TRIBUTEs | Sunday Observer


 Dr Eddie de Zylva: 

Pragmatist and excellent communicator

This short write up is offered as a tribute to the late Dr. E M G de Zylva who was an engineer by profession. He is no more.

With over 60 years of expe rience in the construction industry, he held senior managerial positions in many professional organisations and various committees and worked tirelessly in the pursuit of standards and best practices pertaining to the domestic construction industry.

Dr de Zylva served as the Vice Chairman of the Institute for Construction Training and Development (ICTAD), Secretary General of the International Federation of Asian and Western Pacific Contractors Association (IFWPCA) and Chairman of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation-Chamber of Commerce Industry-Construction Industry Council (SAARC-CCI-CIC).

In recognising his contribution to the Construction Industry internationally, he had been honoured with the Order of International Ambassador (USA). He had been appointed Deputy Governor of the American Biographical Institution. He was the Deputy Director-General Asia and Life Fellow of the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge (UK).

Dr. Zylva continued to serve as a member of the restricted group of the World Bank responsible for formulating procurement guidelines until recent times. He was a member of the Committee for Drafting Procedure for Contract Adjudication and one of the reviewers of the first adjudication guideline in Sri Lanka published in 2013. He was also in the subcommittee for the ICTAD Procurement of Work ICTAD SBD 01-2007.

Among the accolades are a MBA (Const. Mgt.) USA, a Doctoral Fellow – Institute of Professional Financial Managers (UK), a Professional Member – Dispute Board Federation (Geneva), a Fellow – Institute of Dispute Management Professionals (SL), a Fellow – Institute of Quantity Surveyors (SL), a Fellow – Institute of Project Managers (SL), a Member Board of Governors of the Sri Lanka National Arbitration Centre (SLNAC).

Dr. Zylva acted as the Chairman of the SLNAC. He served as a lecturer and an examiner of the Arbitration Diploma Courses conducted by the Institute of Commercial Law and Practice.

He was the Chairman of the Construction Guarantee Fund (CGF) set up in 1999 as an independent trust with autonomy to provide bonds, guarantees and such other securities when bidding and undertaking construction contracts and related matters.

CGF has been a big relief for contractors. For his contribution to the uplift of the construction industry, he was awarded ICTAD Award of Eminence in 2011.

His contribution to the development of Quantity Surveying is another chapter.

This is remembered with a sense of gratitude as he was a pillar behind ‘difficult times’. His contribution to get the profession of quantity surveying recognised is commendable. He was awarded honorary membership of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Sri Lanka.

To me he is a pragmatist.

It was a treat to listen to him, for he never made the audience feel dull. His well-modulated, well-articulated voice came out in a free flow of words in simple contemporary English.

His skill in communication was unsurpassable. Being such an orator, his sense of humour kept the audience wide awake. He was simple and friendly, prompt and punctual. The lesson I learned from my intermittent association with him is ‘steadiness’ of the statements.

He was candid in all respects. He stood for what was right, even if it meant standing alone.

I tried to capture a bit of what he was like, and what working with him meant to us, in the hope that those who knew him will have even richer memories to share and—more importantly—those who didn’t know him will get a glimpse of him through our memories. O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Dr. Chandana Jayalath

Nimal de Silva:

Gentleman par excellence

It has been a year since the demise of Nimal de Silva. Fellow Richmondite, former chairman of Global Surgical Products, Nimal, was a loving father, a good husband and an amazing friend to many of us; a thoughtful, generous soul with a heart larger than life.

A posthumous letter does little justice, but I feel that is the least I could do to express how grateful I am to have known this wonderful human being.

Mawanana Hewa Nimal de Silva, born on December 28, 1946 in Ambalangoda to the late Mr. and Mrs. Edvin de Silva of Batapola, was the fourth child of the family of five children.

He had his primary education at Dharmashoka College and entered Richmond in 1966. After leaving Richmond, he got the opportunity to join his brother, Sarath in Japan during the early 1970s which I believe was the turning point of his life.

A spirited, go-getter by nature, Nimal soon ventured into entrepreneurship and started his own business in Japan and was offered an honorary citizenship in Japan 1975. Nimal met the love of his life, Saeko, in 1978 and got married a few years later. The loving couple was blessed with two daughters.

Despite all the comforts he enjoyed in Japan, being a true Sri Lankan, he migrated back to Sri Lanka during the late 1970s and ventured in to the garment and surgical products trade which became an instant success, providing employment for over 200 employees to date.

“Japana” as he was known to his close friends was a charismatic, soft-spoken gentleman for all of his colleagues who associated him, particularly, at the Richmond College Old Boys’ Association, BRC and Royal Colombo Golf Club.

He spent a substantial portion of his wealth for the welfare of the society, including his alma-matar, Richmond. He never questioned the cause; if someone was in need, he would simply give with no strings attached. His philanthropy is reported to have been misused by some.

In 2002, when I was searching for temporary accommodation in Colombo, Nimal most graciously invited me to stay with him at his home in Pepiliyana.

Many are the conversations and heated arguments, we have had about subjects from politics to business to music and cultural diversity. He was a walking encyclopaedia with a wealth of knowledge that put what we knew about life and other things to shame.

He used to thank me for keeping him company during the time I took refuge at his place as though I was doing him a favour. In his generosity, he was simply oblivious to the fact that it was he, who was helping me. That was Nimal; giving, nurturing and caring was so much a part of his DNA that he didn’t even realise he was changing someone’s life.

Memories of this lovable maverick who indeed a gentleman par excellence will live forever in the hearts of many.

Adios Nimal