Vote of Thanks
"Older men declare war. But it's the youth who must fight and die!"
It is right that I should thank the outgoing Executive Committee for the commitment, creative talents and energy that has been shown throughout the past year. Thus in challenging economic times and stormy seas we have not only consolidated our position but have actually grown as a vibrant, proudly Sri Lankan lawyers' organization. We may not be numerically large but we punch way beyond our weight............>>>>>
Lalith de Kauwe
1. It must be noted that we are a non profit making organization. However, we should aim not to make a loss in our activities. Getting back to basics ....>>>>
The Minutes of the Annual General Meeting - Sunday 10th May 2009 at the Holiday Inn, Brentford ...>>>>>
Lalith de Kauwe
We are fortunate indeed to have had the active participation and guidance of the wiser dare I say it, the older members of our organisation ! It would be remiss to not mention some individuals such as Rohan de Alwis, Abul Hassan, Wasantha Tennakoon, Shanthi Senadeera, Leslie Rathnasekera, Stanley Obeysekere, Samarasinghe Methuan and Terence Costa. We also welcome back Mohan Amaranath and Mangala Hettiarrachie.
It is however right to praise others. Our President , Harendra de Silva Q.C. has quietly but firmly kept us on course. One hopes that he will so remain for many more years, firmly tied to the mast! Madam Vice President Daksheeni Abeywardene is a successful woman, who balances the conflicting demands of running a solicitors' practice and attending Executive meetings. The other Vice President, the urbane Paul Rajanayagam as the sole representative of the Tamils is promoted to Chairman of the Executive Committee. Lest you think this is musical chairs it is not, as we will need all his silky, diplomatic skills to chair the Executive Meetings. Fritz Kodagoda, the outgoing Chairman of the Executive Committee is an inspiration to us as all. He truly epitomizes the best amongst us as he has freely given his time and wisdom to the Executive Committee and also chaired the Human Rights Committee. He richly deserves to be promoted to the other house but until then he will be a Vice President. Ajantha Tennakoon is an exceptional member of the Executive Committee and as a woman again balances the difficult tasks of running a solicitors' practice and bringing up a young family. Ruki Arawwawala is another outstanding woman member of the Executive Committee and the new Chief Organiser . Manoj Rupasinghe and Dinu Senadeera are the young, rising stars of the Executive Committee. Upali Jayatilaka deserves special mention as an old man who constantly declares war, but unusually is also prepared to fight and die. As the Chief Organiser for many he has been a formidable street fighter who has seen off may a challenger in the past. He has single handedly done more for this organization than anyone. Sadly age, infirmity and decrepitude has caused him to finally step down! He will however keep an eye on the finances as the Deputy Treasurer. We should thank and extend our best wishes to the General Secretary Duminda Warnapala for all that he did before he retired to Sri Lanka last year. Finally, last but not least Thejaka Pinidiya the Acting General Secretary. He is a terrific, energetic young man who stepped into the breach to replace Duminda Warnapala and has done an excellent job. Frankly I think he should carry on!
To the young
To those undergraduates studying law or intending to take the law conversion course after graduation. A career in Law is for those who are aware of injustice in the world and know that as a lawyer you can work to alleviate this by fighting for equality, social justice and human and environmental rights.
Be highly motivated; be determined and always put your best efforts into any task. Believe that excellence should be available to everyone, irrespective of their background or social standing. Believe that legal services should not be confined to only those who can afford to pay for them.
Join us so that you may gain some first-hand experience of what a career at the Bar or being a solicitor is like.
This area of Law is going to develop very rapidly, with all the issues that emerge from the problems of habitat destruction and climate change.
In Sri Lanka we must do a lot more for conservation, to protect the forests, the rivers, the mangrove swamps, the coral reefs and the sea. We must protect the elephant, the leopard and other endangered animals. We have to protect the few remaining Veddas whose ancient way of life is threatened with extinction. If we do nothing they will be finished.
In short, there has to be a battle to save the environment. Damage to the environment far outweighs any economic benefits. We have to prevent actions that would cause devastating, long-term ecological damage. We must oppose those plans that cause environmental damage. We must ensure that nothing is done without proper investigation of the environmental impact.
