20 July, 2024


Rajavarothiam Sampanthan – A Personality Like Few Other

By S. Sivathasan

It was in the destiny of Hon. Sampanthan to be marked out for selection to high office, though young in years. He had hit the radar as early as in 1965 and caught the eye of the Tamil political leader, SJV Chelvanayakam to be chosen for the Trincomalee seat. Being of tender age he was disinclined. When offered a second time in 1970, he declined again. When 1977 general elections were approaching, SJV decided the issue with cryptic words “I have taken no for an answer twice” and clinched the selection in his own favour.

R. Sampanthan

To the benefit of Trincomalee and the Tamils of Sri Lanka, Sampanthan discharged his services as an able legislator. In due course the Leader’s protégé assumed his position as leader. What really influenced the decision on selection? At that time Trincomalee had a numerically balanced multi ethnic, multi religious and bi lingual population whose sensitivities had to be keenly noted and adroitly handled. Sampanthan had the qualities of head and heart to make him acceptable to the complex grouping. Consideration was paramount to the concerns of such a population and above all to those at the centre where power reposed. From the commencement of his parliamentary career Sampanthan played his part as a mature leader having had the advantage of the finest mentor in Chelva.

To speak with personal knowledge of a multi-faceted personality, I have had the benefit of four spells in Trincomalee at different levels of responsibility. Many issues principally administrative were discussed. The interaction did not fail to reach out to an examination of political parameters concerning some provinces and the nation. At most times we only agreed. In presenting his views with clarity, his fluency in English and Tamil served as a great asset. More importantly, he was easily accessible to the higher rungs in politics as well as in the central administrative hierarchy. In the crucial years of the immediate past, he had done his best with the President and Head of government. In ensuing times his absence will be greatly missed.

For over half a century Hon. Sampanthan has worked tirelessly. The nation is aware of it and the Tamils in particular owe their sense of indebtedness. Never can be forgotten the tortuous decades Hon, Sampanthan had dedicated for a peaceable future of his people.

While recalling the dedicated services of Hon. Sampanthan, we have also to convey our gratitude for the sacrifices of all his family members; his wife and children, for so long. May their future be well blessed.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Rajavarothiam Sampanthan will be remembered fifty years from now as the outstanding politicians of these troubled times, until the Renaissance of Lanka, under Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
    I hope that Sampanthan died a happy man at the age of 91, clearly seeing what he has achieved by tirelessly and consistently advocating Peace. There may be others who disagree; let them. We are now marching forwards. Let us ignore the dogs that bark at us.
    We rejoice that such people lived in our time.
    Panini Edirisinhe

  • 1

    I think that the authors imagination is running riot.
    Following the demose of NR Rajavarothiam in 1963, the FP chose SM Manikkarajah as candidate in the by-election. A reluctant Manikkarajah, who was even out of local government politics by 1960 or so was persuaded to contest in 1965. In 1970 it was B Neminanathan who was chosen. Had SJVC been keen to have Sampanthan to represent Trincomalee, he would have by then chosen Sampanthan.
    In 1977 it was, after the demise of SJVC, Amirthalingam who wanted Sampanthan.
    Sampanthan was the most sccessful lawyer in Trincomalee at the time. But his interest in FP political work there was wanting in many ways. But he was supportive of the FP, especially in the context of a strong UNP background to his family.
    Personally was far more likeable and less brash than Amirthalingam. He got along with people well. But circumstances since 1977, especially after 1983 made it dificult for him to spend time in Trincomalee.
    He failed twice to be elected from the Trincomalee District thereafter. He became MP after the foul murder of Thangathurai by the LTTE.

  • 1

    He fought a wrong war (based on lies and myths) in the wrong country against Sinhalese.
    Chelvanayam who was another Malaysian Malabari was the main culprit.
    Their Ealam terrorism cost SL government at least $ 2 trillion and killed more than 1000000

    • 0

      Their Ealam terrorism cost SL government at least $ 2 trillion and killed more than 100000 Sinhalese and have helped built their motherland Tamil Nadu’s economy.
      What he and the like should really have done is to return to their motherland Tamil Nadu, fight for its independence from ruling North Indians, form the Tamil nation state for 120 million Tamil speakers who have been scattered all World.

    • 3

      The difference between 1000000 and 100000 is 9900000.
      If you’d correct $2 trillion, wish to hear.

  • 2

    Mr. Sivathasan. As a classics man would you agree that Hon.Sampanthan was caught between Scylla and Charybdis as per Greek Mythology.
    Between Sinhala Extremism and Tamil Extremism.

    By 1952 S.J.V..Chelvanayagam left a lucrative practice as a Queens Counsel.
    He never owned a house in Colombo but lived in a rented house at Alfred House Gardens.
    R. Sampanthan too sacrificed a lucrative practice at the Trincomalee Bar by 1977.
    He too did not have a house in Colombo to call his own. At the end of the Armed Revolt in 2009 he led all the way towards achieving a sustainable solution to the Tamil cause within a united Srilanka with meaningful devolution.
    Political parties down south of the country have now an opportunity to campaign on this vexed problem that has dragged this country down these past seven decades.

  • 2

    I fully well agree with what the author has said, not eulogizing but real facts about Hon.Sampanthan. Naturally he would have maintained close contact with late Mr.
    Sampanthan related to administrative duties the author was involved at that time.
    The impressive arguments and his forceful eloquent speeches in parliament with decorum will ever remain in our minds.
    May his soul rest in peace.

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