In Memoriam: Remembering Ernest Corea

BERLIN | WASHINGTON | COLOMBO – Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished journalists and diplomats died on May 11, 2017 after a long illness. Throughout his career, he worked to maintain a free and independent press, advocated for the interests of the Sri Lankan people, and worked to improve conditions for the poor worldwide. He was awarded the Deshabandu Class 1 National Day honour for meritorious diplomatic service.

Ernest Corea was born in 1932 to the Reverend Canon Ivan Corea and Ouida Corea. He spent his early life in Borella, a suburb of Colombo. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and the University of Ceylon and later served with the United Nations in Washington DC and in the Congo (Zaire).

He joined the editorial staff of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (Lake House) direct from university, eventually becoming Editor of the Ceylon Daily News from 1966-1970 and the Ceylon Observer from 1970-1971. Immediately before holding those positions, he was Chief Administrative Officer of the Editorial Department at Lake House.

After leaving Sri Lanka, Earnest Corea was Features Editor, foreign affairs specialist, and editorial writer of the Straits Times of Singapore. He later served as Director of the Publications Division at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada. Subsequently, he was the founding Director of the IDRC’s Cooperative (North-South) Research Programs Division.

He was appointed to the diplomatic service of the government of Sri Lanka by President J. R. Jayewardene in 1978 and served his country as High Commissioner to Canada and as Ambassador to the United States of America (U.S.), Cuba and Mexico. He was entrusted with several successful negotiations connected with external support for the country’s development programs. He was responsible for organizing the first, and up to now, only state visit of a President of Sri Lanka to the U.S., at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

After leaving diplomatic service, he worked for the World Bank’s Secretariat of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and after retirement, as a Senior Consultant, when he co-authored Revolutionizing the Evolution of the CGIAR with CGIAR Director Francisco Reifschneider and Chair Ian Johnson.

He published two books: ‘Non-Alignment – the dynamics of a movement,’ and ‘North-South: Beyond Dialogue’. He was Chairman of the Commonwealth Select Committee on the Media and Development, and was a life-member of the Asia Society’s advisory group in Washington DC.

He returned to journalism after retirement, serving as Global Editor of IDN-InDepthNews and a member of its editorial board as well as a columnist and Co-editor of IDN’s current affairs magazine, Global Perspectives. During this period he also served as President of the Media Task Force of the Berlin-based Global Cooperation Council.

He is survived by his wife Indra and sons Lester and Andy and his wife Michelle as well as grandchildren Carl, Sophie, Wilson and Percy. He was preceded in death by his brother Vernon Corea and Lester’s late-wife Doris. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 May 2017]

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