We cannot allow areas of stunning beauty with rich eco-tourism potential to be destroyed because of mindless short term profit.
There is no sense in any project that cause environmental havoc or that does not bring long term benefits to local people.
International Defence Work and Conflict Resolution
As the threats of actions for war crimes increase, there is much that we could in International Defence Work and Human Rights Representation before the International Criminal Court; the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.
As the war ends we should be at the forefront to establish processes of truth and reconciliation; amnesty; weapons disarmament; and democratic reform of the criminal justice system in Sri Lanka.
As trained advocates we are eminently qualified to provide legal r epresentation and able to advise about the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka Terrorism legislation and proscription regimes.
On the current conflict
We do not need lectures on morality but neither do we need a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
At this critical time Sri Lanka must act and must be seen to act with the utmost caution in the conduct of the military action against the LTTE. We have a moral and legal duty to our own innocent citizens. We must also ensure that international opinion does not turn against Sri Lanka. The explicit criticisms and increasing calls for intervention spell danger.
As the LTTE is on its knees, it is not necessary on the basis of lawful self -defence or the pursuit of military victory, to use such force that also causes unnecessary death and injury to innocent Tamil citizens.
It is one thing to win the war, but we have to win the peace.
On the LTTE
We must not forget that this is a civil war and not a war against some alien enemy.
We also must not fail to remember who we truly are, namely Sri Lankans and that the LTTE cadres are also Sri Lankans, albeit misguided, or child recruits, or brain washed, or fighting passionately for a cause that they truly believe.
Neither should we forget that like the Taliban who were created by the USA, the LTTE were the product of the specific material conditions created after independence and by India in the late 1970's to keep Sri Lanka in check. The sad and shameful July Riots of 1983 did only encourage the LTTE to take up arms against the Sri Lankan State
Brutality has achieved nothing in Iraq or Afghanistan, so let us not be guided by such foolish actions.
The LTTE leadership in recent times have committed terrible atrocities, but let no one forget that when Sri Lanka was threatened by Indian hegemony and indeed when we were under the yoke of the Indian occupation and Sri Lankan soldiers were confined to barracks, it was the LTTE that bravely and at great cost drove the mighty IKPC - Indian Peace Keeping Force out of Sri Lanka.
Let us be guided by higher principles than naked savagery and revenge.
We need to heal wounds and not create more wounds. At this time we need to show compassion, understanding and love for our fellow Sri Lankans in a way that we have never done before.
To those who have died
Let us never forget the honour , valour and ultimate sacrifice of the sons and daughters of Sri Lanka. Let us create an eternal memorial to them by supporting the wounded, the widows, and the orphans; and lasting peace.
As never before we have to strive to create unity based on mutual respect. We need to reflect the rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. We have to become more representative of the Sri Lankan community by attracting more law students, women, Tamils and other minorities from Sri Lanka. We must become relevant to our community. We must do more for Sri Lanka.
Lalith de Kauwe
10th May 2009
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1. It must be noted that we are a non profit making organization. However, we should aim not to make a loss in our activities. Getting back to basics
2. The objects of the Association shall be to:
(a) Promote the welfare and interests of all Sri Lankan Lawyers in the UK with the object of enabling all members to develop their professional work and conduct to meet current levels of competence and efficiency;
(b) Further research and provide education and training in law and practice within the UK
(c) Co-operate with other organisations whose objects are similar to those of the Association; and
(d) Promote interaction among solicitors, barristers, academics and Members of the Judiciary in the UK by organising social events with and among members and others.
From time to time it is useful to remind ourselves why we are here, what we are doing and what we hope to do and achieve in the future.
As to the Treasurer it has been my job to prepare a report of financial activities for the last year. 2008
We prepare two sets of accounts.
For the Tsunami Charity
Annual accounts for an unincorporated Association.
These Accounts have been prepared by Mr GOPAL DAS of 44 STRACEY ROAD,
LONDON E7 0HG Tel No – 07958083458 over the years. There have been attempts by others to do so but we have retained him to do the Job and he has done it well.
