Duminda’s father discusses his plight


Lal Silva

by Revatha S. Silva


Duminda Silva, the former MP sentenced to death over the Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra murder, remains in the prison hospital with on-and-off repercussions of the serious injuries he suffered in the Kolonnawa shootout which cost two lives and injured several more. Here his father, Lal Silva, discusses his son’s plight.


Q: What is Duminda’s present condition? There are stories that his health is a matter of great concern.

A: Duminda who was held in jail with the other prisoners for nearly 20 days suffered from high fever due to a viral infection and was transferred to the Prison Hospital. Since then his health has been deteriorating and there have been repercussions from the penetrative brain injuries he suffered. His condition fluctuates from good, bad and worse quite often, as never before experienced after his return from hospital in Singapore.

Duminda was critically injured due to gunshot injuries he received on his head on October 8, 2011. He suffered penetrative brain injuries in consequence, with bullets entering through the left side of the forehead and exiting through the right side of the skull, damaging a skull area of approximately 30cm x 30cm. He underwent surgery at Sri Jayawardenapura hospital performed by Specialist Neurosurgeon Dr. Mrs. Maheshi Wijeratne for right hemicraniectomy, wound debridement and removal of bullet fragments. However there are still metal fragments remaining in the deeper part of the right frontal lobe of the brain. He suffered loss of memory and weakness of the left upper limb especially the distal muscles affecting the left hand and leg.

Due to the intensity of the injuries, memory loss and paralysis of the entire left side, we took him to Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore for treatment under Neuro Consultant Dr. Keith Goh and his team. Dr. Goh performed cranioplasty using CT scan customized prefabricated implant to repair the right skull hemicranectomy defect and also borehole surgeries to drain out fluid collection and also relieve brain pressure.

He was subjected to intensive neurological rehabilitation in Singapore for nearly one and a half years including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy etc. Irrespective of the doctors advising us to keep him there a little longer, we brought him back to Sri Lanka in March 2013 mainly to face the ongoing Court proceedings. The consultant neurosurgeon and rehabilitation consultant who attended on him in Singapore, very specifically cautioned us that he should avoid trauma and stressful situations and be away from unhygienic environments, as his health condition could reverse for the worse culminating even in life threatening situations.

I must emphasize that Neuro Consultants have warned us that his physical appearance is not an indication of the brain trauma he suffered and absolute care must be taken. Patients of this kind with such penetrating head injuries may have unpredictable changes in their condition. Any adverse factors - trauma and impacts will not only reverse the progress he has made but is also life threatening (Shows the medical reports).

As far as I know anxiety, psychological upheavals and fluctuation under different circumstances can cause health concerns. When, where and how it happens no one can predict. This is what Duminda is experiencing.

On request made by Magistrate G.A.R. Attygalle to the JMO of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Duminda was subjected to X-ray, scanning and physical medical examinations by a panel consisting of nine specialist doctors who issued a medical report on March 3, 2017 under the signature of Deputy Director General of Health Services, National Hospital of Sri Lanka. This report confirmed the fluctuating health conditions experienced by Duminda due to the penetrative brain injuries he has suffered and confirmed the existence of bone fragments and metal bullet shrapnel embedded in the deep section of his brain. In other words they confirmed the earlier local and Singaporean medical reports.

Q: Did you inform the relevant authorities of this situation?

A: Yes. Due to critical repercussions, and the nature of his brain injuries, an attempt was made by the Prison Hospital authorities to seek treatment at Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital, referring to Dr. Wijeratne, but failed to receive the anticipated treatment facility as the authorities have said that the Board of Directors (of the Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital) has decided not to treat convicted prisoners there. If that be the case, I wonder whether Directors in Government related hospitals can take such board decision transgressing human rights.

Thereafter, I took the liberty to write to the Prime Minister requesting him, in the best interest of my son’s health and life, that he be allowed to be referred to take treatment under Dr. Maheshi Wijeratne, even in a private hospital as his health condition and nature of his behavior under traumatic conditions in the past is well known to her. Further it will be advantages for patients with this type of brain injuries to feel comfortable in mind with their usual doctors in attendance.

As a reply the Minister in charge of Prisons Reforms has stated that due to the nature of Duminda’s conviction, there is no possibility to extend such health services.

Q: You seem to be having problems about media propaganda on Duminda?

A: The advantages of technological enhancement in communication have been vilified and been misused by a section of society to quench their thirst for sadism and character assassination. This small organized cluster is a menace to society and a hindrance to genuine media.

