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SWRD Bandaranaike: Assassination of a Prime Minister

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

September 26th 1959 is an important date in the post-independence history of Sri Lanka. It was on this day fifty years ago that the Prime Minister Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (SWRDB) of the then Ceylon passed away . He had been shot the previous day by a Buddhist priest.

The past decades have seen hundreds of political assassinations in Sri Lanka. Both Tamil and Sinhala armed groups have been responsible for these killings at different times and locations.

An executive President, leader and former leader of the opposition, cabinet ministers and ex-cabinet ministers, Parliamentarians and former Parliamentarians, provincial council ministers, heads of district councils and local authorities have all been assassinated. A head of state survived an assassination attempt but lost an eye.

The assassinations of those who held or were holding high political office have been so numerous in recent times that most people have lost count of such assassinations.

SWRD Bandaranaike

Against this backdrop the solitary assassination that occurred 50 years ago may seem insignificant to some. What has to be remembered is that the incident was the first of its type in independent Sri Lanka. The impact of that single assassination was tremendous at that time. It is pertinent therefore to delve into that assassination and its aftermath fifty years later on this day.

Somarama

Apart from the Prime minister’s official residence “Temple Trees” at Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Bandaranaike also divided his time between the ancestral manor at Horagolla Walauwe and his private residence “Tintagel” on Rosemead place, Colombo. SWRDB was at “Tintagel” on that fateful day.

A Buddhist priest named Ven. Talduwe Somarama Thero came to meet Bandaranaike by prior appointment on the morning of September 25th 1959. The priest was a lecturer at the college of Ayurveda medicine at Borella.Talduwe Somarama’s name at Birth was Talduwe Ratugama Rallage Weris Singho.

He was born on August 27th 1915 to Ratugama Rallage Dieris Appuhamy and Iso Hamy. He was educated at the Talduwe Ihala school and donned the yellow robes on Jan 20th 1929 at the age of fourteen. He was ordained in Kandy on June 25th 1936 at the age of twenty-one.

The premier of the nation was in the front verandah of his house meeting people who had come to see him. People stood in line awaiting their turn. Talduwe Somarama also waited patiently in the queue for his turn.

When the priest’s name was announced Bandaranaike got up respectfully, walked up and knelt down as was the custom in greeting a Buddhist priest. As the prime minister was getting up the Buddhist priest took out a pistol concealed in his robes and fired four times at point blank range hitting the victim in the abdomen and chest.

There was pandemonium as a bleeding SWRDB went down. The Policemen on duty and enraged people surrounded Somarama who was shouting excitedly that he did so for the “country, race and religion”.

SECURITY

After a minor scuffle Somarama was apprehended. He may have been manhandled by the furious crowd but for Bandaranaike himself who urged the people not to harm the priest in any way. He was taken away by the Police amidst tight security.

Tragically Bandaranaike never suspected any threat to his person and was unbelievably unconcerned about security. Given the levels of security available to VVIP’s today it is mind boggling to know that only a Police sergeant was in charge of the Prime Minister’s security 50 years ago.

When attempts were made by concerned Police officials to provide Bandaranaike with a personal bodyguard, Bandaranaike reluctantly agreed. A Police sub-inspector was assigned. Bandaranaike asked him to go back after a few days saying that a Sub-inspector should attend to more important duties and requested a few Police constables instead.

With law and order deteriorating the Government passed a bill in 1959 amending the Public Security Act thereby expanding executive powers to deal with breakdown of civil disorder. Speaking on that occasion Bandaranaike said that twelve Jet bombers would be procured for the Air Force and that two Frigates and several motor boats will be obtained for the Navy. Ironically the deadline set by him for tenders to be called was September 30th 1959.

MAGNANIMOUS

Bandaranaike was rushed to the General Hospital at Borella and admitted to the Merchants ward. In a message issued to the nation from his hospital bed the Prime minister was extremely magnanimous towards the man who shot him.

Instead of referring to him directly as a Buddhist priest,SWRDB described him “as a foolish man dressed in the robes of a monk”. The premier also called upon the government and authorities to “show compassion to this man and not try to wreak vengeance on him”.

This well-intentioned magnanimity may have had unintended, dangerous consequences but for the prompt action of Sir Oliver Goonetilleke who was Governor-General at that time. Sir Oliver gave strict instructions to the Police to be vigilant against any sign of violence erupting.

Given the prevailing political atmosphere of anti-Tamil feelings running high the immediate suspicion was that the assassin was Tamil. News began spreading that the name of the man who shot the premier was “Somaraman”. A Tamilised version of Somarama.

When Bandaranaike spoke of a “man dressed in the robes of a monk” rumours started to circulate that that a Tamil had dressed up as a Buddhist priest and shot the Prime minister. Tamils in Colombo were very nervous but thanks to the Police being vigilant nothing happened.

Thanks to Sir Oliver the media was “advised” to reveal clearly without delay that the assassin was not a Tamil. The anti-Tamil feelings began subsiding. A replay of the 1958 violence was averted.

Some of the top doctors in Colombo performed surgery on Bandaranaike for six long hours but to no avail. The fourth Prime minister of Independent Ceylon passed away on September 26th 1959 exactly twenty-two hours after he had been shot.

But as news of the investigation into the killing was published in the newspapers a wide range of conspiracy theories started floating. They gathered momentum with suspects being arrested and charged. The accusing finger was pointing inwards to prominent Sinhala personalities.

1956 ELECTIONS

The important question however was the reason for the assassination. Why did Talduwe Somarama assassinate the Prime Minister? Who were the people who conspired to kill Bandaranaike ? In order to obtain a proper understanding it is necessary to briefly examine recent history.

The Parliamentary elections of 1956 was a watershed in the political history of this Island nation. The United National Party (UNP) that was inpower from 1947 was defeated .The Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by SWRD Bandaranaike swept the polls as part of a coalition known as the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP). Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister of Ceylon.

Even as the 1956 victory hailed as a people’s revolution ushered in a new government of the common people described as “Apey Aanduwe”(Our Government) the state of ethnic relations in the country deteriorated drastically.

Sinhala had been declared the sole official language of the country. Non-violent protests by Tamil parties were disrupted through organized violence. There were anti-Tamil race riots. Attempts to resolve the crisis through political arrangements were aborted because of extremist opposition. Bandaranaike who rode to power by pledging many things was wanting in performance. There was growing disillusion in the country and increasing dissension within government ranks.

RIGHT vs LEFT

The MEP coalition was an assorted mix of different political persuasion. There was also in broader terms a division along the traditional right-wing and left wing politics. The “Boralugoda Sinhaya” Philip Gunewardena commanded the leftists while the duo comprising “Minneriya Deiyo” CP de Silva and “Banis Maamaa” Wijayananda Dahanayake led the rightists.

The country was undergoing vertical and horizontal tensions. On the one hand there was overt inter-ethnic strife on the grounds of race while there was on the other hand covert tussles on the basis of class and ideology. Sadly the racial dimension was exaggerated or distorted to divert focus away or under-emphasise the class dimension.

Bandaranaike himself had begun acting against his class interests. The nationalization of bus transport, Insurance companies and Colombo harbor etc were some of the socialist measures enacted by the SWRDB government.Since most of the vested interests affected by these measures were UNP or pro-UNP it did not matter much to the regime.

But the Paddy Lands Act pushed through mainly due to efforts of Philip Gunewardena regarded as the “Father of Marxism” in the country had different repercussions. The act provided greater rights and concessions to the long suffering tenant cultivators.

There was however a large segment of semi-feudal, land-owning lasses supportive of the SLFP also. The Paddy Lands act hit these sections and there was resentment. This discontent was reflected in SWRD’s domestic sphere too as his wife Sirima came from an aristocratic family owning extensive property.

An anecdotal illustration of this mood goes like this. When SWRD,Philip and a few others were discussing the issue at the Bandaranaike residence, Sirima herself had surprised the gathering by participating in the conversation something she usually avoided in those days. When Mrs. Bandaranaike started berating Philip her enraged husband shouted at her to stop saying “Sirima Kusiya,Kusiya” (Sirima, Kitchen,kitchen).

In any event the right-wingers in the party were worried about the ascendancy of the left in government and party and began plotting a reactionary counter-strike. The aim was to drive out or undermine the leftist tendency within MEP folds.

BUDDHARAKKITA

The dynamo behind right-wing machinations was a charismatic Buddhist prelate Venerable Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thero who was the Viharadhipathy or chief incumbent of the historic Kelaniya Raja maha vihara.

The priest’s influence was mainly due to his politics. He was the founder and secretary of the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (United Bhikku Front) representing politicized sections of the Buddhist clergy. The Bhikku Front played a crucial role in mobilizing support for the MEP during the 1956 elections.

Contrary to tenets of “Vinaya” Buddharakkita Thero had also discreetly dabbled in commerce and had large sums of money at his disposal. The powerful priest had spent a lot of cash for the MEP election campaign.

His clout therefore was massive with the government and was in a sense the Rasputin or Richelieu of Sri Lanka. He was also a hawkish communalist and spearheaded the campaign against the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam pact. Hundreds of Buddhist priests demonstrated against it thereby compelling Bandaranaike to abrogate it unilaterally. Mapitigama was the mastermind.

Now it was the priest’s mission to “cleanse” the government of leftists. The annual party convention for 1959 was held in Kurunegala. Bandaranaike presiding over the sessions was trying hard to maintain balance by containing the assertive right.It was then that Ven Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thero made his move.

He strode into the convention belligerently and everyone stood up. There atmosphere was electrified. Once he arrived the mood began transforming. The right wing was on the ascendant. Internal party elections saw the “leftist” candidates being defeated decisively. It was a “right” royal sweep.

This heralded the exit of the left. On may 18th 1959 the Agriculture and Food minister Philip Gunewardena and PH William Silva the Industries and Fisheries minister resigned their portfolios. Bandaranaike formed a fresh cabinet on June 9th. Senator WPH de Silva who retained his Justice ministership resigned two days later. Seven leftists MP’s quit ranks thus depleting the government’s Parliamentary strength to just 47 out of 101.

CONSPIRACY

The purge of leftists and assertion of rightists was a conspiracy to shackle SWRD Bandaranaike. The intention was to transform him into a puppet but the aristocratic Oxonian though beleaguered would not give in totally to Buddharakkita diktat.

Irritated by this the “kingmaker” priest now decided to remove Bandaranaike altogether.The flashpoint causing this change of mind was not race,class or ideology.It was sordid commerce.The issue that rankled was the refusal to hand over a lucrative Shipping contract to Buddharakkita’s favourite.

Thus Buddharakkita along with a clique conspired to assassinate Bandaranaike. The unwitting instrument was Talduwe Somarama Thero who was an ardent Sinhala Buddhist nationalist. Being highly emotional Somarama was easily manipulated by Buddharakkita who convinced him into believing that the prime minister was a traitor to the country,race and religion and therefore should be eliminated. He was a mere cat’s paw.

The tripartite forces who campaigned effectively for Bandaranaike in 1956 were Buddhist priests, Ayurvedic medical practitioners and teachers. It was said that “Sanga, Veda and Gura” were responsible for installing Bandaranaike as Prime minister.

The bitter irony was that Bandaranaike’s assassin was a “three-in-one” personality representing all three. Somarama was a Bhikku , an Ayurvedic doctor and a lecturer in the Ayurvedic college. The tripartite forces who brought SWRDB to power were now personified in the man who killed him.

DAHANAYAKE

After Bandaranaike’s death, the Education Minister Wijayananda Dahanayake was sworn in as Prime Minister. The colourful Parliamentarian became PM through luck.Lands and Irrigation minister CP de Silva was the most senior minister and leader of the house.

But what happened was that on August 25th CP drank a glass of milk during cabinet meeting and was taken ill. So bad was his condition that he had to fly to Britain for medical treatment. The rumour then was that CP de Silva had accidently drunk a poisoned glass meant for Bandaranaike. He was still in London when the assassination occurred.

