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Shelton Ranaraja: Courageous politician with enlightened principles

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Shelton Ranaraja (Nov 4, 1926 - Aug 11, 2011)

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The demise of Shelton Ranaraja on August 11th 2011 takes away from Sri Lanka a distinguished member of a dwindling species –Principled political leaders. The former MP for Senkadagala and deputy minister for Justice was a courageous politician with enlightened principles.

It is indeed a rare politician who is prepared to stand up against the majority of his or her political party for what one believes to be right.Shelton Ranaraja was such a person.

It was my privilege in 1981 to witness what was perhaps the finest moment in the life of Shelton Ranaraja when he voted against the no confidence motion brought against then leader of the opposition Appapillai Amirthalingam.It was an inspiring display of principled courage.

The United National Party led by Junius Richard Jayewardena swept the polls in July 1977 winning 141 of 168 seats. JR himself amended the constitution and became Sri Lanka’s first executive president in February 1978. In September 1978 a new Constitution was promulgated

With the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP)being reduced to a paltry eight seats the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF)having 18 seats became the chief opposition party.Appapillai Amirthalingam became opposition leader. The TULF had won the elections on a separatist platform

Naturally there was much friction between the ruling UNP and chief opposition TULF. There were many political confrontations.One such incident occurred in July 1981.

UNPRECEDENTED

The TULF gave notice in Parliament for a vote of no confidence against the government. The UNP regime retaliated by giving notice of a vote of no confidence against the leader of the opposition. This was an unprecedented development in the Parliamentary history of the Island.

The proposal mooted by then Panadura MP Dr.Neville Fernando was signed by 36 UNP Parliamentarians. It was widely believed and subsequently confirmed by Dr.Fernando that the no confidence motion project had the approval of President Jayewardena himself

President Jayewardena was regarded as all powerful then. Although there were many decent,learned persons in the UNP parliamentary group none dared to defy the “almighty” JR. Hence the UNP to its eternal shame went along with what was perhaps an all time low in parliamentary annals.

The no confidence motion by members of the govt against the leader of the opposition was taken up in Parliament on July 23rd and 24th 1981.What followed was high drama of a cheap variety.

At the outset Amirthalingam wanted to explain his position and rose to his feet. Pandemonium erupted. Amirthalingam’s voice was drowned in a flood of choice epithets.

Dr.Neville Fernando objected to Amirthalingam making a personal statement saying that he could do so only with the indulgence of the House. The speaker Bakeer Markar upheld Dr.Fernando’s objection and refused to let Amirthalingam speak. At this point the TULF walked out in protest.

Thereafter SLFP deputy leader and Medawachchiya MP Maitripala Senanayake raised a point of order and submitted three reasons for the Speaker to rule the no confidence motion out of order.

“Firstly, the vote of no confidence on the leader of the opposition did not fall within the powers of parliament. It had not happened anywhere in the world. Secondly, the leader of the opposition held his office in accordance to parliamentary convention and he enjoyed the confidence of the members of the opposition. He need not enjoy the confidence of parliament or that of the government members. Thirdly, the motion, even if passed, would not bring any result. Amirthalingam would continue to be the Leader of the Opposition even after the passage of the motion”.

PROTEST

The speaker Bakeer Markar evaded the issue and said Senanayake’s point of order had been raised too late. Therefore he could not stop the no confidence motion being debated he said. The lone Communits party MP from Kalawana,Sarath Muttetuwegama chided the speaker saying that he was letting the Govt MP’s run Parliament. The SLFP and CP members also walked out in protest

Thus Sri Lanka witnessed the bizarre event of the Government conducting a solo performance of debating a no confidence motion against the leader of the opposition while the entire opposition had walked out in protest. No minister or deputy minister from the UNP spoke but the backbenchers had a field day.

Then followed a disgusting relay of speeches by UNP parliamentarians uttering dire threats of punishment to Amirthalingam and other TULF traitor MP’s. Horsewhipping, shooting them on galle face green, Tying up on a post and beating, mutilation, Dumping in the beira lake were some of the modes of punishment advocated

The most bloodcurdling threat was about reviving an ancient form of punishment allegedly practiced by Sinhala kings in the past against traitors. The victim was to be tied by his two feet to two bent arecanut trees. When the ropes are cut the bent trees spring back upright. The victim will be torn apart.

The only minister who spoke during that debate was Soumiyamoorthy Thondaman the minister of rural industrial development in the JRJ regime. Thondaman speaking in his capacity as leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress(CWC) was very critical of the no confidence motion.He also uttered a prophetic warning that undermining Amirthalingam would pave the way for an extremist type of Tamil politics to emerge.

Finally it was voting time on July 24th.Thondaman abstained. There were 121 votes supporting the no confidence motion. There was however one solitary vote against the motion. The man who voted against the UNP motion was none other than the honourable member for Senkadagala,Shelton Ranaraja. By doing so he not only demonstrated that he was an honourable person but also helped salvage a little bit of honour at least for his party.

