Upali Obeyesekere interview with LMD Magazine

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Upali Obeyesekere interview with LMD Magazine

Posted on 30 November 2020 by admin

OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY

LMD MAGAZINE

 Upali Obeyesekere seeks to build bridges between communities

Q: As far as perceptions go, do you think Sri Lanka can regain its composure in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Absolutely – Sri Lanka’s universal healthcare system has proven itself. The nation has done remarkably well to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and these safety protocols must continue to protect human life.
Q: How do you perceive Sri Lanka today?
A: Favourably. Sri Lanka has come a long way since independence.
The nation’s highways and road network have witnessed major expansion, and this augurs well for tourism. Moreover, the economic dynamics have transitioned from that of a predominantly rural based economy towards being more urbanised, focussing on manufacturing and services.
Colombo’s skyline is appealing. The five-star hotels are world-class. Banking is quick and easy.
Q: And how do compatriots in your country of domicile view Sri Lanka?
A: Canadians view Sri Lanka as a multilingual, multiethnic, and multicultural country striving to maintain its diversity, and yearning to forge a national identity transcending its differences. They also view an island nation mired in conflict due to 26 years of ethnic strife and the Easter Sunday carnage.
On a more positive note, Sri Lanka is known as an awesome tourist destination and winners of the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Q: Likewise, how do other Sri Lankans living in Canada view Sri Lanka?
A: The majority view Sri Lanka positively. They love to visit and enjoy the natural beauty of the island nation, while reuniting with friends and family.

Q: What were your impressions of Sri Lanka on your last visit – and how much has it changed from the past?
A: Our last visit was in 2017 and we enjoyed every moment of our 21 day stay.

The infrastructure development and improvements to the road network are remarkable. Hotel accommodation, food, shopping, and local travel exceeded our expectations. The Southern Expressway was demonstrative of international standards. Automated banking facilities were seamless – safe and secure. My wife and I brought back many positives.
Q: From afar, how do you perceive news about Sri Lanka and what mediums do you rely on to stay connected especially during times of crisis for example, the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019 and the coronavirus outbreak this year?
A: News about Sri Lanka is perceived with a ‘pinch of salt.’
I am super active on social media platforms and engage in interactions with credible sources – both personal and business associates. For general news, I turn to Government of Sri Lanka websites, broadcast media and mainstream print media.
Q: How do you view the brain drain – and why is there still no reversal of it, in your opinion?
A: Brain drain is one of the earliest phenomena associated with globalisation. People have been seeking greener pastures since post-independence.
I view this loss of human capital to have a significant socioeconomic effect at the local level. Sri Lanka will not witness a reversal of this situation until there is reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas afflicted by the 26 year ‘ethnic conflict.’
Reverse brain drain also depends on the quality of life – a highly subjective measure of happiness.
Q: So, what should Sri Lanka focus on most in the coming decade?
A: I believe Sri Lanka’s focus should be on ensuring national security, good governance and financial accountability; tourism – the potential to be a top foreign exchange earner; the manufacturing, agriculture, services and infrastructure sectors; the Port City (Colombo International Financial City or CIFC) development project and increasing foreign direct investment (FDI).
The nation should also build a bridge to restore economic stability in the short run, and lay the groundwork for robust, sustainable, and inclusive growth in the medium term.
Q: And finally, what are your hopes for the country in the next decade or so?
A: I hope for nationwide peace and unity among all. It is my hope to see an end to the polarization between Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities.
Taking the immortal words of former US president John F. Kennedy in context, I hope for an ‘I am Sri Lankan’ identity and for all Sri Lankans to say unequivocally: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

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Honour Roll: Peterites in Canada who earned their stripes

Posted on 30 April 2020 by admin

SPC-LOGO SITESince 1922, St. Peter's College, Colombo has provided primary and high school education to thousands of students. After passing through the hallowed hallways of this great school, some have taken the bold step to seek greener pastures in other countries. This exodus started in the fifties when many went to the U.K. for studies and then decided to stay on as permanent residents. After the infamous "Sinhala Only" bill introduced by SWRD Bandaranaike's SLFP government, many Peterites left the shores of Ceylon and migrated to Australia. Later, others immigrated to Canada, USA and New Zealand. Many live semi-permanently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well. St. Peter's College has gone from strength to strength over the years. The school proudly count many eminent alumni who have excelled in their respective professions, serving the country and overseas proudly.

