By H.L. Seneviratne –
A bit belatedly for the 25th death anniversary of Dr N.M.Perera that fell on August 14th, I came across a moving tribute by an ordinary citizen. The writer is Mr Sarath Hewagama of Colombo 5, Acting Manager of the People’s Bank where, true to his socialist beliefs, NM apparently did his banking. Mr Hewagama’s letter was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Ceylon Daily News of August 23, 2004. I thought the readers of the Colombo Telegraph will appreciate it, and hope that the CT publishes the letter despite its second hand status.
The article by Percy Wickremasekera that Mr Hewagama alludes to appeared in the Sunday Times of August 15, 2004 (possibly elsewhere as well). The second sentence of the first paragraph seems to have a typographic error, and I have made a parenthetical suggestion in the hope of clarifying it somewhat. As the letter speaks for itself, I am not making any comments.
Dr N. M. Perera
I deeply appreciate the comments made by Percy Wickremasekera in an article recently. Whilest agreeing with all the views expressed I thought that the time is very opportune to insert an individual [example of the] character of Dr N.M. Perera, observed by me.
When Dr N.M. Perera was functioning as the Minister of Finance he came to the People’s Bank, Union Place Branch one afternoon to transact some business.
On this day I was officially acting as the Manager of the Branch on the instructions of the General Manager W.H. Solomons
When I came out of the cubicle occupied by me to observe the branch activities, to my utter surprise I saw Dr Perera in the queue along with the other customers awaiting the issue of a cheque book. I walked up to him and requested him to come to my cubicle, so that I could attend to him without any delay.
He refused and said that he was not being fair by the others in the queue who were ahead of him. But as he was a very busy individual I obtained permission from the others in the queue and immediately issued the cheque book to him.
Thereafter he thanked me, the staff and those in the queue and walked up to his private vehicle which was driven by him and went away.
There is no doubt that this action of his revealed a disciplined simple quality though he was a Minister of State. I believe that this sort of behavior will be a guide to all concerned.