Bandaranaike had earlier been scheduled to fly to New York on the evening of September 26th to attend the UN general assembly sessions. Since CP de Silva was away Bandaranaike decided to get Dahanayake appointed as acting premier. On September 24th , SWRDB had prepared and signed the papers authorizing the Governor-General to swear in Dahanayake as acting prime minister.

So when Bandaranaike died it was Dahanayake who donned the premier’s mantle. The new prime minister committed a grave blunder without realizing its implications.Since Buddharakkita Thero was a powerful force behind the throne and an influential figure in the Country , Dahanayake tried in his own way to ingratiate himself with the Bhikku.

Little realizing that Buddharakkita was the evil genius behind the assassination the new premier got the priest down to Temple Trees and arranged for an address to the nation over the radio on Bandaranaike.

Notwithstanding a metaphorical mix-up one could say that the heights of hypocrisy and depths of duplicity were reached when Buddharakkita waxed eloquent about the murder of Bandaranaike. An unsuspecting Dahanayake sullied his reputation by being party to such a deceitful act. Later when Buddharakkita was arrested the rumour mills started grinding and Dahanayake too was a target of suspicion.

ARRESTS

Another person whose name featured in conspiracy theories was Junius Richard Jayewardena. This was due to another person a businessman named Jayewardena being implicated in the conspiracy.But these rumours ceased when the real MCcoy was arrested.

The notorious underworld figure from Colombo Ossie Corea was also arrested. This too fuelled rumours that Ossie was acting on behalf of some UNP politicians.But subsequently Ossie Corea was also discharged.

The finance minister of the time Stanley de Zoysa was also a casualty. His brother FR de Zoysa a businessman was also one of the suspects. When FR de Zoysa was arrested on November21st his brother Stanley resigned his portfolio on Nov 23rd.

Another brother Sidney de Zoysa who was senior DIG of Police was sent on compulsory leave. But FR de Zoysa though arrested was cleared of suspicion and released. Sidney was re-instated by Dahanayake as secretary of a newly set up internal security ministry.

In a sensational development Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thero was arrested on October 20th. This immediately caused pressure to be mounted on former Health and current Local government minister Vimala Wijewardene to resign. Mapitigama Buddharakkita was regarded as being very close to Vimala and had supported her politically in her polls campaign.

Though a kinswoman of JR Jayewardena, ms. Wijewardene had contested against her nephew in the Kelaniya electorate in 1952. Buddharakkita had spent 60,000 rupees (a princely sum those days) for the campaign though she lost. In 1956 Buddharakkita had spent more than a lakh for her successful campaign in the Mirigama constituency.

The relationship between Vimala and Buddharakkita was the subject of several scurrilous pamphlets and sensational tabloids. Both had allegedly complained to Bandaranaike urging that action be taken to stop them. But SWRDB refused to do so and this fuelled resentment against the prime minister.

So when Buddharakkita was arrested there was suspicion that Vimala too was involved in the conspiracy and should resign. But when Dahanayake asked her to resign the lady refused saying she was innocent. Finally when she was arrested on November 21st , Dahanayake had no choice other than to dismiss her from cabinet.In fairness to her it must be noted that her innocence was subsequently proved and cleared of complicity in the crime.

CHARGED

November 26th 1959 saw seven persons being charged in the magistrate’s court of Colombo on a charge of conspiring to murder SWRD Bandaranaike. They were

1. Mapitigama Buddharakkita Thero

2. Hemachandra Piyasena Jayawardena

3. Pallihakarage Anura de Silva

4. Talduwe Somarama Thero

5. Weerasooriya Arachchige Newton Perera

6. Vimala Wijewardene

7. Amerasinghe Arachchige Carolis Amerasinghe

In addition to this Somarama Thero the fourth accused was also charged with commitment of murder. Within a short time the seventh accused AAC Amerasinghe received a conditional pardon in terms of section 283 of the Criminal procedure code and thereafter became a witness for the prosecution.

Non-summary proceedings began and after an eight-month long magisterial inquiry , the sixth accused Vimala Wijewardene was cleared of all charges of conspiracy and deemed innocent of any complicity. She was discharged on July 15th 1960. Her political career had effectively ended and in later years became religiously inclined and was a regular participant of Christian revival meetings.

The Supreme court trial began on 22nd February 1961 with an English speaking Jury before Justice TS Fernando. Ninety-seven witnesses testified and were cross examined. The Solicitor-General AC Alles conducted the case on behalf of the prosecution while Lucien Weeramanthri was lead lawyer for the defence.

The trial concluded on May 12th 1961 after fifty-five days of hearing. The proceedings were well publicized and extensively reported in the media. Within five days the Jury returned its verdict.

The third accused Anura de Silva was acquitted with the jury voting unanimously in his favour. The fifth accused Newton Perera was acquitted on a divided verdict with five voting in favour of the accused and two against.

CONVICTED

The Jury found the first accused Buddharakkita Thero, second accused HP Jayewardena and fourth accused Somarama Thero guilty by a unanimous verdict.Death sentence was pronounced on all three of them. All three faced death by hanging.

It may be recalled that a dying Bandaranaike had urged compassion be shown to his killer. Contrary tohis wishes the SLFP regimes in power displayed a terrible vindictiveness rather than bestowing clemency.

When Bandaranaike was Prime minister his government had passed the suspension of Capital punishment act no 20 of 1958.This led to the death penalty being suspended from May 9th 1958.

In the aftermath of Bandaranaike’s assassination the Dahanayake government revised its stance hastily.Within a week a gazette extraordinary proclamation dated October 2nd 1959 the death penalty was re-introduced. This no doubt was to impose maximum penalty on those responsible for the assassination.

Thereafter new legislation was introduced. The Capital punishment (Repeal) Act was passed after speedy debate in Parliament.It became law on December 7th 1959. An obnoxious feature was the new law’s retrospective effect. It was crystal clear that the intention was to inflict the death penalty on those responsible for the earlier assassination of September 26th.

The best laid plans of men and mice turn awry.Though all three convicted persons would have had to face the death penalty there was a loophole that could help Buddharakkita and Jayewardena.

Before the suspension of capital punishment act was passed even those guilty of murder and a murder conspiracy had to face death as punishment. But section 2 of the suspension act ensured that capital punishment not be imposed for the murder offence and conspiracy for the commission of murder.The punishment was reduced to a maximum of life imprisonment.

In their haste to repeal the suspension act and re-impose the death penalty with retrospective effect the Dahanayake regime had made a slip. While the repeal act specifically provided for sentence of death for a person convicted for murder committed prior to December 2nd 1959 there was no similar provision made specifically for the offence of conspiracy to commit murder.

APPEAL

All three convicted persons appealed against their death sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeal. It was argued on behalf of Buddharakkita and Jayewardena that the maximum punishment for the offence of conspiring to commit murder was rigorous imprisonment for life.

The Appeal court concurred with the submission.The appeal of all three were dismissed but courts amended the sentences imposed on Buddharakkita and Jayewardena from death to rigorous life imprisonment. Thus both were saved from the gallows due to a legal loophole.

All three resorted to have their verdicts reversed by the Judicial committee of the Privy council. Applications for special leave to appeal to Her Majesty in Privy Council by all three convicted persons were refused by an order of the Privy Council in May 1962.

VENGEFUL

An SLFP government led by Bandaranaike’s widow was now in office. The most powerful minister in her cabinet was a nephew Felix Dias Bandaranaike. Despite SWRD’s plea for clemency the SLFP government was unforgivingly ruthless. Angered by the Appeal court decision the government decided to go ahead and enact special legislation.

On January 18th 1962 the Parliament’s order paper carried notice of presentation of the capital punishment (Special provisions) bill. It was presented by CP de Silva the leader of the House.

It dealt specifically with the Bandaranaike assassination and made express provision for execution of those convicted for murder and conspiracy to murder the former premier. Clause 3 of the bill rendered null and void the Appeal courts decision to alter death sentence to life imprisonment for those guilty of conspiracy.

The malevolent nature of the bill evoked loud protests and outcry. It was obvious that a vengeful government was planning to condemn to the gallows persons who benefited from a legal loophole. LSSP leader and eminent lawyer Dr. Colvin R de Silva summed up the bill pithily by observing that the “barbarous bill amounted to murder by statute”.

Appalled by the adverse reaction and widespread opposition the government simply withdrew the bill on January 25th on the pretext that an appeal to the Privy council was in progress. On January 27th 1962 the Country was shocked by news of an abortive coup d’etat. With that the focus on the Bandaranaike assassination shifted.

But in 1963 the Sirima Bandaranaike government appointed a commission of inquiry on the Bandaranaike assassination. Justice TS Fernando,Justice Abdel Younis from Egypt (UAR) and Justice GC Mills-Odich from Ghana were the commissioners. After perusing earlier material and questioning more witnesses the commission released a report as sessional paper III of 1964.

EXECUTION

Meanwhile Talduwe Somarama Thero prepared himself to face death.He thanked in open court his counsel Weeramanthri who appeared free for him “I thank my counsel who defended me at this trial like a true lion.”

Somarama had stopped wearing the yellow robes when appearing in Courts causing Justice Fernando to observe that Somarama “had a streak of conscience as he did not attend court in his saffron robes.”

Weeks before his execution Somarama was converted to Christianity and was baptised in his cell by an Anglican Priest.

He was hanged in the Welikade gallows on July 6th 1962.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj2005@yahoo.com

122 Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    I was in the Police force when SWRD was killed and serving in Colombo.Your article brings back bittersweet memories. Its well written and captures the time and mood of that period. Well done DBS and keep on writing

  2. Mathiyaparanam says:

    Banda did not realise what the future would be when he unleashed extremist forces so that he could capture power. He harnessed yellow power and ultimately it was yellow power that devoured him.

    I was living in a Colombo chummery and working at the Labour dept. I remember the panic we were in when rumours that a Tamil called Somaraman had pretended to be Buddhist priest and killed Banda

    As Jeyaraj has rightly said we Tamils were very worriedabout riots again but mercifully nothing happened due to Sir Oliver

    I congratulate DBS Jeyaraj for a very fine article giving detailed information about assassination

  3. Babapulle says:

    Excellent article DBS. Informative and interesting.

    He rode to power on the backs of Bhikkus, Vedamahathayas and guruwarayas. The point you made about his killer being a three in one and personifying the three forces was very striking

    That I think was poetic justice

  4. Martin Thomas says:

    If he was not killed he would have realized his mistake for asking Sinhala only and reversed his policy and resolved the Tamil problem. But fate took the whole issue in the opposit direction.

  5. confused confucius says:

    Is history going to repeat again?? I hope that they keep the gallows open again for the would be assassins.

    I believe people should go to school and know the world before becoming a priest. It’s a shame that people have to listen to sermons from school dropouts who doesn’t know anything apart from truanting.

    Sri Lankan blood is cursed…….. malice is so widespread that it is spearheaded by the own people who pledge to work against it. It’s a shame that this country couldn’t t create a single DALAI LAMA!!!!!!!!!

  6. UGK says:

    Interesting,
    I mentioned this SWRD monk issue so many times on various pages on this site.
    Now you devote an article to it.
    There is nothing minor about SL history in the 1950s or even during the latter days of the British rule. It was during these times that Buddhist extremism was becoming a major problem that continues to this day.
    It was this buddhist racism (mind you most Sinhalese are not buddhists. They claim to be but do not honour the Buddhas memory in any way), that created the LTTE and the civil war.

  7. Stephen Jones says:

    There is an excellent book on the assassination of Bandaranaike by Justice Sansoni. It is part of an excellent series on Sri Lankan crimes and they are available for a couple of hundred rupees in branches of Vijaya Yapa if you can find where they are on the shelves, and if there are any left.

    There was also the fact that Somarama and Vimala had considerable financial interests in a business venture that was being held up by Bandaranaike’s cabinet.