“NADARAJA”

The “ginger group” was annoyed and angry. All sorts of remarks like traitor and Tamil lover were made. One that still lingers in memory is the pun on his name. There were shouts of Shelton “Nadaraja”. The first four letters of his surname were being replaced by four others to make his name Tamil as “Nadaraja” instead of the Sinhala “Ranaraja”.

Despite the catcalls,hoots and jeers Ranaraja did not flinch. In what was a rare exhibition of courage and principle he stood bravely against his party and voted against guided only by his conscience and conviction.

The stature and image of Shelton Ranaraja went up in the eyes of all decent people in Sri Lanka after that episode. The Tamils in particular were elated. To the end of his days, Shelton Ranaraja always enjoyed wide popularity among the Tamil people. Although he was right of centre in his political beliefs, Shelton Ranaraja’s prestige was comparable to that of the Trotskyite Edmund Samarakkody and Merril Fernando.

Shelton Ranaraja was a distinguished alumnus of St.Thomas’ College Mt.Lavinia (with a stint at Gurutalawa I believe). He was an outstanding sportsman at College and was a coloursman in Cricket,Boxing and Swimming. He continued to play Cricket when he entered Law College and captained the team

Shelton Ranaraja was a stylish batsman but was capable of wielding the willow like a cudgel when necessary. In short a “polladiya”. He continued to play cricket for a long time while at Kandy. He played in the local tournaments even when he was in his fifties. Once he scored a century after notching up half a century in years.

He was the captain of the Kandy Lawyers Cricket eleven for many, many years. He also held the posts of Central Province Cricket Association president and Kandy district Cricket association president for several years. In later life he turned to Golf from Cricket. During the twilight of his life he kept fit by walking around the picturesque Kandy lake.

One of Kandy’s landmarks is the Bogambara stadium. There was a time when the rise of crass commercialism threatened its future as an arena for sports. It was Shelton Ranaraja who saved the stadium for sports by opposing it being used for carnivals and tamashas. Preventing the “carnivalisation” of Bogambara enabled it to be developed as a full fledged sports stadium.

SENKADAGALA

After passing out from Law College, Shelton Ranaraja established a successful legal practice in Kandy. His foray intp Parliamentary politics came in 1960 when he was elected MP of the newly carved out Senkadagala constituency

Shelton contested on the SLFP ticket in the July 1960 elections and squeaked through with 25 votes. Subsequently there was a petition and recount of votes.He continued to retain his seat with his tally increased this time to 30.

A liberal democrat to the core, Shelton Ranaraja was most unhappy with the SLFP –LSSP govt’s attempt to muzzle the press by taking over Lake House in 1964 december. Shelton was among the 14 MP’s from the govt of Mrs.Bandaranaike who voted against the press takeover. The bill was defeated by one vote leading to dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections in 1965.

Ranaraja then bade “au revoir” to active politics for a while and concentrated on his legal practice. But when JR Jayewardena took over the party in 1973 after the death of Dudley Senanayake, an invitation was extended to Shelton Ranaraja to return to politics and work in the UNP.

He accepted and was appointed organizer for Senkadagala although Noel Wimalasena who won in 1970 was the sitting MP. In 1977 elections Shelton Ranaraja’s formidable rival from the SLFP was Anuruddha Ratwatte ,kinsman of the Bandaranaikes. Ranaraja obtained 17,972(57.53%) to Ratwatte’s 12,381(39.63%)

Shelton was appointed deputy minister of justice first under KW Devanayagam and later under Nissanka Wijeratne.

When the July 1983 anti – Tamil violence occurred Ranaraja acted with forethought and got all the thugs and hoodlums in Kandy locked up by the Police.Kandy enjoyed some tranquility initially even as Colombo was burning.

Sadly Ranaraja’s orders were countermanded by the powerful minister of Industries and Scientific affaurs Cyril Mathew.Dubbed as the “Industrious minister of anti-Tamil affairs”Mathew got all those locked up by Ranaraja released. Within hours Kandy too started burning.A distraught Ranaraja lamented on this situation to journalists later.

WELIKADE

The twin massacres of Tamil political detenues at Welikade on July 25th (35) and July 27th (17) concerned the Justice ministry directly as the prisons dept was under its purview. When efforts were underway by the defence establishment to do away with the bodies the Justice ministry intervened and enabled judicial inquests to be held. Deputy minister Shelton Ranaraja and Justice ministry secretary Mervyn Wijesinghe were greatly instrumental in this

The Tamil political prisoners were transferred to Batticaloa after the July pogrom. There the bulk of detenues escaped in a mass break out in September 1983. There was strong pressure on the Justice minister Nissanka Wijeratne to resign and for Shelton Ranaraja to replace him. But Shelton refused on a matter of principle.

The LTTE attack on the sacred Bo tree and massacre of civilians in Anuradhapura on May 14th 1985 resulted in widespread anger and fear in many parts of the Country. A delegation of Sinhala citizens went to Shelton Ranaraja and urged that the Tamils in Kandy be expelled as a precaution. Shelton refused point blank and candidly told them that their duty was to protect the Tamil minority living amidst them instead of driving them away.

