15 December, 2017

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In Memory Of My Grandfather Sir Claude Corea

 By Harindrini Corea      

Harindrini Corea

My paternal grandfather Sir George Claude Stanley Corea devoted his life in service to Sri Lanka. His inspiring career in diplomacy is remembered and respected.  He was a humble and charismatic Christian gentleman who chose his words wisely and was a patient listener.

Sir Claude was born on the 29th of January 1894 in Chilaw, a seaside town situated on the North Western coast of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). An old boy of Wesley College, he entered politics as a representative from Chilaw and was elected to the State Council in 1931. He served as Minister of Labour, Industry and Commerce from 1936 until 1946. He was elected to the presidency of the Ceylon National Congress in 1932, 1939 and 1941. During the Second World War, Sir Claude Corea insisted that the Ceylon National Congress should not be lobbying for “mere constitutional reforms”, but should seek transfer of sovereignty to the people of Ceylon. After 1945, Sir Claude served as Chairman of the Board of Ministers Sub Committee with the mandate of resolving post-war problems.  He was viewed as a potential first prime minister of Ceylon but chose a diplomatic career instead and accepted the post of Ceylonese Representative in the United Kingdom in 1946. He was appointed as the first Ceylonese Ambassador to the United States in 1948. He attended the 5th session of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Washington DC from 21st November to 6th December 1949. On the 8th of September 1951, J. R Jayewardene (later President Jayewardene), Sir Claude Corea and R. G. Senanayake signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan, on behalf of Ceylon, in San Francisco.

Sir Claude Corea at the United Nations Security Council meeting 1960

It was in 1952 at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace that Queen Elizabeth II bestowed a Knighthood upon Sir Claude Corea. He was appointed High Commissioner of Ceylon to the United Kingdom in 1954. He was given concurrent accreditation to France and the Netherlands in January 1956. He served as High Commissioner at the Court of St. James until 1958.

As he had been associated with GATT from its inception in Geneva and Havana, Sir Claude was appointed as Chairman of the UN Interim Committee on International Commodity Arrangements of GATT at its 10th session in 1955. In August 1956 he participated in the 22-power London conference that discussed the anticipated Suez Crisis. On the 8th of September 1956, he arrived in Beijing as Special Ambassador to China, leading a Government Delegation from Ceylon that was to have preliminary discussions with the Government of the People’s Republic of China regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations, trade expansion, economic co-operation and cultural exchanges. He chaired the 12th session of GATT in October 1957 in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Ceylon became a member of the United Nations on December 14th 1955. In June 1958 Sir Claude was appointed as Representative to the United Nations. Sir Claude Corea became the first ever President of the United Nations Security Council from Ceylon in May 1960. On the first day of his presidency, Francis Gary Power’s Lockheed U-2 plane was forced down into Soviet territory and he was captured. Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic Party presidential candidate at that time, visited Sir Claude in his apartment, for consultation.

My grandfather passed away on the 2nd of September 1962 but the memory of his kindness, integrity, and skillful diplomacy will remain.                                                                                 

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Latest comments

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    That was different time, different people and most certainly different country! People in power and those who did not have any, respected and cared for each other. Of course bribes were taken, influence peddled, children sent overseas on the government dole BUT, they took care of the rest of us.

    Today its dog eat dog, and for the rest of us human, its just the scraps! How far we have fallen from the possibility of being the light of Asia in the 60’s to essentially the trash can of Asia where anything thrown out elsewhere is imported by the shipload. But for the crooks running the country, its duty free imports, actually FREE imports,,because they have to do something with the ill-gotten money.

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    The first line of paragraph two is slightly erroneous right?
    Queen Elizabeth’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953. So it should be the Queen’s late father who knighted Sir Claude. An interesting piece, and a reminder of the fact that relatively little work has been done on the history of Ceylonese/Sri Lankan diplomacy (whether that’s linked in any possible way to today’s diplomatic nightmares is a different question altogether…). To complement this piece, I may post a link to a document from the private papers of Dean G. Acheson, who was Secretary of State in the Truman administration (available in the Harry S. Truman library & museum), on a meeting between Sir Claude, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke and a US govt official on the day Sir Claude handed in his credentials at Washington DC: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/achesonmemos/view.php?pagenumber=1&documentid=70-6_21&pagination=&documentVersion=both&documentYear=1952

    • 0
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      Sorry, it should be the first line of paragraph THREE.