    It is generally held that Bandaranaike was killed by the fanaticism he unleashed. I think it would be truer, and more in consonance with Lankan political history over the last fifty years, to say he was killed for reasons of corruption and moral degeneration (the adulterous relationship between Vimala and Somarama), and resentment at his not banning the scurrilous pamphlets about the latter, using chauvinistic ideology to inveigle others into doing the dirty work.

  8. ashok says:

    What a difference 5o years have made. I think SWRD was an opportunist. This where everything statrted going wrong for SL.

    Eventhough SWRD became a buddhist to please the masses, I have heard that SWRD was a christian till the day died. Dr. Anthonies testified that he was wearing a cross when he died.

  9. ranjan says:

    oh d.b.s this is a comment on your recent oeuvre,

    i am a historian (that was my training at university and is my current academic profession)

    merci monsieur but are we missing something here?……….DBSJ

  10. sri says:

    Very informative artice.In fact SWRD was brought into power by Pancha maha Balavegaya .

    There is no doubt he was an opportunist and took the country’s politics in ethnic lines, which led to the cause of the civl war.He loved his fork and spoon and even eats egg hoppers with that. I had the opportunity of speaking to him in Pelmadulla in 1956 when I was only Twenty, when they hahad a rally next to my house.

    Sri
    Canada

  11. sri says:

    One point no body understand was why Mrs . B never was summoned to give evidence though she was physicaly present at the crime scene.Rumour those days was that gunman was osie corea and no somarama.

    Truth will never surface.

    Sri
    Canada

  12. Sam says:

    This man could have created a peacefull and prosperous country after the independence. Instead of uniting people, he chose the nationalistic view for short term political gains.. the rest is history. The island has been a living hell, mostly for the tamils in North East.

    I heard this guy was educated in Oxford…wasted. I guess he learnt nothing about humanity and equality.

  13. Roger Gunasekera says:

    Somarama was a pawn in rightwing politics. Converting to Christianity was a pathetic cop out. May he rot in hell with Velupillai.

  14. Gloria Abraham says:

    Very illuminating article as usual dear DBS. These insights of past history are very important and interesting.

    I cant help observing

    SWRD was a born and baptised Christian who changed religion to be Buddhist so he could capture political power. But finally he was shot by a Buddist priest who before death gets baptised as Christian

    God works in mysterious ways

  15. Arthur Ramesh says:

    I haven’t read much about SWRD but the way he was assasinated by someone who belongs to the same race makes me think he was fair to the minorities(Tamils) of Sri Lanka.

    History says that “Leaders who are fair are always assasinated by their own people(Race)”.

    Examples are Jesus, Gandhi, Yitzhak Rabin, etc.

  16. safa says:

    Communalism, Socialism, Nationalism are an explosive mix. Those who play with fire run the risk of getting burnt and SWRD the originator was not spared.

    These are unknown forces which when unleashed tend to destroy the moral fabric of society. I think what is happening today is just a continuation of what began in 1956. SWRD and a host of other leaders as well as the people have paid the price and still continuing.

  17. tamilni says:

    Sinhalese never learn, Not Sri Lanka it is Sin Lanka. You will never will see the peace. It is Hanuman’s fire is burning. Siata’s tears is still running. Ravanas ( SINHALAYAS )

  18. Elagu says:

    Hey DBS, good one on swrd

  19. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    Many Lankans wonder if MR & Bros will complete the destruction of the country SWRD began in 1956 -
    all, paradoxically, in the name of Buddhism and the
    Sinhala race. The much relied upon UTHR(J) record in their journal the comment of MR’s father in a Cabinet meeting in post-riot 1958 to discuss the “Tamil Problem” His answer appears to be brief and precise “Kill them all” Are the sons carrying out the fond wishes of the dear father? If they are, one must say they are succeeding to some degree – so far.

    ISS

  20. Sinhalese only SWRD Bandaranaike: Assassination of a Prime Minister by his Buddhist biku. Sinhalese, UNP, SLFP, JVP, are Monkeys with RAZOR Blade cutting others and themselves; have massacred, burnt and buried alive 300,000 Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese. The INDIGENOUS Tamils will regain Eelam from the occupying INDO-IRANIAN Sinhalese boat refugee Vijeya who butchered the Tamil Quvani after she rescued and married him.

  21. Sirisena says:

    Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan comment # 19 is absolute lies. Rajapaksa brothers father DA was never cabinet minister in 1958. He was never cabinet minister at all in SWRD cabinet. Dont attack dead man with lies. if you want to condemn the sons dont attack dead gentleman falsely

  22. Chandraprema says:

    comment no 19 under name of Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan accuses Mahinda, Basil, Gotabhaya, Chamal father Rajapaksa of making comment in Bandaranaike cabinet meeting after 1958 riots.Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says Rajapaksa said KILL THEM ALL (Tamils)

    I accuse Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan of total fabrication in this. He never said anything like that.

    I challenge Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan to produce UTHR (J) report that he has quoted

    There is no such report because no such thing happened
    Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan must not insult dead persons like this through false accusation

  23. A Silva says:

    Banda was in the UNP with DS and left the party when he realised that DS will make Dudly the next PM. He is not a socialist or marxist. But he realised the hearts and minds of the people who were leaned left due to Politcs of Philipp NM Wickremasinghe Peter Kenemen and after math of popular Hartal in 1952. And also there was growing Nationalisam among sinhala masses due to the 50-50 demand by Tamils I think Ponnambalam. Mettananda, Adikaram Iriyagolla was with that movement which was gathering momentum. So Banda understood where the wind was blowing. Banda with assistance of Buddharakkita, HP Jayawardena’s father Mohandas Jayawardena converted to Buddhisam and donned with National Dress.(I also heard that Bandaranayake requested then Bishop to kiss his ring when Bishop visited Banda at the Hospital after the shooting). Buddharakkita HP Jayawardena and Wimala immensely helped Banda to come to power. In 1926 Banda proposed Federal System to create three Federal states in SL. Chelvanayagam was his class mate. Banda eager to become PM berayed his conscience and went along with the Sinhala only and make Sinhala official language within twenty four hours. (His children and Grand children all were educated in English not in Sinhala). He mortgaged his properties to a well known Tamils to raise funds for the election. After comming to power He was true to his inborn character forget who helped him in the process of becoming PM. Buddha Rakkita and HPJ had a Shiping line business and Banda did not give his support to start this venture which angered them. Banda went into pact with Chelvanayagam and did not go with it when the majority sinhala buddhist were against it. He was not Honest in such dealing his objective was power nothing but the Power. The amunution used to kill banda came from Nawaloka Mudalali without knowing for what purpose it to be used.Revolver belonged to Ossie Corea also did not know the purpose as per the evidence. There was additional set of Sivura at the Murder scene There was a person who jumped over the parapat wall and ran saying “Machan wede hari’. Ossie found to shave his head as per vow at Kataragama. He escaped due to the proven alabai that he was with Proctor Karunaratne at Negombo courts to attend court on the fateful day.( I later met the driver Peter Pieris who was the Driver of the said lawyer who worked at our corporation whom I asked the veracity of this fact. He confirmed that it was true as he too was there being the Driver) Bunda was not a true Patriotic Man who acted acording to his conscience. He changed his policies and principles acording to the changing political climate and to remain in power. He cheated somany people and gave empty promises which he never wanted to fulfill. This Character broght him the four bullets directed to him by the Killer who himself was cheated by Bandaranayake, He brought misery to tamils Sihalease and to all Sr Lankans due to his selfish acts and deeds. Once Bandaranayakes Cousin went to him with his second daughter Yasmin when she was selected to enter Peradeniya University. Banda told Annete dont send your children to local universities. They will get spoiled. I will send my children abroad was his comment. Refer Yasmin’s “Relative Merits” Thjis reflects his true dubious character.

  24. Raja says:

    Poster # 19

    Don’t make yourself look like an ignorant fool, buddy.

    I think your mates not only killed scores of Tamils and got them killed in thousands but also chased them away from Srilanka in hundreds of thousands with no return .

    No Sinhalese could have ever achieved this.

  25. Arthur Ramesh, there’s a danger in applying an incomplete historical template. Many leaders have been killed by their own people for many reasons that have nothing to do with their fairness or otherwise to minorities. Anwar Sadat is one. Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam is another. If the assassination of Hitler had been successful, would it have meant that he was fair on the Jews?

  26. R.Veera says:

    Dear DBs,
    Thankyou for this information, I am learning a lot from your blog. Please if you have any information regarding Karunas betrayal against ltte and circumstances he left ltte. is it corruption or women or both. please let us know of you have any onformation.

  27. Ariya says:

    Whoever who killed SWRD did something very wrong to Sri Lanka, for that started the foolish Banadaranaike dynasty that ruined Sri Lanka. His wife and his two children only brought unluck to this country.

    If SWRD was not assassinated, he would have lost the next election and the Banadaranaikes would not ever haunt Lanka.

    Anyway, one can’t change the past, so its about time ALL Sri Lankans work like our Cricket Team. We may lose a battle, but we’ win the war. That’s the spirit of Sangakkara’s men, and we should take that as a standard!

    All ethnic and religious parties MUST be abolished and ONLt secular political parties should be allowed.

    Even though I don’t like Britain, as English is NOT anymore owned by the British, every Sri Lankan should be taught English as the buffer language. This had worked for Singapore, so it can work for Sri Lanka. That way. mahathayas and golayas would cease to exist, like in Canada!

  28. Jano Satha says:

    You are analysing everything in details and presenting. but you are not giving effort and time to God.

    God fearing is utmost important for a peaceful society.

    When I posted something very useful, You edited the main part.

    You will be questioned by the God on a trial day for hiding the truth about God

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    As I told you earlier this is a secular site & not a religious one. For me religion is a private matter between God and myself. One thing I am sure of is that when Judgement day comes the merciful God I worship will not hold it against me for deleting portions of your “religious”post.

  29. Dhananjaya says:

    Thank you for a very informative article. DBS has been impartial and recorded different perspectives. However some improtant points raised by DBS appear to have been missed the subsequent discussion.

    1. SWRD was about to order twelve Jet bombers for the Air Force and two Frigates and several motor boat for the Navy. He was kiled a week before tenders were called. This would have strengthened the security forces of the country, and probably resulted in further strengthening of such facilities in future. A far sighted decision. Unfortunately this never happened and till late 1970s our security forces remained merely ceremonial.

    2. Comment # 7 – Somarama and Vimala had considerable financial interests in a business venture

    3. Both Somarama and Vimala, ultimately became Christians.

    Are we missing something here ??????????????

  30. sydney-Tamil says:

    28. Jano Satha | September 26th, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Jana, I do not think it is a religious website, although people openly discuss what religion one was born into and converted into etc etc

  31. Nissanka says:

    Thank you DBSJ for going down memory lane for me and
    also clearing up few things I didn’t know. I was a little boy
    in Galle when SWRD was assasinated. We were so sad at that time because he was killed, but we were happy when Dahanayake (Wawula) became PM as he put
    Galle in the map of SL. Now we realise that Daha never
    had any policies.

    SWRD in my opinion had a problem with the British.
    May be he was treated badly when he was in London
    studying at Oxford. Now we are talking about 1940s
    UK, and there wern’t many coloured people. Besides
    those days there was racism in UK more than now.
    Therefore, when he came to SL, he wanted to become
    the PM at any cost and take revenge from whatever
    British interests there was at the time in SL. I can remember he was nationalising so many UK companies and kicking out English executives. He was a bit like Robert Mugabe of today. May be if he lived
    longer, he would have done similar things like Mugabe.

    24 A Silva made some really good points re. SWRD and I agree with some of them.

    It is quite funny when DBSJ describe how the Bills were
    passed and then amended and again withdrawn and so forth in the SL Parliament. This behaviour reminds me of what my father said to me one day. He said that
    when the Parliament building was coming up in Galle
    Face, there were English people
    walking down in front of the construction site and they were pointing out at the building and said “There, the monkey house is coming up”. I think they were right, and
    if they see what is happening in there today, albeit in a different location, they will say “We told you so”.