Thank God I have a professional background and the capacity not to be influenced by what is appearing in today’s social media. Those who are influenced or believe or act on these publications should not be holding responsible positions in the public or private sector as their gullibility will ultimately contribute to the deterioration of a decent civil society as so conspicuously seen today. Some do manipulate the social media to challenge or surreptitiously threaten the integrity of officials to falsely create various perceptions and instill a fear psychosis in the mindset of some officials preventing them from acting fairly. Duminda has been a victim of this vicious circle.

Q: Did you make an appeal to a higher court against the death sentence?

A: The High Court Trial at Bar bench was divided in their decisions with the two judgments at extremes - one handing down the death sentence while the other exonerated him from all charges laid against him.

Our lawyers addressing the bench immediately after the delivery of the judgment, said they did not agree with its core. Lawyers have perused the judgment and summarized and highlighted instances where they expressed the opinion it had erred logically, principally, legally, factually and analytically. They have also expressed instances of deviations in norms in the interpretation of the law and sought redress via provision in law in an appeal to their Lordships of the Supreme Court detailing those instances in the text of our appeal which challenged the judgment in totality. I don’t want to say more as these are matters still to be deliberated in the Supreme Court for which I have the highest respect.

Q: Elaborate your family background?

A: My grandfather hails from the village Kalamulla in the Kalutara district. He was A. Victor Silva popularly known as "Victory Mudalali". He owned substantial extents of plantation land under coconut, rubber and cinnamon. I am taking about the very early part of 1900. My father’s eldest brother was Dr. A.V.P. SILVA and I was been named after him. During the period around 1935 when Hambantota district was plagued with the tuberculosis, he was transferred to Hambantota. Although his kith & kin pleaded with him to start his own private practice as they had enough wealth, he refused saying that he is under oath to treat patients whatever the circumstance may be. In 1939 he died at the age of 33-years. The other brother A. Francis Silva was a famous lawyer in the Kalutara/Matugama courts. He donated his large house on a two- acre property to a convent. The other brother A. Norbert Silva was the Chairman of the Kalutara UC.

My father A. Alphonso Silva who was a planter at the early stages switched to government service and was a DLO at the time of his retirement. All the brothers had their education at St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena as boarders of the college (1920 era). My mother’s brothers (three) (1950 era), myself and my brother (1960 era) were also educated as boarders at St. Benedict’s College. While my father studied at St. Sebestian’s College, Moratuwa my mother’s other two brothers studied at St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. My mother’s father, A. Ansalin Silva was from St. Rita’s Road, Ratmalana. He owned nearly 20 large houses. Late minister Kingsley T. Wickremaratne’s grandfather was his eldest brother. My wife’s father, Lucien Harry Ukwatte Liyanage, studied at St. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia and also served in the Army in Singapore during World War II. Her grandfather hailed from the Matara Ukwatte walauwa and his brother, a Buddhist priest, Reverend Athadisi Hamuduruwo, donated all his wealth to the Manthinda Temple in Galle and Rahula College. My wife’s grandmother Charlotte Alexandra Pinto Jayawardena De Alwis owned substantial wealth in Mt. Lavinia and was closely related to Sir Oliver Goonatilake. Her brothers’ children were late Mr. Lyn de Alwis, the renowned zoo and wildlife director, while another was former warden of St. Thomas’ College, Mr. Neville de Alwis; the others included the wife of former IGP Kodituwakku (late Mrs. Lakshmi Kodituwakku), and late Ossie de Alwis, a pioneer in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

I dislike talking about all this but do so in the context that some disgruntled persons are trying to portray a dark picture to character assassinate our family by spreading malicious, baseless, politically motivated accusations and rumors and also in reply to your query. I reluctantly place these facts to enlighten any misguided persons and hope this will show that we hail from a reputed, educated, well to do generation with sufficient wealth.

My father and mother who had their own accumulated wealth also inherited substantial wealth from their parents. I as the eldest son received a fair share of that wealth.

My name is A.V.P. Silva (FCA/FMAAT) and is known amongst many as LAL SILVA. I am a Chartered Accountant by Profession and at present is the Managing Director of four companies and Director of five other companies including two large public quoted companies. During my school days I was an athlete, cricketer and a rugby player and later represented the Havelock’s rugby team for nearly five years since 1968. I served as the Honorary Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union while I was also the President of the Havelock Sports Club. During my tenure of office in both these organizations I was able to use my expertise not only to improve their financial parameters as never done before and saved substantial amounts in fixed deposits.

