(“From Essays on Sri Lankan Cricket compiled by Michael Roberts”)
by Neville Jayaweera
The image of Don Bradman exercised almost a mesmeric hold over the imagination of my generation, i.e. of those born in the 1930s, in (then) Ceylon. The dominion he exercised was so absolute that even now, 60 something years on, most of that generation would claim that there never was and never will be anyone like the Don taking guard at a batting crease. Speaking for myself, having watched cricket in England during the past 30 summers that I have been living here, I can vouch that no batsman I have seen ever came nigh Bradman. Neither in run getting nor in amassing statistics, neither in the capacity to concentrate nor in the fleetness of foot, neither in the murderous power of driving and pulling nor in the single minded devotion to the pursuit of perfection, and least of all, as a captain, did any batsman challenge Bradman.
In all these and in much else besides, he remains unique and without a peer. During those 30 years, I have watched every great batsman who played Test cricket in any part of the world, put his batting prowess on display on England’s green fields, and none amongst them can even remotely claim to have played the same game as Don Bradman. The only batsman who even hovered over the horizon was perhaps Viv Richards, and that too in his heyday in the late 1970s tours, but even him, on a scale of 100, where Bradman would be graded at 95, I would rate only in the 60s.
However, while much is very rightly made of Bradman the batting genius, there are two other aspects to the Bradman phenomenon, which discerning critics have written about and to which I shall return towards the end of this article.
A Michaelangelo masterpiece.
I first heard the name of Don Bradman about 1937 when I was only seven, and attending the Lower School of S.. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia. Every boy in class collected cricket photographs and every young collector’s ambition was to boast of the largest number of Bradman pictures in his collection. There were two pictures of Bradman that every boy wanted to possess, one of him executing the straight drive and the other of him executing his fabled pull shot.
As I recall even now, the picture of him executing the straight drive had almost a mystical quality about it and it was not just the quality of the photography either. It presented the Don almost as a demi-god. What was distinctive about that picture was the sense of imperious authority, fluency and power it communicated. One could imagine the ball speeding like a rocket between the bowler and mid-off and lodging in the fence before either fielder could move. Here was no mere batsman. Here was a man who seemed in total command, a be-medalled field-marshal on horseback, a demi-god condescending to grace a cricket field.
The picture of him playing the pull was equally mesmeric. It showed him shouldering his bat vertically close to his let ear, having carved a crescent through the air from above his right shoulder downwards as opposed to the hoik or cross bat which often passes for the pull with ordinary mortals. Obviously J. H. Fingleton, one time Bradman’s partner in run scoring and later his biographer, must have been equally impressed by this photograph because he used it on the front cover of his book, “Brightly Fades the Don.”
For all the symmetry, perfection and poise these two pictures portrayed, they could have passed for masterpieces in marble sculptured by a Michaelangelo or a Rodin or to switch to another metaphor, the cricketing equivalents of Yehudi Menuhin displaying his virtuosity.
A family heirloom
With such fantasies of the great man crowding our minds, it was with the greatest excitement and wonderment that early in 1938, we learnt that Don Bradman and his team would be passing through Colombo on their way to England and would be playing a one day match on the SSC ground. To my inexpressible joy, my father, who was himself a fan of Don Bradman, agreed to take my brother Stanley, who was eleven then, and me, to see the great Don arrive with his men at the Colombo jetty. What was more, my father even purchased a brand new bat from Diana and Co. for my brother to take with him, in the hope of getting the Don’s autograph.
I recall the events of that hot steamy morning as if they happened only a few years ago. We were not allowed into the lower jetty where passengers disembarked from launches but had to watch over the railing as the team arrived. As the players climbed up from the lower jetty to the upper floor where the public had gathered, the crowd surged forward. My brother Stanley, with me trailing behind, his new bat in his left hand and my father’s Parker Dufold pen in the other, went to the first Aussie he saw and thinking he was Bradman, thrust the bat under him with a polite, ” Please sir, may I have you autograph”. Whereupon the Aussie smiled, took the bat and scrawled right across its middle, ” Sydney G. Barnes”. Somewhat disappointed that he had missed the Don, Stanley took the bat to the next man in a blazer coat and he in turn signed, a few spaces above the name of Barnes, his own name, “Stan MacCabe”. Thereafter, hoping to get Bradman, Stanley kept running to whoever was wearing an Aussie blazer and was rewarded with the following signatures, Lindsay Hassett, W.A Brown, J.H.Fingleton, W. J. O’Rielly, W.G Fleetwood Smith, C. L. Badcock, B.A.Barnett, E.L McCormick, A. G. Chipperfield, F.A.Ward and M.G.Waite, more or less in that order. Sadly, there was yet no signature of Bradman. By that time the team had already climbed into their cars to be driven to the Galle Face Hotel, when my father spied policemen crowding round one particular car right opposite the Grand Oriental Hotel across the road. Sensing that Bradman was in that car he urged my brother to hurry towards it, which Stanley did with great speed, with me trotting along behind him. Just when the car was about to start off Stanley thrust his bat under the nose of yet another Aussie who was standing with his foot on the running board. He turned out to be W.E. Geanes, the manager of the team. Geanes signed at the bottom, under all the other names, but noticing that Bradman himself had not signed it, inquired smilingly, ” Son, but you haven’t got Mr Bradman’s (sic) signature” and handed the bat to the great man who was already seated in the car. Up to that moment, at the request of the management, the police cordon around Bradman had denied access to anyone who sought his autograph. So it was that purely through the chance intervention of manager W.E. Geanes that we had all the signatures of the 1938 Australian team to England, with the great Don Bradman and his vice-captain Stan McCabe, heading the list.