The 1987 Indo-Lanka accord and the ushering in of “peace” was welcomed by Shelton Ranaraja. A lull in violence prevailed between July 29th to October 10th 1987. Shelton Ranaraja despite being a member of the govt got involved in a mission of goodwill to the north from the South.

A group of Sinhala persons mainly medical personnel undertook a peace and reconciliation mission to Jaffna in September 1987. Among those in this mission were Dr. Sunil Ratnapriya of the GMOA, Fr. Yohan Devananda of “devasarana” in Ibbagamuwe and of course deputy justice minister Shelton Ranaraja in his private capacity.

“Permission” to visit Jaffna was sought and obtained from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) then ruling the roost in the peninsula. I vividly recall the “permission” being given personally by Gopalaswamy Mahendraraja alias “Mahattaya” the deputy leader of the LTTE at that time.

DELEGATION

This Sinhala goodwill delegation comprised people who recognized the tragic plight of the Tamil people and supported the justice in the Tamil cause. Their mission to the north was to establish better understanding and amity with the Tamil people. Yet they had a nasty experience.

The fast unto death campaign by Rasiah Parthiban alias Thileepan had commenced. While the “Gandhian” fast went on in Nalloor elsewhere there were many incidents of friction where the LTTE was trying to provoke the Sri Lankan Police and army into unleashing retaliatory violence.

The Southern delegation was able to see this first –hand when they were travelling through areas like Valvettithurai,Paruthithurai and Nelliaddy in the Vadamaratchy division. There were occasions when their lives were exposed to danger. But the worst was yet to come.

The delegation returned to Colombo in two vehicles. They passed through several LTTE checkposts along the Jaffna –Kandy road or A-9 highway. An LTTE vehicle kept following them at a distance.

The LTTE vehicle overtook them shortly after they passed Pallai. When the Southern group reached Iyakkachchi about four miles away from Elephant Pass they found the vehicle parked by the side of the road. About six LTTE cadres with Firearms and grenades stopped them

The passengers were ordered to get out with a few being pulled out roughly. Then the tigers took over both vehicles with things inside and turned back towards Jaffna. The Southern goodwill mission had to walk two miles on the road towards Elephant pass. Then a south bound bus stopped and they got in and reached the Elephant pass army camp safely.

DISILLUSIONED

Shelton Ranaraja was deeply affected by this incident. When I spoke to him about this he appeared to be very sad but not angry or embittered. But his impression of the LTTE as a disciplined movement fighting for freedom had been shattered. He was also deeply dislllusioned about the prospects for a lasting peace.

It was this perhaps which led to his declining an offer to be the first governor of the temporarily merged North –eastern province under the Indo – Lanka accord. A.Amirthalingam and R.Sampanthan of the TULF had recommended him to President Jayewardena who consented to the suggestion. But when JR asked Shelton he refused.

Shelton Ranaraja retired from active political life after 1988. He devoted his time to his family of five daughters and to law, cricket and social service. His wife Chandra took to politics and eventually became the first woman mayor of Kandy. One of his sons in law Thilina Bandara Tennekoon is a UPFA member of the Central Provincial council.

During the last stages of his life Shelton Ranaraja grappled with cancer. He passed away at a private hospital on August 11th. He was 85 years of age.

Shelton Ranaraja’s remains lie at his residence in Rajapihilla mawatte, Kandy. The cremation will take place Saturday August 13th at Mahaiyawa.

Shelton Ranaraja has retired to the pavilion after a productive innings in which he concentrated on playing the game according to principles and rules.It is a sad day for the Country in general and the Tamils in particular because those of his caliber and courage desiring inter-racial justice and ethnic amity are becoming a rare commodity in the country.

As for me I shall always remember that day in Parliament on July 24th 1981 when Shelton Ranaraja stood alone with quiet dignity against the UNP juggernaut and acted courageously according to his conscience and conviction.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com

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93 Comments

  1. Thank you Mr.Jeyaraj for this wonderful tribute to a real gentleman in politics. The no confidence motion by the UNP govt against opposition leader Amirthalingam of TULF was one of the worst violations of parliamentary democracy then.

    Honourable Shelton Ranaraja acted honourably and bravely then and redeemed at least part of UNP honour

    May he rest in peace

  2. Noble soul

    I lived in Kandy in 1983.I remember how hard Shelton tried to prevent violence and protect Tamils.But Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake got the rascals released. There was mayhem. Shelton was in tears but helpless.

  3. My family lived in Kandy those days and Mr.Ranaraja was well known to my father. He was a real gentleman. I must say he had very beautiful daughters

    I respect and admire him. So sorry he has passed away.

