Year 2021 is historic for both St. Mary’s College, Negombo, and its affiliate the Old Boys’ Association (OBA). It marks the unique feat of attaining 150 years and 100 years in service, respectively. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the past achievements of these great institutions as well as to introspect on the preparations to meet the challenges that lie ahead. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime moment that all Maryites have been waiting for, which has finally dawned.
St. Mary’s English Boys’ School had its early humble beginning as a grant-in-aid-school when Rev. Monsignor John Vistarini, the Missionary Priest of St. Mary’s Church- Grand Street, started it in the Mission House in 1871 for the benefit of the children of the Grand Street Mission. Later it became St. Mary’s English Boys’ High School in a new building behind the Mission House in 1872. Rev. Fr. Vistarini was a great visionary with a flair for preaching, education and social work. It was his passion for great humanitarian service that drove him to model the school as a provider of quality and affordable education.
Throughout early history, St. Mary’s Church and St. Mary’s College were administered by the Priest in charge of Grand Street Mission and together has been a beacon of light guiding its children in the path of wisdom gained through knowledge, character and spirituality. These great institutions are deeply involved in helping people learn and work toward wholeness and better character.
The motto of St. Mary’s College is “VIAM SAPIENTIAE MONSTRABO TIBI”; a Latin phrase which is taken from the biblical book of Proverbs (4:11) meaning “I WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY OF WISDOM” in English.
The College has made significant strides under the management of the Catholic Church for almost a century since its beginning. Although it came under government control on 1st January 1969, the Church’s influence continued until 1981 when the Golden Era of Rectors ended. It has had a powerful and transformative impact on the students which is evident from its alumni consisting of a large number of Catholic Priests, Intellectuals, Professionals, Politicians, Businessmen, etc., who have excelled in their own chosen fields.
Although education was the primary objective of the college, it went beyond the traditional framework into areas such as leadership, discipline, spirituality, etc., in order to produce well rounded citizens. The college has a reputation of producing a large number of catholic priests, if not the highest. A shining example is Archbishop Emeritus Rt. Rev. Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando who was called to eternal rest on the 11th April 2019. Fr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando became the youngest, at the age of 44, and the first diocesan priest to be appointed Archbishop on March 30, 1977 and since then His Grace had spearheaded and guided the Catholic flock of Sri Lanka with admiration.
Today the college is being administered by Rector, Rev. Fr. Jayantha Wickremasinghe assisted by a faculty of able and qualified staff which has brought renewed hope of re-inventing the former glory.
The Old Boys’ Association
April 1906, was a turning point in the college history when Rev. Fr. Francis Lawrence Breton joined as Director of the school. Fr. Breton took immediate steps to recruit certificated teachers with the aim of preparing the students for Cambridge Senior and Junior Examinations. Boarding facilities were provided in the upper floor of the Main Building starting from October 1906 to encourage residential learning.
In what appears to be the first step in forming the Old Boys’ Association, Rev. Fr. Breton formed a Sports Club in 1907 with the help of many old boys. This initial step gradually developed into forming the Old Boys’ Association in December 1911 with a gathering of over 60 of the Negombo elite, organised by its Vice President Mr. R.F.P. Jayatilleke and Secretary Mr. R S Dalpadado, with a call from Rev.Fr. Breton to those who have not joined to join the association.
The OBA since then has played an important complementary role which has been instrumental in many of the infrastructure development that has taken place. Besides, its role in preserving and nurturing the age old traditions and culture are highly commendable. Such cooperation is critical to the smooth functioning and progress of these institutions. In this context, the OBA’s decision to celebrate this unique moment in their history is most opportune and praiseworthy.
The devastation caused by the pandemic across the world has not deterred the OBA from celebrating this all important milestone in a relatively subdued but no less in a solemn manner.
Accordingly, the OBA has organised “Centenary Dinner” with a view to sharing our joy and accomplishment with the Maryites fraternity on 3rd of December.
Immediate Past President and Chairman of Centenary Committee
NGO to move SC against acquittal and discharge of first accused
Welikada Prison killings
‘The BASL should make its position clear now’
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Chairman of the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners, Attorney-at-Law, Senaka Perera, says his outfit will soon move the Supreme Court against the acquittal and discharging of Inspector Neomal Moses Rangajiva, the first accused in the Welikada Prison killings.
The civil society activist, in a brief interview with The Island, over the weekend, said that the relatives of those who perished in the violence in the Welikada Prison compound on Nov 09 and 10, 2012, had requested him to pursue this matter.
Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar last Wednesday (12) sentenced to death ex-Welikada Prisons Chief Lamahewage Emil Ranjan over the Welikada killings. He was the second accused in the high-profile case, whereas Rangajiva, at that time attached to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), was acquitted and released from all charges.
Lawyer Perera said that as the verdict had been given by a Trial-at-Bar, the appeal would have to be made to the Supreme Court. The Trial-at-Bar bench comprising High Court judges Gihan Kulathunga (President), Pradeep Hettiarachchi and Manjula Thilakarathna was unanimous in its decisions.
The Trial-at-Bar said that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the PNB officer beyond reasonable doubt.
Responding to questions, Senaka Perera said that if it hadn’t been a Trial-at-Bar, his group would have moved the Court of Appeal. Senaka Perera explained: “We intend to write to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, in this regard. We are of the view the AG should appeal against the acquittal and discharging of Rangajiva. However, if the AG refrained from doing so, the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners will accept the responsibility.”
