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Thursday, 14 December 2017
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Kadirgamar, a great son of Sri Lanka PDF Print E-mail

Jaffna-born Lakshman Kadirgamar was a brilliant lawyer who became converted to politics at a time when Sri Lanka needed a man of honour, courage and vision to take up the key portfolio of the foreign ministry. When President Chandrika Kumaranatunge offered him this position, she placed the first nail into the coffin of terrorism. It was the most defining moment in the war against terrorism. 

By Lalith Ganhewa, Co-Editor Sri Lanka Watch

Jaffna-born Lakshman Kadirgamar was a brilliant lawyer who became converted to politics at a time when Sri Lanka needed a man of honour, courage and vision to take up the key portfolio of the foreign ministry. When President Chandrika Kumaranatunge offered him this position, she placed the first nail into the coffin of terrorism. It was the most defining moment in the war against terrorism. 

A very personable individual, accomplished scholar and a charming personality, Kadirgamar was loved and respected by all the communities and equally by the various political parties of Sri Lanka; all but the LTTE. Anyone who would not support the Tigers, conscription of children, suicide bombing using teenaged females in particular, assassinations and targeting civilians horrendously was considered a traitor to the Tamil course according to the tenets of Prabhakaran who hardly completed even his high school education.
 
How many great people especially Tamils have been gunned down by Prabhakaran’s terrorists? What a terrible price LTTE has extracted out with blood and denied them to the Tamil community and the country and today, as reflected in the provincial elections, the Tamils stand bereft of dynamic leaders and had to settle for tired, visionless spent forces not even up to the mark as recycled hopes. A new hope needs to be sown, nurtured and nourished.
 
Lakshman Kadirgamar was gunned down four years ago, August 12 night by the LTTE that stamped him as the biggest traitor of the Tamils because he chose the non-violent democratic option that is human, wholesome and necessary for seeking solutions for the Tamil minority problem. This enables all the communities in the country to reach out to each other and understand their needs and aspirations well. Kadirgamar was deeply committed to it.
 
He was a highly successful lawyer, a patriot par excellent, intelligent and a much admired and respected parliamentarian. He was the best result-oriented foreign minister Sri Lanka had since independence in 1948. He was mainly responsible for re-building the image of the country abroad which was badly tarnished by the LTTE and the country labelled as a terror state. We Sri Lankans as individuals and as a nation are greatly indebted to him and must honour him with our gratitude for his vision and leadership.
 
Lakshman Kadigamar came from a well known family in Manipay, Jaffna. His Father was the much sough after lawyer of that time, Sam J. C. Kadirgamar. Little Lakshman was educated at Trinity Collage from 1942 until 1950 at one of Sri Lanka’s elite Schools in Kandy. He treasured his Jaffna roots although his family was Anglicised Christians thoroughly conversant in English. He completed his education with an LL.B. Law degree from the University of Ceylon.
 
Thereupon he became an advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and later joined Baliol College, University of Oxford, Great Britain. There he did his post-graduate degree of D.Lit in Law. He also had the rare honour of being elected the President of the Oxford Union. On completion he was called to the Bar from the Honourable Society of Inner Temple in London.   
 
As a student at Trinity College, he was an all-round sportsman and an outstanding student - a healthy mind in a healthy body. He captained Trinity College cricket team in 1950 and also received his colours. As an athlete he won the 120 yards hurdle with a record time of 15.7 seconds in 1949. In 1950, he received the school Athletic Lion honour. He was also the winner of the De Soysa and Duncan White Challenge Trophies. Later in life, for having been the president of the Trinity College Old Boys’ Association for a number of years, he was adjudged the most distinguished old boy of Trinity.

When he returned to Sri Lanka he became an expert in the areas of intellectual, property, industrial and company law. He was also the President of the Intellectual Property Organization 1976-1988.

Kadirgamar joined the SLFP shortly before the General Elections in 1994 and became the foreign minister after he was nominated to the Parliament from the national list. Since then he has been the most polished and brilliant speaker in Parliament and the best advocate of Sri Lanka’s interests internationally.
 
As the Foreign Affairs Minister he was able to convince many world politicians about Sri Lanka’s challenges and earned the highest respect from them. Kofi Annan (UN), Joshka  Fisher (Germany) Igor Ivanor (Rassia), Bill Clinton (USA) are just a few to name. He had the great the privilege of addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, November 13, 2001. He was the one who made the world realize that what Sri Lanka faced was the most brutal terrorist force that had global ramifications too.
   
Mr. Kadirgamar stood for the unity of Sri Lanka. He fought the LTTE relentlessly in the nation’s struggle against terrorism wherever and whenever he could in spite of continuous threats to his life. When he visited Germany few years back, in an interview  given to me for the German radio,  minister Kadirgamar said “ If death is the reward LTTE would give me for standing up for peace and unity of Sri Lanka, then I am more than happy accept it”.

Lakshman Kadirgamar lived for 73 years serving Sri Lanka as a great democrat, gentleman politician and fair and decent player.
At a time when Sri Lanka has won the fight against LTTE terrorism in particular, it is the duty of all well wishers of the country to remember this great heroic son of Sri Lanka.
 
The Editors of Sri Lanka Watch commemorate his death anniversary with respect and gratitude.

 

 
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