The Committee as you all may be aware authorized him to write off certain amounts that could not be traced. At the moment everything has been accounted for.
Mr Wasantha Tenakoon and Mrs Ajanatha Tenakoon did an exceptionally good job at the Law Medical in keeping good records and life was easy for me as well as the accountant. Not forgetting the contributions made by Mr Abul Hassan and Mr Duminda Waranapla.
There are five important elements in so far as accounting for the year.
That is all that is there to it. There are some who feel that the Association should do more for the Membership. I can understand this request from Students or Members who have not been able to gain employment. But others who are admitted here in the UK or Sri Lanka the question should be the other way around. What can we do for the Association. Not what we can get from it. If you treat the Association like a Church or temple, then one can live with it comfortably. The profession has given you the benefit of social and economic stability. Hence, it is for you to engage in the affairs of the Association and see that for the present and future the interest of the profession is protected and enhanced. Not what you can get from it.
The £ 25.00 that some pay is not an insurance that you contribute so that you can come to it for reimbursement. Some of us particularly Mr Abul Hassan, Shanthi , Dinu and Padmin Senadheera , Mangala Hettiarachi, Mr Shehan Pinidiya, Rohan de Alwis, Mr Lalith de kauwe have stepped in , in the past and financed events, spent their time without reservation. There is a similar step taken in relation to the Law Medical Dance this year. Even if it is a minority and they are passionate in doing something that may be good in principle; we should encourage and assist them .Mistakes are the best process of learning. IF you Do not venture there is no gain .
The life Membership fund that we have collected is to ease that financial pain so that the Association need not go to individuals.
Some of you may have been around the period that most felt was a terrible era when Dr N.M .Perera was the Finance Minister. SL did not go to the IMF with e begging bowl. We strived to be self sufficient. However, the system changed and at present we owe money to all and sundry. During the period that I have been associated with ASLLUK I have objected to funds being spent for anything other than advancement of knowledge.
Law medical dance , music , cricket should be self financed.
The margin of profit we may make from Continuing education, Law Medical, Tsunami function should be utilized to pay for the financial commitments we have made. The Committee has not agreed with me on this issue. I have no problem with that. Irrespective of the resolutions that were passed to finance cricket practice with Association funds we have not done so to date. Further the Cricket Matches also have been more or less self funded or on some occasions the Dance income has subsidized it. I hope that will remain in the future.
The ASLLUK should now take a step and join and work closely with the APSL with a view of encouraging all Sri Lankan associations to join one forum to revive something like the Students Centre that we had at the time some of us came over to UK . I have personally written to Mr Hubert Jayakody who was a former client of mine to consider financing a project on a commercial basis where he puts in 50% of the costs. 25% through lending and 25% off the SL associations. His 50% could be split among other philanthropists that may be among us or client's, friends or relatives that you may know. All the other Asian communities have advanced. We have been stagnant. We should have our own community hall a hostel for students who come over at least to stay during the first year and for us to be able to have a taste of Sri Lankan delights as and when we need. Further exposure to Sri Lankan Products and other related items to be marketed through the centre – art and culture – tourism. Food for thought
Our Finance is in a good state. I hope it will be maintained in the same form in time to come.
31.03.2009 - Balances
Life Membership Account: 01303 800072.00 : £ 8787.78
Tsunami Account: 01503 800072-03 £ 3720.20
Law Medical account: 01503 800072.01 £ 4,261.84
Main Account: 01503 800072/00 £ 19,902.34
Tsunami Children £ 1900.00 Pa - (£1,000)
Law Students £ 1500.00 pa
Accrued Funding LS £ 3000.00
Other charities : £ 1,000.00 -
Law Society Registration £ 150.00
Bar Registration £ 400.00
Web Master £ 240.00
Income per year – Budget
Membership fees : 25 x 20 = £ 500.00
Law Medical : = £ 3,000.00
Continuing Education = £ 4,000.00
Tsunami Event = £ 1,500.00
Try and deposit at least £ 10,000.00 - £ 25,000.00 in an account to encourage the Sri Lankan Centre idea, as Lawyers we must take the opportunity to take the lead, Doctors and school organisations will join in. Ananda and Visakha are the two Associations that have very good financial management. They do not have the parasite mentality of making a loss this year and trying to cover it up with a profit last year. Members contribute in what ever form to strengthen the new generation. Invest in the new generation. That is our responsibility. The Thomian and Royal OBA's are similar to us selfish and not looking at the broader picture. There needs to be change. We need to look into us individually and stimulate the concepts that were imbedded by our parents and religion if one has got one or appeal to once conscience.
