Devanesan Nesiah Chastises President Sirisena by returning his Deshamanya Award

ONE = Yohan Perera and Sheain Fernandopulle: Daily Mirror,  3 January 2019, where the ttite is

Former civil servant Devanesan Nesiah officially returned the “Deshamanya” award conferred to him by President Maithripala Sirisena today.Dr. Nesiah and his daughter handed it over to the Presidential Secretariat last evening. Talking to journalists, Dr. Nesiah said he decided to return the award as he was disappointed with the recent actions of the President which created chaos in the country. Dr Nesiah received the Deshamanya in 2017 at a ceremony held to confer national honours. As per the letter he sent to the President earlier, he said his decision isn’t one that he had taken lightly, or in haste.

I always acted in accordance with my principles that I’ve embraced with pride for nearly 60 years since I first enrolled as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service. My long career in the civil service was often stymied under both UNP and SLFP regimes for my refusal to compromise my values,” he said in the letter. Also, he said he was proud to receive it and that his family celebrated his achievement. Asked whether he was subjected to any undue influence to change his decision he said some voiced their opinion on it but there was no influence as such.

TWO: Eksith FErnando, “Where are Civil servansts of 

Dr Devanesan Nesiah returned the Deshamanya award conferred on him in 2017, to the Presidential Secretariat recently. I believe that this is the first time such a thing has happened. Although some reasons for this action of his have been reported, not all that he said and not all the reasons for his action, I am sure, have been reported.

Dr Nesiah was undoubtedly an outstanding Civil Servant, who held many responsible positions. I believe one of his most difficult assignments was being the Government Agent in Jaffna when the LTTE was in control of Jaffna. He was among those Civil Servants of the past, who remained faithful to their very high principles and did not succumb to the illegal and unethical orders of politicians.

When Governments changed, when new Ministers took office the heads of such public servants, in the days gone by, did not roll. What is the situation today? We saw this in the weeks after 26th October. When new ministers were appointed, the senior public servants who ran those Ministries had to pack their bags and go.

Many public servants today are mere yes men to their Ministers. They will carry out all orders given to them, whether right or wrong; whether legal or illegal. Where are the high principled civil servants of the past? Merit is no longer the basis of appointments and promotions. If one is a boot licking public servant you can get all you want.

On what basis is the President’s Counsel in the legal profession appointed? Is merit the basis? Are honours bestowed on persons on the basis of their service to the nation? This is sad, very often, not the case now.

Can we blame high principled, honourable men like Dr Nesiah declining to accept (Or returning) an honour conferred on them if such honours are now, not bestowed on the basis merit for their contribution to the progress of our beloved country?


Devanesan Nesiah was associated with Godfrey Gunatilleka in organising the Marga Seminar discussions in 1999-2001 directed towards Ä history of ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka. Recollection, Reinterpretation and Reconciliation”. It generated 21 articles in what was identified as the MARGA MONOGRAPH SERIES  … and No.7 was by Nesiah –entitled “Tamil Nationalism“”


Michel Nugawela: Ünderstanding Yes People: Ehemai Hamu!!”   8 January  2019,


Filed under accountability, cultural transmission, democratic measures, disparagement, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, patriotism, performance, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, unusual people

2 responses to “Devanesan Nesiah Chastises President Sirisena by returning his Deshamanya Award

  1. Dickie Bird

    what has politics got to do with a national honours conferred on Devanesan Nesiah ?
    It was not the President who honoured Mr. Nesiah, but it was the President on behalf of the Country. If it not Mr. Nesiah, someone else would have filled the post of GA Jaffna then.
    Mr. Nesiah must realise principles of people differ from one to another just like finger prints.
    Therefore, I begin to wonder what the ulterior motive for this so called outstanding Servant of the State to return the “Dheshamanya award” that was conferred on him by the Country?
    Its hard for me to accept his actions as it has not changed anything in the Country. Robbers are the Rulers and he Mr. Nesiah in the first place had accepted the honour from them itself.

  2. Chelvy

    He doesn’t deserve such award because he e is one of the person who ran out of the country to USA and didn’t complete his service. He is a selfish self-centered person only cared about his family only. There are many people who worked hard and never left that country. That award should go to them.

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