Ms JODI McKAY (Strathfield) [5.25 p.m.]: It is with sadness that I bring to the attention of the House the passing of one of Strathfield's most loved and respected residents, Elagupillai Vijayaratnam. This is not the first time his name has been mentioned in this place. In my first address as the member for Strathfield I spoke of Vijay. Tonight I wear a sari as a show of respect to Vijay and to the Tamil community. I also give this address on the birthday of Ganesha. Vijay was born in Sri Lanka in 1932 and he passed on 7 July 2015. He is dearly missed by his family, friends, and the Homebush and Tamil communities.
Vijay's contribution to our community began in Sri Lanka. The terrible injustices that were perpetrated on the Tamil people shaped the way Vijay saw the world. He had a vision of a fairer, more tolerant society and he realised the power of education and language in safeguarding his community. It was Vijay who had the Tamil language included in the Higher School Certificate syllabus, and at his funeral his granddaughter told us of desire to keep the language alive. He told his grandchildren, "Speak in Tamil with your relatives—it is your identity. This is who you are and it is up to you to preserve it." Vijay was therefore a strong supporter of the Tamil Study Centre at Homebush, where every Saturday the Tamil language is taught and the Tamil culture celebrated.
As well as being an advocate for education, Vijay held numerous positions at the Sydney Murugan Temple, including that of president. He negotiated Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] land for the temple's use and had a signalised pedestrian crossing added on the Great Western Highway leading to the temple. The current temple president told the congregation at Vijay's funeral, "When devotees cross the road we feel proud of him." Vijay was also an active member of the Saiva Manram and spoke at all meetings. The last meeting he addressed was on 28 June, and that speech will long be remembered.
He was actively involved in the Tamil Senior Citizens' Benevolent Society and the Sydney Tamil Resource Centre. He was kind and generous with his time. As Samy Pasupati said at his funeral, "He was caring and noble. It would perhaps be correct to say that he saw people with his heart." Vijay was also a member of the Labor Party and in particular attended the Strathfield branch. He represented everything that is good in our party. He helped successive members of Parliament and never asked for anything for himself, only for his community. On behalf of the community of Strathfield and the Labor Party of New South Wales, I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the Tamil community. He will be missed by us all. Nandri, Vijay.