    Good that you wrote about him DBS

  4. This is the first time i hear the name Shelton Ranaraja and his norm professionalism thank you MR DBSJ.

  5. Thank you Jeyaraj annan for this great article about a great man

    I was born in 1988 and dont know anything about Shelton Ranaraja.Never heard of him either before reading this article

    But after reading this I feel so happy to know that there were such great souls among the Singala people. We are always told about the bad people only.Thank you for letting us know about the good people also

  6. Very happy to read this and learn from DBS about this respectable gentleman in politics. Cant find such people now

  7. Good to know there were such decent guys in the majority race.Always thought they were all rotten eggs

    Thanks DBS for this

  8. I heard the name mentioned much. Thank you for this article.
    Its what we DO that leaves such a lasting impression behind.
    May he rest in peace.

  9. The good that men do lives on in the minds and hearts of people. The results of good actions bring tranquility and peace to us even by hearing of their deeds. May they rest in peace and their progeny blessed by their rightful actions.

    Those who do evil and harm others are remembered in disgust and cursed for the troubles they caused and destruction and havoc they wraught.

    May our current set of leaders be guided by the teachings of the great teachers we profess to follow.

  10. ‘The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood’
    Martin Luther King JR.

    First of all my heart-felt condolences to his family and friends. Secondly, I Thank Mr. Jeyaraj for writing this timely tribute to Late Hon. Shelton Ranaraja who is a role model for a politician. Reading this article, gives renewed hope for me as a tamil, that in the future more young politicians will follow the foot-steps of this brave gentle man, to dedicate themselves to justice, peace and brotherhood.

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Ken

  11. Thanks DBSJ for thiue wonderful article.

    Could you write similar articles about Edmund Samarakody and Meril Fernando?

    There were many other noble Sinhala souls. why not serialise their stories for the benefit of the younger generation?

  12. What a great person who was a rarity in the times of supremacists and selfish beings in each side of Sinhala – Tamil divide.

  13. Shelton uncle is a gem of a person> studied in same class with his eldest daughter. Thank you Mr.Jeyaraj for this article about him

  14. It was a great tribute to a man with principles and there are many more with those values are not heard or never to be known.We should learn from these stories and learn to appreciate people from whatever the race ,religion or cast they belong to aim a common goal in life, peace and love,and of course tolerance.

  15. Shelton had the courage and honesty to express himself. I always admired him! Thanks DBSJ for the tribute with the critical hours of his politics.

  16. I have knwn SR as a good politician. But it is for the first time i heard of his stand on that silly no confidence motion. Thanks DBS for your article.

  17. “Ranaraja” to “Nadaraja” , I remember similar incident happened to CBK when she was a president in 1994 sinhala racist called her ” Tamilichchi without poddu” (பொட்டு வைக்காத தமிழிச்சி)

  18. What an accolade to a great human being.Thanks DBS, a rarity for you. As my father was his friend and secretary in 1960s, he visited my father often to discuss how unhappy he was with the then politics. My father always said, he couldn’t understand why Shelton voted for the 1978 consitution and then to suspend Sirimavo’s civic rights.JR always knew Shelton’s political mindset, thus he never appointed him to a serious ministry. Furthermore, JR confirmed his belief that Shelton was a Liberal socialist in Capitalist clothes by appointing him the ambassador to the Soviet Union. A great man Shelton, May you rest in Peace!

  19. infant (or orphan infant)

    As an infant you can’t differentiate between good and bad ra chellam. Why can’t you keep quiet? Don’t wander in public places. Some body may kidnap or some vehicles may crush you. Drink milk and take rest. Sweet dreams da kanna.

  20. DBSJ
    Thank you very much for the article about the late Mr.Shelton Ranarajah exMP for Senkadagala.
    I am sorry to know that he has passed away.
    He was a rare politician and a true gentleman.

  21. Shelton Ranaraja – he was a good batsman who batted for Kandy CC in the 50s. Was good enough to play for then Ceylon, but failed. Ranaraja was not from the Radala class but became MP where the sacred tooth relic is held! That itself is an achivement. His wife, Chandra Ranaraja as Mayor clashed with EL Senanayake left right and centre and won.

    Dear Ramprasath,

    Yes, they then called Ranaraja – Nadaraja; after Banda – Chelva pact in 1957 they called Bandaranaike – Bandaranaikem. Chandrika was also called by that surname. Now a days they call Ravi Karunanayake – Ravi Karunanayagam. Then, JRJ – they linked him with the Muslims, but he was an ardent Anglcan until death. SWRDB was also an ardent Anglican.His body was supposed to have been blessed by Christian priests before the Buddhist Pansukala ceremony

  22. Over the last 60 years most of the democratic countries in the third world have moved on from divisive and racist politics but Sri Lanka remains stuck in a self-made rotting cesspit. Among the sinhala politicians decent, uncorrupt and principled people like the late Sarath Muttetuwegama, Edmund Samarakkody and Shelton Ranaraja are few and far between but sadly their voices have been drowned out by the chauvinistic sinhala jackals that have ruled this country since independence. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, good about the present bunch of racist, corrupt and self-serving politicinas in both the government and the opposition. So refreshing to read something good about a sinhala politician these days and if DBS could write more about other sinhala politicians with humanity, kindness and principles it may bring some hope for the tamil people of this generation to develop trust in the sinhalese people.

