M. J. Perera

Radio Ceylon Nalanda College, Colombo Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation

M. J. Perera
M.J Perera.jpg
Mapatunage James Perera

3 February 1915
Padukka, Sri Lanka
Died14 March 2002(2002-03-14) (aged 87)
NationalitySri Lankan
EducationGovernment Bilingual School, Padukka (currently M.D.H. Jayawardena Kanishta Vidyalaya)
Nalanda College, Colombo
OccupationEducation / Broadcasting / Television executive
EmployerThe Government of Sri Lanka
Known forThe first Ceylonese Director-General of Radio Ceylon
first Chairman of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
PredecessorJohn Lampson, Director-General, Radio Ceylon
Spouse(s)Gnathie Ratna

Mapatunage James "M. J." Perera was a Sri Lankan civil servant (3 February 1915 – 14 March 2002) with nine members in his family in Udumulla, Padukka. He created broadcasting history by being the first Ceylonese Director General of Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia, taking over the helm from John Lampson of the BBC.[1]

Perera witnessed the transformation of Radio Ceylon as King of the Airwaves in South Asia [2] the radio station was the market leader and the number one radio station in the region during the 1950s and 1960s, with a loyal base of millions of listeners.[3] Radio Ceylon enjoyed huge success under his leadership.

Clifford Dodd, an Australian administrator, was appointed (via the Colombo Plan) as the first Director of the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon and he contributed to the station's popularity across the Indian sub-continent.

Perera was also appointed the first Chairman of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation,the island's television station and the country's first competent authority.

Perera was born on 3 February 1915 in Udumulla, Padukka, in a family of nine. He was educated at Rajabisheka Vidyalaya (Primary education) - Padukka Nalanda College Colombo and at the University of Ceylon. He became an assistant Government Agent and went on to become the Permanent Secretary of the Education and Cultural Affairs Ministry and later as first Chairman of the Rupavahini (Television) Corporation, retiring from the Sri Lanka Administrative Service after 48 years public service. He had also been the founder Chairman of The Paddy Marketing Board from 1972 to 1977 during which time he changed grain buying and storage from Bushel-Volume system to Metric-Weight system.

Civil Service Career

Desabandu Mr.M.J.Perera

Curriculum Vitae

Born – 3 February 1915 at Padukka

Student Career

Attended Government Bilingual School, Padukka from 1920 – 1927. (Later renamed as Rajabhisheka Kanishta Vidyalaya and currently M.D.H. Jayawardena Kanishta Vidyalaya. Passed B.S.L.C. and E.S.L.C. in 1st Division. Entered Nalanda College, Colombo – 1928 to 1932. Cambridge Senior 1st Division with exemption from London Matriculation twice as underage to enter University first time. Entered Ceylon University College 1933, Intermediate in Arts (London) 1939 with Pali, Sanskrit, English and Logic. Bachelor of Arts (University of London) Indo-Aryan (Hons.) 1st Class in 1936, Honours Course covered in 2 years. Won Government Scholarship and joined London School of Oriental Studies and studied under Professor Turner, Dr. Stede and Mr. Rylands for a post-graduate course but interrupted studies and returned to Ceylon on passing the Ceylon Civil Service Examination in 1938 getting 3rd place in order of merit in the whole examination. (1st place in the written papers.)

Professional career as Member of the C.C.S. and later C.A.S.

Extra functions of Importance

1959 – 1963- President, Arts Council of Ceylon. Member and Executive Committee member,Sri Lanka Sahithya Manadalaya. 1960 – 1962 - Founder and President of the National Theatre Trust. 1960 – 1968 – Ex – officio member and later Chairman, National Book Trust. 1963 – 1968 – Chairman, National Commission of UNESCO in Ceylon (ex-officio). 1964 – 1968 – Chairman, Public Performance Board (Film and Stage Censor Board). 1966 – 1968 – Member, United States Educational Foundation in Ceylon. 1966 - 1968 – Member, National Council of Higher Education. 1991 - - Founder member of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Education. Later President. The name for this Association (SLAAED) has been proposed by him.

Special Functions

Attended many international conferences in Ceylon and abroad; Leader, Ceylon Delegation to the 1st Commonwealth Broadcasting Conference; Leader, Ceylon Delegation to 13th General Conference, UNESCO; Invited to seminar by Brookings Institution, Washington; Chairman or Member of various Government Committees, Particular mention may be made of Official Language Policy Implementation (1962). Revision of CAS Minute (1964). Advisory Committee on Academy of Administrative Studies; Chairman, Manpower and Education Committee of the Ministry of Planning (1965). 1967 December – Competent Authority under section 86 of the Higher Education Act for the University of Colombo and Vidyalankara University.


A number of essays, articles and reviews published in Journals on literary, cultural and religious subjects both in English and Sinhala. Creator of the Sinhala word Rupavahini to the Sinhala vocabulary to identify the English word "Television" in 1954 at the Sandeshaya Programme of the BBC while participating at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association meeting in London. Creator of the Magazine "Tharangani" for Broadcasting at Radio Ceylon.

Religion and Culture

1948 - 2002 - Life member of Young Men’s Buddhist Association. (YMBA) 1952 – 2002 - Founder member of German Dharmadutha Society. 1952 - - Vice President German Dharmadutha Society 1966 – April 2000 - Member of the Board of Trustees German Dharmadutha Society


1992 - Nalanda Puthra Abhinandana Award – Service to the nation. awarded by alma mater Nalanda College, Colombo.

- Independent Television Network Sri Lanka award for contribution to Television Media.

1996 - Vishva Prasadhini Award. Conferred by the Honourable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike felicitation award for the field of Administration. 1996 - Award presented by Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation in appreciation of being the pioneer of the new social media service and the development of a very special identity and tradition for it. 1997 - Award for the contribution to Sri Lanka Librarianship. Presented by Sri Lanka Library Association. 1998 - Presidential (National) Award of Desabandu title conferred by Her Excellency the President of Sri Lanka for excellent Administrative Capabilities. 1999 - Hideo Shimizu Foundation Sri Lanka - Award for the excellent contribution towards the overall development of media policy planning in Sri Lanka. 2000 – Award presented by the University of Kelaniya in appreciation of the invaluable service rendered for a period over 30 years to University of Kelaniya in the capacity of Secretary, Ministry of Education, Competent Authority of the Vidyalankara University and Member of the Council of the University of Kelaniya. 2001 - Golden Award for older persons presented by Helpage Sri Lanka for excellence in Public Administration. 2004 - Award in appreciation of the distinguished and dedicated service rendered to the cause of Education in Sri Lanka. Presented by Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Education. 2012 - Felicitation award for the contribution for the Sri Lankan creative Literary work and for bringing glory to the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. Award presented by Sri Lanka Administrative Service Association.

See also

Further reading

"When life was simple" As told to D.C. Ranatunga by M. J. Perera former Civil Servant and Permanent Secretary to the Education and Cultural Affairs Ministry

"Livy's golden years on radio" by Noel Crusz

"Cultural orthodoxy and popular Sinhala music" an article by Dr. Tissa Abeysekara

"At the Berliner Ensemble" Henry Jayasena Column


  1. ^ "Gnanam Rathinam - a pioneer Radio Ceylon broadcaster". Retrieved 4 September 2008.
  2. ^ "The Golden Voice of Radio Ceylon (Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka)". Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2008.
  3. ^ "When Ceylon ruled the airwaves". Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2008.