I am greatly honoured to be asked by the Awarelogue Initiative to speak at their Lecture Forum in this year of 2021, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the advent of universal franchise in Sri Lanka. In my lecture, I shall touch on some of the complex problems of governance and policy faced by a small multi-ethnic island, flanked as it is and always has been, by economic and political superpowers.
Dr. Thomas Drummond-Shiels: Donoughmore Commissioner 1927/28: Labour MP for Edinburgh 1924 -31; Under Secretary of State for the Colonies 1929-31
Dr, D. Chandraratna in The Island, 11 June 2021, where the title reads “An Appreciation: Rajeewa Jayaweera: A Void Hard to fill” …. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
On 11 June, 2020, when we heard the distressing news of Rajeewa Jayaweera’s untimely death, I wrote an appreciation from afar that he was a public intellectual who had contributed immensely to public debate, mostly on our relations with India and to a lesser extent with the Western countries. Coming from a fortunate background, and immersed in the diplomatic life of his father he took a scholarly interest in foreign affairs. Few in Sri Lanka has contributed so much to the subject recently as much as Rajeewa, to bring into public discussion our relations with the world community. His accounts were a ‘learned and incisive appraisal of events’ particularly during the turbulent times of the threat posed by separatism. In this article on the first death anniversary I wish to justify my assertion about Rajeewa by way of an appreciation with a difference.
In mid-May I received a short note from a Sri Lankan [SR] in Colombo which contained potentially severe criticisms of the colonisation programmes initiated by the colonial and post-colonial government in the course of the 20th century. Insofar as this comment arose from his reading of my interview with the British CCS man Dyson (within the Roberts Oral History Project of the 1960s), it embraced events and processes that commenced in the 1920s and centred on the programmes fostered by DS Senanayake. His thoughts on the agricultural policies were far-reaching, albeit brief.
After discovering the Lorenz letters in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society in the 1980s I worked on the history of the island in the ninetenth cenury-and-thereafter with aid from Percy Colin-Thome and Ismeth Raheem in a book which apeared as People Inbetween under the imprint of Sarvodaya Book Publishing Services in 1989. One of its central themes is embodied in a chapter entitled “Colonial Transitions: The Development of Colombo’s Hegemonic Power.”
Mathias Keitle, a German scholar from Statalendorf ++
Sri Lanka eliminated a dreaded terrorist group, with intricate global links, but receives little credit for it! Unlike elsewhere in the world, Sri Lanka has succeeded in resettling 300,000 IDPs (Internal Displaced Persons). There are no starving children for the NGOs to feed but this gets ignored!
Sri Lanka has avoided mass misery, epidemics and starvation, but the West takes no notice of this. Sri Lanka has attained enviable socio-economic standards for a developing country while eliminating terrorism but gets no
“PUL ELIYA” QUOTATIONS AS PRESENTED to the CCS and other personnel
I quote some passages from a book by Dr. E. Leach entitled “Pul Eliya A Village in Ceylon” (Cambridge, 1961). He is a socia1anthropologist who lived for several months in Pul Eliya, a Dry Zone Anuradhapura area village, in the mid 1950’s. There are some interesting passages pertaining to Government regulations and their practical implementation. While these views pertain largely to the 1940’s and 1950’s they are, both implicitly and explicitly, held to apply to most of the 20th century for he has also delved into past records. I present some for your comments.
Nirmala Chandrahasan,in The Island, 28 December 2020, where the title reads “In defence of Provincial Councils”
The Provincial Councils, like the windmills in Cervante’s Don Quixote, are having brickbats thrown at, and cantankerous knights tilting at them. In this piece I would like to answer some of the criticisms made against the Provincial Councils. But before I do so I note that the Prime Minister has announced that the Provincial Council elections will be held once the ground situation is ready for it. This welcome statement puts paid to all the critics, it being generally acknowledged that the Prime Minister as an experienced and consummate politician would know the political climate in the country and act accordingly.
Preamble: This article is prompted by the recent announcement that the Cabinet will soon consider a proposal to conduct Provincial Council (PC) elections without delay. The article is intended to urge that the PC system should be abolishedand replaced by constitutional devices to ensure: (a) genuine sharing of political power among all primordial, áscriptive and associational groups that constitute the nation of Sri Lanka; and (b) the statutory protection of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity which the PC system, as long as it is permitted to last, will remain in dire peril. The article is also intended to stimulate the memory of those who appear to have forgotten the circumstances that culminated in the enactment of legislation in 1987 to establish PCs. There appears to prevail a measure of complacency among some of our present political stalwarts based on the notion that, with their two-thirds majority in parliament, and with the 20th Amendment in place, they ought to let the status quo remain intact. This, I think, is quite silly. Apart from the fact that landslide electoral victories tend often to be brittle, those who were in the forefront of empowering the present regime are already reacting with dismay to the decision to re-establish the PCs.
While this work was in progress a partial consolidation was pursued by transcribing the spoken word into written typescript. The ‘engine’ for this process was my wife Shona Roberts. Looking at some dates I find that some of this work began at Bath Place Oxford itself. The bulk of the work, however, was undertaken in Sri Lanka when we were living in an annexe at Siebel Place off Peradeniya Road in Kandy. I could not type then, so the task was wholly Shona’s — a difficult job managing the spools and demanding rewinds often. I chipped in by listening and correcting the typed scripts [which then had to be re-typed]. All this was seen to in the period April 1966 to mid-1970– a stage that saw the birth of our second child Maya Samantha in February 1967 and also involved child-minding and housekeeping tasks.
It would not be amiss to cast Shona as the “Heroine of Siebel Place.”The Adelaide University records indicate that there are a total of 1720 pages of transcripts!
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.