My father intended the bat to be an heirloom. So it was that, taking it home that evening, with great care he inscribed across it, just under the splice, the rubric “Australian Cricket Team to England – 29th March 1938.” The bat belonged to Stanley and had he held on to it, it would have fetched over £25,000 at Sotheby’s today. However, that was not to be, and as to how Stanley squandered that inheritance is another story.
The following day, the 30th of March, the Australians played a one-day match against an All-Ceylon team at the SSC. The SSC ground of those days is now the Colombo Municipality cricket ground, which by the standards of MCG and SCG must have looked to the visitors like a postage stamp. Although Bradman had played once before in Colombo in 1930 and had scored 40 runs, he did not play in this match and it was memorable therefore only for the extraordinary display of batting fireworks by Badcock and Hassett who compiled 116 runs apiece. Their runs came mostly in sixes and fours, most of the sixes being executed almost parallel to the ground, either between point and cover or between square leg and mid-wicket.
The match was also memorable because schoolboy Pat McCarthy, the captain of Royal College team that year, was included in the All-Ceylon team, much to the chagrin of us Thomians who fumed over the exclusion of our own captain R.B. Wijesinha. In hindsight I should say that the Thomians’ dismay was completely ill founded because Wijesinha’s performance that year had nothing to show to that of McCarthy. However, in later years Wijesinha did represent All-Ceylon in several international matches. I do not recall who captained All-Ceylon that year but the names of F.C. de Saram, one time Oxford Blue, and Sargo Jayawickrema, dominated the sports pages of those times, day in day out, year after year. According to the score card of the match given in Michael Roberts’ Crosscurrents, de Saram had scored 31 runs and in reply to an Aussie total of 367 for 9 declared, compiled by tea, Ceylon replied with 114 for 7 by stumps, with de Saram the highest scorer and Pat McCarthy scoring 24. I believe that in later years Pat McCarthy migrated to Australia and played for West Australia.
The next time I had the opportunity to see Don Bradman was in 1948 when he lead his famous Invincibles to England and himself played in Colombo. We had already had a taste of what was in store for us because three years earlier we had seen two of the Invincibles, Keith Miller and Lindsay Hassett, belt the daylights out of our bowlers when an Australian Services X1 played an All- Ceylon team at the Colombo Oval in November 1945. I recall a six that Miller hit, went soaring over long-off and almost knocked out the clock on the brand new Oval scoreboard. In that match Miller scored 132 runs and Hassett 57.
The 1948 Australian team’s reputation had already been established during the 1946/47 Ashes tour down under. Australia had won four of the five Tests with one Test drawn and Bradman had made 187 in the First Test and 234 in the Second, winding up the series with an average of 90 something. Furthermore, several of the new team had also compiled centuries, among them, Sydney Barnes, Arthur Morris, Keith Miller, Lindsay Hassett, Sam Loxton, Ian Johnson, Ernie Toshack, the spinner, Don Tallon, the wicket keeper and Ray Lindwall, the fast bowler. Almost every member of the team a centurion was indeed a formidable record. However the deterioration of his fibrositis, which had plagued Bradman throughout the war years and had caused him to be invalided out of the army, had continued to hamper him and reduce him to a mere shadow of what he had been in the thirties. While Bradman’s appetite for runs had not abated and his instinct for excellence and perfection remained undiminished, most observers had begun to notice a definite waning of his skills and an impairment of felicity at the crease. We were to see it confirmed at the Colombo Oval on March 28, 1948.
That day in March 1948 I remember vividly. I was 18 then and could undertake the expedition to the Colombo Oval without being escorted by my father! In those days, if one did not have a car, there being no bus service to Borella from Colombo South, access to the Oval was very difficult. So it was that, dismounting from the train at Bamabalpitiya, I walked all the way to the Oval along Bullers Rd, a distance of over three miles. The roads were choked with the young and the old streaming towards the cricket ground. By the time I reached the grounds, the paid stands and the standing spaces were all full and the police were turning the public away. Not being adroit enough to climb a tree, as thousands of others seemed to be, I crept through the barbed wire fence and found myself about twenty rows behind the boundary line. Very soon, all that was reversed when a mass of people broke down the fences, overran the police cordon and surged forward, carrying me with them. By the time the police had restored a semblance of order I found myself seated on the ground, this time not twenty paces behind the boundary line but about six paces inside it, at the edge of a sea of people, and the game had not even started! The tension and the excitement was terrific and some spectators amused themselves by pelting my hat with banana skins and calling me “ado thoppi karaya” (Hey, you hatter!), a small price to pay for watching Bradman!