  • 0
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    The Corea family was another black white family kissing white man’s foot. Think of 1931 State Council. All of them black white agents except one or two.

    • 0
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      Sorry, Why you feel so Jealousy.

      you have inferiority complex, Don’t You??.

      If you were there,
      Some body would have said Black + white .
      Wijeyawickrema family’s Bxxxd, C. Wijeyawickrema is
      kissing white man’s Ass.

    • 0
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      C.Wijeyawickreme:
      IF you can take some time off from your racist/chauvinist/communalistic chant, do you think you could do some comparisons with regard to the basic honesty of the politicians of that period and those you obviously admire today?

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      Kissing the white man’s foot? That’s why some of the Corea’s fought tirelessly for independence when the British were in Sri Lanka, e.g Victor Corea and his older brother Charles Edgar Corea were famous freedom fighters. They established the Chilaw Association and the Ceylon National Congress to fight for independence.

  • 0
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    Claude Corea:

    Quite a Character and a quite a resume.

    Harindini, You should be proud of him, your grandfather.

    • 0
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      Jim Softly, Nice to have a sensible fair comment from you as opposed to the jealous comment of Wijewickrema.

  • 0
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    Why don’t you talk about your father,and the present dictatorial regime which he was a part of?

    • 0
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      James Ingham, This article is about her grandfather.

  • 0
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    He was a great man! you should be proud of him Hari! Excellent article thanks for sharing!
    Miss you
    YMU

  • 0
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    If I write something about my father, too, will CT carry it?

    He was not a famous person, I must admit, but he made his small contributions to this country, was self-effacing, absolutely anti-communalist, & among other things, some of his excellent writing was done for others, some of whom my report back the compliments they had received for THEIR speeches/articles — one even telling him:
    “But the real writer must perforce (perforce! — my father laughed at that–why perforce?)remain a ghost.”

    @Manel – We will – CT

  • 0
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    you have not detailed his educational qualifications. happy to hear that he was from my alma mater.

  • 0
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    I have seen Two statue at Chilaw ,
    one statue Near Chilaw old Water Tank, close to Library and
    One at, near the high court close to puttalam bus halt.
    but I do not know who’s statue is Sir George Corea.

  • 0
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    I was attached to the Health office in CHILAW I HAD OCCASIONS TO MEET HIM ON MALARIA IRADICATION PROGRAMME . HE WAS VERY HELPFUL FOR SUCESS OF THEaNTIMALARIA CAMPAIGN. MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT USE D TO TO SEND NOTES FOR THYE SELECTION OF STAFF FOR THE CAMPAIGN.A LIST.WE SELECTED THE CADIDATES WITHOUT GOING THROGH THE LIST GIVENBY HIM ONLY ON MERIT BUT TO FIND ALMOST ALL EXCEPOT A FEW WAS SELECTED ON THEIR OWN MERIT. THANKED ME FOR SELECTION NEVER INTERFERRED WITH APPOINMENTS.WASVERY GENEROUS AND LOVED BY CHILAW RESIDENTS OF ALL COMMUNITES.

  • 0
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    sORRY I WASMISTAKEN. I MENTIONED ABOUT FORMER SPEAKER HONBLE SHIRLEY COREA

  • 0
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    Well done Harindrini for remembering and writing about your grandfather.His great achievements will be remembered.

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    A DRO in Chillaw area arrested a thief cutting trees illegally in a forest reserve. It was found that a big Corea in parliament did this to provide timber to a lady in Colombo. Dahanayaka was the home minister and got the DRO transferred to Walamulla.

    The DRO told me this story. This is how Coreas and others behaved.

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      C. Wijeyawickrema:
      Wijayananda Dahanayake first entered Parliament as a member of the LSSP. He was in opposition until he became a Minister in SWRD Bandaranaike’s SLFP government after 1956. The Coreas – Shirley and Sir Claude – were both major supporters of the UNP, with Shirley serving one as Speaker of the House of Parliament.
      Maybe you could produce some PROOF the next time you fabricate stories about WHOLE FAMILIES (the Coreas) without a shred of evidence. But, then, if you did that, you wouldn’t be living up to the standards of the thieves and bandits that you so obviously admire!

      • 0
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        Palayang yako!

        You don’t seem to like this man C. Wijeyawickrema very much. Do you?

