Goodbye and au revoir | Sunday Observer

Goodbye and au revoir

Resa, Silumina staffers mourn loss of trailblazing Editor

Journalists and staff at the revolutionary Lake House daily Resa, mourn the shocking loss of their founder-editor, saying the gap he leaves behind in the world of journalism and the national media will never be filled. Chamara Lakshan Kumara, who died suddenly on June 30, 2018, took over as Editor-in-Chief of Silumina recently, becoming the flagship newspaper’s youngest ever editor. In a few short weeks, under his stewardship the newspaper made giant strides, showing increases in circulation and innovative design and content generation. He will be sorely missed, in both editorials and throughout the halls of the Lake House building, which reverberated with his vision, energy and optimism these past few years.


What did he want to tell us!-Chandrasiri Seneviratne, Director/Editorial - Lake House

Chamara Lakshan at an early age of 39, no doubt displayed the traits of media expertise of such greats as D.B. Dhanapala. It was when he was a sub-editor at the Rivira newspaper that I got to know him. As a leading journalist, his specialty was conducting interviews.

It was after my assuming duties at Lake House that I came to know of his professional excellence and understood that there was a different persona in him. His launch of Resa added a new dimension to journalism. I believe, the first 100 days of Resa was evidence of Chamara’s journalistic acquirement which courted no rival to challenge him. His was only a brief stint as Editor-in-Chief of Silumina.

 

I do not know what Chamara wanted to tell us in the few Silumina copies published under his stewardship. His sudden demise has left a great void in the media world and is an irreparable loss to his beloved wife and his only child.


I will miss sharing stories, my friend-Dharisha Bastians | Editor - Sunday Observer

My first encounters with Chamara Lakshan occurred more than a decade ago, when we crossed paths, occasionally inside the offices of the Rivira and The Nation newspapers. But, it was at Lake House that he became my friend.

At Lake House, Chamara was a fellow traveller. We were both relatively young people, striving to steer newspapers; we were both thrown into the deep end and expected to swim. Only, he did it with much more grace and courage in the face of immense pressure. When he took over as Editor of Silumina, in addition to his role at the new paper, Resa, I marvelled at his fortitude and dedication. I realized that he loved Resa like a baby, but leading Silumina was the crowning jewel in his journalism career. Tirelessly, working six days a week, he fulfilled both roles. When he left us, after only a few weeks at Silumina, the paper was unrecognizable in terms of improvement in content, design and concepts. As for me, I had no idea how he was managing to juggle it all.

The week he left us was made harder by events that overtook the news cycle that had nothing to do with his death. I was mired in the noise of it all, while grieving the loss of my friend. I knew if he had been around this week, Chamara would have sent me whatsapp messages extending solidarity daily, or saying when he met me in the halls or at meetings, “Don’t worry men. Owa ganang ganna epa, api ape wade karagena yamu. We are always there for you”. I knew that even if it went unnoticed by everyone else at this building, Chamara would have known and he would have stood with me, in his quiet, solid way. Every morning, without fail, Chamara would send me motivational messages to say ‘good morning’.

There were times I was too busy to even respond. We laughed at the madness in office, or consoled each other about the little irritations that are part and parcel of workplace life. On Friday nights, when we both worked late, Chamara and I would cross paths when we were rushing down corridors between editorial and layout, as we worked on putting the two weekend papers to bed. “Nadda honda katha?” he would ask me. I would respond and then put the same question back to him. “Thiyenawa top ekak, mama page proofs ewannam,” he would yell down the hall while rushing into Silumina layout. His stories were always the better ones. For two Fridays now, his gruff voice and thunderous footsteps have been absent in these halls. We must now try to survive many more.

Chamara, I know you were tired and I hope you are at peace and resting now. But I will miss sharing all the stories, my friend.


His creations reflected his media skills-Pushpa Roel |Editor-in-Chief - Dinamina

I got to know Chamara only after he joined the Dinamina Editorial. His creations reflected his media skills.

He possessed a thorough knowledge on any subject. His education, book knowledge and more importantly, his penchant for the media helped him reach great heights.

His previous media skills, further enhanced by the Lake House apprenticeship propelled him to the editorship of Silumina and ‘Resa’ within a short period of time.


 

Extraordinary humility struck me-Manoli Subasinghe | Editor - Tharunee

I first met Chamara Lakshan as a fellow editor, when he joined Lake House as Associate Editor of the Dinamina newspaper. But, it was only after he took over as Editor, Resa, that we became good friends.

From that time on, we often met on official assignments and worked together closely. What struck me most during our brief friendship was Chamara’s extraordinary humility. Chamara had a Degree in International Relations and a Master’s in Political Science. He was an intelligent journalist. This is an age when the industry badly needs intellectuals like Chamara. I am devastated that we lost him at such a time. He was propelled to the heights of the media world when he became Editor in Chief of Silumina at the young age of 39. His professional future was filled with promise, but this journey was cut short.