    Any how, I think SWRD was a hypocrite who created a monster to get his way, and was destroyed by that monster. A Silva 24 is correct.

    I rest my case.

  32. Srinath Mahindasoma says:

    dear DBS

    You seem to be on a writing spree on history these days. why not write about the Jan 1962 coup that you mentioned briefly in this article?
    Kindest ever regards

  33. A. Godakumbura says:

    I know much about Banda but do not want to divulge my views herein. I am writing a book about him. Will publish it next year. I hope DBS will review the book

  34. KP Silva says:

    It is universally accepted – Sevala Banda distroyed Shri Lanka

  35. ranjan says:

    If I live long enough, I may make it to the next inevitable bout of tamil militancy not because tamils are militant prone but because the sri lankan state will continue as it has done since independence.

    The LTTE were savage and wrong for assassinating ranjani, tiruchelvam. though i have no problem with what they did to kadirgamar.

  36. Sam says:

    DBS, Unfortunately you have missed out the most important world situation at the time of SWRD’s killing. SWRD was seen as an upstart of a small country trying to exert itself globally with nations like Egypt, Iran, Ghana, Cuba etc. The anglo dutch ruling elite was concerned about the ex-colonies breaking away and showing that they can exist as independant entities. Since then the world has gone through many assasinations, genocide, mass exterminations etc carried out by national & international forces. Only now we are seeing a glimmer of hope…but at what cost?

    I distinctly remember a CIA station chief on British television around 1975-77 (when a CIA operative Philip Agee spilled the beans of that organisations covert operations world wide) saying that their CHEAPEST operation was against SWRD!!!! How sad. What we hear and see is not what really happens in this world.

  37. Mahesh says:

    Mixing religion with politics gives a deadly brew. How can a monk involve himself in politics and business.

    He spent thousands of rupees for the political parties and also campaigned for the political masters.

    These people bring disgrace to the Prince Sidhartha who renounced throne to find his true self.

    When these people indulge in these kind of activities do they get time to practice their religious duties.

    The monks indulging in politics and whipping up the nationalistic, racist and linguistic sentiments are part of the problem and are not part of the solution.

    The Sri Lankan soceity is paying for their acts.

  38. shekhar babu says:

    Can someone please provide me the whereabouts of Kasi Anandan – the famous poet from Batti. What happenned to him.

    He’s been living in Chennai for decades now. Both his daughters are medical doctors…….DBSJ

  39. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    Responding to some comments here, the late D.M. Rajapakse, as I recall, was Minister of Lands and Agriculture during the 1858/59 period. As to proof from the UTHR (J) I am sure the Publishers will provide the quote if you go about in the normal process of research and enquiry. Immediately after the 1958 riots newspapers reported regularly of meetings of the Govt Parliamentary Group where similar incendiary statements were made by more than one. Some journals have them of record – such as UTHR (J) and they cannot be found fault for this.

    ISS

  40. Rain Bow says:

    Thank you once again for the informative article.

    Bless you

  41. Ranjan from Toronto says:

    #19 ISS,
    As a few have pointed out already, you are writing utter nonsense. This is the same garbage that Tamil politicians have been feeding their constituents since independence of Sri Lanka when they did not get their 50-50 solution. Just as SWRD played the race card to win votes, so did the Tamil politicians. Only difference is that their card got out of their hands and turned in to a monster that struck back and devoured them and the whole Tamil community.

  42. shankar says:

    good one dbs. one of your best.

    when he was shouting to sirima “kussiyya kussiya sirima” it is like the pot calling the kettle black. both should have been in the kussiya, he as her helping hand cutting the meat and vegetables etc.

  43. Roger Gunasekera says:

    Loving the lies of the Tigers. Somarama was a pawn set up by Ossie Corea and others over a business venture. Given SWRD’s openness and lack of security it was easy for Somarama to gain access to SWRD. SWRD’s policies in hindsight may have caused negatives; but if he were alive he would have reversed course on Sinhala only. It was the racist JR JAyawardene and his march in Kelaniya that made the weak (Obama type populist who changed with the wind) SWRD switch course..Some say he genuinely understood buddhism better than his buddhist wife but Christians go into hysterics failing to understand that Buddhism is a far more pragmatic way of life than Christianity and want to belittle him because he mayhave straddled both faiths. But on this forum it is nice to see Tiger lovers ranting; as far as I can tell Velupillai, Somarama and perhaps even JR for his evil ways are playing cards someplace warm;; SWRD was too decent and absolutely honest man who was a weak politician like Obama wanting to please everyone and to win.. So the arrogant Babapulle (#3) acts just like the Elite privileged Christianized westernized Tamils and Sinhalese elite. If not for SWRD, the Yaalpanam commoner nor the Matara commoner would gain access to higher education. Babapulle must be one of those christian jokers who were from the radala elite. Common poor lower caste tamils and poorer lower caste Sinhalese ALL benefited from SWRD’s policies in gaining access to education which was only open to the English Speaking rich and elite westernized Christians and Elite Tamils and Elite Sinhalese. Ipso Facto. Get over it. In hind sight we can say a lot but Guruwarayas and Vedamahathayas amongst Tamils also benefited.. Truth is stranger than Eelam fiction. Eelam will never happen. You cannot carve up 45% of the land mass and 60% of the coastal belt for a 10 percent minority when 55% of that (10% or less) minority live and thrive with us and get a FREE EDUCATION THANKS TO ALL SRI LANKANS and study at Pera, Katubedde, Colombo etc while not a single Sinhalese is allowed to study in Jaffna Uni also PAID FOR BY THE BLOOD AND TEARS AND MONEY OF ALL Sri Lankans. Stop your rubbish abroad and come and see REAL Lanka despite all the horrors of war and persecution as to why tamils CHOOSE to live with us..and Must have a right to live with us..

  44. UGK says:

    19. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan,
    You are correct. But the harm that some tamils did to their own people cannot be forgotten. It enrages me to this day. It is bad enough that the tamils have to live as a minority facing slow genocide, but it is compounded when the tamils decide to start exploiting each other. The arrogant high caste Jaffna tamils have caused division amongst the tamil community which is only just starting to heal.
    And speaking of Buddhist extremism, you have China who are going to support this 110%. Ofcourse the Dalai Lama will never be allowed to visit Sri Lanka. So this is not really Buddhism in that regard.
    Sri Lanka was never a nation that respected the Buddha anyway. They really have been a disgrace to the great man.
    China is also a country that does not respect the Buddha.
    The Buddha is being used like some brand label in the region

  45. UGK says:

    Indian government is inspired by the GOSL genocide.
    They now want to wipe out the Naxalite rebels in the same manner.
    Ofcourse they will kill mostly innocent dalit people and then claim it was a humanitarian effort to defeat terrorists. All issues about Naxalist armed violence due to caste based oppression will be swept under the carpet (also like the way Sri Lanka likes to hide its oppressive history prior to LTTE).
    The dalits need to brace themselves.
    Another genocide is about to unfold.

  46. R Maran says:

    DBS

    Thanks DBS for the excellent narration of events surrounding the assassination of SWRD.

    24 A Silva

    Thanks a lot for the additional information.

    Regards

    R Maran

  47. banu says:

    Well he was a person who tried to do the right thing the wrong way, the sinhala only act was an act to break the grip of the elites of colombo and try to reach out to the village people and especially giving rural children a chance.This i know because my father who is a prominent civil servant came from a rural background like that and is to this day grateful to SWRD for that , but he(SWRD) was a hypocrite none the less coz he sent his own children abroad and also he was no chauvanist nor a racist but just an opportunist who was greedy for power but how can we blame him coz we all are more or less arnt we?

    What he should’ve done was to take english to the village not sinhala and there by not alienating the monirities especially the english educated elite tamils who were truly running the country at that time.(This is not a racist remark just something which was observed)
    If he had done this we would’ve been far better off as a country.

  48. Pro Tamil says:

    Comment # 44 Roger Gunasekara.
    Good on you mate.

    I think this is food for thought for all pro Tiger Srilankan Tamilians living comfortable lives overseas, and planning to extend the misery of their brethren who live in refugees,

  49. UGK says:

    SWRD is like so many GOSL politicians. He is under pressure to do what the extremist Buddhists want him to do.
    Mahinda himself is under this same pressure.

  50. Stephen Jones says:

    I’ve just noticed that in #7 I’ve been using Somarama’s name where I meant Buddharakkita.

    Perhaps DBJ could make the change and then delete this post.

  51. Srilankan says:

    Military and Police hierarchy who organised the coup d’ tat were the same mob who were behind the assasination of Mr Bandaranayaka.

    Buddarakitha was involved as he was a good mate of the movers and shakers in Colombo 7.

    The Police did a good con job to pin the balme on that dumb ass monk and hung him.

  52. UGK says:

    49. Pro Tamil | September 26th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Comment # 44 Roger Gunasekara.
    Good on you mate.

    I think this is food for thought for all pro Tiger Srilankan Tamilians living comfortable lives overseas, and planning to extend the misery of their brethren who live in refugees,
    ——————————————————————————
    Food for thought? You must be joking
    Gunasekara is a typical denial sinhalese who will pull out every possible trick to divert from the truth that it was members of their community who started this ethnic problem in Sri Lanka because of their extreme insecurity and reading fairy tales in the Mahavamsa.
    And yes there are tamils living comfortably overseas.
    So what? You suggesting they should all go and die in the camps?
    The tamils in Sri Lanka have only one hope and that is the tamils abroad exposing to the world the GOSL.
    I know this personally. Most tamils are afraid to speak the truth who live in Sri Lanka.
    Sri Lanka has been exposed to the world and has been named and shamed as a terror state. This is thanks to the hard work of the global tamil community. And they are not all LTTE. Many of them (including myself) have opposed LTTE for various reasons and have never funded them.
    Thanks to Chinas protection, SL might escape immediate justice, but ‘karma is a b..ch’ as they say here in the west.
    The justice will come about in its own way.
    Having a no tolerance regime like China as an ally so close to India is going to bring about problems that many cannot begin to conceive at this moment.

  53. shankar says:

    even from his deathbed he tried to create a riot. when they meet them they kneel and prostrate and worship them like as if they are god, just for their political patronage, but when they are shot by the same fellow, he becomes a man wearing bhuddist monks robes. the god suddenly gone.

    ps-DBS there are no comments so far, on who came to srilanka first. why is that? are you moderating them? out of sight, out of mind, they say. as for relevance, it is indirectly relevant, because we have to know whether SWRD came first or chelvanayagam beat him.

  54. Ranjan says:

    Though her sister was killed by the montrosity known as LTTE we have her courageous sister Nirmala Rajasingham with us still. She is a wonderful person. We do hope Nirmala will be of service to the Tamil people and help extricate themselves from the cesspit dug by the tigers.

    Ranjan, Dont you think this should be posted for the Rajini article and not this one on SWRDB?………DBSJ

  55. Jey says:

    Well written story of the sad history.

    Beneath the tranquility of that beautiful Island, there lies the history of violence that had ensued till todate. How can it be cleansed? How can one stop this vicious cycle?

  56. Joseph Kone says:

    Who is O C Coraya?

  57. Ranjan says:

    Do you have an e-mail address for Sachi ?

    I am sorry. Which sachi?…………..DBSJ

  58. Ranjan says:

    i am only writing to you now and not your readers.Can I write directly to them too?

    All sensible comments you post here will be read by them too I am sure…………..DBSJ

  59. John Bastian says:

    Can you please write separatly about the Bandaranaike family & Rajapaksa family?

  60. Osmand Gunasekera says:

    Both SWRD Bandaranaike and JR Jayawardane were ardent Christians though they tried to show to the world as Buddhists. JRJ’s grandson wrote in the Island saying that during JRJ’s very last days JRJ was reading the Bible – a strong Buddhist would have read the Dhammapada instead!