The sky was already overcast when sharp at ten, M. Sathasivam, captain of Ceylon and the Don walked out to toss. The toss was a formality because whoever won it, the Aussies were meant to bat. So it was that at 10.15, Sydney Barnes and W.A.Brown went out to open the innings. For a description of the day’s play I have had the advantage of two eyewitness accounts, from the Observer and from the Times, the latter written by J.H. Fingleton, and included in Michael Roberts’ splendid book Crosscurrents.
The Australian innings was notable for five things. First there were the breezy innings by Barnes and Miller the former scoring 49 in as many balls and the latter scoring 46 in even a shorter time, with some mighty hits all over the ground. Second there was the excellent bowling by Sathi Coomaraswamy who got four wickets for 45 runs and by B.R.Heyn who kept the batsmen pinned down with some accurate off spin. Thirdly, there was the stunningly good fielding display put on by our men in the field, which drew rounds of applause from the crowd of over 25,000. In particular the fielding of Heyn in the covers was quite exceptional. Fourthly, there was the magical display behind the stumps by our keeper Ben Navaratne, and finally, there was the distressingly disappointing batting display put on by the great Bradman.
Embers that went cold
Everyone had come to see Bradman bat and as he walked out to the crease after the fall of the first wicket the atmosphere was electric. We all expected that Bradman’s arrival at the crease would be like throwing inflammable stuff on embers that had been smouldering while Barnes and Brown were at the crease. Sadly however, that was not to be. If anything, the embers went cold and died. For over an hour and a half Bradman scratched and scraped, pushed to cover or point and ran singles. There was none of that legendary pulling or any of the ferocious driving that we had all come to see and in all that time, he scored not a single boundary. This was a ghost of the Bradman we had read about, a legend drained of all credibility. Just only an year and a half back, we had sat enthralled by our short wave radio sets listening to the great man compile 187 at the Gabba and 248 at the MCG, his driving and pulling resounding like rifle shots as the ball sped in all directions to the boundary, every shot accompanied by thunderous applause. It was partly the deadly accuracy of our bowlers, principally of Coomaraswamy and Heyn and partly Bradman’s sea legs, and not least his fibrositis, which were perhaps to blame.
While Bradman was batting, an eerie silence had settled around the ground. There were no scoring shots to cheer and it was as if the crowd was waiting with bated breath for Bradman to ignite and did not want to miss the critical moment. I recall distinctly, amidst this tensed and overpowering silence, a spectator unable to suffer the tension any longer, chimed in, in Sinhala, “Oi, Bradman! What is the karanawa?” (I say! Bradman! What is the problem?) As the cry rippled across the ground, the nervous tension snapped, and the crowd burst out laughing as if to a man.
Shortly thereafter, when Bradman was on 20, he spooned an easy catch to Kretser at point, off Heyn. Normally, anyone taking Bradman’s wicket would be applauded for extraordinary skill and rare excellence, but that was not to be here at the Colombo Oval that morning. The fall of Bradman’s wicket seemed to have cast a deathly pall over the ground and the darkening clouds overhead seemed to suggest that even the heavens had gone into mourning. In the enveloping silence, as the great man walked off the ground, there was a distinctly funereal touch to the atmosphere, and as hundreds of silent spectators flooded over the field to see him at close quarters, play had to be suspended for 10 minutes until order and sanity were restored again .
At tea, with the sky darkening with rain, Bradman declared their innings at 184 for four. When Ceylon went in to bat, the rain was already falling but it held long enough for Mahes Rodrigo, formerly of Royal College, to give the crowd a display of classical batting that was every bit as good as anything the Aussies had put on show. So much so that Fingleton singled him out for special mention for smart footwork and for his straight bat. When the score was 46 for 2, the rain came down in torrents and that was the end of the match.
Fingleton in his review says that the Ceylon team played much better cricket than the Indian team that had toured Australia the previous summer. It had included Amarnath (captain), Hazare, and Mankad, but lost all their Tests. In particular, he thought that our fielding was quite exceptional and exceeded anything the Indians had put on. Sadly however, he failed to mention in his review the wicket keeping by Ben Navaratne who was in my view the most outstanding of the Ceylon team. I thought his work behind the stumps was quite remarkable.
(To be continued next week)
HEART TO HEART TRUST FUND
receives a donation from Australia
‘Mighty of Heart, mighty of mind, magnanimous – to be this, is indeed to be great in life’ sums up the life of Mauri Antoinette Clare Sendapperuma.
We were elated beyond words when we were informed that a Sri Lankan domiciled in Australia had left over AUD 94,820/= (over 13 million rupees) in her last will to be donated to the Heart To Heart Trust Fund. To us, who have been involved in the journey of the Trust Fund and experienced the joys and the sorrows of people who would give anything to have a second chance at life, Miss Sendapperuma’s generosity was like being touched by an angel.
Born on 31st March 1954 in Colombo, Mauri was educated in a convent school, Good Shepherd Convent, Colombo, and was an accountant by profession. Her young days had been spent joyfully in the service of the Lord in her church, St Lucia’s Cathedral, until in 1989, she migrated to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked for leading corporates in the energy industry. Mauri passed away on 11th December 2019 following complications from Heart Aortic Valve Replacement surgery.