This post will focus only on the Peterites who made Canada, their adopted home. The author of this article declares that he may not have captured the information 100%, but is confident he has covered at least 90%.

Canada is home to about 200-300 Peterites today. While most live in the Greater Toronto Area, others are scattered around Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, and a few other Canadian cities. Some represented Sri Lanka and have earned national honours. They were household names in and out of school.

Representing your country in sports is a dream for many. In this regard, we take pride in recognizing this core group of stars of yesteryear who represented Sri Lanka nationally and in one case – Canada in Sports and Entertainment. Names of Ranjit Wijeyesekere (Ahtletics), Nihal Fonseka (Tenor), Jeyer Rodriguez (Rugby), Hazmee Hameed (Rugby) and Mario Motha (Basketball) stand out. Of particular note is the performance of former Peterite cricketer Srimantha Wijeyeratne, a resident of Mississauga, who was picked to represent Canada in Cricket in 2015, and thereby gained national honours. As at writing this post, Srimantha is still a member of the Canadian Cricket Team. We wish him well.

Many other Peterites in Canada have excelled in their chosen professions and/or fields of business or entrepreneurship in Canada.

Message to Peterites in Canada – Be cognizant of the fact that you belong to a select group of Sri Lankans who were privileged to receive their education at St. Peter's College in Colombo. In matters of your Alma Mater, we request you to act with dignity and uphold the strong values you grew up with in the class rooms of our great school. Refrain from any acts (verbal or written) that may deface, disgrace or dishonour your alma mater and your fellow-Peterites who live amongst you. We are the face of St. Peter's College in Canada and it is imperative to live up to it. Respect for the individual is very important. 

Always, keep the Peterite flag flying! Thank you. 

PETERITE HONOURS

RECIPIENTS OF PETERITE HONOURS FROM CANADA

Year HONOREE CATEGORY

1984

NONE FROM CANADA

Inaugural Year

1988

JEYER RODRIGUEZ

Rugby – Sri Lanka Player

1997

RANJIT WIJEYESEKERE

Athletics – National Champion 

1997

NIHAL FONSEKA

Music – Famous Tenor

1997

MARIO MOTHA Basketball – Sri Lanka Player

2002

MAXWELL RANASINGHE

Entrepreneurship

2002

HAZMEE HAMEED

Rugby – Sri Lanka Player

2006

DARREL PERERA (DEC)

Trade & Commerce

2006

DYLAN MODDER

Entrepreneurship

2016

SRIMANTHA WIJEYERATNE        

Canadian cricketer

2016

UPALI OBEYESEKERE

Trade & Commerce

 

 

 

 

HEAD PREFECTS
Clarence Mendis – 1958
Stephen Alagaratnam
Mario Motha – 1989
Tissa Perera
SENIOR PREFECTS
Ricardo Joseph
Nelum Attanayake (1988-1990)
Roshan Hennennayake
PREFECTS
Bertrand Mendis
Marius Fernando
James Alagaratnam

 

BASKETBALL
Daya Chandraratne (Capt.)
Ranjit Wijeyesekere
Stephen Alagaratnam (Capt.)
Mario Motha (Capt. & Colours)
James Alagaratnam (Colours)
Sunanda Jayasekara (Colours)
FIELD HOCKEY
Crofton Joseph (Colours)
Nelum Attanayake (Colours) 1988

 

TENNIS (PUBLIC SCHOOLS)
Neville de Silva (Decd)
Lalith Wiratunga (Decd)
Upali Obeyesekere

 

TABLE TENNIS
Bertrand Mendis (Colours)
Stephen Alagaratnam (Capt)

 

CRICKET  
Neville de Silva (Dec)  Roy Dissanayake (Decd)
Mark Pereira (Dec)  Christie Marthalingam
David Muthumani (Dec) Dane Joseph
Rumesh Sebastiaan Crofton Joseph
Sunanda Jayasekara Srimantha Wijeratne
Ricardo Joseph  
CADETING  
Nelum Attanayake

Best Cadet; Cadet Sergeant & Regimental Sergeant Major (Acting-1990)

Upali Obeyesekere Cadet Camp – Diyatalawa

ATHLETICS

In the fifties, St. Peter's College were blessed with a superb Athletics team that won the Colombo South Group Meet and Tarbat as well (subject to correction). 

