TRIBUTE | Sunday Observer


To my parents : My inspiration and my guiding light

There were so much that I wanted to say and do with you each day during the living years.

But you both left us with sweet memories to cherish all the way.

Loving memories keep you near as time unfolds another year. In our hearts you will always stay. May your journey through sansara be short and may you both realize the cherish goal of Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Sadly missed and fondly remembered by your affectionate and loving daughter,

Damitha de Zoysa

DIG Lalith Gunasekera: His honesty and integrity were beyond reproach

Retired DIG. Lalith Gunasekera, a distinguished past pupil of Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya, an exemplary Police Officer with an unblemished record and a great human being with humane qualities passed away on August 6 2017.

Lalith Gunasekera was born in 1943 as the second son of a respectable middle class family at Kottawa. He was admitted to Dharmapala Vidyalaya in 1949, the only English medium school in the vicinity at the time. He received his entire education at Dharmapala, which equipped him with a liberal, bilingual and comprehensive education. At Dharmapala he excelled in academic pursuits, sports and other numerous extracurricular activities including cadeting, and also played football for the college. He loved his School and respected his teachers. He displayed exemplary leadership qualities, and was elevated to the rank of Senior Prefect of the College. Both, as a Junior and Senior Cadet he displayed his skills in gallantry and the martial arts. He was always the obvious choice of the cadet masters to head the platoons as sergeant. He brought credit to Dharmapala when he was elevated to the position of sergeant major of the 3rd Battalion of the Ceylon Cadet Corp.

His life’s ambition was to don the Police or Army Uniform. He joined the Police Force as a Sub Inspector in 1963 at the age of 20. This was the turning point in his career. It was the ideal job for Lalith; for he was prepared to face up to any challenge as well as take any risks. He was mentally and physically equipped to meet tough situations. During the JVP insurrection in 1971 he was taken prisoner and brought to the Alawwa bridge to be shot and the body to be dumped in the river. Luckily for him the sudden appearance of an Air Force helicopter overhead enabled him to escape certain death. He served in all parts of the country, and never protested against a transfer nor did he canvass a promotion.

His rise to the rank of DIG was not only rapid but well deserved. He rose step by step from SI to IP to chief Inspector and then ASP. From ASP he climbed up to SP, SSP and DIG without any hitch. As Director of the Kalutara Police Training School he introduced many novel training methodologies to turn out Policeman of integrity, honour, grit and determination. He retired from the Police Service in 2003 after 40 years of dedicated service without any blemish. The crowning moment of his career was the assignment he received from the United Nations to serve the East Timor Police Force as a Senior Advisor for the restructuring and reestablishment of the Police Force of that country.

Lalith was a self made man with a great deal of self determination, self motivation and self discipline. In 1958, when Lalith was only 15 years, he was struck by a major calamity, the untimely death of his beloved mother. However, he faced it gallantly, guided by the Buddhist teaching that “birth in its wake brings death too” and continued with his studies while helping his father to keep the home fires burning. Unfortunately, the same chronic illness that affected his mother caused the untimely death of his brother Mahinda Gunasekera in 1999 at age 59.

Today, we are gathered here to mourn the death of a distinguished friend and colleague, Lalith Gunasekera, whose death has been attributed to the same cause. I related these episodes to vindicate Lalith from any possible wild accusation that cirrhosis of the liver is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. On the contrary, I am told, Lalith was a teetotaler. Therefore, one could surmise that what afflicted Lalith was hereditary.

DIG Lalith Gunasekera was a man of principles. He always acted true to his conscience. His honesty and integrity were beyond reproach. His subordinates in the Police force feared him; for he would not spare them if found guilty of any misdemeanor. He was forthright and uncompromising when it came to matters of discipline. The greatest quality in him was that he always stood for justice, fair play and righteousness.

If he made any wrong decision inadvertently he would be the first person to admit the mistake and rectify it with humility. Laith’s first love was his wife, daughters, family and friends. He was fondly attached to his wife and two daughters. He cared for them and protected them with a lot of personal sacrifice. He also had a set of life long friends whom he adored and helped.

Lalith’s second love was his Alma Mater i.e his school, Dharmapala Vidyalaya. His personal attachment to the school, his contemporaries, and the Past Pupils’ Association was legendary. He has been a live wire and a generous benefactor of the PPA. He was associated with the PPA from the day he left school, and held many top positions with dignity. During his tenure as president of the PPA he was able to complete the construction of the College swimming pool and get it commissioned.

He master minded and directed the successful conducting of the Dharmapala Ranaviru Upahara Ceremony to felicitate nearly one hundred war heroes of the school, of all ranks, who contributed their blood and sweat to end the 30 year war against terrorism. He was always in the forefront of fund raising campaigns launched by the PPA. Up to the time of his passing away he held the office of vice president of Mulpelapalio (1940 – 1960 Group) and the high position of patron of the PPA.

His demise is an irreparable loss to his family and friends; it is indeed an irredeemable loss to his Alma Mater, Dharmapala Vidyalaya and the PPA. May he attain the ultimate bliss of Nibbana. - K.H.J.Wijayadasa ,

Former Secretary to the President