In a true mark of greatness, Mauri had given up a successful career to take up volunteer work, doing so at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. According to her family, she had always looked forward to her volunteering days, and often talked about how giving her time to the hospital fulfilled her, and that she felt as though she was part of a close family.
Mauri has ensured that kindness and generosity extended beyond her earthly life. And by giving back to her country, she has given hope to individuals suffering from heart related diseases and seeking a new lease in life. We at the Heart To Heart Trust Fund know not how Mauri came to know of us and our work with individuals suffering from heart diseases. But this we know – that Mauri had an open heart and a love that represented the God she served since she was a child.
The Heart to Heart Trust Fund is a Charitable Trust functioning under the patronage of the Head of State – and co-founded by leading Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Rajitha Y de Silva and his mentor the eminent Senior Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Ruvan Ekanayaka, who are guided by a Board of Trustees, made up of an eminent group of persons, and a beautiful group of individuals who have wholeheartedly volunteered to support and execute the good cause with the objective that ‘Nobody should die or suffer from heart diseases due to financial difficulties in this country.’
The Board of Trustees is composed of both medical and non medical persons who represent various professional fields such as law, medicine, diplomacy, corporate business and the social sciences.
Representing the medical field on the Board are
1. Dr. Ruvan Ekanayaka, Senior Consultant Cardiologist,
2. Dr. Rajitha Y de Silva, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon,
3. Dr. Aruna Kapuruge, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon,
4. Dr. Mahendra Munasinghe, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon,
5. Dr. Kanishka Indraratne, Consultant Cardiac Anaesthetist,
6. Dr. Kumudini Ranatunga – Senior Consultant Cardio-thoracic Anaesthetist and Intensivist, NHSL
7. Prof. S D Jayarante, the Chairman, Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (Ex-Officio).
The non medical persons representing other disciplines and professions on the Board are
8. Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General,
9. Palitha Fernando PC, former Attorney General,
10. Arunashantha De Silva PC, Former Legal Draftsman,
11. Mahendra Amarasuriya, Senior Banker, Philanthropist and Former International President, Lions Club International 2007/08,
12. Dr Kumari Jayawardena, Author/Social Worker,
13. Sudath Tennakoon, Chairman, Central Bearings,
14. Lt. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Dias, former Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Army,
15. Sunimal Fernando, Senior Sociologist,
16. Deshamanya Ajita De Zoysa, Chairman of Kalutara Bodhi Trust and Musaeus College
17. Kumar Sangakkara, Captain Sri Lanka Cricket 2009-2011 and President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) who also guide the trust fund while representing diverse fields of specialisation.
When somebody is having a heart disease is a matter of life and death where a price tag is attached to his/her life. The fact that Mauri recognised the work of the Trust Fund among those in need of critical treatment but are unable to obtain timely intervention due to financial difficulties shows that she has been following our work closely. She definitely knew the importance of lending a helping hand to patients, because in Australia all health services including complex cardiac procedures are provided free to all, irrespective of income and social status.
Over the initial six- and a half-year period, we have been able to save more than 300 lives. These are individuals who have undergone various procedures and have been eventually reunited with their families and society, and are today living normal and fruitful lives. The surgical procedures carried out included CABG (Bypass surgery), cardiac surgeries, and procedures to insert stents and pacemakers, which were carried out at the Sri Jayewardenapura General Hospital as well as in other hospitals in the last few years and its accounts are annually audited by M/s Ernst and Young. Being a Trust Fund, ensuring transparency of our operations at all levels and maintaining a high level of integrity are a virtue held high and we trust that our impeccable track record has been an immense help for our success thus far.
We believe strongly that “prevention is better than cure”, hence part of our endeavour at the Heart To Heart Trust Fund is to teach and educate people whenever possible to embrace a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the incidents of heart disease. We target all age groups, but children are a vital group of our focus, as growing up, they can make choices to live healthily. Therefore, we focus a great deal on disseminating knowledge on the importance of prevention.
Given the yeoman service rendered by the Trust Fund thus far, Mauri’s generosity to the present, gives hope to the future; to the future of not just the individual who benefits from her kindness, but the dependents who will bless her name many times as they receive their loved one back into their fold in a state of restored health.
Although we at the Heart To Heart Trust Fund did not know Mauri during her lifetime, her memory will remain with us and we will bless her name each time we think of her when we save a life.
As we appreciate the generosity of a Sri Lankan, and remember the countless who have supported the Trust Fund for so many years, in numerous ways, we know that none of them expected anything in return, and in giving, none of them became poor, but became richer in compassion and humanity.
“Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted”
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says “do good, lend, and expect nothing in return and your reward will be great” (6:35), and indeed we know that Mauri’s reward in heaven is great as she has been received with great joy by her Creator who would have welcomed her with open arms saying “Come to me….I will give you rest” (Mathew 11:28).
May her soul rest in peace!
A tribute from the Heart To Heart Trust Fund
(Tel: +94 77 734 4410
Patrick Kodikara:A Sri Lankan’s action in UK Labour and minority movements
By Lucien Rajakarunanayake
Britain has certainly given higher education and a political background to many leaders of the left movement in Sri Lanka. The colonial period saw many who qualified for higher education moving to Britain. The rise of left-wing politics and socialism in Britain at that time, led many to formulate their anti-colonial and socialist thinking, bringing important changes to the political leadership in Ceylon.
