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Appreciation for late Dr. L.L.S.S.K. de Silva

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:00


The day 17 July 2017 will always be remembered as an emotional day on which our dear friend and colleague Dr. Srilal de Silva passed away. Even though one year has passed since that sorrowful day it is with pride we share the life of this great individual. 

Srilal or L2 as he was affectionately known at a later stage amongst his close friends was born on 7 March 1945 in Matara as the third child of a family of four sons and one daughter to late Samson de Silva and late Agnes Kodippili who were respected Principals of Government schools and well known in the Galle District. 

A southerner by descent, he was quite proud of it! Having completed his primary education at Hikkaduwa Central College, he joined Richmond College, Galle for his secondary education. He was a studious and dedicated student who was also awarded the Queen’s Scout Award whilst studying at Richmond College.

For his Advanced Level studies he was enrolled at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia where he excelled to be selected for his higher studies at University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1965. Having completed his first year exams in the Bio Science stream successfully he was selected to follow a four-year specialised course in Chemistry. Having completed his graduate studies he graduated from the University in 1970. 

He served the Department of Chemistry of the University of Ceylon for some time and later joined the Bureau of Ceylon Standards (currently known as Sri Lanka Standards Institution or SLSI) as a Standards Officer on 1 February 1971.

In 1974, he married the only daughter of a distinguished and respectable businessman in Panadura, Victor Fernando. Even though Srilal had an illustrious career he always made family his priority and was survived by his wife Chitrika and their two children at the time of his demise. 

Whilst at SLSI for more than 32 years, he had a successful career where he was the Deputy Director General at the time of his retirement. During his tenure of service he was instrumental in initiating many certification systems which are now the main income earning schemes of SLSI. To name a few, “the Product Certification Scheme”, “the Import Inspection Scheme”, “System Certification Schemes”, “Good Manufacturing Practice Certification Scheme” and “Fisheries Inspection Scheme” and all those who worked closely with him at SLSI  had the pleasure of knowing how Srilal worked tirelessly and the efforts he put in to develop the institution.

He was awarded the prestigious British Scholarship to read for his M Phil in 1989 and also his PhD in 1998 from the University of Loughborough United Kingdom. His research was well accepted by the industry and was even adopted in commercial production. He was also a member of the British Scholars Association of Sri Lanka and also held fellowships in many numerous international professional bodies. 

Srilal was also a holder of a Diploma in quality Management from Bouwcwntrum International Education in Rotterdam. He received advance training in quality especially in fisheries in Japan, UK, USA, China, Denmark, Thailand and many other countries. 

He was an expert in fisheries related products and product development in the Asia Pacific region and was a sought-after expert by many organisations in the region for his expertise which included the FAO, APO, WTO, FDA and also many other private agencies to promote quality-related activities in the South East Asian region. 

His services as a consultant and a trainer were sought after by the State and the private sector in quality related areas. He had over 100 articles published in many national and international journals and were well recognised and his technical presentations including those made at APQO conferences were considered of high standards.  

Apart from the official activities he was a devout Buddhist and was the President of the Buddhist Society of the institution. He was also the President of the Sri Lanka Association for Quality (SLAQ) where he held the post for over 10 years resulted in SLAQ gaining national and international recognition and brought in a new dimension to SLAQ activities and also changes in quality promotional programs. Under his leadership SLAQ was able to hold country’s first National Quality Convention in 1999 and also in other years most notably in 2010 which was soon after the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka.   

Srilal was the first Sri Lankan to become a Vice President of Asia Pacific Quality Organization (APQO) which promotes quality in Asia Pacific Region and administers the Global Performance Excellence Award (GPEA) which is the only formal international recognition of performance or business excellence. His initiatives enabled SLAQ to become highly regarded nationally and internationally which has paved the way for his successors to continue the work that focused on the betterment of the country’s quality movement. 

The immense contribution by Srilal towards the quality movement has been recognised on numerous occasions. He was awarded the APQO President’s Award for Demonstrated Excellence in 2012 at the 18th APQO Conference held in Colombo in 2012. 

He was also awarded APQO’s prestigious Harrington/Ishikawa award in 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. This award is presented to a proven quality professional that has been distinguished as an individual in providing outstanding contribution to the promotion and implementation of quality methodologies in the Pacific Rim nations. I am proud to state that Srilal was the first Sri Lankan and only Sri Lankan to receive these two prestigious awards. 

Srilal was actively involved in promoting training with regard to quality in the Asian region. At the time of his untimely demise he was involved in upgrading the national infrastructure for quality in order to implement the national quality policy and also introduce policies to integrate quality to different sectors such as construction, education and healthcare.

Like many, Srilal’s career was also an arduous one where he faced numerous obstacles yet Srilal was never the one to give up as he faced all those challenges with professionalism and perseverance. The contribution he made in spreading the message of quality will always be etched in history enabling us to reminisce the great legacy he left behind in sharing his passion for quality.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

 “Na pupphagandho pativatameti

na candanam tagara mallika va

satanca gandho pativatameti

sabba disa sappuriso pavayat”

The scent of flowers cannot go against the wind; nor the scent of sandalwood, nor of rhododendron, nor of jasmine; only the reputation of good people can go against the wind. The reputation of the virtuous ones is wafted abroad in all directions.

(Dhammapada – Puuppha wagga Verse 54;) 

– Thilaka

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