    The only best leaders Sri Lanka ever had were (in their order)

    R Premadasa
    DS Senanayake
    Sir John Kothalawela

  61. John Bastian says:

    Can you ALSO please write about how many family members and relations of Mahinda are having high posts? Is it more than Bandaraike family and relations those days?

  62. sydney-Tamil says:

    >>28. Ariya | September 26th, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Whoever who killed SWRD did something very wrong to Sri Lanka, for that started the foolish Banadaranaike dynasty that ruined Sri Lanka. His wife and his two children only brought unluck to this country.

    If SWRD was not assassinated, he would have lost the next election and the Banadaranaikes would not ever haunt Lanka.

    ——————–

    We would have chosen another ‘ish leader; My believe is that we (tamils/Sinhalese and Muslims of Sri Lanka) were not ‘really’ educated. We are/were educated in ‘paper’ only;

  63. Amaranath says:

    Shortly after the news of the death there were several incidents where Buddhist monks had been abused, harangued and even assaulted. This resulted in the monks fearing to step out of their temples, but Tamils were not harmed due to Sir Oliver a Christian Governor – General.

  64. Sapumal says:

    Good article DBS! Well done. Some comments here are nonesense. Here DBS has try to analyse something .Some people trying to misuse that for their own benefits. (In sinhala we say that as Walge paga gannawa.) SWRD was an identical figure in our Sri Lankan history.He initiated something which he couldnt finished. WEather he was born Buddhist or christian doesnt applicable in this scenario. Even we Sri Lankans practice buddhism or not even doesnt make any sence. Matter is person who was wearing a robe has assacinated the prime minister in his recidence on a communal issue! I feel sorry for SWRD and also the opponents and Tamil people here! Because they still do not understand what fair deal he was tyied to do for minorities in former ceylon! May be it was his mistake! But he paid the price on behalf of you!

  65. Ratnam Ganesh says:

    A very nice article. Well written and easy to follow.
    One point is that SWRD family is traced as Tamil Hindus Nilaperumal and a high priest. Later became Christians during the British Rule and SWRD switched as Sinhala Buddhist. Hence for SWRD, religion or ethnicity is not the issue. May be Power. We shall not forget that he is the first politician who suggested Federalism. He nationalised several industries and tried to follow the so called Middle Path (Matha Patha).This might have angered the Elites and those who became somebody.

  66. Loku Mahaththaya says:

    I fully agree with Mr Gunasekera above. I have gone to Sucharitha at 4 am to meet the late Prime Minister/President may be more than 20 times. Each time he came (mostly in a jeep) promptly at about 430 am sometimes covering his head from a towel (mornings were cold). People said he had sometimes come after making flying visits to certain constructions sites. What a leader! All my needs he attended to on the spot, without asking what party I voted for. Lanka lost a good son thanks to Prabhakaran.

  67. shankar says:

    to comment 67-loku mahathaya

    how do you know he is not trying to escape the amorous advances of hema. you can always say “wadata yanda oney” and escape.

  68. indrajith says:

    DBS! thank you for another well researched, well written article. Roger Gunasekera (#44) is correct in that it was JR, rather than SWRD who started the ‘Sinhala Only’ slogan. SWRD modified it to ‘Sinhala Only in 24 Hours’. However, Mr Gunasekera is wrong in accusing Christians when talking about the elites. The problem with SWRD, JR et al was that they promoted something they themselves didn’t believe in – Sinhala only education wasn’t good for their children and grand children but still they fed it to the poor masses. As Banu (#48) pointed out, SL would have been so much better off, if the ruling elites had taken English to the villages rather than giving a fall sense of hope & security to rural masses through Sinhala Only.

    In the late eighties, while working for a leading bank in Colombo, I met a Sinhalese friend who was a fellow engineering student in the late seventies/early eighties at Peradeniya. It was a sad but enlightening encounter on the disastrous consequences of the Sinhala Only policy on the Sinhalese – my friend from down South, having attended a public school and with little English, was working as a shift supervisor in a garment factory earning a pittance six years after graduating as an engineer. I felt deeply his broken dreams and shattered plans, and the sense of despair in not able to lift his family from the grips of poverty. Even though a Tamil from the East, I was in a much better job earning nearly three times as much. Then I understood the underlying reason why the JVP had such popular support during their uprising in the 1987-89 period.

    The impact on Tamils of Sinhala only policy and the chain of events it set off are obvious to most, if not all. What is not known to many, even to many Sinhalese and Tamils, is the impact of it on the rural Sinhalese.

    Race or religious based political agendas can only harm the Sinhalese and Tamils. Only when there is true leadership among Sinhalese and Tamils to work towards lifting their people’s living standards with genuine opportunities and fairness for all, irrespective of race, religion, caste or social status, that Sri Lanka will become prosperous once again.

  69. Natives says:

    Thanks for another great history lesson on SL by DBS. Thanks for your thorough research and facts. Have you even been awarded the best SL journalist of the year? If not in my opinion you should on the top of the list for such an award..

  70. Noel Somasundaram says:

    DBS, Buddharakkitha died in prison under suspicious circumstances if i am not mistaken. some say he was silenced. Do you have any information regarding this?

    He was working in the prison laundry section. I also heard about these rumours but nothing else…….DBSJ

  71. Stephen Jones says:

    SL would have been so much better off, if the ruling elites had taken English to the villages rather than giving a fall sense of hope & security to rural masses through Sinhala Only.

    We keep hearing this pernicious idea, and a version of it is behind Mahinda’s English and IT for Life publicity stunt.

    What was necessary to go with Sinhalization was to actually a massive effort to ensure that the major texts in all fields were available in Sinhala. This didn’t happen because of the idiotic idea so many still have now that you need English to learn the major academic disciplines. There should have been a concerted effort to translate all the major textbooks for Medicine, Engineering, Physics, and so on into Sinhala (or more sensibly doing this subject by subject at the cost of not allowing Sinhala stream students to study the subject until it was done).

    Instead they simply renamed varying theological colleges as universities thus ensuring that they would henceforth function as neither, and tried to find civil service places for those they had given a ‘university’ education to.

    Some countries that don’t do University education in English: France, Germany, Japan, Brazil.

    Some that do:
    India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zambia

    ‘Nuff said.

  72. Fran says:

    SWRD is an educated man but as usual a demagoguery Sri lankan politician who wants to win at any cost against a traditionally a strong party. After winning, he took a course of correction and paid with his life. MR knows this very well and will not take chances even the circumstances force him. Instead he will continue the same psyche to keep him and his family in power.
    Sri Lanka does not want to learn anything from the past or from the countries that searched truth and successfully reconciled for betterment of their societies.

    Speech and interview by SL Prime Minister at UN, is a testament to a sorry state of Sri lankan society.
    SL has to realize that ” international sarong raised mode” will not help people and their betterment. I hope people will realize this sooner and choose their leaders correct.
    http://www.asiasociety.org/video/policy-politics/ratnasiri-wickramanayake-complete

  73. Ranjan from Toronto says:

    #69 Indrajith,
    What you say about Singhala-only act is so true. It produced two generations of Singhalese who could read and write but without any real knowledge because they did not access the vast amount of information that is out there in English. May be it was done on purpose. Fed by a tiny amount of information dished out by the mainly government controlled media, we grew up like the proverbial frogs in the well, with mostly no knowledge of what is outside, thinking to ourselves that we are the best in the world. No wonder the things turned the way they did.

    I totally agree with you when you say race or religion based politics will harm both Singhalese and Tamils. Only when and if we learn to disregard religion and race, will we get out of this mess and move forward. However, we have a society that thinks clergy has to bless the national cricket team before they embark on a tour. Only in Sri Lanka!

  74. Nostradamus says:

    SWRD “Sinhala Only in 24 Hours” sounds like some fast food restaurant business.

  75. UGK says:

    66. Ratnam Ganesh,
    Most Sinhalese have tamil dravidian ancestry whether they like to admit it or not.

  76. ranjan says:

    I was referring to the Sachi related to Sri Kantha.

    I think you need some rest Ranjan. Dont sweat the small stuff.Take it easy……..DBSJ

  77. Tissa Wije says:

    Another balanced well written article from DBSJ. I cannot help adding a bit about English. Interesting point from about Sinhala students with degrees but with or without mastery of English and thus continuing to earn low salaries.

    On the other hand, retaining English as the language of unviversities would have deprived many from the rural backgrounds any higher education. In the 50s the Buddhist BTS school did not send any students to Medical ofr Engineering faculties. Sciences were taught by English educated teachers, with no knowledge of Sinhala. The Principal in the early fifties had a principle against vivisection and that meant Zoology was not taught.

    I feel Sinhala folks would be even more ignorant than today, had the medium remained English. There were no Sinhala teachers in sufficient numbers to teach English creating another barrier against even development. That would have helped the small number who speak in English at home but not ye rest.

    For example Tamilnadu with a vibrant English speaking
    urban community yet remains a unevenly developed state, arts and culture still remaining at almost colonial stage.

  78. Roger Gunasekera says:

    Great contribution of Eelam Tamils must be why the Brahmins in the internment camps refuse to mingle with the lower or lesser(by their own definitions) tamils. The Brahmins are schooled separately, their kids are schooled separately and their meals are cooked separately from the commoner Tamil “guruwarayas” And “wedamahaththayas” children of a lesser god in the camps now. FACT.. Why? Hindu Tamil casteism. The Brahimns wear their yellow string and are totally isolated and kept away from the riffraff. They REFUSE to eat commonly cooked food so the Army had to make separate kitchens for them. 30 years of nationalist socialist fascist Eelam Utopia did not address those issues.

  79. Stephen Jones says:

    Great contribution of Eelam Tamils must be why the Brahmins in the internment camps refuse to mingle with the lower or lesser(by their own definitions) tamils. The Brahmins are schooled separately, their kids are schooled separately and their meals are cooked separately from the commoner Tamil “guruwarayas”

    Sorry mate but I’m calling bullshit on this one. Apart from anything else the dominant class amongst Jaffna Tamils has not been the Brahmins but the Vellalas (just as with the Buddhists it’s the Govigamas). There were Kandyan villages in the 1970s where there were untouchable colonies on the outskirts of the village. And to see that caste is far from dead amongst the Sinhalese, and even or more so amongst Sinhalese of the diaspora, take a look at the marital ads in any newspaper.

    The truth is you are a nasty little racist and you are just dragging the reputation of the Sinhalese through the mud.

  80. Ranjan from Toronto says:

    #80, Stephen
    Marital ads in the news papers are not a good indicator of the cast situation among the Singhalese. The importance of the cast is very rapidly disappearing from the Singhala society. The only place it has any relevance is when the parents are seeking a partner for their child. The old cast system which was based on the profession will be gone in another generation and a new cast system based on the wealth is fast taking over the society.

    Good example of the cast situation is that Premadasa who was from a cast that was considered to be one of the lowest in the hierarchy, became one of the most popular Presidents that the country has had.

  81. Tharaka says:

    Very informative balanced article. You being a Cristian have understood cross sections of Sinhalese society. I don’t think your tamil readers understood the difference between corrupt politicized monks like Buddarakkita from over whelming number of minks who are living meager lives in remote villages and serving the community as best as they can. I don’t mind people attacking politicized sections of monks pointing them as it is. But painting all as same never going to contribute to any sort of reconciliation simply because monks are part of sinhala buddhist culture. If somebody keep attacking them you cant expect sympathetic reactions when Tamils are in trouble.

  82. RS Wickramasinghe says:

    #81 Ranjan from Toronto

    “Good example of the cast situation is that Premadasa who was from a cast that was considered to be one of the lowest in the hierarchy, became one of the most popular Presidents that the country has had.”

    A good example of your general ignorance and lack of qualification to comment on race relations and Sri Lankan history is your comment about Premadasa. I seriously wonder if you are the fool who has been put up to write chauvinistic nonsense for the Island from the ‘Tamil’ perspective to make the community at large feel confirm its false prejudices and beliefs and make itself better about its past evils.