Ranjit Wijeyesekere leads the pack among Peterite athletes domiciled in Canada. Ranjit won national honours in the 440 & 220 yards representing Ace Athletic Club. He blazed through the Peterite track in the 220 yards, and his pet event – the 440 yards. Ranjit was the crowd favourite that time and went on to represent Ace Athletic Club, Air Ceylon and KLM after leaving school. He had the honour of been the first Ceylonese to clock under 50 seconds in the quarter mile. Ranjith immigrated to Canada in the sixties and worked for the Federal Government before retiring a few years back. Ranjit alternates his time between hunting in the summer at his farm and his home in Brampton.

Hazmee Hameed is a public Schools athlete who did well in the sprints in the sixties. His extraordinary speed helped him as a wing-three-quarter in rugby which he excelled.

Errol de Silva is another Peterite who did well in the Colombo South Meet and the Public Schools Championships. He threw the javelin and discuss. Errol worked for a Canadian Bank and lives in Scarboroug in retirement.

Nihal Fonseka excelled in the Pole Vault event. Besides his reputation as perhaps the best tenor produced by Mother Lanka, Nihal was a good athlete and boxer in school. Nihal worked for Canada Post for many decades and is now retired and lives in Mississauga.

Bhanu Wijeyesekere is another athlete of repute at college who also represented the CT & FC on leaving school. Bhanu lives in Markham and is married to All-Ceylon Netball player and Athlete Pauline Clogstun.

Larry Landersz was also a noteworthy athlete excelling in the sprints.

RUGBY

Canada has many Peterites who donned the Blue, White and Gold jerseys since college started rugby in 1932. Four of them had the rare honour of captaining the college rugby team – Jeyer Rodriguez (1962), Stephen Alagaratnam (1963), Hazmee Hameed (1966) and Viraj Fernando (1984). Many others played rugby for college 1st XV in the years gone by. It is important to capture this information for posterity. The list is not complete but compiled out of personal knowledge. Highlighted in 'RED' are those who captained St. Peter's College in Rugby. We know that James Alagaratnam, Hazmee Hameed and Dr. R. Paramsothy are coloursmen in rugby. We will be updating this information once we get confirmation from the others.

Ranjit Wijeyesekere Jeyer Rodriguez Stephen Alagaratnam Siva Narendran (Decd)
Durand Beekmeyer Hazmee Hameed Larry Landersz  
Mervyn Mendis Dr. R. Paramsothy Chris Serpanchy  
Crofton Joseph Viraj Fernando James Alagaratnam  
Tissa Perera C.L. (Lalith) de Silva Sunanda Jayasekara  

The 'Honour Roll' of Peterites in Canada will be updated regularly on an ongoing basis. Our thanks to Bertrand Mendis, Tissa Perera, Nelum Attanayake, Ricardo Joseph and James Alagaratnam for their input in compiling this list. This is history that we are recording for posterity.

  • Initial posting on August 9, 2017
  • 1st Update – 9/22/2017
  • 2nd Update – 9/30/2017
  • 3rd Update – 4/30/2020

Compiled by Upali Obeyesekere – Founding President, JPAA Canada.



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Archibald Perera: The small giant of Peterite rugby

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Archibald Perera: The small giant of Peterite rugby

Posted on 08 December 2019 by admin

Old boys and players of St. Peter’s College regroup for a tribute on December 29:

22 December, 2019 – Sunday Observer

Archibald Perera

Archibald Perera

Old boys and ex-rugby players of St. Peter’s College will team up at the college ground on December 29 in tribute to Archibald Perera the legendary scrum half and coach of the school who also represented Sri Lanka.

