In an open letter to the president, Dr. Nesiah has said :
7th November 2018
His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena,
I write as a loyal citizen of Sri Lanka and a proud recipient of the great titular honour of 'Deshamanya' that Your Excellency saw fit to confer on me in March of 2017. My children, grandchildren, other relatives and close friends gathered from three continents in celebrating the award and the Presidential recognition of my services to our great nation.
I barely knew you earlier but my family, friends and I were greatly elated when you were elected President. That elation and hope, Your Excellency, has given way to disappointment over your very blatant flouting of our seventy year old democracy, in recent weeks.
As a loyal and patriotic Sri Lankan but I see no alternative to regretfully return the 'Deshamanya' medal and certificate that you awarded me. I am currently overseas and will make arrangements to return the medal and certificate to your office, when I come back to Sri Lanka.
Your Excellency, my decision isn’t one that I’ve taken lightly, or in haste. To always act in accordance with my principles is a burden that I’ve embraced with pride for nearly 60 years, since I first enrolled as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service. My long career in the civil service, was often stymied under both UNP and SLFP regimes for my refusal to compromise my values.
Since I can no longer take pride in the title of 'Deshamanya' that you’ve conferred on me, I have no option but to return my treasured medal and certificate.
Dr. Devanesan Nesiah