Maintain the Life Membership fund as a capital Account to fund Law Medical and such events
From Next year have the annual Immigration conference and Criminal conference in a Hotel for about 150 delegates so that we will have reasonable funding for the year.
Purchase sound system , recording equipment and make it available for hire. Insure same and delegate it to a volunteer to hire the equipment at a nominal amount where ½ the hire price will go to the care taker balance to the association coffers.
2009 - 2010
Funding a Nurse – Community Health Care £ 750.00 per year
Ad hoc payments depending in finance year on.
Annual Accounts – are up to date
** Tsunami Accounts have been done circulated at the last EX Co meeting will be filed with the Charity commissioner in due course.
*** Year End Accounts are being done at the Moment. Will be completed and handed over to the new treasurer in due course.
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The Minutes of the Annual General Meeting - Sunday 10th May 2009 at the Holiday Inn, Brentford.
T he President, the Mr Harendra de Silva Q.C. warmly a ddressed and welcomed all those members who had made the effort to attend the AGM by 1pm! He commended the Executive Committee and the membership on the achievements of the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers in the past year. In his eloquent speech he highlighted the positive achievements of the Association and congratulated the members of the Human Rights Committee, the Dinner Dance Committee, the Tsunami Committee and the work on Continuing Education. He encouraged others to participate in the activities of the Association to make us a bigger and better in the coming year. Lastly he reported on the death of HHJ Anura Cooray a longstanding member of the Association and the first Sri Lankan to be made a Circuit Judge. He reported that he and Mr Upali Jayatilake had attended the funeral and expressed our deepest condolences to Mrs Marnel Cooray.
Mr ThejakaPinidiya the Acting General Secretary presented the Annual Report of the Executive Committee. He congratulated the membership for the charitable work in respect financing scholarships for underprivileged law students at the Colombo Law College but decried the fact that payments had yet to be made and urged in incoming Executive to expedite these payments. He too encouraged the membership to continue to support the Tsunami affected children of Sri Lanka. He thanked Mr Anura Tennakoon and Mrs Wasantha Tennakoon for the excellent work of the Dinner Dance Committee. He congratulated the new Captain of the Lawyers Cricket Team Mr Manoj Warnapala and expressed the view that let the best team win but did not doubt that the lawyers were the best and that we would give the Doctors another sound thrashing! He expressed the passionate hope that peace will prevail in Sri Lanka. Finally to resounding cheers he declared that in this Association of Sri Lawyers was not some parochial group of village idiots, but that we stood in unity as Sri Lankans - Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and Burghers with no divisions based on ethnocentrism. His report was supported by Mr Paul Rajanayagam, seconded by Mr Rohan de Alwis and unanimously accepted.
Mr. Upali Jayathilake the Treasurer presented a written Statement of Accounts. In a short address he reported that the Association was in a good financial state. His report was supported by Ms Ruki Arawwawala, seconded by Mr Thejika Pinidiya and unanimously accepted.
The Office bearers for year 2009 - 2010
The following Office Bearers were ratified unanimously for the year 2009 - 2010.
Patrons: (1) Sir Desmond de Silva QC.
(2) His Excellency Justice Nihal Jayasinghe - Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK.
President : Mr Harendra de Silva Q.C.
Vice Presidents : Mrs Daksheeni Abeywardene, Solicitor
Mr. Fritz Kodagoda, Barrister.
General Secretary : Mr. Lalith de Kauwe. Barrister.
Deputy Secretary : Ms. Suriya Samaraweera. Solicitor.
Treasurer : Mr. Sudesh Bopitiya. Solicitor.
Deputy Treasurer : Mr. Upali Jayathilake. Solicitor.
Chairman of the Ex-Co : Mr. Paul Rajanayagam. Solicitor.