Some well-remembered names are N. M. Perera, Colvin R de Silva, Leslie Goonewardena, Pieter Keunamen, and S. A Wickremesinghe, among many others. who gave guidance and leadership to the emerging left movement here, and the rising call for Independence. The leftists certainly wanted a more meaningful independence, than those of the right.
Recently, we saw the demise of Patrick Kodikara, a Sri Lankan who played a significant role in the activities of the UK Labour movement, the Labour Party, the movements for Black People’s Rights, against Race and Sex Discrimination in the UK, as well as strengtening the faith and credibility of the Police with a more socialist attitude in Police Management. It was certainly a rare turnaround towards leftwing activity by a citizen of this former colony, in the homeland of the colonizers.
Patrick Kodikara, was from Negombo, with his father in the Public Service. He was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Maradana and later at the Aquinas University College, where he passed the GCE Advanced Level (UK) in Economics and History. For a brief period he was a teacher at the then Kolonnawa Vidyalaya, (now the Terence de Silva Maha Vidyalaya, Kolonnawa). With his emerging leftwing thinking he was glad that Kolonnawa Vidyala was founded by Terence de Zilva, a strong anti-colonial activist, the first Joint Secretary of the Suriyamal Movement. It was first named the Suriya Vidyalaya, burnt down by pro-colonial, right wing opponents.
At Aquinas he was one of a strong left thinking activist group that included Vasudeva Nanayakkara, late Devapriya Jayawardena (Priya), himself, and this writer.
He joined the Health Department as a trainee in psycho-social activity, and won a scholarship to the UK to continue his studies and training. He entered the London School of Economics in the early 60s, gained his first degree and a diploma in Applied Social Studies. His initial work was in Singapore from 1965, a three year course in Social Services, and returned to the UK in 1968, becoming Head Social Worker at Friern Barnet Psychiatric Hospital.
From 1970 to 75, Patrick served as a Senior Social Worker at the Hackney Social Services in London, when he obtained his MA in social planning from Essex University. His work in Social Service activities with the Southwark Social Services, and as a Divisional Officer of Tower Hamlets Social Services, brought to him the call for wider community activity. This saw him move to the left movement with the UK’s Labour Party.
His activities with the communities on major social issues affecting the people, saw his election as a Hackney Councillor from 1978, and continued work with Labour activists. This included mass protests and activities for minorities in the UK, and saw him lined up for possible selection as a candidate to Parliament from the Labour Party for Hackney Central, showing his wide popular support. He lost a parliamentary nomination by just one vote.
He has been a leader of strikes, protest occupations of public buildings and specially the Centre Point occupation in 1974 – an over 30-storey building left empty for several years as a speculative investment — in the context of increasing homelessness for the people of London.
The steady deterioration of race relations in the UK, especially in London, saw Patrick moving to Labour activism against it. He led two delegations to the Metropolitan Police to discuss relations with the police and black people. He also led a delegation to the Home Office on this issue, but the official position against minorities remained stronger. The Sunday Times (UK) quoted Kodikara in July 1980, stating: “…I have learnt that these organizations are a total con as far as black people are concerned. They give a comfortable feeling that something is being done. It’s not true, the situation is worsening, Racial harmony must have a precondition — and that is equality.”
In April 1978, Patrick was among the leaders of a mass Anti-Nazi League protest rally against racism and fascism, in London, which had a participation of more than 80,000 people.
The prevailing situation led Patrick and some other black leaders to think of a black civil rights movement, which was later announced, and became an important pro-minority political movement in the coming years. The new movement began to campaign for the rights of Britain’s three million blacks – that they must also be accounted and reassured.
Among his achievements as a community and Labour activist were the changes to the Adoption and Fostering Policy — seeking to find a placement for children among parents of the same race and religion, wherever possible. He was also associated with moves to change the Positive Action clauses in the Race and Sex Discrimination Acts, the creation of new Social Work Training Posts to specifically train black and ethnic minority Social Workers, and among local councils to change the racial basis of employment to reflect the community it served.
Patrick had an active and leadership role in formulating Labour policies for the control of the Police and policing policies, that sought the removal of the Met Police from the Home Office.
He was also Chairman of the Hackney Council for Racial Equality, which was actively probing alleged wrong activities of the police relating to race and ethnicity.
He did have a lot of criticism of the left leaders here, after the failure of the United Front that saw the LSSP and CP join the SLFP/MEP. He regretted the steady decline of the left with a rise in extremist nationalism in the post-1956 trend of politics, and then the move to separatism and terrorism.
He joined he Bangladesh Community of Brick Lane – East End, London, after the stabbing to death of a member in a small park opposite the Whitechapel Art Gallery. The park was eventually renamed – Altab Ali Park, after the deceased.
He was a very active member of the National Front for Racial Equality calling for ‘Black and White Unite and Fight’, and took the stage as the main speaker at many anti-racist meetings and other events.
From the late 1970s to 80s Patrick was also a strong trade unionist with emphasis on racial equality relating to the rights of workers in the UK.