    “The importance of the cast is very rapidly disappearing from the Singhala society. The only place it has any relevance is when the parents are seeking a partner for their child.”

    Spare us your recycled stupid cliches of the past in your trips down memory lane. Clearly you know nothing despite your age, experience and pretended seniority in the diaspora you are less than an amateur.

    Jonesey #80 is right the caste system is alive and well, not just in marital ads, but in attitudes of snobbery, vanity, cliquieshness insularity and incuriousness I see among so many young people in Colombo and the diaspora.

    Premadasa was from the Hinna-Henna caste the lowest aong the Sinhalese, and this was felt to be so sensitive if it was publicised that he threatened to kick any foreign journalist who mentioned it in print out of the country within 24 hours. Why?

    Also, it was widely understood by political commentators that Premadasa’s impeachment proceedings were driven by the caste jealousy from Waluwe/govigama elites across both sides of the poltical divide, he had defeated and then bypassed in gaining the presidency

    Does anyone seriously believe he was a popular president in his lifetime? It was only later after the legacy of his vision and dynamism became apparent that his own people came to deeply regret letting off firecrackers celebrating his demise at the hands of terrorists.

  83. V.Kumar says:

    # 70 Natives
    Readers always remeber DBSJ for his style of writing (thorough research and informative) and I believe which is the best award a writer can have (wining readers mind) in this world.
    I would like to see the collection of his articles in book form.

  84. R Maran says:

    79. Roger Gunasekera

    Have you ever heard about “Divide and rule”? Very old concept but still applicable… In any part of the world, all dictators favorite “weapon of mass distrust and enmity” . MR and Bros well adopted this British era policy in the detention camps to divide Tamils and cause cracks within the Tamil community.

    Brahmins are vegetations unlike Sri Lankan Buddhist monks who love to meat against Bodhisattva principles. Tamils (Hindus) always have two separate kitchen wares at home one for vegetarian cocking and other one for non_vegetarian cooking. They don’t mix vegetarian and non_ vegetarian cooking. I am telling you this from my experience at home. What is happening in the detention camp is simply separating vegetarian cooking and non vegetarian cooking. You have conveniently colored this aspect with caste to suit your propaganda.

    Clean up your own backyard before make such comments on others. I am not denying there is no caste system in N &E. One of the good thing came out this war was, reduction of severity in the caste system in N&E. Ask yourself where your society stand on this? Stop preaching to others until you get right answer to this question.

    What a pathetic man you are?

  85. Nissanka says:

    I see some people discussing the caste system in SL.
    Well, if you are from a so called lower caste and if
    you are poor, you got no chance in the society.
    Even if one is from a so called lower caste and got
    lot of wealth, even the higher caste people will come
    and work for you. So, this means people will mention
    the caste, when it suits them.

    Some of these so called lower caste people change their
    names to sound like upcountry Radala people
    and reside in a new area to get by in society.
    For example they will adopt a surname like
    Ratnayake or Tennekone etc. I am personally aware
    of a person adopting such a name and doing a top
    job in a corporation, and everyone thinks that this guy is
    from an upcountry Radala family. His family gets invitations from snobbish high class families unaware
    that he is a fake. Good luck for him.

    So there you go. People look for caste when it suits
    them. When Premadasa was President, and whenever
    he makes a mistake his opponents always used to
    pick on his caste and say that this is because he is from a low caste. Even when he was sitting on a throne,
    people used to say that he is doing those things
    because he is from a lower caste.

    Caste is well ingrained in SL society, and it will take
    a very very long time to get rid of because some people
    thrive on the system.

    As one writer suggested, if the war has helped
    to ease the influence of the caste system, at least
    this war has done something. But the cost is too high.

  86. Don says:

    Banda came from an aristocratic rich land owning family whose relatives may have originated from India. Their earliest ancestor was supposed to be Nilaperumal Pandaranayagam a Brahmin who was the high priest of the Saman Dewala of Sabaragamuwa Srilanka in 1449. Some of the Bandaranaykes until recent times had Nilaperumal in their family names. Banda was an Oxford scholar and was the President of the Oxford debating Society I think. One time he was dubbed the “silver tongue of the east” His Sinhala only policy was done in the best interest but soon became unpopular as it was misunderstood and infrastructure was not there to implement it. The policy continued after his death creating havoc as Banda was not there to guide it. He and Chelvanayagam both went to St Thomas’ College and were the first politicians to talk Federalism. Banda came from a predominantly Anglican Christian family and they were greatly horrified when he became a Buddhist. Banda lost a lot of money spending for elections and even now I don’t think Chandrika his daughter inherited much from her father. This is unlike the politicians who came after him who made loads of money thru politics and continue to do so even in present times. He was also a Nationalist and was on the path of taking over foreign owned companies. Prabakaren had the best opportunity for peace when Chandrika was President because she was not a hardline Buddhist, Anglican background, married a Christian and studied abroad. However PV threw the opportunity and as gratitude sent her a suicide bomber!

  87. Dilshan F says:

    Super info. I always wondered why SWRD was killed.
    I am not particularly fond of the guy as his Sinhala only did cause major issues for tamil speaking people.
    Great writing enjoyed it and the comments that followed by others

  88. R Maran says:

    86. Nissanka

    Thanks.

    Caste system is curse to our society. Whole south East Asian society embraced this system regardless of their religion and language. Caste system is one of the aspects in our society that broke all barriers rooted well in our day to day lives for thousands of year. Even in Bali and Cambodia caste system has its roots. Yes, things are changing. I have seen/experienced how this was practised during my school days and how we progressed from there to current position.

    No doubt, All Tamils regardless of their Caste left Sri Lanka and settled in Western countries. This helped the so called “low caste” people to have economic independency. how the society was able to maintain the caste system for such a long time? Low caste people lives completely depended on high caste. Now, this aspect disappearing from the society.

    Hope for the best.

    R Maran

  89. Roger Gunasekera says:

    Stephen Jones, get over it. There is pathetic castesism in Sinhalese areas too. But Tigers were supposed to have brought equality. There is no divide and rule by MR; the Brahmins demanded and expected to be housed separately and their kids taught separately.

    I am an agnostic and I dont care for the jokers who say they are buddhists and then go sacrifice animals and do idiotic things like doing black magic like some of the joker priests. I also think the big rich Mahanayakes are just as corrupt as the Popes of yore. Why would they need Mercedes 500s with CD players ? They were all given state patronage to an extreme since Premedasa. I am an agonstic and last time I went to a temple is 1999. I dont care.. I was highlighting FACTS from the IDP camps. You can call me names it does not matter; it is not going to affect what I said.. go ahead and make my day said Clint Eastwood. DBSJ you did a great job with the write up. Sadly, SWRD was honest and nearly broke when he died. He never robbed anyone. His policies could have been fixed later if he realized his errors. Bottomline is no nation on earth will concede a landmass of the size Eelamists wanted based on rather doubtful claims.

  90. shankar says:

    dbs

    how do you always get the best of photographs. you even made a weasel like banda look nice, prabha and pottu hansome.

  91. V.KUMAR says:

    #79 Roger Gunasekara
    I agree with #85 R.Maran’s comments and I would like to add my thoughts as well.

    I am a Tamil and I was affected personally by two (1977 & 1983) racial violence in Sri Lanka organised by narrow minded racists Politian, tags and Buddhist monks.
    However I still believe in united Sri Lanka and building racial harmony because individually majority of the Sri Lankans are friendly and peace loving people but collectively under a narrow minded leadership they get carried away in the wrong direction.
    The one and only permanent solution and better future for our next generation is building racial harmony but Roger Gunasekara’s comments is not going to help, as a majority you have to lead the country with example and build bridges across races.
    Please do not misunderstand me, a lot of clean up you have to do in your backyard.
    This is a golden opportunity, GOSL have to take lot of confidence building measures and you are in a better position to influence them.

    Thank you.

  92. Ranjan from Toronto says:

    #83 RS Wickramasinghe

    Seems I touched a nerve did I mate?
    I did not realize that one needed to be “qualified on race relations and cast” to write a comment to a blog. What “Tamil perspective” did I write from? Can you be kind enough to point out that to me?

    When I say “importance of the cast is very rapidly disappearing from the Singhala society” that is based on my observations and my experience. Me and all my siblings married out of our cast. That was not a act of rebellion against my cast minded parents, but simply that we met people that we liked during our university years. Did my parents liked that? No, but they did not strenuously object either when they realized that we would not change our minds. When I look at my extended family, the same story. Most of my parent’s generation, my uncles and aunts had arranged marriages within our cast. But when I look at my cousins, almost half of them have married outside the cast. This was all 20-30 years ago. Now most of my nieces and nephews are getting married and most of them are finding their own mates without any regard to the cast. However, it is still true that when parents try to find a partner, they will first try within their cast. Even among matrimonial ads, have you noticed how many of them say cast immaterial?

    I said that cast is still relatively important only when it comes to arranging marriage. In the Colombo suburb of Mount Lavinia that I grew up, no one told us that we can not play with some kid because he or she was of a lower cast. I don’t know of anyone with proper qualifications who was refused an employment opportunity solely because of his or her cast. Now that person may get rejected because of lack of political patronage or because he or she did not have an inside contact in the hiring organization or even because he or she did not go to the proper school. But that is not discrimination based on cast. I do not know of any body being refused service at a commercial establishment because that person is of the wrong cast. I don’t know of anybody refusing to allow another person to come into their house because of the cast. May be you have had such experiences, but I have not.

    Now about Mr Premadasa. The fact of the matter is that he did not all of sudden wake up as the president of the country. He was voted in. So the fact is that a majority of the people voted for him despite his so called “low” cast. And also it is true that he was very popular during many years that he was a member of the parliament and the prime minister. Or are you claiming that he was voted in to the parliament repeatedly just by the “low” cast votes? It is also true that he was very sensitive about his cast and did not like that fact to be brought up. That his insecurity. It is also true that he was very unpopular during the later stages of his presidency. That is because power went to his head. Ever heard the term “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”? People let of firecrackers at his death because he had turned into a corrupt megalomaniac and was happy to see the end of his regime.

    You say “attitudes of snobbery, vanity, cliquieshness insularity and incuriousness I see among so many young people in Colombo and the Diaspora”. Yes I see them too. But those are based on how rich they are, or what school they studied in, or where they spent the last holidays and not what cast they are from. I don’t know where you are writing from, but let me tell you something about my Diaspora. It is a lonely place. We Sri Lankans try to get together as much as we can on weekends and holidays. Those gatherings are not based on the cast. In the early days of our lives in the Diaspora, we would go to great length when we heard that a new Sri Lankan family was in town to contact them. We did not check first whether they were a Govi or a Karawa or from some other stupid category before we would go and meet them.

    I don’t know what your problem is to get so nasty on some words that I wrote. This blog is a valuable place to share our experiences as Sri Lankans, learn and understand about others and their experiences and try to find some common ground between a group of people who has gone through some really traumatic times. You are using words like “pretend seniority” and “less than amature”. I never pretended to be a senior nor did I claim to be an expert. You say “spare us the clichés and trips down the memory lane”. Well, I am not forcing them on you mate. You don’t like them, don’t read them. It is as simple as that.

  93. Roger Gunasekera says:

    Maran, please see under WHOSE regime violence occurred. under the all powerful UNP regime which had absolute power over Sri Lanka from 1977 onwards. THEY and their goons did it. DO not blame MR or the SLFP or SWRD for it.. Those were sick riots and i am of the position there was valid reason for Tamils to want revenge and back the LTTE after 1983. JRJ was the murderer indirectly for refusing to enforce a curfew the day the riots happened. He was mortally afraid of the Army but he had the police under his control why didn’t he act? Do not blame the SLFP. No large scale violence against innocent tamils happened under Mrs B or CBK OR MR. The idiot sinhalese thugs and their supporters also matured after 1983 and that is why despite so many provocations, there were no ethnic riots (except the small riots between Sinhala and Moslem vested interests in Kegalle). Yes we the sinhalese have learnt the hard way but the Tiger supporters have not and remain unrepentant. COME BACK and see the massive development work(sure they are stealing wealth too but something is being done). I went to Trinco area 2 weeks ago and saw the roads.. MR is neglecting Colombo because he can never win in Colombo but he is spending boat loads of money and will do so in the North too to develop the infrastructure. An olive branch from TNA will be to admit all people can live in ALL corners of Sri Lanka like how Tamils live even in Devundara tuduwa(Dondra Point) and Matara and Kandy and Matale and Galle. YEs that is the nation that will heal. Start by allowing the Moslems to come back to Jaffna too. They were evicted by Tigers. Tigers as DBSJ says are a fascist racist organization.