    • 0
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      A typical BBS reaction.

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    That delightful broadcaster of many decades my good friend Vijay Corea of this Chilaw Corea clan told me Mahathma Gandhi stayed in one of their Villas in Chilaw. Sir Claude and Shirley Corea are men who brought honour and distinction to our country. I was told they can trace their ancestry up to Parakrama Bahu and I smiled and said “then you are also part of the nammada aal factor”

    Senguttuvan

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      Senguttuvan

      You don’t consider C. Wijeyawickrema as part of “nammada aal factor”, do you?

      If you trace his ancestry you might even find recent Tamil ancestry in his immediate family.

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    The Corea family is truly one of the great old families of Sri Lanka having produced many greats. They belonged to and era where service meant giving not receiving above all else. These are the old aristocrats much maligned by the jealousy brigade( irisiya peramuna ) who systematically ruined the country from top to bottom resulting in what we have today.

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    A touching personal tribute to a loving grandfather. Sir Claude was indeed a gracious man and, yes, a skillful diplomat.

    He also took his opportunities as befits the times. Like the Bandaranaikes and others of the time he/his antecedents did much to help the colonial master keep his grip on our island and for this he was favoured and well rewarded; just in time. As befited his supine position apropos the colonial master, he like the Bandaranaikes and others, preferred to educate his chilren overseas in the firm belief that this would enable them to bullshit with more authority at home.

    George Claude Stanley like Solomon West Ridgeway are Sri Lankan names the like of which we shall never see again.

    • 0
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      How many of today’s politicians in the UPFA have foreign bank accounts to educate their children. buy them houses in foreign lands. All of them. Not One would have a child attend a Sri Lankan university. Not only the politicians but also all their henchman including heads of GOV departments and co-operations, businessmen they all do it. When the old aristocrats did it they at least used their own money usually accumulated wealth from their own possessions not robbed from the state. Also most of the children returned to the country to at least try to be of service to their homeland. Some succeeded in this endeavor while other left in disgust thanks to the antics of your kind.

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    Palayan Yako,

    It is disgrace to reply to a man who cannot give his real name who uses CT website.

    If you give your real name and tell who you are I will make arrangements via CT editors to talk to the DRO who is still living.

    The Corea was deputy speaker and Dahanayaka was the home minister when this happened. How many things could have happened undetected with these brave families????

    People like you are living but dead people.

    • 0
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      C. Wijeyawickrema

      You don’t seem to like this man Palayang yako! very much. Do you?

  • 0
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    My goodness this is disgraceful. A girl can’t even write a tribute about her grandfather everyone else gets into a jealous trance and tries to bring in all kinds of unrelated nonsense into this? You people are the strangest blokes it’s no wonder you guys do’t get very far as a country! Come to England and learn yourselves some manners! No wonder our ancestors have you people as slaves – you guys have no idea how to be civil amongst eachother and colombo telegraph don’t you censor my comment now!

    M. A. Hutchkins

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      Mr. Hutchkins,

      I’m not sure if you realised that your comment was extremely racist. Do not try to elevate English people above white people, just on the basis of manners. It’s interesting you say England is the place to learn ‘manners’, as they have a terrible reputation for invading and thieving from countries that were less fortunate than themselves, that’s why they are considered one of the worlds powers now. Does that seem well mannered to you?

      And in regard to your comment ‘it’s no wonder you guys don’t get very far as a country’, well that is partly due to England’s fault, along with Portugal and the Dutch. How is a country meant to develop when they were constantly being invaded? And of course the only reason England have got anywhere was from surviving off of other countries: Ireland, India, Sri Lanka etc..

      • 0
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        should read ‘English people above non English people’

  • 0
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    Hello Henry,

    Not at all my dear. My comment was far from racist. It was drawing on cause and effect. Effect – not getting very far. Cause – bickering with one of your own young girls who has written a tribute to her grandfather!

    Don’t get your hair in a mess Mr. Waldegrave, there was no racism intended. You do not need to go back centuries nor refer to a past which has no bearing in this current topic at hand which is simply the petty comments hurled at this particular article.

    It is not partly England’s fault that the comments above are as they are.

    When you have to call a spade a spade, you just have to call a spade a spade.

    Manners is an integral part of being cultured and that is universal.

    Please show me differently and I shall accede to your claim of being anything OTHER than what I have merely pointed out.

    Good day to you

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