Cyril Herath: An upright officer


Mr. Cyril Herath, a former Inspector General of Police, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, and Chairman of the National Savings Bank, passed away in the Police Hospital on 8th September 2011.

Mr. Cyril Herath was educated at the Royal College, Colombo and graduated from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya with a B.A. Thereafter he joined the Police service as a probationary Assistant Superintendent of Police and went on to serve as the Inspector General of Police from December 1985 to August 1988.

During the years in the service, he served in many parts of the country, and his qualities of independence, forthrightness and brilliance in intelligence gathering, shone during the period he was the Head of the Intelligence Service, sometimes known as the Special Branch, National Intelligence Bureau etc.

Especially during the period as the Head of the Intelligence Service, he maintained a high standard of professionalism in intelligence gathering through his team of officers working under him. He trained and directed the officers to be professional intelligence gathering operatives. He was honest and instilled honesty in all his subordinates. He refused to be part of any political, system which under normal circumstances made use of the Intelligence Division as one of their political tools.

He was the Head of security during which time the Non-Aligned Conference was held in the year 1976. He was given the task of being overall in charge of providing security at the BMICH, of the visiting Heads of States, and of the Hotels where the VVIP’s were housed. He led a team of dedicated Officers under him to ensure that no untoward incidents of security concern took place during the entire period of the Conference.

I recollect at one meeting, where the late Mr.Lakshman Jayakody and the late Dr. Mackie Ratwatte were conducting, a proposal was made by them to invite a City Father at that time along with the Councilors for the opening day of the Conference.

Since the decision as to who should be the invitees for the opening ceremony had already been taken and decided upon, Mr. Cyril Herath objected to this proposal. In spite of the convener of the meeting conveying that the Honourable Prime Minister had agreed to invite the City Father and his Councilors, Mr. Cyril Herath wanted his objection recorded. Thereafter, he communicated with the Hon. PM who denied having given approval, for the City Father and his councilors to be invited to the opening ceremony, and the proposal was never implemented.

Another instance where his forthrightness was displayed, was when promotion to senior Officers who were not recommended by him as the Head of the Department, were promoted, depriving the suitable officers recommended by the Department of their promotions, Mr. Cyril Herath went up to the then President Mr. J. R. Jayawardena and objected to the promotion of those Officers not recommended by him. In spite of his objection to the promotion, officers selected by the government were promoted. Mr. Cyril Herath tendered his resignation over this issue though he had more years to continue as the IGP, and left the service honourably with his head held high. To my recollection he is the only IGP to resign from his post having disagreed with a head of State. I have the privilege of having served under him in the Intelligence Bureau and at Police Headquarters, and cherish the standard he maintained and instilled in us to be professional Police Officers with honesty and integrity.

He has also been sought after by many heads of governments thereafter, to be the advisor on intelligence matters. He was the first Police Officer to be appointed as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. He conducted himself in an honourable manner without succumbing to any political pressure. He was a devoted husband and caring father. He leaves behind his wife, two sons and daughter.

It is a great loss to the people of this country to have lost an upright and fearless Officer who could have shared his valuable knowledge in matters affecting the majority of the citizens of our country who are law abiding citizens.

"May he attain Nibbana"

B. Anton Jeyanathan,

Rtd. DIG, Sri Lanka Police

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