Sharm de Alwis and Archibald’s son Sunil Perera pay a glorious tribute to the mentor in the following article.

They called him the “Small Giant” of Peterite Rugby. In those days when bigger giants bestrode the rugby scene, Archibald Perera took them on, head on and squarely. No wonder then that one of the bigger giants, Queen’s Counsel Noel Gratiaen, the CR & FC captain, decided that if you can’t beat ’em, recruit ’em!

Such was the genesis of Archie being inducted into the winning CR side of the late 1930s. Archie was truly the mythical Hermes of Ceylon rugby, as it was then known. One of the finest fly halves in the country and being one of the first Ceylonese to play in what was an exclusive preserve of the British.

As the opposing Forwards and Threes approached him, Archie would transform himself and sell that dummy. Here was Archie looking one way, feinting and leaning one way and instantly accelerating another way, pretending to pass rightwards but doing so leftwards.

When he captained St. Peter’s, the school won all their rugby matches and beat even the clubs they played against. At his side were such stars as Stanley Livera, Percy Perera, Fred Keller, Roy Reimers and Ray de Zilwa. That was when Noel Gratiaen spotted him and stole him to CR.

But it was as a coach of St. Peter’s that Archie became the legend and institution that he remains to this day. The fabled Ago Paiva was one of Archie’s prize players. So were Didacus de Almeida, Jeyer Rodriguesz, Darrel Wimalaratne, the Patternott brothers, Jeffery de Jong, Rohan Wiratunga, Frank Hubert, Hadji Omar and Angelo Wickramaratne to name a few.

What players learnt from him was not only the basic techniques but refinements and craft that can only come from proven experience.

It was in 1972 that St. Peter’s, coached by Archie, was so dominant in the skyline of school rugby that teams feared the encounters. They emerged school champions under Jeffery de Jong and in 1973 under the late Rohan Wiratunga St Peter’s were joint champs and such were their accomplishments that a special celebration was arranged at the school.

A life-sized cartoon sketched by the famous Times of Ceylon cartoonist James Bulner was commissioned. It depicted a small guy, thin legs and carrying a massive rugby ball with the caption. “To Sir with Love!” He was a Hero, Friend, Teacher and Coach.

When Archie, who had crossed countless goal lines, was called upon by his Creator to cross the Great Divide, he did so only after a rugby coaching session where in the evening of that day he succumbed to an attack of asthma.

As his wife, Audrey Perera (nee de Silva) a netballer from St. Paul’s Milagiriya would tell us, such was Archie’s passion for the game and sad as his passing was, he would not have asked for a more fitting ending.

Tribute from son Sunil Perera

The little man much dreaded who could spot and go through the slightest opening with his eyes closed. This is what the Press of that time called him. Archie had the habit of doing the unexpected and making it appear the most natural thing in the world. He was one of the finest stand-offs ever produced I am told, as I did not have the opportunity to see him play.

Archie captained the Ceylon Barbarians in 1950 at the All India Rugby Tournament held in Madras. He held the Ceylon record in the Half Mile and One Mile from 1936 to 39. He was a classics scholar and his pet subjects were Greek mythology and astronomy, in fact the horoscopes of our family members were all drawn up by him.

He was a Captain in the army and stationed in Malaya as it was then known in charge of a POW camp during the Second World War. Archie started coaching college from 1952 till his untimely death in 1982. He produced champion teams and champion rugby players too numerous to mention.

In 1960 Archie joined the staff of St Peter’s, his forte being Mathematics and English. The rest is history and I am sure there are many present here today who could relate many a story. Time does not permit me to relate some great stories of his teaching career. To me yes, he was my father and mentor, but to all of us he was a great coach and teacher who not only taught us rugby but prepared us for the outside world.

I for one succeeded in life because of his influence and guidance. I am sure most of us present today will agree that Archie did play a part in their lives and success. Archie and I are the only father and son to captain College at rugby. (1936 & 1969). My mother’s brothers Kenneth de Silva captained in 1940 and Harold de Silva in 1949. My cousins Brian, Maurice, Rex and Len de Silva all represented College. Brian, Maurice and Rex represented College at cricket.