Chief Organiser : Ms. Ruki Arawwawala. Solicitor.
Editor : Position Vacant. New Ex-Co to nominate at their first official meeting.
Executive Committee :
Mr. Ariya Sriharan - Solicitor ,
Mr. Samarasinghe Methuan - Solicitor ,
Mr. Dinu Senadeera - Solicitor ,
Mr. Wasantha Tennakoon - Solicitor ,
Mr. Terence Costa – Immigration Advisor,
Mr. Rohan de Alwis - Solicitor,
Mr. Shanthi Senadeera - Solicitor,
Ms. Tanoo Mylwagnam - Barrister,
Mrs. Ajantha Tennakoon - Solicitor,
Mr. Manoj Rupasinghe - Barrister,
Mr. Leslie Rathnasekaera - Solicitor,
Mr. Stanley Obeysek e re - Solicitor,
Mr. Sumal Fernanado - Solicitor,
Miss. Anoosha Boralessa.
(e). There was no other business.
(f) Mr. Lalith de Kauwe presented a written Vote of thanks.
He thanked the outgoing Executive Committee for the commitment, creative talents and energy throughout the past year and that in challenging economic times we had not only consolidated our position but have actually grown as a vibrant, proudly Sri Lankan lawyers' organization.
He stated that we are fortunate indeed to have had the active participation and guidance of the wiser, older members of the Association, in particular Rohan de Alwis, Abul Hassan, Wasantha Tennakoon, Shanthi Senadeera, Leslie Rathnasekera, Stanley Obeysekere, Samarasinghe Methuan and Terence Costa. He also welcomed back Mohan Amaranath and Mangala Hettiarrachie.
He thanked Sir Desmond De Silva QC, Harendra de Silva Q.C. for their leadership and hoped that they will so remain for many more years. He commended Daksheeni Abeywardene and Paul Rajanayagam. He thanked Fritz Kodagoda, the outgoing Chairman of the Executive Committee for being an inspiration to us as all, in truly epitomizing the best amongst us, as giving his time and wisdom to the Executive Committee and also chairing the Human Rights Committee. He thanked Ajantha Tennakoon . Ruki Arawwawala, Manoj Rupasinghe, Dinu Senadeera. He stated that Upali Jayatilaka deserved special mention as one who had single handed done a lot for this Association. He expressed our best wishes to the General Secretary Duminda Warnapala for all that he did before he returned to Sri Lanka last year. Finally, last but not least, he thanked Thejaka Pinidiya the Acting General Secretary for his energy in stepping into the breach to replace Duminda Warnapala and for the excellent job he had done.
In closing the meeting he hoped that as never before we will strive to create a Sri Lankan unity based on mutual respect; that we reflected the rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka; that we alleviate injustice by fighting for equality, social justice and human and environmental rights; that we become more representative of the Sri Lankan community by attracting more law students, women, Tamils and other minorities from Sri Lanka; that we become relevant to our community; and that we do more for Sri Lanka.
~ - ~
2 .00pm – 6.00pm Sr Lankan Lunch & CPD Course
Brindley Paternott - "Policing then and Policing now".
He is a retired Burgher police officer, 1948-1959 from the halcyon days of Ceylon .
He spoke of the difficulties of being a police officer but how as a police officer it was better to exercise restraint than to use or abuse power. He spoke fondly and with emotion about a happier, gentler time when "communists" demonstrated in the streets but were dispersed with a few baton rounds and shots fired overhead! He also revealed how Pieter Keunemann another Burgher and General Secretary of the Communist Party did not pursue a Parliamentary investigation into police brutality after he was satisfied on the word of another old boy from St Thomas that only minimal non-lethal force was used to disperse the demonstrators!
He regretted how quaint little police stations up and down the country that he knew and loved were now transformed into fortresses with armed response units and counter insurgency squads.
In conclusion, he trusted that we would perform our duties and uphold the principles of law and hoped for the future where there would be freedom and equality for all Sri Lankan citizens.
Steven Kay QC - "From Impunity to Accountability" was an informative, stimulating and topical account.
