The Felicitation Ceremony to Farewell Consul General Mr. Lal Wickrematunga 
Reported by Dr Mrs. G Thenabadu

On a sunny Sunday the 15th September 2019 , several Presidents and Leaders of various Sri Lankan communities and distinguished Sri Lankans resident in Sydney gathered together at the Hotel Mercure in Liverpool to honor and felicitate the very popular Mr. Lal Wickrematunga, Consul General of New South Wales and Queensland who is leaving Sydney after four years of service to the Sri Lankan community as well as to Sri Lanka . Mr. Wickrematunga was not only the Consul General, he was a real gentleman with compassion and charisma who was able to inspire and support many of the Sri Lankans in Australia. It was inspiring to see the various community groups such as the Malays , Moors, Tamils , Sinhalese and various religious denominations as Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus alike getting together to felicitate and thank Mr. Wickrematunge as he had been able to touch the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans.

This gathering was made possible by the efforts of a committee called “The Felicitation Planning Committee” which comprised of the Presidents of community groups. They were Dr Gnani Thenabadu, President of the Sri Lanka Association of NSW Inc (SLANSW), Mr. Sivathondan, President, Tamil Senior Citizens Association, Mr. Nilam Mohammed, President of the Austra Lanka Muslim Association (ALMA), Dr Ahamad Veerabangsa, President of the Sri Lankan Australian Malay Association (SLAMA), Mr. Upul Padukka Vidana, President of the Sinhalese Cultural Forum(SCF), Mrs. Madhu Arampatta, Vice President SCF and Mr. Satchithantham, President Sydney Murugan Temple with Mr. Nizar Sappideen as Treasurer and the SLANSW committee members . Although SLANSW requested all Presidents to speak at the event, the presidents decided to request one person, Dr G Thenabadu, President SLANSW to be the key welcome speaker for all the community groups.

The felicitation lunch which was hosted by all the above mentioned community groups started with a beautiful oriental dance by lovely Sashimi Jayasinghe. The MC for the event, Mr. Saliya Tennekoon then called upon Dr Thenabadu, President SLANSW to deliver the welcome speech.

Dr Thenabadu in her welcome address touched upon how each of the organisations had worked co-operatively and in harmony in order to deliver this function and she highlighted on the need to follow the leadership of Mr. Lal Wickrematunge who always invited all ethnic communities to attend meetings and discuss any issues and develop solutions in consultation. She further mentioned that at every celebration or event regardless of whether it was held at a church, temple or mosque, Mr. Wickrematunga was invited as the Chief Guest and he was able to communicate and interact effortlessly with varios multicultural and religious groups. One major outcome Mr. Wickramatunga achieved over his tenure was his amazing ability to bring together culturally diverse groups such as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and others with no fixed religion to work together in harmony and present a cohesive integrated Sri Lankan identify with high level goals. This was followed by a short speech by Mr. Abdul Rahim the consul (commercial). Next was a Power Point presentation by Dr Nimal Chandrasena and Saliya Tennekoon to displaying Mr. Lal Wickrematunga's involved in the Sri Lankan community activities. The vote of thanks was given by Mr. Sivathondan the President, Tamil Senior Citizens Association.

Mr. Lal Wickrematunga was presented with a farewell gift by all the Presidents of the community associations and Mr. Wickrematunga was invited to deliver his farewell speech. Mr. Wickrematunga’s eloquent speech stated that a new Consular General would soon be appointed and he expected all those present to extend a warm welcome and support the new appointee in the same way the community had worked with him. The guests were then treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch and were entertained by lively music by Mr.Saliya Tennekoon and singing by various guests present in the audience. A Baila session also soon followed and all guests mingled and took photographs of each other and the chief guest Mr. Wickrematunga took the centre stage as you can see in the photo gallery.

The SLANSW received several compliments from the guests and Community organisations on the elegant way the felicitation event was implemented by the Sri Lanka Association of NSW.

Click here to enjoy a selection of photographs by Kithsiri Senadeera; 



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