OBITUARY Camillus R. Abeygoonewardena – Advisor IPA Sri Lanka

19 Apr 2021


We, IPA Sri Lanka, record with deep sadness the recent demise of an Advisor to the Sri Lankan Section and former Deputy Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka, Mr Camillus R. Abeygoonewardena. He was the epitome of quintessential standards.

Traffic and security were buzz words for him. Firstly, it was security, where his life revolved around the movements of VVIPs. He was privileged to serve in the security area and close protection for Heads of States and Cabinet Ministers in the Sri Lankan cabinet, and occasionally even for members of the British Royal family, as well as other dignitaries and VVIPs.

Out of all these encounters, he considered being acquainted with Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Japanese Emperor as very precious moments.

Traffic management and road safety were ingrained into his system closely and dearly as he excelled in this sphere, which he adored. He was a vigorous professional enforcer of traffic. His extensive training in this field took him to the United Kingdom, Sweden, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and India on extensive training programmes and workshops on numerous occasions.

His passion to share his wisdom and knowledge amongst his peers and juniors was sincere and open. One striking quote on his office desk read “Law is no respecter of a person”, a reminder that we need to be mindful of being persistent if we are to enforce what is right. He lived by every word he preached as a police enforcer.

One of the proudest moments in his illustrious police career, which he often spoke about, was his involvement in making traffic arrangements for the Non-Aligned Summit in 1976, where precision and timing to move motorcades of over 75 Heads of State was carried out to perfection. He again excelled with the Pope’s visit in 1995. Other significant initiatives were the traffic warden programmes in schools, and introducing white belts, caps and gloves for all Sri Lanka traffic police officers. They became the standard uniform for traffic cops in Sri Lanka thereafter. He was probably the best traffic enforcer in the country at the time.

One great aspect in his role as public servant, was that it was about being of service, whilst expecting nothing in return. He would share case studies or examples of good public service, which eventually showed that we need to work in the best interest of every person. Efficiency and effectiveness were his guiding recipe in getting a job done.

He was used as an advertisement to attract talent to the Sri Lanka Police Force, given his smartness, vigour, his charming personality and good looks.

He was regarded as a teacher, a stickler for enforcing the law and upholding it at all times. Compromise was not in his work ethic. He was proud of his ability to serve the police on all occasions, and he carried himself with a sense of conviction and pride, be it with or without his uniform. He stood for justice, the rule of law, fair play and discipline.

Mr Abeygoonewardena served as a Vice President of the international Police Association’s Sri Lankan Section for many years and travelled numerous times to several countries to attend IPA World Congresses. Lastly, he served as an Advisor of IPA Sri Lanka, which is part of the prestigious world-renowned organisation.

Overall, he was a great coordinator, a leader and administrator. He worked hard to earn a reputation for himself, by devoting his time to building relationships whilst also ensuring that any task conferred upon him was well executed.

Camillus Abeygoonewardena lived a full life. He adored his family, his work, and his unflinching commitment to honour, honesty and pristine standards in whatever he did in the course of his trek through life. He taught others to uphold such virtues in all trials and tribulations through life, resisting the temptation to succumb to greed and selfishness.

Let me conclude by sharing the second most striking quote from his office, “Be nice to people on your way up, because you are bound to meet them on your way down”, a proverb which he lived by, until his last breath.

His death is an irreparable loss to our Section, to his family, friends and to the members dear and near to him. May his soul rest in peace.

 

Asoka Wijetilleka, Acting President & Secretary General IPA Sri Lanka