He is an authority on International Courts and Criminal Jurisdiction. He presented a detailed written report and spoke about the UN Tribunals and the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
The UN Tribunals
He stated that the Security Council of the UN may under Chapter VII relating to the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security; refer a matter for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. Thus the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1993; and Rwanda in 1994.
He stated that hybrid International Tribunals have developed such as Kosovo after the Nato armed conflict in 1999 and East Timor after "ethnic violence" in the late 1990's; the Special Court for Sierra Leone; in Cambodia for the leadership of the Khmer Rouge; and Lebanon for the Rafik Hariri assassination.
The International Criminal Court
Established to end impunity for perpetrators of the ‘most serious crimes of concern to the international community', he
stated that under Article 5, the Crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were:-
a) The crime of genocide;
b) Crimes against humanity;
c) War crimes; and
d) The crimes of aggression.
He stated that recent pictures of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners in the world's media have nailed once and for all the USA's position on the International Criminal Court as being utterly invalid.
He stated that if the USA had accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC by ratifying the Statute of Rome as 94 other states in the world had done, then any offences committed by its conduct of the Iraq war and the ensuing occupation would be subject to the jurisdiction of the Court.
It is curious how so many blacks have been disproportionately prosecuted. A number of cases are being heard at present, relating to Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It also issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President, Omar Al Basher, alleged to be criminally responsible (Arrest Warrant of 4 March 2009) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In the context of the battle against the LTTE; the campaign to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and threats of actions for war crimes from some western countries, it seems that t he International Criminal Court could exercise jurisdiction in respect of alleged crimes committed are set out in Article 13 of the Rome Statute in three different ways:-
1) By virtue of Article 13 (a), when a State Party to the Rome Statute refers a situation, as was done by the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo DRC and Uganda. However as Sri Lanka is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, this has no application.
2) By virtue of Art. 13 (b)) when the UN Security Council refers a situation to the ICC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as with the case of Dartford, Sudan. This has not happened because of the veto by Russian and China.
3) By virtue of Art. 13 (c)) when the Chief Prosecutor initiates an investigation in accordance with Article 15. If so there is a complex enquiry to be conducted. Firstly, the Prosecutor needs to analyse the seriousness of the information he/she receives (Article 15(2)). For this, he/she could seek information from various sources - the UN, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs - and can even receive oral/written testimony. After considering the information/evidence the Prosecutor could, if convinced there is a reasonable basis to proceed (as per Article 15(3)), submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for an authorization of an investigation. Thereafter, it is only if the Pre-Trial Chamber decides that there is a ‘reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation', that authorization for the commencement of an investigation takes place (Article 15(4).
But, for such an authorization, the case should also ‘appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the Court…' (Article 15(4). Now, Article 12, which deals with ‘preconditions to the exercise of jurisdiction' states that in the case of the first and third ways of triggering ICC's jurisdiction referred to above, the court can exercise jurisdiction only if: i) the State on which the crimes were alleged to have been committed is a State Party, or ii) the person accused of the crime is a national of a State Party, or iii) if the State which is not a Party may by declaration lodge acceptance of the jurisdiction of the court with the registrar.
Sri Lanka is not a Party to the Rome Statute and has not accepted its jurisdiction.
Steven Kay advised that what was contemplated by critics of Sri Lanka were Crimes against humanity. However he did not think that likely as Sri Lanka had not ratified the Statute of Rome and has not accepted its jurisdiction. He confirmed that the UN Security Council could refer a situation to the ICC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (as it did in the case of Darfur, Sudan) but a referral by the security Council could not be made if there was a veto by a permanent member, for example Russia or China.
In this fascinating insight into the mechanisms of International Criminal jurisdiction, it is seems that political imperatives and “realpolitik” rather than "criminality" determines who ends up in court. The grand theory is exposed as a hollow sham. It rather seems that yet more black people will be investigated, prosecuted and convicted. Meanwhile some people are more equal than others, as Iraq demonstrates s ome people can act with total Impunity and there will never be Accountability. Yes, “there will be consequences” for some!
6.00pm – 8.00pm The evening ended in proper Sri Lankan style with a jolly Sing song session with a one man band.
Lalith de Kauwe
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