|Sunday, 24 November 2002|
PM joins fellow Royalists in loyalty pledge
by Karel Roberts Ratnaweera
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled the Loyalty Pledge Plaque of Royal College as a recorded version of an excerpt from Richard Wagner's opera "Gotterdammerung' thundered through the Nawarangahala auditorium on Thursday evening. The Prime Minister was attending this unique occasion when all Royalists, Old and present gathered to take an oath of loyalty to their college based on the historic oath administered to the Young Men of Athens several centuries ago in ancient Greece.
Distinguished Old Royalists present also included Minister of Human Resources Development, Education and Cultural Affairs, Karunasena Kodituwakku and Minister of School Education Suranimala Rajapakse.
Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe was received by Principal Lakshman Gomes and other important officials. Just before the Premier's arrival, we were treated to marches played by the Cadet Band of the College. It was a spectacular occasion with red flares flaming on the stage throughout the evening and nostalgia blending with Royal's past and present glory running through the ceremony.
In his welcome address, Chairman, Loyalty Pledge Management Committee, Mahendra Amarasuriya said that the Loyalty Pledge is a unique project which will be written in letters of gold in the history of the great school which has been the pre-eminent educational institution in the country from the time it was founded in the year 1835.
Mr. Amarasuriya said that Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the third Old Royalist to become prime minister of the country and among whom he is exceptional in that he has been elected Prime Minister twice.
The Prime Minister in his address said that when, as the students of royal 'learn of books and men,' - quoting words from the College song - they incur a reciprocal obligation to repay the debt to the college. He referred to the origins of the college on San Sebastian Hill. The Premier said that it is incumbent on all students who have benefitted by their Royal education to discharge their responsibility towards their alma mater in repaying their debt to it.
He said that Royal survived because those who left had a commitment to the goals of the school. They had the foresight to identify the challenges and meet them. He said that the Royal College Endowment Fund was only a beginning and much more had to be done.
Mr. Wickremesinghe made special mention of Royal's celebrated Turnour Prize which should be 'propped up,' he said. It was Royal's first prize instituted by a public servant who translated the Mahawamsa from Pali into English. He also said that the famous Dornhorst Prize should also be increased by Rs.50 thousand along with the Turnour Prize.
The Prime Minister said that November 21st, 2002 would go down as a red-letter day in the history of the college when a formal pledge of loyalty was made by Royalists to their great college. He said that all Royalists had an immeasurable debt to repay to the institution that nurtured them to man's estate.
A Vote of Thanks was delivered by the Secretary, Royal College Union, Capt. Ajith Peris.
Produced by Lake House