  94. Kumar Sriskanda says:

    58. Ranjan | September 26th, 2009 at 9:04 pm
    Do you have an e-mail address for Sachi ?

    I am sorry. Which sachi?..DBSJ

    Ranjan, Sachi Ponnampalam died long time ago in Belize. He was the author of the Book – Tamil Nationalism. I know him personally very well and he never had a e mail address!

  95. RS Wickramasinghe says:

    Reply #93 Ranjan from Toronto

    It is absolutely your right to write publicly in newsprint and internet. It is absolutely my right to spare no quarter in publicly criticising and denouncing your ideas and call it out for the conventional half-formed half-baked sentimental mediocrity that circulates in the SL communities as historical truth, especially among the older generation who created this mess. Do not try the old bogus bullshit of misrepresenting this as challenging your right to write. I believe the reason you have been given a public pulpit by those who know much more about SL history than your mediocre anecdotal knowlege base do so because your writings as a senior member of the Tamil community is palatable to the majority communities false beliefs about Sri Lanka’s difficult past. All you do is tell people what they want to hear.

    The real work of reconciliation will only come when Sri Lankans confront and challenge the difficult past and the false assumptions that have created the ‘other’ out of two historically entwined communities. I suggest you read some history books before writing again. Stephen Jones has a reading list to recommend, then perhaps we can listen without feeling this is an old fool toddling down memory lane to his childhood in Mt Lavinia. Until then I will read, and I will criticise in the spirit of free contest of ideas.

    In reply to your comments on caste. Caste is a reality. If people marry according to what profession they are in or what university they went to it is because profession and institutions have became the new caste lines. It is old wine in a new bottle. In many cases we have both caste lines and education lines determining such things as choice of partner. That is caste plus plus. You need only look at marriage proposals to see that parents require not only govigama but also doctor, engineer, overseas passport etc etc I doubt you can grasp the subtlety and irony in such a cultural shift. Sri Lankans have poured the ancient snobbery insularity, incuriousness of being in one caste, to being in a profession, or being from a certain university, a certain school or having foreign-resident status. That is casteist mentality. Young people now carry the idiocy of two burdens in their often negative attitudes. This means simply that an old casteism is being joined to the new…multiplying the endless foment of division endemic to South Asians… in the new world.

    As for Premadasa, he won because the 1989 Presidential election was largely rigged, I believe the victory margin was scarcely 50%. He was not popular, not because of absolute power or corruption, but because 50,000 mostly innocent young people (from low castes) were slaughtered by death squads, ostensibly to suppress a rebellion. But he was also racing to reverse the root causes of that rebellion – poverty and hunger. People honour him now because those efforts bore fruit…later. Again you prove my point and regale us with cliches (absolute power corrupts absolutely) when the reality is much more subtle and complex.

    —–
    Ravin,
    I dont think Ranjan is by ethnicity a Tamil. He is Sinhala. Also on caste are we in the old “is the glass half empty or half – full ” kind of situation. Casteism is decling from one perspective and casteism exists from another……………DBSJ

  96. RS Wickramasinghe says:

    Lotsa Ranjans in Toronto, my comment is aimed at one who has published crap in the Island and was posting links to them on your blog earlier….

    Call me a cynic but South Asians have a pathological need for division, one reason why we were easy pickings for colonialists…my observations of the cliques having lived in 3 several diaspora countries is that they are busy converting things in the West which give distinction, to give the exclusivity they enjoyed in the East, and thus the divisions. Does it seem likely to you DBS that centuries of cultural memory entrenched in culture tradition religion can be in erased in one or two immigrant generations? I taste an old familiar grape in shiny designer wine bottles here in Australia…

  97. Nissanka says:

    To those who are discussing the caste and marriage
    proposals, I would like to mention that we are not only
    stupidly caste minded, but also discriminating against
    dark people. Almost all the ads. in the matrimony section
    we ask for fair pretty girls. What about dark pretty girls.

    If you are a dark girl in South Asia,just bad luck.
    The majority of our girls are really pretty dark girls, but
    just how many dark girls are leading ladies in cinema.Even in Hindi movies the girls are all very fair, whereas if you walk down Indian cities you see mainly medium or dark coloured girls. Being black
    people, if we are discriminating our own girls because they are darker, what chance have they got ?.

    As one reader stated, this is a wekaness in the South Asian society.

  98. R Maran says:

    94. Roger Gunasekera

    Thanks for the clarification.

    You seem to be a reasonable person than initially I thought.

    What read in the Sri Lankan media contradicts your statements on the progress MR making in the recent years. I absolutely agree with you on your comments Fascist LTTE. Trust me ,Tamils in North and East relied on these fascist for their own protection for the last three decades.

    More than 35,000 Tamils were killed under MR rule in the last six months of the final war. This is not over yet. 300,000 Tamils are being detained in the concentration camps under MR rule. This is second such concentration camp in the history after Nazis concentration camp in Germany.

    I do hope that Tamils will have freedom of movement in Sri Lanka without fear being arrested. I am not very optimistic on this after seeing the death and destructions all these years.

    Once again, thank you

  99. Gune says:

    Tharaka and Don – Well said in your comments.

  100. Stephen Jones says:

    I went to Trinco area 2 weeks ago and saw the roads.. MR is neglecting Colombo because he can never win in Colombo but he is spending boat loads of money and will do so in the North too to develop the infrastructure.Development in the East is rather like development in Tibet; it benefits the outsiders (Sinhalese or Han) much more than the locals (Tamils or Tibetans). To take an earlier example look at the Prima factory in Trinco; what ethnicity are most of the workers?

  101. Ranjan from Toronto says:

    96. RS Wickramasinghe

    Brilliant piece of deduction Homes! I am a senior member of Tamil community. Can you share us a bit of your wisdom and tell us which of my writing brought you to that conclusion? And as for someone giving me a public pulpit, remember this is 21st centaury and the age of the web. No one has to give anyone any pulpit and what I write here is entirely at the pleasure of DBSJ who is the ultimate arbiter of what goes on here.

    Now the purpose of this reply is not to get into an argument with you on my rights to say what I want, but to point out to you that, after all the insults, big words and verbal hysteria, you have agreed with what I said in my original post. Go and read it in the comment #81. I said “The old cast system which was based on the profession will be gone in another generation and a new cast system based on the wealth is fast taking over the society.” I strongly believe that in that class system what would matter is not if you are a Govi or Karawa or Salagama but if you wealthy and/or how many businesses you own and how many important politicians that you have in your hand.

    Finally, you have said that you will read and criticize in the spirit of free contest of ideas. Of course please do. That is your prerogative as a free person. But have the curtsy of extending that freedom to others. Don’t ask other to stop writing because you simply can not accept what the others have written. You sound like some of my old school teachers who could not stand being questioned and who would ask us to go and first read text books before we could put out an opinion on anything. May I also remind you that sprit of free contest of ideas does not mean hurling insults and trying to shout down others.

  102. Myself says:

    DBSJ, your article is very informative and very close to all info that Ive heard about Banda from others including my father. My father used to tell me about how kind his Singhalese friends when they saved him and my mom from the 1958 violence and took them in a hired car from Matharai to Jaffna in order to save them. His Singhalese friends also travelled with them to make sure their safety.

    I was in Jaffna during 70s and 80s before IPKF arrived. My impression about Singhalese was changed after 1977 and 83 violence and the stories I heard from people who came back to Jaffna after those violence and the things happened during that time in North and East. As a youth, I was started to hate Singhalese and determined to fight for my people (Tamil) believing EElam is the only solution to Tamils suffering. I joined and resisted. But after IPKF came, I left the country without any choice. As residing in a country I was still supporting LTTE since there was no others that we could count on to get our rights. Even though I was heart broken by many things that had been done by LTTE such as chasing the Muslim from Jaffna, bombing public buses, force child recruit etc..

    I met many Singhalese outside here and came to know some of them are really good as what my father used to tell me. Then I started to wonder why can’t we live together as a friends as what we are doing here. I realized it is not possible for us to live together as friends in Sri Lanka since the political structure and other factors that made this huge division is still there and they will not going to change anything. So I still believe the only solution for us to live as friends in Sri Lanka is to go separately like Malaysia & Singapore.

    So my friends whoever think that we still can live as friends please try to understand this fact that the political structure in Sri Lanka will not let us live as friends. Please help to let us go and we can be friends in separation.

    For DBSJ, truly speaking I was one of those who had a feeling that you don’t like LTTE and you had a hidden agenda in criticizing them. Now I realized what you tried to do was the correct thing. We should have been critical about LTTE and force them to change their wrong doings. Now all lost. Hope some real statesmanship can come from Tamil who can lead all the suffering people to the correct path. I sincerely pray for that day and night.

    For add some info, Singapore Former PM Lee Kwan
    Yew stated one time, he and Banda were studying at Oxford and Banda was his friend. After announcing Sinhala Only Law he met Banda and he asked Banda what Banda was expecting the minority to do? Did he expecting any kind of opposition from Tamils?. As what Lee put is “…….. my friend was very confident and he replied to me that now Tamil have to learn the Singhalese thats all… within short time he was killed and you can see where sri lanka is is now…” . Unlike Banda, Lee Kwan Yew was very smart and a statesman enough to see the others feeling. He did not make the same mistake as what his friend Banda did in Sri Lanka. When Singapore was separated from Malaysia Lee made sure not to push Chinese as priority. He left the National Anthem remains in Malay while made Chinese, Malay & Tamil as National Languages. And most importantly he made English as the official language. Over the years he made policy to change all Chinese Only, Malay Only and Tamil Only schools to English medium. That is how Singapore is what is today.

  103. citizensl says:

    comment 103
    nice to see a moderate view point rather than the the usual fire and brimstone hard line retoric.
    you say that “the political structure in Sri Lanka will not let us live as friends” fair enough comment but you need understand that there are certain tamizh attitudes that need change as well. A vanni tamizh once made a comment on DBS’ blog that the biggest racists are those amongst the Jaffna tamizhs…..as someone who lived in jaffna you would know the truth of that more than me…..
    Now let me tell you the ground reality of sri-lanka….the majority of sri-lankans does not give a damn about how singapore seperated from malaysia. This is SRI-LANKA….

    so once again let me make the rather simpistic statement….the choice for sri-lankan tamizhs is simple- live as Sri-Lankans or become terrorists again, keep asking for eelam and become an insignificant 1% of the population….

    the above is easy for me to say living in the South and tamizhs have to put up with politicians like Banda but…… at least for your sake how about giving it a try? after all chasing eelam and going after Velu P only got you refugee/IDP status no?

    as for the SWRD article by DBS, fantastic job as usual….week after week you continue to out do yourself.

  104. Myself says:

    To: Comment 104 (citizensl)

    I welcome your thoughts even though I may not agree with all. Thanks for at least trying to understand what we are trying to say.

    It is not only in Jaffna. There are people who are racists or extremists on both Tamil & Sinhala sides. It is an expected trend everywhere and it is not only within Jaffna Tamils. Branding only Jaffna Tamils is not correct at all. Thanks to God there are still people on both sides they want this problem to solve without anymore bloodshed and want both sides to live happily at least for the shake of next coming generations. But what I just want to remind you that it is not Jaffna Tamils or their attitude /behavior which started or reason for the whole mess today.

