Appriciation on : Parakrama Ranasinghe - President of the SLFP UK and Europe Branch

by Tilak S. Fernando

Parakrama Ranasinghe had to answer the ‘compulsory call from above ’ on 21 October 2002, conforming to Lord Buddha’s teaching that:

    “ All that arises, O how unlasting
    Increase and swift decay, such is life,
    All that has arisen, all that must pass away,
    No more to rise or fall, that peace (Nibbana) is best.”
Educated at St. Anthony’s College, Kandy, Parakrama Ranasinghe played many parts in his life drama from teacher, Barrister-at-law, Trade Union Leader and Politician in Sri Lanka. In mid 1980s, exiled in the UK, he started a new life as a practising solicitor. Before long he rose to the heights of an established Solicitor and ran his own Law Firm from North West of London until he passed away suddenly.

When Parakrama helped so many Sri Lankans, who needed his assistance in London, he never paid any heed to the meaning of the word ‘discrimination’. He was accessible and available always to anyone who wanted a consultation at any time, either during office hours or during unsocial hours at his residence.

Parakarama was well known to late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike as a loyal member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and had impressed her with trade union activities when he formed the first trade union for teachers in Sri Lanka and worked actively as its President. This very fact had cut a chord with Mrs. Bandaranaike, especially with his leadership qualities, organisational skills and human relations which, at a much later stage, enabled her to appoint Parakarama Ranasinghe as the President of the SLFP Branch in the UK and Europe. Restructuring the London and European Branch, Parakrama did an exemplary job to the entire satisfaction of the Party hierarchy in Colombo and remained as its President until his untimely death on 21st October.

Parakrama Ranasinghe moved with the cream of the elite in the Sri Lankan society and political hierarchy but never lost the common touch. This quality of his was appreciated by a full cross section of the Sri Lankan expatriate community in the UK who came to pay their last respect to him and shed a silent tear. The sea of heads, which covered the entire Hendon Crematorium during his funeral service, a scene I had never witnessed before during a Sri Lankan funeral for nearly three decades, transformed the entire funeral grounds to some what of a Kanatte funeral scene of an eminent personality in Sri Lanka.

Para, as he was popularly known, was a simple man who had a magnanimous heart. This very noble quality within him acted as a catalyst and drove him close to other human beings and to put their problems and suffering as his own. He was always there to extend a helping hand to any one at any time legally, politically or even personally ; in doing so legal fees or the financial equation never entered his mind.

From a religious point of view Parakrama was a good Buddhist, burning always with celestial fire. This especially influenced him to discharge his religious obligations too to the full by being a valuable Dayaka attached to the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre in Kingsbury, North West London.

Para’s life activities had no bounds. When he realised that his alma mater was a missing link amidst other old boys’ associations in the UK, he was instrumental in establishing St. Anthony’s College, Old Boys Association and worked tirelessly to keep it going with the prime aim of helping his alma mater from London through the OBA. As an additional responsibility he accepted Presidency of the St. Anthony’s OBA towards the latter part of his life and never missed a single meeting to ensure that he discharged his duties to the full even while his health was failing and he was physically ailing.

Parakrama Ranasinghe, Lawyer, Politician, Loving Husband, Caring Father, True Friend and above all a Jewel of a Man. left a huge vacuum among the expatriate Sri Lankan community in the UK, while simultaneously leaving with us some of his best qualities, such as Loyalty, Love, Affection, Non-Discrimination, Generosity and Hospitality, for us to remember him and to emulate.

For those of us who are Buddhists and were very close to him and fond of him can only be consoled now by trying to understand what Lord Budda preached in his Salla Sutta :

"Both the young and old, whether they are foolish or wise, are going to be trapped by death. Life is unpredictable and uncertain in this world. The moaner