SRI LANKAN IN THAILAND EXCELS
CRICKET AND SOCIAL ACTITIVIES
Dr. Tilak S. Fernando
reporting from Bangkok
Although the Kingdom of Thailand was never colonised by the British,
social clubs such as the Royal Bangkok Sports Club (RBSC) and the
British Club have been playing the Englishman's game of cricket for
decades. By dong so, they have enjoyed the visits of star-studded
teams from England, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the past.
RBSC is an exclusive cricket club in Bangkok where the membership
is equally expensive and difficult to obtain. It is not normally open
to immigrants! Here neither the money nor power can influence in obtaining
membership. Even with a proven record of talent in the game of cricket
'there is a waiting list for ten years' to qualify for membership.
RBSC hosts 6's tournament in the month of March annually, which has
attracted over 30 teams worldwide. Well-known International cricketers
such as Sanath Jayasooriya, Aravinda de Silva, Romesh Kaluvitharana,
Duleep Mendis, Sachchin Tendulkar, Roger Binney, Kumar Dharmasena,
Rangana Herath, among others, have all toured Bangkok to take part
in the RBSC tournaments.
Shyam Sideek is an outstanding Sri Lankan who shines at the Royal
Bangkok Sports Club in Bangkok. An old boy of Royal College, Colombo,
he has been able to demonstrate his skills in the game of cricket
from the time he was a schoolboy while playing for the school cricket
team. Subsequently he played for Moors - Division 1, Lankans Cricket
Club - Divisions 2-3 and the Sri Lanka National Junior Team and today,
he represents the Thai National Cricket Team.
In Thailand, expatriates normally have to wait seven years before
qualifying to play cricket at the RBSC. Shyam was invited and offered
the prestigious membership of the RBSC by its President and the Cricket
Captain after seeing him playing for Bangkok cricket club for two
seasons. Ever since he has been showing his colours with the willow
and leather, which is evident from the trophies, which stand proudly
inside a glass cabinet at his residence at Mooban Lasalle, Pangna.
Recently he concluded the Asian Cricket Council's first Emerging Teams
tournament and was adjudged the batsman of the season.
Shyam Sideek is the Managing Director of Scintilla Impex Ltd, an Import
and Export company mainly dealing with garments. He is also the Secretary
of the Thai Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce. He says that at present
the level of trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka is uneven - more
imports to Sri Lanka and less exports to Thailand. Through Thai/Sri
Lanka Chamber of Commerce their attempt would be to balance it out
by arranging business meetings on a one-to-one basis from traders
between Thailand and Sri Lanka.
On the social front, he is also the President of the Sri Lanka Association
in Bangkok. A remarkable feature in this Land is to see a single Association
of all Sri Lankan expatriates working together in harmony. By doing
so, they demonstrate a rare quality of unity by engaging in numerous
In the past they have raised funds for the Ratnapura flood victims.
During the Tsunami catastrophe too they have been very active in rendering
financial aid to Sri Lanka by financing 15 Thai Naval doctors to visit
Sri Lanka to attend to Tsunami victims.
He considers his last month's efforts in helping a Singhalese couple,
whose young daughter was seriously ill, bedridden and on a ventilator
in a Bangkok hospital, as the most rewarding humanitarian deed ever
done in his lifetime so far. This was when the parents of the girl
was put on a helpless situation after the hospital in Bangkok which
treated the patient threatened to stop treatment until the payment
of all the bills were made up to date.
Shyam Siddick and the Sri Lanka Association in Bankok, in this regard,
acknowledge with utmost gratitude the 'Godly Act' done by Karuna Bodhinayake,
a family friend from London, who happened to be his guest at the time
in Bangkok like a god's sent. Upon hearing the heartbreaking situation
Karuna Bodhinayake personally volunteered to help the sick child's
parents when she was approached by the President of the Sri Lanka
Association in Bangkok, and carried all the paper work by hand to
Colombo and successfully managed to obtain a grant of Rs.250, 000
from the Sri Lanka Presidential fund, within a matter of days, highlighting
the life and death situation that prevailed in Bangkok.