Connect with us


Bandula Jayasekera: An appreciation



As a resident of Canada for over 50 years I have seen perhaps more than my share of Ceylon/Sri Lanka diplomatic representation in Ottawa and Toronto. It is said that career officers make better envoys than political appointees but, in my experience, this is not always the case. Vernon Mendis, part of the ‘old guard’ of the Ceylon diplomatic corps, had formidable gravitas and was a highly successful high commissioner in Ottawa. But so was Ernest Corea, eminent newspaperman, a political appointee who was named H.C. by the J. R. Jayewardene government. His networking skills and public speaking facility are legendary. More recently, Chitranganee Wagiswara, a career officer, graced the post and served with distinction.

The late Bandula Jayasekera, another newspaperman, was appointed Consul General in Toronto by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government around 2007, if memory serves. This was a time of great ructions by the Eelam-supporting Tamils in Canada, most of whom lived in the Toronto. The LTTE’s glory days were long over and the Sri Lanka Army’s brilliant tactical decisions and battlefield successes were chasing the LTTE leadership into smaller and smaller cordons. In Toronto, the focus of LTTE activism was to take the military pressure off Prabhakaran and his terrorists and the Toronto supporters stopped at nothing to achieve that goal.

They gathered in their thousands on the streets displaying Tiger flags, spewing forth propaganda at full volume, the goal being to bring political pressure on Canada’s famously corruptible politicians to call off the Sri Lanka Army. I remember returning home from work and trying to make my way through myriads of Eelamists gathered at the entrance to transport hubs. On TV and Canadian radio there was a constant barrage of anti-Sri Lanka propaganda by well trained Tamil and local ‘hired guns’ to smear the Sri Lankan govt. (an effort that continues to this day). Poor communications strategies of the Sri Lankan govt. made things worse. Eelamist argy-bargy culminated in their halting all traffic on the Gardiner Expressway, the major highway into and out of Toronto.

In the midst of all this mayhem stood Bandula Jayasekera. But he hardly stood still. Death threats he got many, right from the start of his tenure. Those seem only to encourage his fighting spirit. Bomb threats accompanied every event Bandula organised. TV interviews here, radio interviews there; he got so many of these media requests that he asked some of us in the Sri Lankan community to speak on his behalf — which we did happily. Assailed as Bandula was and fighting resolutely like Macaulay’s Horatius at the bridge his only help came from the patriotic community; the diplomatic fort in Ottawa, helmed by a man who told the Toronto Star newspaper that he got the plum so that he could be ‘close to his family’ in Canada offered not a whit of help.

We have had excellent diplomats serve Sri Lanka in Ottawa. But in the five decades I have lived in Canada, our motherland never had such a lionhearted defender at her service as Bandula Jayasekera. It was fortuitous that Bandula served when he did because the challenges Sri Lanka faced in Toronto were monumental. Sri Lanka’s reputation was being shredded by Eelam propagandists, past masters at ‘fake news’. Tamils who opposed Eelam — there were thousands — were being attacked physically, financially, and psychologically. Sinhalese children were targeted at Toronto schools. A Sinhalese-owned restaurant in Brampton was bombed. None of this fazed Bandula the Brave Fighter.

I think I speak for tens of thousands of patriotic Sri Lankans in Toronto when I say that we are so glad that this courageous young man was there to assist us at the moment we needed him. His bravery ran deep. The way he faced death amazed all of us. It was truly exemplary. My wife Fiona and I are truly privileged to have been his friends, sometimes confidantes even. How cruel it is that this accomplished warrior was cut down in the prime of his life. With his many talents — writer, television broadcaster, scholar, diplomat — what more he could have achieved had he got more time! We in Canada mourn him.


— Asoka Yapa

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Mrs Paripooranam Rajasundaram- A Gracious Lady



I first came to know Mrs Pariapooranam Rajasundaram, who was born in Singapore on October 25, 1935 while serving a short stint in Jaffna with police intelligence. Her late husband who called her “Pari” was my very close friend, Mr. Vaithilingam Rajasunderam, the former principal of Victoria College, Chullipuram who was introduced to me by my friend and police batch mate, late Tissa Satharasinghe, who was the Personal Security Officer, to the late Mr T.B. Ilangaratne in 1971.

Mrs Rajasundaram was blessed with three sons and a daughter and several grandchildren and can be truly described as a very faithful spouse and dedicated mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and a great grandmother to the family of which she was matriarch.

My short spell in Jaffna in 1973 brought me closer to the Rajasunderams who celebration their 25th wedding anniversary in 1974. Theirs was an open house and my wife and sisters too came to know them well.

Mrs Rajasundram and her husband were good hosts and his assassination was a shock to all of us. It was then she became part of our family as she lived with us briefly till she obtained a UK visa to join her daughter and son-in-law there.

Many years later when she was living in England, I had joined KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and my family used to spend vacations with them in Cockfosters in North London. Mrs Rajasundaram treated us to sumptuous meals lavishing attention on us. She was very fond of my wife and two children and had a heart of gold. A devout Hindu she never failed in her religious obligations, lived within her means and was never greedy for what she could not afford. She firmly believed in being patient and willingly gave to those in need.