    You said Now let me tell you the ground reality of sri-lanka.the majority of sri-lankans does not give a damn about how Singapore separated from Malaysia. This is SRI-LANKA . Yes I agree with you that many have this kind of thinking. They are the main problem or culprits that we have today. People do not want to learn from others or listen to others advice but want to develop & grow like others. This heavy head attitude is sadly costing us lot for many decades. They failed to understand the changing world and its new order. I just put it simply to you – many Sri Lankan are thinking or made to think that they are superb and doing better but if they ever got a chance to come out of their country they will see how much we are behind others. The sad reality is we talked big & fought and destroyed everything while others build their nation and prosperity. Now we are more than one generation behind many nations. I can think of an example, many countries introducing PCs at kindergarten level & allocating individual PCs to each child. Children are expected to summit their online assignment in their primary 2 level onwards. This is the standard of life or facilities they are enjoying. We do not have such a facilities even in our Uni level. This is what I meant by I generation gap. It is the sad reality now. You may not understand or buy in my words I attach a link pls see how other well known leaders are looking our stupidity

    http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2007/11/21908_space.html

    I think you have not understood the problem history at all. You are saying ...the choice for sri-lankan tamizhs is simple- live as Sri-Lankans or become terrorists again, keep asking for eelam and become an insignificant 1% of the population.

    We majority of Tamil were not fantasize to have our own country and started the fight. Initially we just asked our rights as in non-violent methods many years almost two decades. Remember LTTE and the word terrorist all came only after mid 70s. But our problem exist even 58s. We tried all methods and all are rejected and even got beaten by riots by riots and our houses, wealth and cultures (library etc..) all burned down and many of us were forced without any choice and to support for an arm struggle. Yes we made some many mistakes in our arms struggle and we lost big. That not mean that our reason for the struggle is wrong or we do not have any griveness under Sri Lankan rule. Our fight for right is valid and it is accepted by many others that we should be given more autonomy and more respect and equal rights to live as a happy peaceful equal citizen.

    Now the question is whether Sri Lankan system is going to give this rights to us even after many year of bloodshed? Until now the answer seems to be BIG NO. Then it is not going to happen where we can live together as one Sri Lankan. It is going to go on and on.It has been for almost six decades it can go on for many more decades too.. Simply you can not tell any race to live under a condition where they feel insecure and discriminated with no hope for future. You can not silence anyone to keep quite by thread. This is the fact.

    Tamils may now go back to again non-violent method (it is seems to be most likely …) again with world sympathy. Then all will suffer too like cut of Fund/GST or other limitation from world. End of the day we all both Tamil & Sinhalese suffer and become poorer nation only. All our future generation will be doom if Sri Lanka is not going to settle this problem peacefully by giving or sharing power/right with Tamil equally or reasonably. Only crook politicians and their top people will benifit out of it.

    That is why Im trying to tell that we can let each others go and we both can live separately and happily.

  105. citizensl says:

    reply to comment 105

    EDITED OUT

    PS- DBS had made some edits to my comment, i have no issues with that its DB’s blog and his prerogative, and the toned down version comes across better than the unedited one…but i hope this comment even though it may be a bit raw and harsh is left as it is…..

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    I did some editing because I had some time and thought your viewpoint should come across clearly and expressed decently. But it appears you dont like it though you admit that the editing brought out your points well.

    I dont want to spend time editing you .You also dont want it So I am not carrying it.

    You have been using the word “PEELAM” for Eelam. Now Eelam is an ancient word wor the Island of Serendib.Taprobane/Ceylon/Sri Lanka. The classical period or Sangham era of Tamil literature records a poet named “eelathup Poothanthevanaar” or “poothanthevan from Eelam. This is nearly two millennia ago.

    The separate state asked for was “Tamil Eelam” not “Eelam”.

    Insulting the Eelam word is to insult the word in classical Tamil for the Island

    By calling it “Peelam” what you are implying is that it is SHIT Eelam because you know very well PEE means shit in Tamil. Phonetically you are calling it PEE EELAM.

    Now in your anger against those who demand a separate state you are always referring to Peelam. An occasional barb on those lines may be OK but constant reference is insulting and unacceptable

    It amounts to someone calling Sri Lanka SHITLANKA all the time

    So if you do want your comments posted here (I want your viewpoint) please moderate your language and give respect to the ancient name for this Island – EELAM

  106. Ariya says:

    To Sydney -Tamil

    Maybe you are right. At that time we were not that educated in worldly matters, but we were actually happy, for how can I say that my Tamil or Muslim brethren were different? We had one card to play those days – Ceylon card or shall we say Lanka card.

    But the Bandaranaike’s went on a racist card – Sinhala only. I am a Singhalese, but I don’t like the stuff they made here – mahatthayas and golayas. If we had taken the same course like Lee Kwan in Singapore and placed English as the buffer language,we might have made it better, and you wouldn’t be in Sydney, right?

    I believe, we can still play the Lanka card and do that together. That is if we will have the will to do so. I’m now bit old, but I hope our younger generation would be better and live in peaceful Lanka. We all breathe and the air is free! The only truth we know is that we will die some day, so why not thrive to do good, at least something good, instead of fighting? No one wins an argument, do they? Isn’t it better to agree to disagree and go forward with only positive thoughts?

  107. Saman says:

    I personnelly dont like to talk about race,religion, ethnicity or cast.But when I read Nissanka # 86 comment, I thought it is important to write this.Because in politics there are many people changed their names in history as SWRD did. Even at present you can see some people have taken or copied well respected names like Rambukwella. But they are really Rathnayake or Dissanayakes. It has nothing wrong. Only thing is these people are make living by misusing other respected peoples names.They are lying, there lives are entirely a fraud.They havent delivered anything to the society other than a fraud!

  108. Dias says:

    Though in grade school at the time, I can vividly recall the happenings of that fateful day when Mr. Badaranaike was assasinated. Fifty years is a long time and since then much has happened. Perhaps it is now time for Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and all Sri Lanka lovers to let go of this not so romantic past and look forward to a new and blossoming romance. Considering the deep animosity that persists between the protagonists, perhaps as a first step, each should try to view issues from the others percpective with some good ole’ compassion. Sixty years of self-centered communal thinking must cease and if we want solutions for out problems, then first we must strive to seek solutions for the concerns of the other. The majority must strive to understand and acknowledge the minorities desire to live as equals and the Tamils must acknowledge the legitimate apprehensions of the Sinhalese who are a tiny and isolated global minority paranoid about their extinction. Perhaps if Tamils can propose ways and means to ensure the longevity of the SInhalese and the majority can courageously shed their insecure attachments to the irrelevant ethos of Mahavamsa and instead think along modern secular ways, then perhaps a powerful new romance may blossom.

  109. Siva says:

    Hello DBS,
    What was the cause of Mr. SWRD’s death?Was Somarama’s hangging justified?
    Acording to some medical experts which include Dr.Ratnavale, an eminent neurologist,SWRD died of Citrate poisioning(He was given 17 pints of blood and citrate is added to the banked blood to prolong it’s shelf life).Further more there was no ATOPSY.Mr.Sri skandarajah, ,just a puny magistrate conducted the inquest,relied on the evidence of Dr.P.R.Anthonis and issued a verdict of HOMICIDE.The dissenting evidence was not accepted.Somarama went to his maker and Mr.Sri Skandarajah was promoted as a Supreme court judge by Srimavo.These facts are not a figament of my imagination,I was in JK when all of this happened.
    Cheers,Siva.

  110. shankar says:

    to comment 110 -siva

    what does JK stand for. are you trying to just impress others with this JK stuff that only you can understand.

  111. shankar says:

    to comment 110 -siva

    what does JK stand for?

  112. shankar says:

    to comment 110 -siva

    sorry siva. got a bit annoyed when i was wracking my brain wondering what is this JK.

    your contention seems to be that after the shooting he was given blood, contaminated with citrate. the fact remains thar somarama shot him , so this is maybe a medical bungle, but does not exonerate somarama in any way.

    anyway dr.anthonis was a very eminent physician. you are implying that sirimavo rewarded sriskandarajah with promotions. what does she gain from all this if it was a medical bungle. it is not like as if she herself would have administered the citrus into the blood or got someone to do it, though definitely she would have liked to whenever he shouted kussiya sirima kussiya.

  113. Keppetipola says:

    Sevela Banda played a fine card. he wore full suit at home, ate kiri bath with folk and spoon, but wore redda beniyama when went outside. Good things he did – sent son to Royal not st Thomas’s, gave sinhala buddhist a place in the society. Very difficult to judge his character ‘cos his premiership lasted too short. One thing is sure his nationalisation was the beginning of the bankrupting of the nation, which was very prosperous in 1948. Sevala Banda was not against the Tamils when he introduced Sinhala Only – it was a mere vote buying thing, he signed a pact with Chelva. It was DS and Sir John who were more pro-sinhala.

  114. Siva says:

    Hello Shankar,
    JK is an acronym for Junior Kindergarten
    Somarama did shoot SWRD,how ever SWRD died of Citrate poisoning, there-fore the primary cause of death was Citrate Poisoning and not gun shot injuries.This is a FACT.
    Futhermore,even though Somarama made an initial confession no one knows if this confession was voluntary as he retracted his confessions befoe the trial.
    Please read” Assassination of a Prime Minister” by Lucian G.Weeramantry who was the senior counsel for Somarama before the case was taken over by Sir.Dingle Foote.Q.C.
    Cheers,
    Siva.

  115. Kepetipola says:

    Is Shankar implying that Sirima indirectly killed Banda? (cirate poison issue).

  116. shankar says:

    dear keppetipola

    iam not implying anything. siva is implyng that sirima poisoned banda by getting dr. anthonis to pump him full of blood containing citrus. subsequently she got sriskandarajah to cover it up. one of sivas fellow student in junior kindergarten gave him this information. why don’t you read earlier comments of siva properly.

  117. Raj says:

    Hi DBS

    Great informative article.what happened to Buddharakkita and Jayewardena

    B died in prison and J was released in 1977……….DBSJ

  118. eagleye1857 says:

    Dear DBSJ,

    Could you throw some light on the Bandarnaike – Chelvanayagam agreement that was abrogated soon after the assasination for the benefit of everybody? looking forward to hearing soon

  119. shankar says:

    to comment 119-eagleeye

    that is a good question you are asking. i think it is time to bring that agreement back, this time in the form of rajapakshe-sampanthan agreement.

  120. ASilva says:

    premadasa is from hinna cast who were the dhobies for salagama cast people. ie c.p. de Silva’s clan. CPDe silva had a real opertunityu to become prime Minister after Dhanayake was expelled from slfp in early 60s. he closely folowed dudly at march 60 Election and dudley govt lost the Parliment confidential vote and election was called after desolution.

    CP had the real chance to become PM one from salagama cast to creaaate history. But at this juncture elite in the slfp did not want this to happened and persuaded sirima to become the leader of the party to contnue the dominance of govigama cast. sirima repeatedly declined and the elite got rev henpitigedera ganaseeha thero to get the SIrima’s consent. when REV went to Rosmead place Sirima saw hamuduruwo comming and ran to kithen to hode herself.

    Rev went to kitchen and brought Sirima by draging her from her hand and convinced Sirima to accept the offer which her finally accepted there by becoming salagama CP becoming PM. BUT IN 1989 pREMADASA BEING a person from dhoby cast to salagama was able to become the President. premadasa was de Silva which he droped later acording to father abeysekera Principal of STJOSEPH where he attended night school His name is there as De Silva. Most of the low cast people droped their gay names to hide their cast identity.

  121. shankar says:

    ASilva

    Just out of curiosity. The name Silva itself is not a sinhalese name. If you throw a stone in portugal or brazil it will fall on someones head called Silva. Does this mean that the abundance of people with such portuguese names in Srilanka have portugeuse ancestry, or just adopted portuguese names. And is that the reason why this Salagama caste was formed, and is it considered lower caste than Govigama. Who is numerically the most?

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