His pro-worker and employee work in the UK was known to many trade unionists in Sri Lanka, and to Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he was appointed Minister of Labour in 1994. Patrick had by then returned to Sri Lanka. Minister Rajapaksa contacted Patrick and sought his advice on pro-worker activities, to raise the standards of labour in the country. He was appointed a Consultant to the Ministry of Labour on formulating a National Policy on Vocational Training.
A comprehensive programme was prepared by Patrick, and a team associated with him, relating to many aspects and needs for training based on the diverse social and economic situations of those in Labour and Vocations, considering ethnic and even caste divisions that affects those seeking betterment through employment. This programme has been continued by the successive ministers of labour, and is part of the core aspects of Vocational Training under the ministry.
He spent more than a decade in friendly retirement in Sri Lanka, with knowledgeable help to those engaged in social betterment and advancement here. A man of good humour he always shared a laugh on both social and political issues.
The Easter Sunday carnage on April 21 in 2019, saw his birthday turn into the bloodiest tragedy. Living in Negombo, the subsequent Covid-19 lockdowns and transport blocks made him sadly isolated from friends in many months of near isolation; but kept alive with plenty of humour amidst the tragedies of that Easter Sunday and the pandemic that prevailed.
His record of service to the underprivileged and ethnic minorities in the UK is memorable.
His demise was on January 24 this year. This is written to remember him as we approach what would have been his 83rd birthday, on April 21; when Patrick’s record of commitment to service to the people and humour in life will not be forgotten.
Some incomprehensible lapses in Easter Attack Commission Report
By Kalyananda Tiranagama
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Easter Sunday Attack (PCoI) had the difficult and challenging task of going through a vast amount of evidence, both oral and documentary, of several hundred witnesses, identifying the persons and organizations involved in the attack and the circumstances that brought about the situation culminating in the attack, and the political leaders and state officials whose dereliction of duty and responsibility resulting in the failure to take necessary action to prevent the attack in time and making necessary recommendations for taking legal action against them and for preventing recurrence of such situations.
In its Final Report submitted to the government, the PCoI had made a large number of relevant, important, useful and implementable recommendations, some of which the government has already taken steps to implement such as arresting some of the persons and proscribing some organizations mentioned therein. The Commission has done a commendable job by presenting this report.
While the Commission was conducting its inquiries summoning witnesses and recording their evidence at length giving wide publicity through the media, the people of the country expected that the Commission would identify all the culprits responsible for the attack, not only those who carried out the terrorist acts, but all those who were involved in or contributed to it directly or indirectly in various ways by facilitating, aiding and abetting, providing financial, material or moral support, within the country and from outside, to the terrorist group that carried out the attack; the links they had with communalist Muslim political parties and their leaders; and the foreign involvements in the attack. The people also expected it to identify the political leaders and public officials accountable for this attack by their failure to take necessary action to prevent it even after having received information in advance and deal with them according to law.
However, when a person with some legal background reads this report with an analytical mind, one finds that there are several incomprehensible lapses, omissions and lacunae in it. The purpose of this article is to point out some of the lapses that one would come across while going through this report.
Persons directly connected to terrorist attacks
In its Final Report the Commission has identified 14 persons as persons directly connected with the terrorist acts that took place on Easter Sunday. Out of them 11 persons are dead:
Zaharan and Ilham Ibrahim – suicide bombers in Shangrila attack;
Inshaf Ibrahim – Cinnamon Grand bomber; Mubarak – Kingsbury bomber;
Jameel – Dehiwala Tropical Inn bomber; Muath – Kochchikade bomber;
Hasthun – Katuwapitiya bomber;
Azad – Batticaloa Zion Church bomber;
Rilwan, Shaini and Niyas – died in Saindumarudu explosion.
Only three persons remain in custody to be prosecuted:”
Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Naufer – who has lectured on IS ideology and its activities in all the training camps conducted by Zaharan group;
(ii) (ii) Hayathu Mohammadu Ahamadu Milhan – who has acted as the weapons trainer in about 12 training camps conducted by Zaharan, played a key role in establishing the training camp at Wanathavilluwa and preparing explososives and procuring chemicals for the manufacture of bombs and taken part in the killing of two Police officers at Vavunativu in November 2018.
(iii) (iii) Mohomed Ibrahim Sadeeq Abdulla – an active member of Jamaath Islamia Students Movement (SLJISM), who had gone to Syria via Turkey in 2014 and undergone arms training; and participated in two training camps conducted by Zaharan and conducted some more camps in 2017 and 2018 on his own.
Persons and Organisations that contributed to terrorist acts
The PCoI has identified
the following as organizations and persons that contributed to the terrorist attacks by aiding and abetting actions which caused racial and religious disturbances or by giving support to such acts within the country and created public unrest and disturbed social order:
(i) Sri Lanka Jamaat-e-Islami (SLJI)
SLJI is an organization working on the same ideology as Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization banned in Egypt, and having close connections with persons and organizations having the same ideology in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, India and Pakistan. The final goal of the SLJI is establishment of an Islam state in Sri Lanka. The official publication of SLJI, Al Hassanat has over the years carried articles glorifying jihad. In February 1990 it has published an article stating that the establishment of an Islamic state cannot be done without waging jihad. In November 1999 it has carried an editorial criticizing the worshipping of statues and praising those who break them. In February 2001 it has published an article extolling people who sacrifice their lives for Islam and stating that they will be given 72 virgins in heaven. In June 2008 it has stated quoting Egyptian terrorist Al Qardawi that a suicide attack is a great act of jihad. It has established Arabic Schools in Madampe, Mawanella and Kalkudah. At the Arabic School in Madampe students were taught about the establishment of an Islamic state and it was compulsory to learn to fight with weapons – P. 227 – 228.