His loss is a huge shock for Editors and Journalists at Lake House, friends and colleagues in the wider media world and all those who knew him throughout the country.

As a mother, I am grieved that his little son will grow up without the protective shadow of his father.

It is true, that we are all born to die, but Chamara’s loss is much more than we can bear. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.


His sudden demise great loss to Lake House- Siri Ranasinghe | Editor - Lankadeepa

Silumina, is a reservoir of knowledge whose editorship in the past was held by media celebrities such as Martin Wickremasinghe, Piyasena Nissanka, S. Subasinghe, Dharmapala Wettasinghe and D.F. Kariyakarawana.

Chamara was fortunate enough to be appointed Silumina Editor-in-Chief. He was a first-rate media personality and a person of good conduct. Chamara launched his journalistic career with Lakbima, and showcased his skills in Irudina and Rivira National newspapers. Readers of the recent issues of Resa and Silumina would have felt that Chamara had started a new journey via new technology. We are saddened that he had to depart from our midst having trudged only half of life’s journey.


'Stood for inter-racial solidarity'-Vimalanath Weeraratne | Editor - Ravaya

As a journalist, Chamara was armed with knowledge of the modern world. The most outstanding trait of his journalistic life was that he always disassociated himself from communalist or extreme religious sentiments, as was evidenced in his vision in his capacity as Editor, Resa.

Chamara used the media for inter-racial solidarity and friendship. He was against communalism and religious fanaticism, and worked towards creating a consensus rather than a contentious one. Resa in its pages showcased his skills and strengths.

Despite his political affiliations, he always stood for progressive ideas. His demise has left a great void in the mass media fraternity.


Ranjith Kumara Samarakoon | Deputy Editor - Resa

I worked with Chamara only for a year, but we had a close relationship. A lot of people come into our lives, not many become close to our hearts, though.

Chamara was one of them, he is one person I never want to forget in my life. Among the many media personalities, Chamara was a true journalist.

He made a huge change in the Silumina and wanted to bring a huge change in the community, through Resa. I would say, Resa was synonymous with Chamara. It was his sacrifice and toil which gave Resa a unique identity. His dream was to bring Silumina and Resa to a good position and win the trust of the people.

Chamara’s life journey was speedy, but remarkable.

He did everything possible in a very short time. He was a person who was dreaming of a long journey in the field of journalism.


Thimbiriyagama Bandara | Features Editor - Resa

I have been in the media field for the past 30 years. I did know Chamara before only by name, but met him personally only at the Silumina in 2015. Since then, he was a good friend and colleague.

He would often tell me that people could get more work from me and never failed to use me to the fullest.

He was a rare kind of journalist who was vocal about his personal opinions and views. I did not refuse when he requested me to join Resa.

Chamara’s idea was to give a new perspective to the paper. Not all editors are good managers, but Chamara was a good manager and a great editor. I am deeply sorry to have lost him. Today, the accountability of media is being questioned from all sides, but Chamara always tried to balance it and give the readers a new angle to perceive everything.


Jayasiri Jayasekara | Chief Sub-Editor - Resa

I did not know Chamara personally before I joined Resa. He contacted me through one of my friends and asked whether I would like to join him to start a new paper. At that time, I had lost all interest in making a change through the media because in my experience the content of a paper depends on who runs it. But when I told Chamara about my perception towards the media, he immediately shook hands with me and said he felt the same.

It was Chamara and his determination to make a change that inspired me to get into the field again. After we started working together, I understood his potential. He was the strength of the paper. He wanted to do something different, not what everyone else did.

Chamara had a vision to change the perception of the people on religious and ethnic differences. Even though the paper is in Sinhala, he wanted to address all people irrespective of religious and ethnic differences. He ensured that we published balanced articles, and asked us to work independently and give our best to the paper.

Resa, especially, covered the Digana issue in a balanced manner and the Muslim Media Forum officially informed us that they wished to present an award to Resa for engaging in just and fair reporting. He is not alive to hear the news or receive the award.

I do not think anyone can fill the void left by Chamara.


Janaka Liyanarachchi | Chief Sub Editor - Silumina

“I have known Chamara for the past 10 years. I first met him when he was working for Rivira. He was always a good and inspiring friend. He was the kind of person who questioned the existing system and principles and most importantly, he had broad ideas and views on every issue.

Chamara was one of the finest editors with academic qualifications, and the talent to cater to both, the young and the old.

There was a drastic increase in the circulation of Silumina after he joined, about which we all rejoiced. Although Chamara was given an official vehicle for his use, he never used it.

He preferred taking the public transport and enjoyed mingling with the people, and never misused his contacts or the positions he held.

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