She was a lady who was selfless, full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, very virtuous, and full of love and character. I can say of her: “People may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”

My prayer as a Christian is that God grants you eternal rest.


Continue Reading


Independence celebrations for whose benefit?



Celebrating what? Bankruptcy, corruption and nepotism to name a few. Surely isn’t there one MP among 225 who feel we have nothing to celebrate. We say we cannot pay govt. servants’ salaries in time, the pensioners’ their entitlements. A thousand more failures confront us.

In our whole post-independence history such a situation has never arisen. We should be mourning our lost prestige, our lost prosperity our depleting manpower. Our youth in vast numbers are leaving the country for greener pastures. We should be conserving every cent to live, not to celebrate a non-existent independence. We should be mourning, walking the streets in sack cloth and ashes in protest at this wanton waste of money by an irresponsible government.

I can’t understand this mentality. The forces are also our young men who feel for their fellow men and women. Maybe their lot is a little better than the rest of us. But how can you order them to go parade? They cannot refuse. It is an unwritten or written code that they have to obey orders without question. I feel sorry for them. All that spit and polish – for whose benefit? Definitely not ours. We will be mourning in silence in our homes.

Padmini Nanayakkara.

Continue Reading


Aftermath Of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne’s Assassination



It was on Saturday March 2, 1991 when that fateful LTTE bomb blast shattered the life out of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Plantations and Deputy Minister of Defence, in front of the Havelock Road University Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha.

Mr. Wijeratne used to take the same route from home to office every day. The LTTE had monitored his movements and found that it would be easy to target him on his way to office from a strategic point after receiving the information of his departure from home.

The LTTE targeted his vehicle right in front of the University of Colombo Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha. The suicide bomber crashed into the Deputy Minister’s vehicle and killed the Minister instantaneously.

I had dropped our elder son at Royal College for scouting and then went to the public library to return some books and borrow new ones. After having done that, I was returning home when I saw a large cloud of black smoke going up from somewhere on Havelock Road. As I neared Thummulla junction, a university vehicle (I was Registrar of the Colombo University) was going in the opposite direction.

I stopped it and asked the driver what had happened. He said the Shanthi Vihar restaurant at the Thummulla had been set on fire. The police did not allow vehicles into Havelock Road from Thummulla. I parked the car on Reid Avenue between Thummulla and Lauries Road and walked down the Havleock Road to see what exactly had happened.

As I got onto Havelock Road, a policeman accosted me and told me that I cannot be allowed to proceed. Fortunately, at that moment the OIC of the Bamabalapitiya Police station, Mr. Angunawela, came to that spot and recognizing me told the police constable to allow me to proceed.

As I walked down I saw the damage caused. But there were no signs of any vehicle or any dead bodies as the police had got everything removed. There was a large gaping hole on the road where the blast had occurred. But immediately this was filled up and that section of the road carpeted.

I do not know who had ordered it and why it was done in such a hurry. There were pieces of human flesh hanging from the overhead telephone wires. The blast had also affected the house in front where there was a P& S outlet and a lady who had come to buy something had got her eyes blinded by the shrapnel thrown by the blast.

The parapet wall and the Temple flower (araliya) trees that had been grown just behind the wall were all gone. As I went into the hostel, I saw that the front wall of the hostel building badly damaged. When I went in the girls in the hostel were looking terrified and shivering with fright.

Two of the undergraduates who had gone out of the hostel as they had to sit an examination in the university had got very badly injured and they been rushed to the national hospital. Later one girl who was from Kobeigane, a remote village in the Kurunegala area, succumbed to her injuries. The university paid for her funeral. The security guard who had been close to the gate was thrown up and landed back on the ground. Fortunately, he had no injuries other than feeling groggy.

The next job was to evacuate the hostelers from the building. I telephoned the university office and found the Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of examinations was in office. I told her what had happened and to come to the hostel in a van. Thereafter both she and I packed all the hostelers in the van and sent them to the Bullers Lane Women’s hostel. This was done in three trips.

On inspecting the damage done to the hostel I thought the building would have to be demolished and a new building constructed to replace it. However, I contacted an Engineer, Mr. Upasena, at the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB,) who came, inspected the damage to the building and stated that he will get it repaired to be stronger than what it was.

He stated that it might cost around Rs, 20,000/- to get the repair done. I contacted NORAD and they agreed to give the funds required for the repair and renovation. Mr. Manickam from NORAD came and inspected the building and agreed to get much more done than what we wanted repaired and renovated. The repair and renovation were done very quickly and the hostelers were able to move in again.

The reopening ceremony was attended by the then Ambassador to Norway, Mr. Manickam and the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice- Chancellor thanked the Ambassador, Mr. Manickam and the CECB for getting the hostel repaired and renovated to be used again. He never mentioned what I had done to get this hostel repaired and habitable again. That is gratitude!


Continue Reading