Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lakshman Kadirgamar

Lakshman Kadirgamar was killed just over two and a half years ago, on the 12th of August 2005. There were many eulogies written about the man, one of which stood out from the rest.

It was written by Tony Anghie, former solider accused of plotting to overthrow the government in 1962. At a dinner party a couple of months ago some of Tony Anghie's contemporaries were reminiscing about the attempted coup. According to his contemporaries, he was a brilliant officer who topped the class at Sandhurst. He was, they claim, destined for a brilliant career, culminating surely in the position of Army Commander.

This is his appreciation of Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Much has been written in the last week about Lakshman Kadirgamar. He was an excellent orator, brilliant advocate, ambitious and the quintessential Renaissance Man. Sri Lanka will not see the like of another Foreign Minister like him.

As his friend and of his family for nearly sixty years I admired him as a man of principle. He was a junior to his brother Sam, who defended me in the Coup Trial of 1962. Whenever I visited from Australia, he would always contact me and we would discuss men and matters. When he became a member of parliament in 1994, I was one of the first to congratulate him from Melbourne, as I felt he would make a difference to the 'run of the mill' parliamentarians-which he did.

But then Lakshman fell among political thieves. The man of principle became the political advocate. He could plead any brief with aplomb and conviction; whether in the UN General Assembly or any other international forum; this was his strength as Foreign Minister; and this became his trait in the last decade of his life. He was ambitious and Kadirgamar was for Kadirgamar and anyone's gain was a by-product. His shabby treatment of Jayantha Dhanapala bears testimony to this.

How else could one explain his stand on Thavakal, and Anura Bandaranaike's brilliant attack on him in Parliament. How could one explain his stand on the ISGA when in opposition - it should not be even be considered; and then his position when in government - it may be the basis for negotiations?

I am aware he wanted to quit politics after the defeat of the PA, - he would probably be alive had he done so. He was however persuaded to stay, and it is difficult to imagine how a liberal democrat like him would be the co-author of a coup and countenance the sacking of a Government which commanded a majority in the House? No doubt principle and political power are indeed strangers and no doubt Lakshman subscribed to this.

As his daughter Ajita mourned, the last decade of his life saw him a prisoner both politically and personally. He abandoned his two children and they were estranged from him, much to their sorrow, and any attempts at reaching him were rebuffed. As his son Ragi said, their loss was their country's gain! This was the great flaw is his personality and the sacrifice of principle both in his political and personal life; and we his old friends grieved at the change in the man.

No doubt when history is written, he will be remembered as the greatest Foreign Minister Sri Lanka has produced and nothing became him in life as his leaving of it.

To us his old friends however he will be remembered as a fallen idol. He was my friend. May he rest in peace.

Tony Anghie


human said...

Sadly, as Tony Anghie pinted out , Kadirgamar sacrificed his priciples for the sake of politics. A tradition almost all Sri Lankan leaders follow. For these men their future is much more important than that of their country. Serving their political masters was more important than serving the people. Kadirgamar was indeed a Briliant politician. But Sri Lanka has never run short of Briliant politicians. It is honest politicians that the country always needs. And Kadirgamar wasn't one.

Jack Point said...

Very true human, very true.

hem said...

The biography shown here for Tony Anghie is that of his son Antony Anghie who is the prof of Law at Salt Lake Uni. The senior Anghie is hapilly retired and living in Sri Lanka.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for dropping by, Hem and for pointing out the error. I've deleted the bio now.

Anonymous said...

really an eye opener for me.

- Robson