In terms of the Trial-at-Bar proceedings, the eight prison inmates who were killed in the incident are Kankanmalage Malinda Nilendra Pelpola alias Malan, Attapattu Sangakkara Nirmala Atapattu, Mohammed Wijaya Rohana alias Gundu, Chinthamani Mohottige Thushara Chandana alias Kalu Thushara, Asarappulige Jothipala alias Ponna Kapila, Harshan Sri Manakeerthi Perera alias Manju Sri, Raigamage Susantha Perera alias Mala Susantha, Devamullage Malith Sameera Perera alias Konda Amila.
However, lawyer Senaka Perera said that altogether 27 inmates had been killed after the deployment of the Special Task Force (STF) and the Army inside the Welikada Prison. According to official records, in addition to 27 deaths, at least 43 other inmates received injuries. The then Prisons Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera informed Parliament of the deaths of 27 inmates.
The then Police Spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakoday said that inmates had triggered violence as the STF was looking for drugs and hand phones inside the prison.
The Attorney General filed indictments against IP Rangajeewa, Lamahewage Emil Ranjan and Indika Sampath, an officer attached to the Prisons intelligence unit under 33 counts, including committing murder, conspiring to commit murder after being members of an unlawful assembly.
The Court proceeded in spite of the third accused Indika Sampath who managed to evade the police so far.
The human rights activist recalled how Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, named a Trial-at-Bar to hear the Welikada case on a request made by Rajaratnam’s predecessor, Dappula de Livera, PC. The latter made the request in late June 2019. Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera in late May 2021.
The Prisons Department and the Justice Ministry couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for ensuring safety and security of those in their care, lawyer Senaka Perera said. Those who had been remanded and sentenced could be serious offenders and some may even deserve a death sentence but the State shouldn’t under any circumstances resort to extra judicial measures, the public litigation activist said.
Lawyer Senaka Perera said that he believed the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should examine the Welikada case and make its position known to the public. “Perhaps, the BASL, too, should consider moving the SC against the acquittal and discharging of the first accused,” the lawyer said.
Lawyer Senaka Perera said that before the former AG made an intervention the progress in investigations had been slow. In fact, real progress was made since 2017, two years after the change of government following the 2015 presidential election, the lawyer said, alleging that the powers that be continuously hindered the investigations.
According to lawyer Perera and other sources, there had been four separate investigations at different levels beginning with the one launched by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) immediately after the Welikada killings. Subsequently the then Prisons Minister the late Chandrasiri Gajadeera named a three-member team to inquire into the Welikada killings. The committee comprising retired High Court judge Bandula Atapattu, retired DIG Gunasena Thenabadu and Prisons Ministry Legal Officer Lalith Andrahannadi produced two reports in Feb 2013 and Nov 2013. There had been two other investigations ordered by the then Prisons Chief P.W. Kodipillai and the Human Rights Commission.
Lawyer Senaka Perera said that the four investigations undertaken during the Rajapaksa administration should be examined. The lawyer emphasized the importance of appraisal of the investigations as the Trial-at-Bar declared that the progress had been made only since 2017.
In addition to those four investigations, there had been another report prepared by the three-member committee comprising retired High Court judge Wimal Nambuwasam, retired Senior DIG Asoka Wijeyatilleke and senior public servant S.K. Liyanage. Appointed on January 22, 2015, less than two weeks after the presidential election, the committee handed over its report to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, on June 09, 2015 as the latter appointed it.
Lawyer Perera said that the former Prisons Chief claimed that the inmates after having broken into the Prisons armoury seized weapons, including machine guns.
The activist pointed out that the 2012 incidents were the worst since the 1983 massacre of Tamil terrorist suspects. The public have lost faith in law enforcement authorities and the political leadership regardless of the party that held power, the lawyer said. There couldn’t be better example than how the current dispensation handled the then State Minister for Prisons Lohan Ratwatte’s ‘raids’ on Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons in September last year.
The report prepared by retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena into the incidents involving Ratwatte should be made public as the police were yet to at least record the State Minister’s statement, lawyer Perera said.
China donates shipment of rice to Sri Lanka
By Anura Balasuriya
China will soon send a shipment of rice to Sri Lanka as a donation, a Ministry of Trade spokesman said.
The donation comes in the wake of the 70 year anniversary of the Sri Lanka – China Rubber Rice pact on 1952.
Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardane had discussed the matter recently with a senior Chinese Embassy officia, the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.
“The Chinese Embassy in Colombo is already doing the needful. The Trade Ministry has informed China of the varieties of rice that Sri Lankan consumers like,” the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.
Rating downgrades discourage investors – JVP
JVP MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, on Friday (14) day, said investors were discouraged by the continuous downgrading of the country’s credit ratings.
Speaking at an event in Colombo, MP Amarasuriya said import costs had increased as the country was going through a forex crisis. The President’s agricultural policy had been a disaster and that in the coming months, the government would have to import large volumes of food.
Amarasuriya added that Sri Lanka’s relations with other nations had deteriorated and that too would have an adverse impact on the country.
Dr. Amarasuriya said that international rating agencies were independent and that their ratings were very important for investors to make decisions.
“Investors don’t consult Ajith Nivard Cabraal before investing. Besides, in other countries, it is economic experts, not politicians, who become Central Bank Governors,” she added.
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