Category Archives: parliamentary elections

W. Dahanayake: A Prime Minister like no other

Nihal De Alwis of Kalahe, Richmond & Nugegoda …. whose preferred title was “The World’s Poorest Prime Minister”

Most Srilankans would by now have forgotten the poorest Prime Minister the World had, the  late Dr W. Dahanayake! “W” was a poor man’s politician. When he lost as Prime Minister after the 1960 elections, he gathered his suitcase and asked his Secretary Mr. Bradman Weerakoon to drop him at the Fort Station to take a train to Galle.  Bradman then told him that it was his responsibility to see that he  goes home safely and provided him with a pool vehicle in which the former PM proceeded to Galle where he lived with his twin brother  K. Dahanayake. He had no vehicle of his own, nor did he have a house, and it was his twin brother “K” who provided him free  accommodation with his office room in front.

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Nihal Seneviratne on Lanka’s MPs Through the Decades

Nihal Seneviratne in Riveting Q and A with Sharlton Benedict, 16 July 2021

A Clerk Reminisces: Nihal Seneviratne (former Sec. Gen. of Parliament) on #NewslineSL – 16 July 2021

PS: Nihal has always been known as “Galba” in my circle … and never posed as a Lord or Walauwwa Hamu. He was raised initially in my home town of Galle and it was pleasing to see his honesty of purpose in this set of exchanges….. The Editor Thuppahi

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Out Out British Spot: Gladstone Expelled from Sri Lanka

Chandani Kirinde, in Financial Times, 30 June 2021, where the title is “The Gladstone Affair: ‘A Sri Lankan Tempest’,”

Just 18 hours after landing in the country in June 1987, David Gladstone had an audience with President J.R. Jayewardene. All too soon, the President had taken him into his confidence.

Retired diplomats spending their days penning down their memoirs recounting their heyday of holding fort among the rich and powerful in foreign lands is not unusual. But then how many among them have had the dubious honour of being declared ‘persona non grata’ by a host nation and given marching orders after being accused of crossing the line into territory that is out of bounds for diplomats?

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Political Crisis and Ethnic Conflicts in Sri Lanka: A Rejoinder to Michael Roberts

K. M. de Silva, being an article published in the Ethnic Studies  Report, Vol. 6/1, January 1988 …. a riposte to a Review of his book Managing Ethnic Tensions in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka, 1880-1985, (1985)

                                          I 

I have long believed that the author of a book under review should not bother to write replies to reviewers however perverse he believes the latter to be. After all he has had his say at greater length than the reviewer. My present departure from this practice, and the response I write to Michael Roberts’s review of my book Managing Ethnic Tensions in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Sri Lanka 1880-1985 stems from two considerations. Invited to write a short review (1,500 words or so) in the style of the present journal Michael Roberts writes a review essay of 20,000 words. It has been reduced to about 2/3rds its length for our journal but it is still the longest review we have published. Secondly, he proceeds to write two reviews of the same book, one for this journal, and one for another [see p. 61 above, Michael Roberts 1987 (a)]

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For Lanka’s Future and Serenity: Skanda’s Appeal from the Heights of Haputale

Somasundaram Skandakumar …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

A path to prosperity for Sri Lanka will ONLY evolve when the majority community that so passionately talks about Buddhism have it in them to abide by Lord Buddha’s profound teaching, in their hearts, minds and in Public.

It was the Lord who wished for ALL beings to be happy. It was the same Lord who said that when ALL beings are happy, nature will smile on the Country and prosperity will be assured from the ensuing blessings.

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Outdated Colonial Political Demarcations are No Foundation for Governance

Gerald H. Peiris, in The Island, 16 & 17 December 2020, where the title runs thus: “Province-based Devolution in Sri Lanka: a Critique”  …. https://island.lk/province-based-devolution-in-sri-lanka-a-critique-2/

  1. 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 abolished and 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.

John D’Oyly negotiating with Kandyan chiefs

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Bonapartist Autocracy in Sri Lanka from 1977 Onwards

Uditha Devapriya who notes that the article that followw here was published in two parts by “The Island” in its “Midweek Review” of December 2 and December 9, 2020. It has since  been edited to incorporate information which at the time of writing the author was not able to add.

 Napoleone di Buonaparte

I: Viewed in retrospect, the yahapalanaya regime seems almost a bad memory now, best forgotten. This is not to underrate its achievements, for the UNP-SLFP Unity Government did achieve certain things, like the Right to Information Act. It soon found out, however, that it couldn’t shield itself from its own reforms; that’s how 2015 led to 2019. Despite its laudable commitment to democratic rule, the yahapalanists reckoned without the popularity of the man they ousted at the ballot box. November 2019, in that sense, was a classic example of a populist resurrection unparalleled in South Asia, though not in Asia: a government touting a neoliberal line giving way to a centre-right populist-personalist.

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Democracy under the Gun in Sri Lanka

Jayadeva Uyangoda, in Sri Lanka Guardian 24 September 2020, where the title is “The End of Sri Lanka’s Democracy”

The debate on the proposed 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution is gathering momentum. The proposal, which has been published in the Government Gazette, is indeed a constitutional bombshell, literally. Its provisions are very destructive in their objectives as well as consequences. 

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The Democratization Process in Ceylon, 1832-1948

Michael Roberts: “The Democratization Process in Sri Lanka,”  being the text of an Illustrated Lecture on Video presented to The May 18 Memorial Foundation in Korea in early September 2020 …. as part of a series encompassing several countries — organised by Professor Inrae You. The Lecture was, as I understood it, for highschool students.

The democratisation process began in the period of British rule in the 20th century. It would however be unwise to start with the early 20th century. One should look at the prehistory of the island of Ceylon before that. Ceylon, Ceilão, Sihalē had forms of autocratic kingship well before the European colonial powers came to Asia and set up their colonies.

Rajasinghe II of Sihale ruling from Mahanuvara and receiving homage (dakuma) from the Dutch

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Ethnic Knots Today: The How

Javid Yusuf, in Island, August 2020, and also PRESSREADER where the title is “Resolving the Ethnic Conflict-  making a difficult task that much more difficult”

One of the most complex problems faced by the country after independence has been the “ethnic conflict” that resulted in a civil war that consumed the country for over three decades.  Although the conflict was not between two ethnicities (the Sinhalese and Tamils) but in reality between the State and the Tamil community, the label “ethnic conflict” has become the common parlance used to describe the events around this long drawn out conflict. Basically it has been an attempt by the Tamil politicians to persuade successive Governments to restructure the State so as to address Tamil concerns.

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