In conclusion on behalf of the family I wish to thank St Peter’s in naming the Stand after my father as a lasting monument, in recognition of his dedication and service to the school and the organizers of this commemoration event of the Archibald Perera Pavilion Stand at St Peter’s College ground on December 29.

The ceremony was specially initiated by Frank Hubert who is visiting from the UK and with the blessings of Fr. Rector Rohitha Rodrigo. Special thanks to Stewart Schneider-Loos, Nigel Forbes, Rohan Paulas and Dilan Abeygoonewardena for coordinating the event and other aspects within a short period of time.

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Dulip Jayamaha among twenty-five new President's Counsel

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Dulip Jayamaha among twenty-five new President’s Counsel

Posted on 23 December 2018 by admin

 

Upali Obeyesekere with Dulip Jayamaha at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

Twenty-five Attorneys-at- Law will swear in as President’s Counsel (PC) on January 18 at a ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court. The swearing-in as President’s Counsel is also known as taking Silk. Attorneys-at-Law who have practised as counsels in courts either in the official or unofficial bar are eligible to be appointed as PCs. Once appointed one doesn’t lose the title even if they are appointed to the Judiciary.

Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Thomas de Sampayo and Frederick Dornhorst were the first to be appointed as King’s Counsel in 1903. It has been the practice since then to appoint lawyers who have served the country for long periods with professionalism and eminence.
The names of Attorneys to be appointed as President’s Counsel
are: 1. Chinthamanie Moonemalle Ballale 2. Satendra Maithri Guneratne 3. Mohamed Sheriffdeen Mohamed Hussain 4. Pilimathalawa Wijesundara Mudiyanselage Suriyashantha Bandara Iddawela 5. Dulip Flavien Raphael Jayamaha 6. Madurapperumage Chandrasiri Jayaratne 7. Liyana Mudiyanselage Vijitha Nandana Jayawickrema 8. Singhanathage Tharapathi Jayanaga 9. Upali Sarrath Kongahage 10. Sunil Kithsirimevan Lankathilleka 11. Arunachalam Muttu Krishnan 12. Bamunuge Joseph Bernard Shanthi Perera 13. Subramaniam Paramarajah 14. Edmund Sirimevan Rajapakse 15. Mohan Rudolph Abeyratna Ratwatte 16. Shantha Chulabaya Rajapakse 17. Akmeemana Palliya Guruge Sarathchandra 18. Abdul Wahid Abdul Sathar 19. Palli Mulla Kapugamage Nelson de Silva 20. Velayuthapilli Thavarajah 21. Sarath Devasena Wijesinghe 22. Luckshan Mahinda Wijesundara 23. Priyal Thusitha Wijayweera 24. Saumya Amarasekera 25. Geethaka Goonawardene.
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FLASHBACK: IGP Chandra Fernando felicitated at his alma mater

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FLASHBACK: IGP Chandra Fernando felicitated at his alma mater

Posted on 23 December 2018 by admin

IGP felicitated at his alma mater

by Sarath Malalasekera – Courtesy of Daily News – Wednesdat, October 27, 2004.

 

Sri Lanka’s police Inspector-General, Chandra Fernando

St. Peters College, Colombo is considered an outstanding education institute, that has during her long history produced many brilliant scholars, outstanding sportsmen and several disciplined professionals in several fields, said Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando, a distinguished old boy of St. Peters College, at a felicitation ceremony accorded to him by the Old Boys' Union of St. Peters College yesterday morning at the College auditorium.

'As the present IGP, I could today tell you that some of the best, disciplined Policemen produced by St. Peters College, such as former Senior DIG Merril Gunaratne, former DIGs L. M. Jayawardena and Camillus Abeygunawardena, I have worked with, were educated at this college. They have in their own inimitable way shown brilliance whenever they had to shoulder responsibility for the good of the society.

They were also an incentive and an example to others in the Police Force,' said IGP Chandra Fernando.