(ii) Sri Lanka Jamaat-e-Islami Students Movement (SLJISM)
SLJISM is the students’ wing of the SLJI. Many of the participants in training programmes conducted by Zaharan and several of the suspects in custody over the Easter Sunday attacks are members of the SLJI. About 15 members of the SLJISM are in custody over the Easter attack, some of them have gone to Syria for arms training and Mufees, the person who provided the land at Wanathavilluwa where explosives and weapons found was a member of SLJISM. – P. 238
The COI has recommended proscription of SLJI and SLJISM.
(i) Ahamed Talib Lukman Thalib (father);
(ii) (ii) Lukman Thalib Ahamed (son) – 2 persons of Sri Lankan origin domiciled in Australia –who have facilitated several members of SLJISM to proceed to Syria via Turkey for arms training;
(iii) (iii) one Rimsan, a Sri Lankan connected to Al Qaida. The COI has recommended in the on-going criminal investigations to examine their role, if any, in the Easter Sunday attacks.
(iv) Rasheed Hajjul Akbar – the leader of SLJI from 1994 till August 2018. He was a member of the Shura Council of the SLJI. Hajjul Akbar is one of the main ideologists of Islamic extremism in Sri Lanka, promoting religious hatred and intolerance, application of Sharia law and establishing an Islamic state in Sri Lanka. Under his leadership, the official journal of SLJI Al Hassanat has published articles promoting extremism and terrorism. He had been arrested by the CCD on August 25, 2019 and released on September 27, 2019. His younger brother is Moulavi Rasheed Mohamed Ibrahim. Moulavi Ibrahim and his two sons Sadeek Abdulla and Shahid Abdulla are in custody for damaging Buddha statues in Mawanella in December 2018. The COI has recommended the AG to consider instituting criminal action against Rasheed Hajjul Akbar for conspiring to establish an Islamic state in Sri Lanka.
(v) Dr. Muhamad Zufyan Muhamad Zafras – working at the National Hospital, Colombo who has helped Zaharan’s brother Rilwan to get admitted to Colombo National Hospital for treatment as a person injured in a gas cylinder blast, hiding the fact that he was injured in a blast while experimenting with explosives. The COI has recommended the AG to consider instituting criminal action against Dr. Zafras under S. 5 of the PTA for withholding information.
Accountability of Authorities for Failure to Prevent Attacks
As for the political authorities in government accountable for the failure to prevent the terrorist attacks, the PCoI has found only President Maithripala Sirisena accountable: President Maithripala Sirisena – failed in his duties and responsibilities, transcending beyond mere civil negligence – P 263. There is criminal liability on his part for the acts or omissions mentioned therein and the COI recommends the Attorney General instituting criminal action under the Penal Code against him. -P 265
Senior Public Officers
The COI has recommended the AG to consider instituting criminal action under any suitable Penal Code provision against three senior public officers:
Secretary Defence Hemasiri Fernando – P. 284;
DIG Sisira Mendis, Chief of National Intelligence – P. 285;
SDIG Nilantha Jayawardane, Director, State Intelligence Service – P, 288.
Law Enforcement Officers
Out of the Law Enforcement Officers held accountable by the PCoI for their failure to take necessary steps to prevent the attacks in their respective areas, recommendation has been made only against the Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundara for the AG to consider instituting criminal action under any suitable Penal Code provision. – P. 308
In respect of 6 other Police Officers recommendation has been made for the AG to consider instituting criminal action under any suitable Penal Code provision or S. 82 of the Police Ordinance. The following Police Officers belong to this category:
SDIG Nandana Munasinghe – Western Province – P. 312;
SP Sanjeewa Bandara – Superintendant of Police, Colombo North – P. 314;
SSP Negombo – Chandana Athukorala – P. 315;
SP B. E. I. Prasanna, Western Province Intelligence Division – P. 315;
Chief Inspector Sarath Kumarasinghe, Acting OIC, Fort Police Station – P.320;
Chief Inspector Sagara Wilegoda Liyanage, OIC, Fort
The AG has the option of instituting criminal action under any suitable Penal Code provision or under S. 82 of the Police Ordinance. If the AG decides to institute action under S. 82 of the Police Ordinance, they will not be indicted and there will be no criminal proceedings against them. They will be charged in the Magistrate’s Court for breach of duty under S. 82 of the Police Ordinance:
S. 82 :– Every Police officer (a) guilty of any violation of duty or wilful breach or neglect of any regulations and lawful orders of other competent authority – shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding three month’s pay, or to imprisonment with or without hard labour, for period not exceeding three months, or both.
