A.R.P. Wijeyesekera on his 100th birth anniversary
a year ago
BY Mala Salgado On his 100th birth anniversary, we remember our father with pride. He was always fearless and honest. He said what he believed. This trait of his sometimes led to co-workers, friends and relations misunderstanding him. He was a Royalist, an engineer, an UNPer, a journalist, a husband, and a loving father. Ceylon Government Railway and Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) were two large Government sector institutions in which he shone. While at the CGR, he was in charge of the train that took Her Majesty the Queen to Kandy in 1952. He had several stints at the CTB. He was the chief engineer when the bus companies were nationalised. In 1968, he went back as Chairman under V.A. Sugathadasa. When the UNP was elected back to power in 1977, the trade unions wanted him back as Chairman. He refused to bow down to the minister in charge and resigned from the chairmanship post within a short time of assuming the office. He worked in many other Government and private sector Institutions. Among them were Lever Brothers, Lanka Sugar Corporation, State Hardware Corporation, and Richard Peiris. He tried his hands at entrepreneurship. He started Tractors and Road Way (Pvt.) Ltd. He had pride in Walauwewatte Industries where he manufactured foam rubberised coir and foam mattresses. He nurtured the family coconut property Walahena Estate, where the yields per tree were one of the best in the Chilaw/Puttalam areas. Leadership roles were held by him in various professional bodies. Among them were the Institution of Engineers, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and National Chamber of Industries. He was a strong UNPer. He was the joint secretary along with G.V.P. Samarasinghe of the committee that drafted the 1977 UNP manifesto. This manifesto included a section on the protection of local industry which was dear to his heart. In his later years he was blind, but he continued to write various articles to newspapers and journals. His varied interest and knowledge could be seen in articles such as “Corruption must cease”, “Small and medium scale enterprise development”, “An export drive and an import substitution effort are complementary”, and “Oil, bicycles and electric power”. He lived by the premise “Do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”.