Former Civil Servant and Veteran Administrator Lionel Fernando Laid to Rest in Colombo

The last rites for Lionel Fernando, a distinguished former civil servant and diplomat, were performed last evening at 5:30 PM at the new crematorium in Borella Cemetery. Fernando, a senior officer in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service and a renowned diplomat, passed away on July 6th in Colombo.

Lionel Fernando's illustrious career spanned several decades and numerous prestigious positions. He served as the Ambassador for Sri Lanka in the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain, and as the High Commissioner in Malaysia. His diplomatic career was marked by significant contributions to strengthening Sri Lanka's international relations.

In addition to his diplomatic roles, Fernando also held key positions within the Sri Lankan government. He served as the Governor of the North-Eastern Province and as the Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Mass Media, among several other ministries. His leadership extended to prominent institutions, including the Ceylon Shipping Corporation, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, and he was the founding Chairman of the National Insurance Corporation.

His international acclaim included serving as the Chairman of the International Organization for the Abolition of Chemical Weapons, reflecting his commitment to global peace and security. Domestically, his tenure as the Government Agent of Jaffna was widely praised for his efforts to improve the lives of the people in the region.

He received his first degree from the University of Peradeniya, where he also made a significant contribution to local cinema and theatre by acting in the first production of Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s celebrated drama "Maname." Fernando held a postgraduate diploma in Economic Development from the University of Cambridge and read law at the Open University of Sri Lanka, later being admitted to the Bar of Sri Lanka as an Attorney at Law.

Writing an article on the demise of Fernando, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake said Fernando was a practical administrator and a great humanitarian. 

"I met him when he was Foreign Secretary and he decided to take me into the Ministry as Deputy Director (Administration). It was very easy to work with him. He delegated everything. We were given a free hand. If we got any issue we could the Foreign Ministry go to him and he will always find solutions. once I went to him with a file. The Legal Division had nominated a He was a great legal officer on contract story teller. He basis for a training in New York. She had got selected and was now asking for the warm clothes allowance. Both Administration and accounts divisions the file and looked at me and said "Oh, she is on contract, so she has to have a thick skin to bear the winter in New York". With a smile he granted approval," Ekanayake said. 

The funeral service was attended by a large gathering of family, friends, colleagues, and admirers who came to pay their respects to a man who dedicated his life to public service and the betterment of Sri Lanka.