Against three other Police Officers only disciplinary inquiry has been recommended:
DIG Deshbandu Tennekone, Colombo North;
Negombo ASP Sisila Kumara;
Chaminda Nawaratne, OIC, Katana
Accountability of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and the Cabinet of Ministers
As for the responsibility and failures of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe no such recommendation, as made against the President, has been made.
It appears from the following observations of the PCoI that it has shown a very lenient attitude towards the failures of the Prime Minister. The report states: ‘The reasons for the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe’s inability to attend meetings of the National Security Council when fixed at short notice due to other commitments – acceptable; Though he did not explain why he did not stay on for some of full meetings, this taken in isolation is insufficient to make any adverse findings against him – P. 268; There are other instances reflecting lenient approach on his part to national security issues: No positive action taken to prevent Wahabi violence against traditional Sufi Muslim community though he was aware of it; Did not accept army intelligence presentations about the rising Islam extremism in the country, particularly in the East – P. 270; He opposed the issue of banning nikab and burkha raised by the Army Commander at the National Security Council without consulting Muslim parties – P. 271; Govt. did not ban IS organization in Sri Lanka as there were no reports stating IS propaganda taking place in Sri Lanka, only reports of individuals spreading IS ideology; It was corroborated by several witnesses that the Govt was reluctant to take strong action against rising Islamic extremism due to its dependence on support of Muslim political parties.’
However, the Report states: ‘The lax approach of the Prime Minister towards Islam extremism was one of the primary reasons for the failure on the part of the government to take proactive steps towards Islam extremism. This facilitated the build-up of Islam extremism to the point of Easter Sunday attacks.’ – P. 277
– If it is so, why no action is recommended against Prime Minister Ranil?
– It has totally ignored the fact that, though Maithripala Sirisena was the President, the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe had the effective control of the entire government in his hands under the 19th Amendment, controlling the Cabinet and the Parliament.
– Sagala Ratnayake, a close confidante of the Prime Minister in the UNP, was the Minister of Law and Order in charge of the Police.
The Accountability of the Cabinet of Ministers
The PCoI has not given its mind as to whether the Cabinet of Ministers has contributed in any manner to the terrorist attack by its failure to discharge its Constitutional responsibility. When it examined the accountability of the President and the Prime Minister, one finds it difficult to understand why it did not examine the accountability of the governemtn headed by the Cabinet of Ministers, especially in view of the relevant provisions in Article 42 of the Constitution and the evidence placed before it.
Article 42 (1) There shall be a Cabinet of Ministers charged with the direction and control of the government of the Republic;
(2) The Cabinet of Ministers shall be collectively responsible and answerable to Parliament;
(3) The President shall be a member the Cabinet of Ministers and shall be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers.
IGP Pujitha Jayasundara sent the communication received from Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardana, Head of the State Intelligence Services and from Sisira Mendis, the Chief of National Intelligence containing detailed information warning about a threat of possible terrorist attack by ISIS terrorists in Sri Lanka received from Indian Intelligence sources with a note stating ‘FNA’ on 09. 04. 2019 itself to four Senior Police Officers: i. SDIG Western Province – Nandana Munasinghe; ii. SDIG Crimes, Organized Crimes and STF – M. Latheef; iii. SDIG Special Protection Range – Priyalal Dasanayake; iv. Director – Counter Terrorism Investigation Division – Waruna Jayasundara – P. 303.
Special Protection Range is the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) which provides security to Ministers of the Cabinet. It was reported in the media that SDIG Priyalal Dasanayake, giving evidence before the Commission, stated that he had conveyed the information received of the threat of possible terrorist attack to all the officers of the Ministerial Security Division on April 9, 2019 itself.
Of the four Senior Officers who received the said communication from the IGP, the PCoI has recommended to the AG to consider instituting criminal action under any suitable Penal Code provision or S. 82 of the Police Ordinance against SDIG Western Province – Nandana Munasinghe;. – P. 312. As for the conduct of SDIG Crimes, Organized Crimes and Commander STF – M. Latheef, the Report contains the following comment: ‘When the COI queried the steps taken with regard to it (the IGP’s communication) the response was that he got in touch with the Indian High Commission and provided security to it. However, it is surprising as to why he did not instruct his intelligence units to work on the intelligence received.’ – P. 309. No recommendation made against him.
However, the final report does not mention anything about the steps taken by SDIG Priyalal Dasanayake on the information conveyed to him. It does not show whether COI made any query as to whether the officers of the Ministerial Security Division conveyed the information received by them to the Ministers to whom they provide security and the reaction of the Ministers concerned. This is highly relevant and a serious lacuna in the report. One cannot expect or believe that none of the officers of the Ministerial Security Division conveyed this information received by them to any of the Ministers. At least we know that Minister Harin Fernando’s father had got this information from a Police officer, and that he conveyed it to his son preventing him from going to church on that fateful day.
The entire Cabinet of Ministers cannot evade responsibility for their failure in their Constitutional duty. Though they may not be legally accountable, their conduct is highly irresponsible, immoral and blameworthy.
However, the Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed by the present government to study the Report of the COI and identify recommendations for implementation has also expressed its view that the entire government then in power was accountable for the failure to prevent the Easter Attack.
(To be concluded tomorrow)
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