22 May, 2024


My Memories Of Comrade Marshal Perera

By Lionel Bopage

Dr. Lionel Bopage

It is sad to hear about the passing away of comrade Marshal Perera, President’s Counsel, former Governor of the Uva Province of Sri Lanka and the father of former Member of Parliament and Minister Dilan Perera. If my memory serves right, I met comrade Marshal Perera in Badulla, during the latter part of 1977.

The political activities of the ‘Movement’ (which later became the JVP) in Badulla district commenced towards the latter part of the sixties. Late comrade Sumith Athukorala was the first full-time activist of the “Movement” in Badulla. He was one of the first full-time political activists, who came out of Peradeniya University and the first member to be arrested sometime in 1969. He was arrested while staying at Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya in Badulla. This happened prior to comrade Rohana Wijeweera’s first arrest.

Prior to April 71 Uprising, comrade Sunanda Deshapriya was responsible for the JVP activities in the Badulla district. At the time we were released from prison in November 1977, the JVP activities in the district had considerably weakened. During the seventies, when the JVP was under proscription, comrade Sumith Athukorala and several other comrades had been involved in rebuilding party organisations in the district.

Marshal Perera

Subsequent to our release, and later as General Secretary of the party I had to visit the Uva province to revitalise political activities. During these visits to Badulla district, I had to stay over a couple of days to conduct JVP political activities. It was during that time, I stayed at comrade Marshal Perera’s house. In the process, I came to know that he was a simple, down to earth person, despite being an attorney.

I recollect the convivial mornings in which we had simple home cooked village breakfasts together at his house. He was very supportive and interested in the political activities we conducted at the time. Some mornings I accidentally came across his son, Dilan Perera, who was on his way to attend classes. Since I left the JVP in 1984, I did not have the opportunity to associate with comrade Marshal Perera. However, when I visited Sri Lanka while in exile in the middle of the nineties, I had the occasion to meet up with Minister Dilan Perera, a couple of times. On one such occasion, I was able to talk to his father on the phone.

When we were in Colombo last year, we invited comrade Marshal Perera to attend the launch of the Sinhala translation of my biography. He was extremely pleased to do so and kindly obliged. We did not get much time to talk, but during the short conversation I had with him, I came to understand that despite his many official governmental affiliations, he was the same simple person that I used to know during the 1980s.

With those comradely memories of solidarity and conviviality fresh in our minds, we salute him in his last journey.

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Latest comments

  • 18

    How did Dilan Perera manage to get a father like that ?

    • 5

      If it could happen to Vasu, why complain about Dilan?
      Is it part of the Trotskyite tradition of the LSSP?

    • 3

      That’s wicked, Ajay.

  • 12

    Father may be a great man, but Dilana Perera ?

    Those who know Dilan would not disagree with me, he is a shameless person. The kind of politicians destroy this nation on and on.
    The very same is the case with Dr Jayathilaka, though his father earned every one s respect but Dayan Jayathilaka ?

    May well be the that is the trend in SRILANKEN society of the day.

  • 6

    When you study the “THEN” and “NOW” of these “Comrades”, there is no difficulty at all to comprehend why the “LEFT” – “The Peoples’ Movement” did fail. Strangely, they have the “GUTS” to make “Presentations”, write “Books” and “Honor” each other without an iota of “Shame” or “Remorse”.

    • 6

      Do you know of the life of sacrifice of many left leaders in this country?
      Some went astray out of bitterness or making a wrong decision.
      But one cannot dismiss lightly what they had won for the working class here, things that were denied in many former colonies.

    • 6

      You are spot on.
      At the time I was questioned, where I came from ” is not the country Bandararanyaka came from “….. is named today.
      Today instead, our youth have to answer ” by saying, we are from SRILANKA where a bunch of thugs, better said, where the Chinese invested – by injecting their investment injection and made the country a slavery other than a country which produced then the world famous personalities.”

  • 4

    Machan Lionel
    Is your mission these days, writing eulogies (Memories) for every person having a trace of Left, that too, whether you know or not, about the person.
    I don’t want to claim (privileged) to have known Marshal Perera.
    What I know about Marshal Perera is, During 1971 April insurrection, Marshal Perera Proctor, Mark Anthony Fernando Advocate and Sigera Advocate, the lawyers of Badulla Bar, were put in Badulla Prison for their affiliations with the leftist movements.
    Vasidewa Nanayakkara and Chandrapala Kumarage of Avissawell too were in custardy in Colombo at the same time.
    In 1975-77 period I did regular work related visits to Badulla, and had visited Perera family few times as they were my wife’s family friends.
    In a casual conversation I asked Marshal (who was 20 years senior to me in age), whether he is a leftist.
    In a very stern voice he replied “NO …..ULTRA LEFT”
    Today I ask this question from Lionel and most of these leftists at their twilight of their lives, have they lived to the meaning of these words?

  • 3


    If you have evidence to show that I have written an eulogy or a memoir of a person that I did not know of, please provide that evidence.

    Well. I at least write an eulogy when a person that I know of passes away. I consider that as respecting whatever good that person has done during his lifetime.

    What are you doing for your cause, whatever that is? At least you should write an eulogy for a friend that you knew of.

    • 1

      I appreciate your statement of your position.
      But please explain why anyone should write an eulogy for a ‘friend one knows of’?
      If everyone follows that advice, our weekend news papers will have to be delivered in trucks.
      Not everything that is appreciated needs to appear in print.

  • 3

    Thanks SJ.
    With regard to the history of the JVP, there are certain aspects, I believe, people need to know in terms of keeping a historical note.
    As you know, everybody doesn’t write eulogies of everybody else they know of. If that happens, then what you say is valid and true. But as a matter of fact, that does not happen and yours is an academic argument.
    In addition, if someone does not wish to read an eulogy I write, that person can exercise his/her right not to read it. I appreciate that right.

    • 0

      I guess that your remark was provoked by Sisira’s rather silly response. I thought that yours was a sweeping statement. No offence meant.
      Your eulogy is timely when some people now even question any role for the Left in this country.

  • 2

    Dear Dr Bopage,
    Thanks for the eulogy! Please look at the last four comments on this page:
    They were written before your tribute appeared. I began the comments spontaneously, with no prompting. To people like me, this man was not just Dilan Perera’s father.
    Marshal was a truly wonderful human being. He was never acting a part. He was genuine; he was serious in all that he did. Very few lawyers can escape belonging to that fraternity. They regard themselves as important. Marshal was not like that. He was always a human being who did what was best in whatever situation he found himself. He deserves the honour you have accorded him.
    I’m neither lawyer nor politician; nor have I ever researched Marshal’s full life. However, what Professor Sivasekeram says is also true: “Not everything that is appreciated needs to appear in print.” However, with the lights now being snuffed out one by one, I’m glad that we are no longer young. It’s not going to be fun living in this land – where guys like Dilan are considered leaders!

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