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Commemoration of Mr T. Kandasamy

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Mr. Kandasamy joined the Government Analyst’s Department in April 1951 after obtaining B.Sc. Special degree in Chemistry in 1950 from the University of Ceylon. He worked mainly in the Food and Drugs division of the department and obtained his Master’s degree in Food & Drugs from the imperial College of Science and Technology, UK. He also worked in different sections in the Forensic division such as Forensic Toxicology and Serology. Mr. Kandasamy is a Fellow and Chartered chemist of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK and the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon.

He went up the ladder as he received his promotions on time and held various positions in the department such as Senior Asst. Govt. Analyst, Deputy Govt. Analyst, and Additional Govt. Analyst and finally reached the highest position as the Government Analyst of Sri Lanka, in 1984. After serving the department and the country in this prestigious post he retired from public service in 1986 when he was 59 years old giving an opportunity for the next in line Mr. M.O.C De Silva to become the Government Analyst for two years.  In a culture where people hold onto top positions even after they reach their retirement age, but Mr. Kandasamy’s act is exemplary, as he gave up one year from his own period for his colleague. He held the interest of the department and of the others before his own-self and displayed his unselfish and humble nature and strong character in this act.

He served the Food Advisory committee, Ministry of Health for over 40 years and I cannot think of anyone who served in this committee for such a long period. He was an active member of the Interdepartmental committee in 1969 that brought out the two Acts, Food Act 1980 and Cosmetics, devices and Drugs Act 1980 being the first country to have two acts instead of the traditional Food and Drugs Act.

Mr. Kandasamy treated all the officers in the department alike and he was very interested that we all continued with our higher studies. Apart from that, he paid special attention to the safety and security of officers. I can very well remember the day I had to stay at the Colombo University at an exhibition stall of the Govt. Analyst’s Department until 10.00 pm. After the exhibition, he being the head of the department personally came to drop me at the boarding house thinking about my security. He was a man with a lot of humanitarian values.

On another occasion, he came to my rescue when I faced a problem of having my leave approved from the Sectional Head, in order to go and see my father in the hospital. Mr. Kandasamy, although was the head of the department, on hearing about my predicament came over to my table to sign the leave application and asked my sectional head to call him if anything needs to be done in my absence. He had a soft heart that melted and empathized with those who needed help irrespective of what level they were in service.

Technically, he was as extremely meticulous Analyst. He solved many analytical problems that were presented to the Department, by thinking out of the box to find simple solutions to complex problems. Mr. Kandasamy trained and encouraged his staff to do the same, without mechanically following the published methods.

While working in the department Mr. Kandasamy carried out number of extracurricular activities, and willingly offered his services to the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon in numerous capacities. He was the Vice President of Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon in 1978 and became the President in 1979. He was a pioneer in the Institutes Educational programs and involved in designing the syllabus for the Food Science and Food technology – GIC Course. He also served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Colombo, to teach the Masters’ Degree course in Analytical Chemistry.

Further, he was an active member in various committees in Sri Lanka standards Institution (SLSI) for many years. He gave his knowledge and experience in drafting several standards and until he left Sri Lanka in 2015, he served the Sectorial committee on Food and agriculture products as the Chairman. He received the gold medal from SLSI in 2000 for his outstanding contribution to the standardization activities.

After his retirement, he worked for the UN as a National Consultant in Chemical Analysis from 1997-1998 with the ministry of Health. He took initiatives to put up a new fully equipped Food Laboratory at Anuradhapura and also upgraded the Food Laboratory at Kaluthara. He also participated in two WHO assignments in preparing Draft food standards and regulations and code of practice for Advertising of Food.

Even after his retirement he was very keen about the developments and upgrading the status of the Government Analyst’s Department. He participated in almost all the farewells organized in conjunction with the retirement of succeeding Government Analysts. And I would sadly miss him at my farewell. Mr. Kandasamy loves to relate several stories about the history of the department whenever we met and was like a walking encyclopaedia on these matters. I usually consult him to understand the history of the department. And both during the 100 years celebrations and 110 years celebrations of the Department, he dug into his excellent memory power at my request and even contributed an article to the book on 100 years celebrations.

He had a collection of technical books in his house on various subjects pertaining to the departmental work. Once when he was sick he called me and few other officers of the department to his place and donated them to further the knowledge of our Analysts and work of the department.

Before he left Sri Lanka to go to Canada he told me that he was born in Burma, lived a long time in Sri Lanka and finally leaving the country sadly, to die in Canada.  He was extremely happy on the day he was invited to the Government Analyst’s Department before he left in 2015, and said I can talk hours and hours about the department, but I cannot speak few words even though you invite me to say few words, rather my talk would be a lengthy one and it was so. Even after he went to Canada, he spoke to me and kept in touch with several others on phone and via viber. I believe he continued to live in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka in his mind until he breathed his last.

Finally, I and the officers of my department are very sad to miss Mr. Kandasamy, a person with a heart of gold and a mind of excellence.

 

Sakunthala Tennakoon

Government Analyst