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Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lankan icon and Dr. Ajith Perera Unsung Hero crowned at Sri Lankan of the Year

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15-04Kumar Sangakkara with Dr. Ajith Perera with the awards won


The country’s most influential opinion leaders were amongst the VIP guests of a very distinguished gathering at the ‘Sri Lankan of the Year’ awards ceremony held last Friday at the Hilton Hotel.

It had been designed as an exhaustive, rigorous and credible platform to recognise and honour individuals and groups whose dedication, commitment efforts and achievements in their chosen fields have far reaching influence on the country, positively impacting the local community and helping to profile Sri Lanka among the international community. 

Winners were nominated across multiple categories as Sports, Unsung Hero, Global Entertainer, Entertainer, Global Scientist, Entrepreneur, and Global Businessman. 

Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara was adjudged the ‘Icon of Sri Lanka 2016’. He also won the ‘Most popular Sri Lankan’ award selected by the SMS voting of the people. 

Dr. Ajith C.S. Perera was adjudged ‘The Unsung Hero’ and the award presented to a standing ovation. 

Dr. Perera playing eight different roles over 17 consecutive years in a voluntary mission of national importance, is the pioneer fighter to open the road to rights for all by design.

He is also the pioneer activist towards establishing Accessible Tourism for all in this country.

History making occasion

Perera quite rightly said, “Numerous prestigious awards ceremonies organised by governments, state and private sector, print and electronic media, and business organisations, have been held before.”

“But, in this country with over 20% of the population experiencing restricted ability, amazingly, it was perhaps only the first time ever that a person with a dis-Ability and confined to a wheelchair for life was befittingly recognised for ‘Ability within dis-Ability’ and appreciated for his outstanding achievements and significant voluntary contributions to this country and its people.”

Perera has justified for businesses – our tourism industry and banks in particular – to grow and achieve its optimum potential, customer base also needs to grow.  

But sadly all those business organisation who have sponsored awards events have overlooked the significant contributions such eminent dis-Abled people have made to the country.

15-085“This award I dedicate as a tribute to the ‘ability’ within the disability of all.” – Dr. Ajith C.S. Perera – when presented with this award by Nalaka Gunawardena (left) and Dian Gomes (right)

Event of international standard

It was an initiative of Ada Derana, a premium news and entertainment media network of Sri Lanka.

The country’s most influential opinion leaders were amongst the VIP guests at this very distinguished gathering. 

Each and every winner had been adjudged through a two tiered robust and transparent selection procedure by a jury of eminent personalities of distinguished stature that included Professor Carlo Fonseka, Deshamanya Professor J.B. Dissanayaka, Deshamanya Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, business icon Dian Gomes and science writer par excellence Nalaka Gunewardene in collaboration with industry/category specialists. 

It was mentioned here that: “It was an honour received by Dr. Perera not in any way on sympathy but purely on merit and earned with unreserved commitment to the promotion of accessibility to the built environment and thereby to the enhancement of the quality of everyday life of all persons with the widest possible range of abilities.”

It was highlighted how Dr. Perera has vehemently campaigned and helped several business organisations – hotels and banks in particular – to open businesses to everyone and maximise its potential.

The unsung hero

Dr. Perera is a former test-match-cricket umpire, a former senior manager in pharmaceutical industry and a Fellow of several reputed world bodies.

He is a chartered scientist who, ‘by reason of personal adversity’, has defied convention to break away from the shackles of traditional roles with resilience and perseverance to be an outstanding achiever – even as a wheelchair user – raising the bar of excellence.

Perera quite rightly has been preaching all along that “No company can afford to leave out any potential customers. All feasible steps should be taken judiciously – (and that is where the top management needs right guidance) – to comply the built environment and facilities comply with standards; and no more deter the 20% of the population with restricted mobility from doing business with you.”

Many VIP guests here expressed the opinion that with his commitment and integrity backed by senior managerial experiences, it is evident he has the wide practical knowledge and the expertise which is second best to none, if not the best we have in this country. 

Perera has repeatedly proved that he has the skills, leadership and a thorough understanding of its intricacies even to spearhead a national mission – ‘Accessible Sri Lanka – A country for people of all abilities by design’, which is indeed a long felt necessity.

But, what is now nationally most important is to deploy the unique experiences and expertise such an eminent professional possesses, towards making his vision a reality recognising without delay, the rich dividends such a low cost investment shall bring to our motherland. 

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