Veteran Tamil Journalist dies at 80

(December 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Veteran Tamil journalist Subramaniyam Sivanayagam, founder-editor of the popular, Jaffna based, English Weekly Saturday Review and the head of Tamil Information Centre (TIC) branch in Madras (1983-1987) passed away on Monday 29 November, in Colombo after a long illness. He was 80.

Born in Jaffna, Ceylon, in 1930 during British Colonial rule, had his secondary education at Kokuvil Hindu College and Jaffna College, in the north, devoted almost his whole life to journalism. In Colombo, he had worked on the editorial staff of the Ceylon Daily News (1953-55) and the Ceylon Daily Mirror (1961-69). He also worked as English-Language Copy Writer at J Walter Thompsons and later as Editor (Publications) at the Ceylon Tourist Board.

Fondly remembered as Siva by his friends and colleagues had to flee Sri Lanka after the government banned Saturday Review on 1 July 1983. He was also described as a "living history book", by his colleagues.

While in India, he edited the TIC fortnightly Sri Lanka Situation Report and Tamil International. Later he edited the fortnightly Tamil Nation, launched by his friends of Tamil Forum Ltd. in London. Previously he had written for the Tamil Times, London, and later for the Tamil Voice International, London, under the pen name ‘Kurushetran’.

Incarcerated in India for a one-year jail term under the National Security Act, and further detained under police guard at the Madras hospital for six months – for no other reason than the fact that his views were found unpleatable to the Establishment – he left India under duress in January 1993. Having spent the next one and a half years in Singapore, Hong Kong, and several African countries, he sought political asylum in France in June 1994. While in Paris, he edited the monthly journal, Hot Spring, which later shifted base to London. While shuttling between Paris and London, he continued to write under his real name and produced two excellent books titled – The Pen and the Gun and Sri Lanka: Witness to History.

Siva was a bold and courageous journalist. His services as a journalist to change people’s lives and to ‘promote and elevate the standard of journalism’ would be remembered for long time. He loved his people, his family and his work. We're going to miss him.

Tell a Friend