  23. [Then followed a disgusting relay of speeches by UNP parliamentarians uttering dire threats of punishment to Amirthalingam and other TULF traitor MP’s. Horsewhipping, shooting them on galle face green, Tying up on a post and beating, mutilation, Dumping in the beira lake were some of the modes of punishment advocated

    The most bloodcurdling threat was about reviving an ancient form of punishment allegedly practiced by Sinhala kings in the past against traitors. The victim was to be tied by his two feet to two bent arecanut trees. When the ropes are cut the bent trees spring back upright. The victim will be torn apart.]

    ———————————————————————

    What happenned to the arrogant UNP?

    What happenned to the arrogant LTTE?

    Let us wait and see what happens to those who talk and behave arrogantly now.

    I was dissapointed to see that thondaman took the cowardly path of abstaining,while the lion of senkedagala showed the way for others to follow.
    Unfortunately not many followed this pure sinhalese and instead decided to follow all the assimiliated ones,who make the biggest racket of their sinhala credentials.

    DBSJ,this article was riveting. I thought it will be boring,but was pleasantly surprised.I hope this great man rests in peace.

  24. I liked your reference to the “poladiya”. Thanks for this memorium about a good man. As human beings, we should help each other without fear or favour. The good we do always come back to us. It comes at the unexpected moment.

    Late Mr. Ranaraja and my father were batchmates at Law College. I have a souvenier issued by a Law Society in a provincial city in which both Mr. Ranaraja’s and my fathers’ photos appear. My father did not dabble in politics but was a better lawyer than that Bakeer Markar, who was then Speaker but these days they are considered eminent lawyers.

  25. Thanks for the Article anna
    Hon.Mr Ranaraja was a very good friend of my Dad who was a lawyer also like him
    I was a little kid but remember him visting Jaffna appearing a case . I went with my dad to see him in the Rest House and we had lunch together
    I am sure there are many many wonderful Sinhalese like Shelton in Lanka.

    I also remember he was a gentle soul who was against Vote of Confidence of Hon Amirthalingham where as Rajadurai of Batticaloa supported vote of Confidence
    People like Shelton Ranaraja and Former GA Lional fernando make Tamils to feel not all sinhalese are racists

    God bless his soul

  26. Publishing this article in a timely manner is the best possible way you chose to pay your last respect to a man of high morality and decency. Much of the details described here are news to me as there was little publicity for the way he voted in that no confidence motion given at the time, understandably there would not be any chance for this sort of deeds to catch the head lines as people like Nevil, Srisena, etc. were having a blast then.

    Really ashamed to learn what LTTE did to the southern mission that Shelton was a member of. The message those who grabbed their vehicle given to them then could have been “Do not count on us”. That is what they did, lived up that expectation.

    May his soul rest in peace. My heartfelt condolences go out for his loved ones, who survive by him.

  27. Mr. D.B.S. Jeyaraj, a respected journalist has made a deserving and wonderful tribute to the late Shelton. I woul like to share this with you. In April 1970, just out of school, 3 young men (Ralph, Priyalal and myself) in their teens hitch hiked to see Sri Lanka. On the road from Kandy to Dambulla a volkswagon beetle responded to our raised thumb, stopped and gave us a ride to Matale and invited us his estae to take as much as we wanted in Kurumba to quench our thirst. Ralph did the hard work and plucked the fruit. We thanked the gentleman and I asked him for his name and what he did. He simply said Shelton Ranaraja. It was much later that my Uncle Conrad Abeysekere enlightened us to his vocation in life to being a respected politician to serve his community and country. I still remeber the short time we spent in his company and what a wondeful man unassuming and kind man he was. May he rest in peace.

  28. When I was childhood I heard this gentlemen name( I’m kandiyan) on election time president premadas tald
    To Election campaigners selton Thinavanna I will do lot of thinks to kandy premadasa love him thatswhy He told like that.

  29. Thanks DBSJ for the timely writing about Shelton Ranaraja

    Sri Lanka needs courageous politicians like Shelton Ranaraja. It was pity good politicians like him were sidelined by criminal minded politicians.

    LTTE’s betrayal was unbelievable. This is typical LTTE. After doing so much for us, treating Shelton Ranaraja this way was greatest betrayal.

    May his soul rest in peace.

    R Maran

  30. Well there are much more to surface about Sinhalese and their true plight ….. Take this as an initiative and try to understand Sinhalese… They are not voilent or exremists… They react hard only when they are leaned to the wall.. They are a global minority and Sri Lanka is the country where they made a history and heritage.. So there is no other way than accepting them as they are and live in harmony with them in Sri Lanka… Northern Tamil arogance has to take a complete turnover… So Gayatri.. take my word and break your own barrier.

