Angelinos Fete Walter Jayawardhana as he leaves for London High Commission
By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, 20 December, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lankans in Los Angeles gave veteran Journalist Walter Jayawardhana a rousing send-off as he left for London to assume duties as Minister/Counsellor (Information) at the Sri Lankan High Commission in UK. He was one-of-a-kind leader that the community looked up to said Harry Hathrasinghe one of the pioneer residents who knew Walter well. Water's response was “Sri Lanka came first for all of us. We always stood by the elected governments of the motherland except once. That was when the government in 2002 signed an agreement with the terrorist group LTTE, which endangered the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. We said that serving Sri Lanka was a privilege and he would continue to be of service where ever he went. It was hard for me to leave behind the Angelinos after so many years and innumerable memories."
Consular General of Los Angeles, Jaliya Wickramasuriya presented Walter with a commemorative plaque, while a prominent long-time resident of Los Angeles, Dr. Walter Jayasinghe presented a gold sovereign for Walter’s courage in fighting the anti-Sri Lankan propaganda. Dr Jayasinghe said he had never met anyone who was so fearless in providing leadership when needed. He epitomized courage, he said.
The au revoir to Walter by friends and well wishers saw many reminisce how the Los Angeles community under the leadership of Walter took crucial steps to stem the tide of LTTE propaganda against Sri Lanka. Walter successfully thwarted the clandestine LTTE misinformation machine during the past 30 years, as the founder of the Sinhala Defense League. Among those present were many of the founder members of the SDL including first President Bernard Peiris, and several others, too many to be named.
Consular General Jaliya Wickramasuriya stated that he heard of Walter’s journalistic reputation even prior to his arrival here. He knew that Walter took upon himself responsibilities normally assigned to the diplomats such as immediate countering of falsehoods spread against Sri Lanka whenever they occurred. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had picked Walter as the right man for the ideal job, at the right time and right place and London was the right place for Walter to be, he said.
Community Leader, Harry Hatharasinghe highlighted the activities that were held in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles when Sri Lanka was far behind in the propaganda war. We took the bull by the horns and was happy only when the US and Canada banned the LTTE eventually. The Sri Lankan elephant and the effigy of ‘the Indian bear’ trying to swallow Sri Lanka brought to some of the demonstrations held by the expatriates were memorable. He wished him well in his new assignment. He had close associations with Walter in cultural activities in Los Angeles.
Ananda Markalanda recalled Walter’s singularity of purpose that was brilliantly thought out and executed which brought success. His dedication was infectious that had everyone unite under one banner. He proved beyond doubt that Walter was a great friend but an enemy everyone feared, especially those trying to harm Sri Lanka.
Note by the writer: Walter studied at St. Bede's College Badulla and worked as an English teacher. He spent most of his growing up immersed in the affairs of the Uva peasants. He became the District Correspondent for the Lake House papers in Soranathota soon afterwards and then was picked up by the Times group as an editorial staffer for Lankadeepa and Times until the time he arrived in Los Angeles. Once late Prime Minister Dudley Senanayke complimented Walter for his attention to detail and accuracy. His dedication to standards of journalism and independence is well known. He earned for himself a niche in the activism of the Los Angeles Sri Lankan expatriates who will miss him dearly. Walter is married to Lakshmi (Lucky) and they have a son Yaswin
- Asian Tribune -