IGP Fernando emphasised that the Police Force has a flood of Peterites far too many to mention, such as Camillus Abeygunawardena, and expert on Motor Traffic and Sivendran. Those Peterites have always shown that they are disciplined men and have been a great asset to the Police Department.

Today, my mind goes back to fifty-two years, when I was admitted to the second standard of this hallowed institution. Rev. Father Basil Weeratunga was the Rector and Mr. Jayawardena was the headmaster of the Primary School.

The lofty pillars of the College at the entrance stood before me, each perhaps standing for good learning, sportsmanship, discipline, honesty in life and service to others, but perhaps as a small boy they all meant nothing to me. By this time my brother was studying in the third standard. This was one of the reasons I too entered the school.

On that great day, it was my dear mother, holding my hands and I wearing a newly tailored a pair of shorts with shirt had me admitted to school, least realising that fifty two years later, her younger son , would be honoured by the same school, the IGP added.

My dear mother is today no more, to witness what you are doing. During my college days, I was certainly not a bright student. I held no College Prefectship, nor did I walk-away with a single prize, but all knew that I was a great plodder who never, gave up. I was ready for youthful fun that most schoolboys indulge in, but that was part of our life as youth, harming no one in society and not behaving in an uncouth manner. In college I was interested in playing hockey and basketball and was the troop leader to the College Scout Troop, IGP Fernando said.

"One common denominator is that we were all moulded when in youth by this great institution. We can be proud of that. The college has been associated with many great men, professionals such as Dr. Darrel Weinman, Dr. Tony Don Michael, Dr. P. R. Anthonis, Dr. Luxman Weerasena, Dr. P. N. Thenabandu, Prof. Sirisena (now in New Zealand), Prof. Willie Mendis, Justice H. W. Senanayake, Lt. General Denis Perera, President's Counsel H. L. de Silva. Mano Chanmugam, late Gamini Athukorale, Dulip Jayamaha, Ajith Cabral, Rear Admiral Alfred Perera are few of them. Dr. H. I. K. Fernando who earned for himself a great name as a medical man and as a Sri Lankan cricketer and Clive Inman cannot be forgotten today, for his double century at the Joe-Pete encounter in 1954.

They were also the brilliant administrators and many Civil Servants and late Gaya Cumaranatunga is one of them," the IGP said.

IGP Fernando also mentioned the names of Ranjith, Andrew and Godfrey Gunathillake who stone at Athletics, Vinodan John, Roy Dias and in more recent times Russell Arnold.

The first Peterite IGP Chandra Fernando remembered his class teachers and said that some of them are not among us, but it is very important and it is his duty to remember them at a day like this.

College Rector Rev. Father Felician Perera, Harin Gunawardena, president of the OBA Union also spoke at the ceremony. Moanu Chanmugam delivered the vote of thanks.

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Former Peterite cricketer Bernard Wijetunga heads Skal International

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Former Peterite cricketer Bernard Wijetunga heads Skal International

Posted on 03 April 2018 by admin

 

April 2, 2018.

article_image

Former St. Peter’s College cricketer Bernard Wijetunge was inducted as President of Skal International Colombo at its recently concluded AGM held at the Galadari Hotel. Skal is a professional organization of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Its members, the industry’s managers and executives meet at local, national, regional and international levels to do business among friends. Skal International today has approximately 15,000 members in 400 Clubs over 90 countries. Most activities occur at local level, moving up through National Committees, under the umbrella of Skal International, headquartered at the General Secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain.

The Office Bearers elected were:

  • President: Bernard Wijetunga
  • Vice President – Ahintha Amerasinghe
  • Secretary – Zahara Mufti
  • Treasurer – Keethi Jayaweera
  • Membership Development Officer – Nirmalan Nagendra
  • Young Skal Coordinator – Rohitha Mendis
  • Public Relations Officer – Dinushka Chandrasena
  • Committee Members – Mahendra Balasuriya and Nishad Wijetunga
  • Immediate Past President – Dushy Jayaweera
  • The Board of Advisors : Sega Nagendra, Jayantha Panabokke, Shamalie de Vaz, Dushy Jayaweera.

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