  31. Shelton and Chandra are the perfecdt first family (political, loyal, honest, etc) I knew in Sri Lanka.
    With love
    Viviana & Tissa

  32. If you have look at the history “JR himself amended the constitution and became Sri Lanka’s first executive president in February 1978. In September 1978 a new Constitution was promulgated” is another reason for
    country’s trouble and reduced ‘Principled political leaders’ like Shelton Ranaraja or Sir Pon.Iramanathan in Srilanka.

    First unlimited power and unquestioned authority of ‘executive president’ post need to be abolished to
    establish the true democracy and all of the politicians must obey (International and national) Law and Humanrights. Constitution must change to people of the land to empower themselfs and exercise their rights with sufficent power and without Military Intimidation.

  33. To all our friends from the Tami community, on behalf of the majority Sinhalese, let me thank you for sending your sympathies and then thanking DBS for the write. Its so regrettabnle that a fe of our Tamil brothers still seem to be having some animosity towards the Sinhalese. SOme of these measurements and the reviews are unfiltered. While, late Shelton Ranahraja was a politican par excellence, why would you try to take advantage of this death, to show your anger towards the Sinhalese as late Shelton Ranaraja was himself a Sinhalese, who fought for Tamil rights alongside many other Sinhelese.

  34. In 1981 :

    /*
    The TULF gave notice in Parliament for a vote of no confidence against the government. The UNP regime retaliated by giving notice of a vote of no confidence against the leader of the opposition. This was an unprecedented development in the Parliamentary history of the Island.
    */

    In typical fashion Amir and TULF declares a vote of no confidence against the govt. I think it quite audacious to complain when they themselves were directly involved inciting the communal violence.

  35. Take this as an initiative and try to understand Sinhalese… They are not voilent or exremists… They react hard only when they are leaned to the wall..
    They are a global minority and Sri Lanka is the country where they made a history and heritage.. So there is no other way than accepting them as they are and live in harmony with them in Sri Lanka

  36. [Take this as an initiative and try to understand Sinhalese… They are not voilent or exremists… They react hard only when they are leaned to the wall..

    They are a global minority and Sri Lanka is the country where they made a history and heritage.. So there is no other way than accepting them as they are and live in harmony with them in Sri Lanka]

    Well said dbsj. You need to say this in every item you bring in here, so that Tamil extremists fianlly come terms with the reality.

    Thanks!

  37. Shanky

    [Take this as an initiative and try to understand Sinhalese… They are not voilent or exremists… They react hard only when they are leaned to the wall.. They are a global minority and Sri Lanka is the country where they made a history and heritage.. So there is no other way than accepting them as they are and live in harmony with them in Sri Lanka]

    Majority of the singalese are racists. Ceylon has always beel against Tamil Elaam. Our leader Prabhakaran is still alive. Instead of taking war to singhalese stupid you talk about peace with singhalas. Dbsj… please edit such posts support the Tamil struggle. You are our only hope.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    You posted two comments under the name Shanky earlier. They were of a different content

    Now you are posting a comment under the name Thambi as if it is in response to the one posted by you as Shanky.

    This one is of a different content

    The ones posted as Shanky are “progressive” speaking positively about the Sinhala people and urging inter-ethnic understanding and peaceful coexistence

    The one posted as Thambi (this one) is inflammatory spitting out venom against the Sinhala people and urging me to edit out comments and also make a pro-Tamil appeal to me

    What is your game you aperture in the posterior? Stop this bovine excreta!

  38. Shanky, “Global’ Minority – Majority”, What happened to the “Global village” concept – The world is nothing but villages of NUMEROUS MINORITIES. Pluralism and devolution to the maximum – the way to go.

    DBSJ, Thank you for the wonderful tribute and getting know of this great Sri Lankan parliamentarian.

  39. Thank you Mr. DBSJ for writing about this noble man. He was indeed gem of a man!

    While I was still a student, I was fond of reading the Parliament debates in the papers and always impressed with the speeches of three MP’s and they were Noble Shelton Ranaraja, Sarath Muttetuwegama and Felix Dias Bandaranaike.

    Mr. Shelton Ranaraja always stood out among them all for voicing his support for Tamils.

    You are absolutely right that he was quite popular among the Tamils and had he contested for any of the MP seat in the North and the East, he would have won it easily.

    I became familiar with the place called Sengadagala, only because of him, that he was the MP for that area.

    My condolences to his family.

    May this noble man’s soul rest in peace!

  40. ‘To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die’ Thomas Campbell.

    I take this oppertunity to pay homage to a courageous leader, a politicitian with principle who will live in our hearts and minds even after death.I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends. He left a unique legacy which should influence the future politicians, in other words more politicians like Late Hon. Shelton Ranaraja have to evolve from the ceylon communities.

    Thanks Mr.D.B.S Jeyaraj for writing this tribute. I was in my early teens when this no confidence motion saga was going on. Thanks for reminding me these events.

    Bernard.

  41. The above reply for shanky’s comment is not mine, somebody is posing as me and try do some third grade politics in this forum, instead of sharing memories of Late Hon.Shelton Ranarajah. My real comment appears below, starts with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr,. Mr.DBS Jeyaraj please pay attention to this kind of activities. It says ‘well said dbsj’ It was said by shanky.

