4 December, 2023


Tamils All Over The World Will Always Miss You, Comrade Roy

Suren Surendiran

Below we give Tamil Representative Suren Surendiran’s Speech (transcript) at the State Funeral of South African Late Minister R L (Roy) Padayachie

Your Excellency the President, Hon Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Sally, Comrade Roy’s Family, Fellow Comrades, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen

To be asked to speak today, to be part of this event in memory of Comrade Roy, is both humbling and a privilege. My wife and I flew in from London, to represent the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka and around the world, as members of Global Tamil Forum, at this memorial of a remarkable individual, who is greatly admired as a man of enormous energy, who gave his all, to free his people, he loved.

It was Comrade Roy, who convinced the Global Tamil Forum with his revolutionary experience and urged a large section of Tamil people of my generation, that it was our sacred duty, to help our fellow brothers and sisters in their emancipation, from the evils of oppression.

And it was Comrade Roy, who set out for my generation, that we all have a duty, to meet obligations that arise from

v Our social origins

v Our mutual solidarity

v The claims of justice

And today, we want to honour the legacy, of Comrade Roy.
For, just as surely as some of our greatest heroes of history, his love of his people, his moral anger at their oppression, his sense of duty to relieve them from a life of subjugation, had led him to fight, for a great cause, stand for the highest ideals and try to change their world, for good. And let me, on your behalf, salute Comrade Roy, whom I and a large number of Tamil speaking people admire so much, for his leadership, not just in this country, but throughout the Tamil diaspora for laying the foundation for Global Tamil Forum, and for his crucial and catalytic role in bringing the liberation campaign together, with a vision to follow.

The reward he sought, as he has always said, is not recognition, nor status, nor titles, nor money but that the coming generation – who never even knew him – enjoys a better life, thanks to his courageous work. And I also want to pay my personal tribute, to his work and his leadership in achieving, by his determined action, what many thought was impossible – to internationalize, the Tamil Question.

Dear Sally, you were his strength! On many occasions he has acknowledged and sometimes even in public, how you have supported him, during his days under-cover during the struggle as a fellow comrade, in raising both your children to adulthood and above all with his career as a people’s servant and a politician –  first as deputy minister and more recently as a cabinet minister. Every little success and accomplishments, he always wanted to share with you first, as a sense of gratitude.

I remember one his famous jokes he shares in public and I quote “I May be the Cabinet Minister in charge of this particular portfolio, but let me now introduce you to the Government” with the finger pointing at you!

Mr. President, comrade Roy has always talked very proudly of his days as an ANC cadre, working as an undercover operative during the struggle. He has recollected to me on many occasions, the times that he has driven you from pillar to post, under the watchful eyes of the apartheid regime during that time.

It was heartening sir, to hear you, recollect some of the same events of history, when you spoke last night at comrade Roy’s residence.

In one of many thoughtful moments of comrade Roy’s, he once commented to me, that in our nation’s recent history, we have been very fortunate to have elected presidents with the very best of qualities required for that particular period of history, of our beloved country.

· Madiba, was the healing and reconciling president

· President Mbeki, lead with the intellectual capacity, building the nation

And he said our president, referring to you sir, as someone who will go down the history, as the People’s President.

I recall, a personal experience, when I, with other Tamil activists came to visit you at your home, with the help of comrade Roy and comrade Sisa Njekalana during the peak of the war in Sri Lanka, back in 2009…at the end of our discussions, you very warmly shook hands with me and said and I quote

“Comrade, please go and tell your fellow comrades, as revolutionaries we will always stand by you” –

Comrade Roy has always tried to bring to bear the South African experience in all his attempts, to bring a just solution, to the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Many of his visionary counsel and ideas have now being adopted, as part of the strategy of the diaspora organisation, Global Tamil Forum that I represent on behalf of 15 countries, trying to alleviate the sufferings of our people, back in the island of Sri Lanka.

Even the last SMS I received from comrade Roy, last Tuesday read, and I quote

“Thanks for calling me to wish me on my birthday. Bringing the Tamil representatives from Sri Lanka and from the Diaspora community to visit our parliament and meet with President Zuma and Comrade Maite will be a good next step to take, in as part of the learning from our own experience”

I sincerely hope that last wish of comrade Roy, will come true, in the near future.

As a friend and my personal counsellor, comrade Roy has always insisted that we learn from the best of class and none other than from comrade Oliver Tambo’s era, in how he masterminded the internationalization, of the struggle of the oppressed, in South Africa.

Comrade Roy kindly presented me a book titled Oliver Tambo – beyond the Engeli Mountains. In a personal note in the book, he says and I quote

“To Comrade Suren, Expressing our solidarity with your cause for human rights and dignity for the Tamil people. Lots of love and good wishes for the beautiful friendship. Sincerely, Roy and Sally Padayachie – 16/11/2011

Mr President, Sally, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We can only hope that his family will be able to console their grief, knowing that Comrade Roy was not only a loyal husband and a loving father and grandfather but a great man, a hardworking activist, selfless humanitarian, a freedom fighter, a defender of those less fortunate, a patriot south African, a loyal comrade, a sincere Tamil and above all a genuine and dear friend.

On behalf of all of us here, who loved him and take to his rest today, we pray, that what he was to us, and what he wished for others, will someday, come to pass.

As a valued friend of the Global Tamil Forum, Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka and Tamils all over the world, he will be greatly missed.

I will always miss you, comrade Roy.

Thank you very much.

You watch his speech @ 1:01 here


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  • 0

    I sincerely hope that his legacy will be the continuation of efforts for peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Tamils must have a fair and just future in a united Sri Lanka. There is lot that we can learn from the experience of South African people. May the peacemakers prevail.

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