SRI LANKAN IN THAILAND EXCELS IN
CRICKET AND SOCIAL ACTITIVIES |
by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando from London
Although the Kingdom of Thailand was never colonised by the British, social clubs such as the Royal Bangkok Sports Club (RBSC) and the British Club have been playing the Englishman's game of cricket for decades. By dong so, they have enjoyed the visits of star-studded teams from England, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the past.
RBSC is an exclusive cricket club in Bangkok where the membership is equally expensive and difficult to obtain. It is not normally open to immigrants! Here neither the money nor power can influence in obtaining membership. Even with a proven record of talent in the game of cricket 'there is a waiting list for ten years' to qualify for membership.
RBSC hosts 6's tournament in the month of March annually, which has attracted over 30 teams worldwide. Well-known International cricketers such as Sanath Jayasooriya, Aravinda de Silva, Romesh Kaluvitharana, Duleep Mendis, Sachchin Tendulkar, Roger Binney, Kumar Dharmasena, Rangana Herath, among others, have all toured Bangkok to take part in the RBSC tournaments.
Shyam Sideek is an outstanding Sri Lankan who shines at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club in Bangkok. An old boy of Royal College, Colombo, he has been able to demonstrate his skills in the game of cricket from the time he was a schoolboy while playing for the school cricket team. Subsequently he played for Moors - Division 1, Lankans Cricket Club - Divisions 2-3 and the Sri Lanka National Junior Team and today, he represents the Thai National Cricket Team.
In Thailand, expatriates normally have to wait seven years before qualifying to play cricket at the RBSC. Shyam was invited and offered the prestigious membership of the RBSC by its President and the Cricket Captain after seeing him playing for Bangkok cricket club for two seasons. Ever since he has been showing his colours with the willow and leather, which is evident from the trophies, which stand proudly inside a glass cabinet at his residence at Mooban Lasalle, Pangna. Recently he concluded the Asian Cricket Council's first Emerging Teams tournament and was adjudged the batsman of the season.
Shyam Sideek is the Managing Director of Scintilla Impex Ltd, an Import and Export company mainly dealing with garments. He is also the Secretary of the Thai Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce. He says that at present the level of trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka is uneven - more imports to Sri Lanka and less exports to Thailand. Through Thai/Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce their attempt would be to balance it out by arranging business meetings on a one-to-one basis from traders between Thailand and Sri Lanka.
On the social front, he is also the President of the Sri Lanka Association in Bangkok. A remarkable feature in this Land is to see a single Association of all Sri Lankan expatriates working together in harmony. By doing so, they demonstrate a rare quality of unity by engaging in numerous social activities.
In the past they have raised funds for the Ratnapura flood victims. During the Tsunami catastrophe too they have been very active in rendering financial aid to Sri Lanka by financing 15 Thai Naval doctors to visit Sri Lanka to attend to Tsunami victims.
He considers his last month's efforts in helping a Singhalese couple, whose young daughter was seriously ill, bedridden and on a ventilator in a Bangkok hospital, as the most rewarding humanitarian deed ever done in his lifetime so far. This was when the parents of the girl was put on a helpless situation after the hospital in Bangkok which treated the patient threatened to stop treatment until the payment of all the bills were made up to date.
Shyam Siddick and the Sri Lanka Association in Bankok, in this regard, acknowledge with utmost gratitude the 'Godly Act' done by Karuna Bodhinayake, a family friend from London, who happened to be his guest at the time in Bangkok like a god's sent. Upon hearing the heartbreaking situation Karuna Bodhinayake personally volunteered to help the sick child's parents when she was approached by the President of the Sri Lanka Association in Bangkok, and carried all the paper work by hand to Colombo and successfully managed to obtain a grant of Rs.250, 000 from the Sri Lanka Presidential fund, within a matter of days, highlighting the life and death situation that prevailed in Bangkok.