Feature Article

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 August 2005, 00:29 GMT]
Mr Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs and a close confidante of Sri Lanka's President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge, was shot Friday night by a sniper near his residence and later succumbed to his injuries. During his 1994-2001 tenure as foreign minister in People's Alliance (PA) government, he was widely credited for his relentless campaign in foreign capitals to brand the Liberation Tigers as a terrorist organization and to ban the LTTE. Mr Kadirgamar was held in high esteem by most of the South for his vehement opposition to separatism and for his passionate defense of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Mr Kadirgamar never held an elected office.

Lakshman Kadirgamar
Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (Photo: AFP)
Mr Kadirgamar was born on 12th April 1932 to Tamil Christian parents Samuel Kadirgamar and Mrs Parimalar Kadirgamar from Manipay Jaffna. He was educated at Trinity College, Kandy and obtained his Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Ceylon in 1953. He was admitted to the Ceylon Bar in 1955 and to United Kingdom Bar in 1958 as a Barrister at Law, Inner Temple.

He was a leading debater at Balliol College Oxford University, UK where he was awarded a Bachelor of Literature. He was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1959 and recently the student body honored him by unveiling his portrait.

Mr. Kadirgarmar practised at Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, London,the highest appellate Court for Ceylon then, from 1955 -1960 and from 1971-1974. He served as a Consultant to the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva in 1974 and as the Director for Asia and Pacific of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) from 1983-1988. During his active practice at the Ceylon Bar from 1960 -1971 and from 1989 -1994 he specialized in commercial, administrative, intellectual property, industrial and labour, constitutional and international law. He was appointed President's Counsel in 1991 and was appointed Chairman of SAARC in 1998.

In 2003 Kadirgamar was a candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, but was defeated by Don McKinnon of New Zealand.

He also courted controversy during his political career.

His harsh criticism of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) when it confirmed on 15 September 1999 an attack by the Sri Lankan Airforce that killed 22 civilians in Puthukkudiyiruppu near Mullaitivu, his refusal to support Ambassador to United States Jayantha Dhanapala for a top UN post in 1997, his security expenses during the UNP regime and more recently the expenses on his foreign trips are some controversial issues that raised questions on his integrity and judgement.

He is estranged from many of his close relatives for his pro-Government stand on the Tamil National question, a relative of Kadirgamar told TamilNet.

Mr. Kadirgamar developed close ties with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in recent years.

In April 2004, the JVP opposed the move by Kumaratunga, for not appointing Kadirgamar as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka as opposed to what was agreed between the JVP and the SLFP. Kumaratunga caved in to pressure from a powerful section of the Buddhist clergy and her party, which warned her that thirty five SLFP parliamentarians in the UPFA alliance would function as an independent group if Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse was not appointed as Prime Minister.

Government of Sri Lanka has declared a period of National mourning and has announced that Mr Kadirgamar will receive a state funeral, media reports in Colombo said.

Related Articles:
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23.03.05   JVP will never quit UPFA government, Kadirgamar assures to B..
12.04.04   JVP on warpath with SLFP over ministerial portfolios
16.02.04   Kadirgamar cancels private media group's TV license
08.12.03   SL embarrassed by Kadirgamar's Commonwealth defeat
05.11.03   Kadirgamar slams door on LTTE proposal

External Links:
BBC: HARDtalk Interview with Lakshman Kadirgamar


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