Further, I was able to turn around loss making organizations I earlier worked in to profit, a feat I am very proud of. In 2008 the Inland Revenue Department launched a privilege card to facilitate priority services from Government departments for those who paid substantial amount as income tax for a long period of time and I was entitled to the Gold Privilege Card. Some of those who slander people for their rise in life are not aware that with a good acceptable feasibility report, management expertise, dedication and commitment one can improve financially as the banks are always there to extend financial assistance for such projects. Of course this is not a possibility to those who are only educated literally but practically inefficient.

My wife is Romayne Malkanthi Ukwatte Liyanage. My eldest son Rayynor Silva is the owner of a reputed Media Organization while my other son Vincent Silva is a Senior Officer directing operations in the Sri Lankan branch of a reputed International garment operation. Rayynor was a Peterite and represented the College in Cricket, Rugby and athletics. My daughter Dilini Silva ((BSc Hons. IT, MBA, CIM UK, Doctorate in Business Management) is now preparing for final LLB examination. My youngest daughter Nilakshi Silva (Diploma in Child Psychology) married to Dr. Gihan De Soyza (BSc Hons, MBA, OHD MST (Cambridge). He is the grandson of former MP Ruskin Fernando of Velona fame and the great grandson of Sir Charles Henry de Soysa, perhaps the country’s greatest philanthropist. My daughters were educated at Ladies College, Colombo 7, while my Son-in-law was at St. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia.

Q: How did your youngest son Duminda enter politics?

A: He was very popular with the young crowd and when he was engaged in his business of catering he extended financial support to promote sport activities and competitions. I believe it is on their insistence that he entered the political arena. At the inception when he contested the Provincial Council elections, I was not very supportive. But when I found his aim was to help the down trodden and the youth using political interfacing as a vehicle, I started to help him. The whole family rallied round him and was a source of strength in his role as a politician specially in helping the poor. He secured the highest preference votes in three elections and was second only to Mr. Wimal Weerawansa in the 2010 general election.

From his small days he loved to help people. He was a sportsman at St. Peter’s College being an athletic champion and rugby coloursman. After A/Levels he joined Bartleet& Company for training in tea tasting and brokering. He then served as a senior manager in the tea department at Tea Packs (PVT) Ltd. He then engaged in his own business. He had two well patronized catering enterprises called Lakshmi Food Centre. I heard a person supposed to be of some stature lately undermining and ridiculing him for operating and working in his own catering business and audaciously inquiring how our family upgraded ourselves to be flourishing in business people. Displaying to the world his ignorance and viciousness, and publicly character assassinating with impunity does not augur well to the position he claims to hold.

With our help Duminda did yeoman service helping the poor and was very popular among the people for his kind deeds. However, in an era where people were more interested in collecting money and building and accumulating wealth, Duminda set an example to those time serving politicians who helped voters only during the election time by being with the people all the time, extending a helping hand whenever possible using the good offices of an elected member to be of service at his own expense irrespective of whether it was election time or not.

Few politicians contesting with him were jealous and envious and were hell bent to taint his character. They launched a smear campaign with the help of banned websites operating from abroad, address unknown. This was the only way they knew to disturb his progress. They started unsubstantiated fabrications to character assassinate him and manipulated the social media for political advantage. It was very evident that the malicious slandering was well planned without any evidence and was politically motivated. Everybody who stooped to those low levels and originated these falsehoods, knew very well that our family connected businesses were instrumental in helping him in his work. Along with politicians there were people engaging in nefarious illegal activities exploiting the opportunity to direct accusations at Duminda with the sole intention of not only diverting attention away from them but also to mislead the arm of the law. However, people who know Duminda were well aware that he was an innocent victim of vicious circle of selfish section of the society. If he was not a politician he would have been acclaimed as a philanthropist. No person indulging in illegal activities will ever help the poor publicly and lavishly and also seek wide publicity through electronic media.

Q: Is his present predicament a result of politics?

A: Political jealousy and greed for preference votes drove few with ulterior motives and unscrupulous political agendas to attack him in whatever way they could, stooping to the lowest level of character assassination.

As revealed by most of the witnesses, since Duminda was shot first on the head at close range and as the perpetrators turned back and ran away once Dumi fell to the ground face upwards bleeding from his forehead, I wonder why one should not construe it as a failed assassination attempt on Duminda’s life.  

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