Thomas Jayasuriya was the founder of the firm of Thomas Jayasuriya & Co. in 1967. Two years later, he was joined by John Kah. Subsequently, the firm changed its name to Jayasuriya Kah & Co. At the time of his demise, Thomas Jayasuriya was the most senior member of the Sabah Bar, having been admitted to practise as an advocate of the High Court of Borneo on 7th December, 1965.
Thomas Jayasuriya had a distinguished career both in the Government and the Law. He qualified as a Barrister-at-Law (Middle Temple, London) in 1955. From 1956 to 1964, he served in the Attorney-General Chambers, as Crown Counsel and at times as Acting Attorney-General. In 1964, he was appointed to the Sabah Cabinet as a Minister of Natural Resources and remained in the portfolio until 1967.
Thomas Jayasuriya commenced private practice as an advocate in Kota Kinabalu in 1967 initially dealing with criminal and personal injury cases. Over the years the practice grew and he became a well-known litigator in civil cases as well as tax appeals. The firm soon expanded its practice areas to include conveyancing, commercial and banking transactions.
In the profession, Thomas Jayasuriya was highly respected by fellow lawyers for his humility and ability. In the wider community, he was highly acclaimed as a kind and caring man.
Even after Thomas Jayasuriya had left Government, he was an adviser to successive State Governments on constitutional and public law. He was the founding Chairman of Sabah's first owned bank, and a member of many State owned bodies and agencies. He also sat on the board of directors of several public listed and private companies.
From 1986 to 1990, Thomas Jayasuriya was the Malaysian High Commissioner to Canada.
Thomas Jayasuriya devoted substantial energy to many public interest organisations. He was a past president of the Sabah Law Association and an admired leader of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu. As the first trustee of Seri Mengasih Trust, he helped to set up a school for special needs children. His welfare work for society was boundless, and the organisations that had benefitted from his generosity included Sabah Cancer Society, Palliative Care Association of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Society for the Blind, Sabah Senior Citizen Association and Progressive Education Foundation to name just a few.
For his services to the Country and State, Thomas Jayasuriya was bestowed the national award of Darjah Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) which carries the title "Tan Sri" and the highest Sabah state award of Seri Panglima Darjah Kinabalu (SPDK) which carries the title "Datuk Seri Panglima".
Goodbye, Tan Sri Thomas - our mentor and friend. We will miss you dearly and you will always have an honoured place in our story and our hearts.