TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


The late M.H.M. Ashraff PC, MP

18th death anniversary today

As the glorious sun rising in the East,
With the dawn chorus, so was he to rise
And shine high, in the starry sky
Of the national politics, setting sample
And example of how a leader should be,
Making him a political messiah!
Born with the distinct ideals and the distinctive
Mark of charming character, M.H.M. Ashraff,
As a victor, so admiringly decorated his seat
In Parliament, opening up a colourful chapter,
In the annals of Sri Lankan party politics!
Full of the wit and wisdom, in the lawyer-turned
Political career, still too young bidding us adieu,
The political leader destined to be so,
As triumph as the setting sun!
Kalmunai was an outstanding township
On the eastern coast, influencing far and wide,
In the entire region, but its problems had been legion.
It was a time, schooling was impossible;
It was a time, illiteracy was widespread;
It was a time, poverty was prevalent.
Challenges were many and those who suffered
Were too many, and in this very shadow he’d grown.
Many a decade since 50s, the region began
To fall into decay, and finally, the whole fabric
Of society was torn by the civil war and the violence!
Ashraff was then evolving to be a young leader,
It was even not necessary for him, to strike
While the iron was hot, but the situation
Offered him a position, so unique, to lead
The Muslim of the East, by forming his own party,
The SLMC, instead of being just a member
Of traditional party, as his predecessors.
His political journey, starting from here,
With the nobility of a good cause, that was
Drawn to be on the highway to progress,
Passing through the novelty of the landscape
Of the national politics, reaching a climax
In the regime of Madam CBK, in 1994!
The SLMC- was it a stepping stone
To the NUA? Ashraff had his mission
That seemed to end up in that vision!

Dr. U.L.M. Ismail

Dr. Hilarian Codippily

A credit to the country of birth and humanity

Hilarian (“Hilary” to his friends) was a mathematician and economist, who served the country of his birth and the world at large with great distinction as an economic planner.

Dr. Hilarian Codippily passed away on August 16, 2018, after a heroic battle with cancer.

I first met Hilary in 1958 when he entered the Colombo Campus of the University of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) two years after I. We both graduated with B.Sc. degrees in Mathematics, but our professional paths diverged thereafter. While I pursued an academic career in Sri Lanka and abroad, Hilary followed a career in economic planning in Sri Lanka and overseas.

After his graduation from the Colombo Campus in 1962, followed by a second B.Sc. degree from the University of London in 1967, Hilary joined the Sri Lanka Ministry of Finance and Planning. While at the Ministry, he received a scholarship to do a Master’s degree in Economics at the University of Warwick, England in 1973, and obtained the degree in 1975. After returning to the Ministry, while carrying out his many duties as an Additional Director there, he continued his research in Econometrics in his spare time as an external student of the University of Warwick, earning his Ph.D. in 1979.

Subsequently, Hilary joined the international World Bank in 1981and went on to become the Bank’s leading authority on ‘Small Island Economics.’ He retired in 2000 and returned to Sri Lanka, while remaining a consultant to the Bank for several more years.

While Hilary was an economist by profession, he was also an erudite scholar whose interests encompassed a wide range of disciplines, including Mathematics, Astronomy and Philosophy. He also enjoyed classical music and the theatre.

Since returning to Sri Lanka following his retirement from the World Bank, he returned to his early love of Astronomy and expended considerable time and energy developing and teaching a post-graduate course in Astrophysics/Cosmology at the Colombo Campus of the University of Sri Lanka.

He continued to do so even when his health was failing and he was experiencing pain. In connection with the course, I recall with pleasure the long trans-oceanic phone calls pertaining to such cutting edge Physics issues as the quantization of gravity, which Hilary wanted to include in the course.

During these calls, Hilary was eager to bring me up-to-date on the state of the Sri Lankan economy with insightful and balanced analyses, and was always adding his thoughts on what needed to be done to improve things.

Hilary was someone who truly loved his native land, and he wanted to do whatever he could for its future. During his tenure at the World Bank he was also the President of the Sri Lanka Association in Washington for a long period. In this capacity he acted as a very effective goodwill ambassador for Sri Lanka.

I counted Hilary as one of my closest and dearest friends of all time, and I will miss him greatly. He was one of those rare persons who combined intelligence with integrity and compassion. He was a credit not only to the country of his birth but also to humanity.

Asoka Mendis
Emeritus Professor of Space Physics,
University of California, San Diego,

Dr. Suppiah Shanmuganathan

Pioneer in lab technical education

Dr. Suppiah Senthi Shanmuganathan obtained his B.Sc(Special degree) with First Class Honours in 1950 at the University of Ceylon, and was the recipient of the Bhikaji Framji Khan Gold Medal for best performance at the Special Degree examination in Chemistry. He joined the Medical Research Institute (MRI) in 1951 and proceeded to the Sheffield University in the U.K for his Ph.D. He returned to Sri Lanka and assumed duties at the Biochemistry Section of the MRI.

It was felt that middle level technical personnel in many institutions do not have the opportunity for further education and training. Dr. Shanmuganathan recognized this gap and pioneered the initiation of the Laboratory Technician Certificate Course (LTTC) in 1972. Subsequently, it was upgraded to a Diploma in Laboratory Technology in Chemistry (DLTC).

This course was conducted at the Aquinas College of Higher Education until it was moved to the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, at “Adamantane House, Rajagiriya. As a tribute to Dr. Shanmuganathan I am pleased that the annual intake for this course is over 100.

The course assists private sector laboratory personnel to obtain training and qualification for the accreditation of the respective laboratory, under ISO/IEC 17025.

Dr. Shanmuganathan was a visiting lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Ceylon. In the academic year 1969/1970 he supervised my seminar topic on “Colorimetry”.

At that time this was a new topic because the laboratory courses were on gravimetry and titrimetry only. He requested me to do reference at the MRI Library. After the seminar presentation, inspired by Dr. Sanmuganahan, I was interested in practising colorimetry with my colleague Dr. S.Hettiarachchi.

May the Lord rest his soul in peace!

H.D. Gunawardhana,
Professor Emeritus
University of Colombo



Small and beautiful flower withers away

The small and beautiful flower in our family withered away within a few days of sickness. Born on September 13, 2017 to Shakir and Shafeena, and having been within their clutches for nearly ten months Shabir slithered away from them. His 40th day alms-giving was held a few days ago.

The playful smiling face of Shabir still makes our eyes submerge in tears. I watched his body being bathed, the applying of scented items and being shrouded in white cloth. I then questioned to myself how could we desert him at the cemetery!

Yet, what could we, laymen do, if the Almighty had decreed his survival period to be only till June 28, 2018?

Many were pacifying the parents quoting the sermons of the Holy Prophet one of which was his assurance that children who pass away are granted abode in Paradise. But, tears from the eyes of the parents continue to trickle as the loss of their baby has been unbearable.

Darling Shabir, memories of you will linger in our hearts forever.

Nazly Cassim