that time. We were together in university. He was interested in new technology. He read widely on the subject.

Sunil has a management degree. In this field there are a number of graduates in other disciplines but I don’t think there are many in the discipline of management. Not only in this field but even in politics I don’t think there are many who are knowledgeable of management. Both cinema and television require a coming together of persons from different disciplines.

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