Appreciation – Gamini Weerakoon – By Tilak Fernando

Appreciation – Gamini Weerakoon – By Tilak Fernando

Gamini Weerakoon - elanka

Tilak S FernandoEverything in this world must come to an end. This happened to Gamini Weerakoon, Journalist and former Chief Editor of “The Island,” Gamini Weerakoon, who passed away on 11 November 2023 peacefully after a brief illness. I saw it, the ‘Sunday Observer.’ With deep sadness, I announce the death of the Chief Editor, who passed on Tuesday, 11 November 2023. He is surviewed by his wife Rajitha, who is also a well-known journalist and one daughter.

He was an old boy of St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia. He began his journalistic career at the Sunday Observer five decades ago. There, he served as a News Editor.

When I was living in London as a student, and I had gone through a course in Journalism, in between my studies, the Chairman of the ‘Island’ Dr Sivali Ratwatte arrived in London. He was a friend of the High Commissioner at the time, Mr. Chandra Monerawala. I received a telephone call from Mr. Chanan Monerawala at about 4.30 p.m. I was not living far away from the High Commission. I immediately went to the High Commissioner’s room. Messrs. Prema Abeysekra (brother of Karunaratne Abeysekera) was with the Charman Dr Shivali Ratwatte and the High Commissioner. With the High Commissioner’s recommendation, Dr Shivali Ratwatte spoke to me and said, “I say, we don’t have a London correspondent, and why not you write to us to the ‘Island’? This resulted from my writing a middle-page article for an Indian tabloid with a picture of Chandra Monerwala about the Independence Day celebration carrying the Buddha Statue. He was the first High Commissioner to approve a Pirith Ceremony throughout the night. Before that, it was a case of consuming alcohol and chattering going on. After some time, everyone departed. Mr Chandra Monerawala was the first High Commissioner to adopt the Pirith ceremony overnight. Dr Ratwatte wanted me to write about privatisation. I told him that I was not an economist either. Then Dr Ratwatte said why don’t you contact a few banks, get some data, and write to the “Island.”

This was how I began to write to the ‘Island’. Gamini gave me a column as “Letter from London”. I came to Sri Lanka on holiday, and we have become friends with him ever since. When he came to London once, I took him shopping after seeing a shirt in London. He said, “Why should I pay extravagantly? I can buy the same shirt at a lesser cost!”

When he retired, he worked briefly for ‘The Sunday Leader, mainly on world politics ‘and contributed numerous articles for English Newspapers. He was well-known for his persuasive editorials and columns. He was kept at A.F. Raymond’s Funeral Parlour in Borella and cremated at the general cemetery at Borella on 12 Sunday at 2.30 pm.

God called you home, and you left us peaceful memories. Your talent and memories are still with us. Although we cannot see you personally, you are always at our side, giving sound advice when you were the editor-in-chief of ‘The Island’. I can always remember you and Dr. Sivalai Ratwatte gave me a hand in Journalism.

 May you be blessed with the triple Gem

Tilak S.Fernando

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