    Ken

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Am I expected to analyse these “comments” and investigate whether each one is really posted by the posters under the names they are posted under?Think I have no other work but to do detective work with the jokers who post such stupid comments?

  42. Panhinda

    You are right.Unnecessary confrontational politics by that idiot amirthalingam.Achieves nothing for tamils.Just playing to the gallery like the sinhalese politicians for cheap popularity.Trouble is only lawyers seem to go into srilankan politics.I wonder why?No practice?Big mouths?Might as well call the parliament the srilanka bar association inc.

  43. Thank you DBSJ for this writing.

    First time I heard of this honorable man in politics.

    May he rest in peace.

  44. Piranha,

    I agree with you.

    I even think it is worthwhile for some of us to get together and bring out a book of articles by DBSJ on these types of topics. We can commission him to write with a reasonable fee on a professional basis

  45. Just what the Doctor should prescribe to these hatemongers. I truly appreciate the right choice of words, in closing the mans’ aperture!

  46. Shelton Ranaraja was a man who beleived in justice to all.
    There were many sinhala MPs who too would have voted against the motion, but were scared of the repercussions.
    Chelliah Rajadurai MP for batticaloa was I beleive, the first MP to “cross over” from the opposition to the government ranks.
    He disappointed all people in batticaloa who elected him.

  47. This is the first time i ever heard about about Shelton Ranaraja. It is refreshing to know about a great politician. Thank You DBSJ for writing about him. Media in SL should talk about people like him and make young ppl aware of him. Our young generation needs role models. This gentleman fits to be a fine role model to young politicians.

  48. Shelton was a superb cricketer and should have played for Sri Lanka when Dr.Gunasekara was captaining the then Ceylon team. But since he remained in Kandy and played for Kandy CC he was overlooked. Those days it was only Colombo chaps who got the selection.Kandy had its revenge with Murali. I recall Shelton was fond of Murali and encouraged him very much

  49. Hi DBS,
    I heard about Sheton Ranaraja and Senkadagala but overtime forgot about specifics. Thanks for the write up and you have given credit where it is due. With SR’s selfless achievements may he attain the supreme bliss of nirvana.

    I thought opposition walked out when SLFP govt extended the term from 1975-77 claiming the action was illegal, what was his stand then?

    In hindsight wish to highlight some important points in your article.

    “Soumiyamoorthy Thondaman uttered a prophetic warning that undermining Amirthalingam would pave the way for an extremist type of Tamil politics to emerge”

    Why JRJ as an experienced politician couldn’t see this?

    It appears SR learnt the hard way when
    “His impression of the LTTE as a disciplined movement fighting for freedom had been shattered. He was also deeply disillusioned about the prospects for a lasting peace”

    However he should have been happy to see the dawn of peace after 2009

    Since 1970 onwards extreme politics took the centre stage and whole of SL paid the price irrespective of a various political persuasions.

    Shelton was not an MP in 1970 -77…………….DBSJ

  50. Re Chandra Ranaraja – I can remember her -She was a fierce orator in the chambers who often fought with the Senanayakes (EL clan. Chandra was instrumental in clearing the mess in the old bus depot area, covered the pot holes and also got the clock tower’s underground shops installed.

  51. those days are gone thanx to uncle MR . there were days i feared that i wont have any childhood
    as ltte uncles take us to give lollypops.

  52. Shelton Ranaraja and my father were close friends.Both were lawyers in Kandy. I have spent many days happily with his family at their estate in Matale. His daughters were bright,pretty and friendly

  53. Where in the article it says he was appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union? As far as I know he was never. His daughters studied there entered Diplomatic Service and two of them served in the Moscow Embassy in other capacity but not as ambassadors.

  54. Uncle MR or Grandpa MR or Seeyan MR? Correlate the relation correctly my dear. Drink milk and take rest. Sweet dreams da kanna.

  55. Shelton Ranaraja was a hero to many victims of racial abuse. How he helped the Tamil victims during the ’83 riots was so remarkable. Even JRJ commended him.

  56. Madam, your husband was a very good man. Please accept my condolences, may his soul rest in peace close to god. I did not have any idea about him but just had a chance to speak to my old man and he told me what he knew of honourable Mr. Shelton. What Sri Lanka missing now is people like your husband. Now I understand why DBSJ took his time to write about this man, completely deserves a spot on this blog. Sri Lanka has lost another gentleman, clearly a hero for many who fought for justice and humanity.

    DBSJ, thank you!

  57. Aiyo Jeyaraj, This article about Mr. Shelton Ranaraja, hari shok aney, I didn’t even know about him till I read this. Thank you Jeyaraj, Write more like this will you aney?

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Thanks aney Nelum,You dont want good people to die so that I may write do you?(just joking aney)

  58. Shelton Ranaraja is really a great personality. As Shankar has told I thought the article will be boring. But after going through the article I realized the need for great personalities like Shelton, Neelan and others. Thank you Jeyaraj for giving us an exposure about a great Sinhalese leader.

    Any way I like to convey what I think about the present situation of SL which may contradict one of your earlier opinion. Only minority of the majority are magnaninmous and they like to retain the pluralistic nature of Sri Lanka. But majority of the majority are interested in establishing Sinhalese Supremacy. Similarly only minority of the minority are able to understand the ground realities.

  59. grandpa yogesh u definitely don’t belong to”minority of the minority who are able to understand the ground realities.” other wise u want speak like this.
    on what grounds do u say that “Only minority of the majority like to retain the pluralistic nature of Sri Lanka”
    why are u contradicting yourself ,talking abt ‘tamil’ elam (which is not pluralistic )
    and then abt retaining pluralistic nature of Sri Lanka ?

  60. Thank you for promoting me to grandpa status. Hereafter I’ll give lengthy advices to you. Kanna, First of all I didn’t mention the term Eazham any where in the comment. Being an Indian Tamil I belong neither to the minority of the minority nor to the majority of the minority as you said. Chellam, you note from the article that except few gentlemen like Shelton Ranaraja majority of the Sinhalese parlimentarians created pandemonium in the parliament. This shows the mindset of the majority of the majority.

    Perappillai, don’t get angry if I point out something you don’t agree. Majority of the minority had sincere faith in Ceylon. They distanced themselves from Indian tamils on the fear that it may antagonize the Sinhalese. But when Sinhalese majoritarianism exceeded the limits they came to the streets to fight against the Sinhalese hegemony. Due to the poor handling of the problem by the majority and the lack of eminent leadership among the minorities the minority started the armed struggle with the blessings of selfish north Indians. So majority of the minority had faith in unified island nation. It is the majority (may be minority of the majority initially) who spoiled the situation by launching anti-tamil pogrom, burning of library, welikada massacre etc, etc.

    Study well, play well, drink milk and take rest. Sweet dreams da kanna.

  61. I would like to prostrate myself at the feet of Mrs.Ranaraja and her five daughters individually and worship them as a substitute for honourable Shelton Ranaraja.

    He was a living God.Since he is no more I will put flowers and worship the feet of his wife and daughters because they too are divine

  62. I am ready to devote myself to the service of the Ranaraja family because I respect Shelton Ranaraja very much. If they command me with their foot I will obey with my head

  63. “with the blessings of selfish north Indians.” grandpa yogesh i have already proved how tamilnadu nourished LTTE.
    also in an answer to bernard i said that library burning and 83 riots started due to LTTE acttions and those should be mentioned to have balanced content.

    “Sinhalese parlimentarians created pandemonium in the parliament. This shows the mindset of the majority of the majority.” u cant judge a whole sinhala community frm the actions of their palimentarians.according to your theory ppl in Shelton Ranaraja’s
    electorate are not racists.

  64. I have made it a point to read all the comments. I conclude that in death, the late Hon. Shelton Ranaraja propmpted DBS Jeyaray to write a tribute and in doing so he brought forth many varying points of view. Some extreme, but most solemn and paying tribute to a man who stood by principles he believed in. It is my fervent wish that good sense eventually prevails and that the Sinhal and Tamil people will learn to love ad respect each other and ive in peace. I ask this of all Sinhalese, but I am only optimistic that there will be a majority who will see the wisdom and seek a peaceful and workable solution than harbouring hatred. Time is short and the world in moving with much turmoil. Let us be the instuments of good will and peace amongst ourselves and work for a better place for our chldren and loved ones. I know that these are merely words, and to make it a reality you all must move in the same direction. May God give us all the wisdom to understand and the strength to achieve. Perfet love fot they neighbour is a good place to start.

  65. Kuttik kanna, Jaffna library was burnt since some racist were not able to tolerate the World Tamil Conference being held in Jaffna. It is only a representative democracy. Mood or quality of the public can be judged only by the type of representative they choose. Since you don’t have universal adult franchise why do you bother about elections and parlimentarians? Drink milk and take rest. Sweet dreams da chellam.

  66. You proved your claim using the fabricated evidences. Why do you go behind bad things at this young age?

  67. DBS,
    Your articles bear evidence to your excellent skills in investigative journalism. Could you please explain the whereabouts of Gaddaffi of Libiya. As he is an intimate friend of the Srilankan royal family, there is a talk that he is now safeguarded in Srilanka.
    Thanks!

  68. Hi DBS J.,

    I totally agreed with you and respect Shelton Ranaraja’s objective.

    I as a teen aged boy during this period, I remembered some intellegence officers (as pretending as buddist monks) of SL government also presented in this group. It was the main reason for LTTE to behave such a way.

    Do you have any idea about this?

    Please write some article about “Rasiah Parthiban alias Thileepan – Gandhian”.

  69. Dear DBS, Thanks, Great article for a great man. I met him in colombo in Sept. 1983. Wonderful man. Please write more.Mark. I love to meet you.

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