Alick Aluvihare is a six-footer and the most
senior Member of Parliament from both sides. In the 1989
government he was the minister in charge of Ports and Shipping.
President Premadasa had quite rightly decreed
that all appointments to the government and state sectors should
be on merit alone. The ‘Janasaviya’ recipients, irrespective of
political affiliations were given priority in such appointments.
Premadada erred gravely when he ordered that, even the teaching
appointments should be given to ‘Janasaviya’ recipients on a
Most of the Janasaviya recipients were anti-UNP
and the majority of those who were benefited by the Premadasa
doctrine, did not barter their political allegiance just because
they got a job. The vast number of jobless UNPers were up in
arms against this Presidential decree which in fact was the
outcome of a proposal by the Presidential Commission appointed
to inquire into the incidents of ‘Youth Unrest’. It was this
Presidential Commission of which Prof. G. L. Pieris MP was a
member that recommended that Govt. and state sector appointments
should be devoid of any political patronage. The Ambalangoda
Deshapremi Sanvidhanaya, giving oral evidence before this
commission proposed this measure.
Hardly had the cinders of Premadasa’s pyre died
down than UNP ministers notably Alick started packing the Port
with his supporters from his home constituency of Matale. This
is being continued by his successors in successive PA and UPFA
governments with impunity.
I was a back-bench MP then representing
Ambalangoda in the coastal belt and had to face volatile UNP
youths who demanded ‘jobs’ in the Port. A fair number of office
and factory workers travelled daily to work by the ‘Samudra Devi’
and ‘Ruhunu Kumari’ to their work places in the city from
I made inquiries and learnt that 25 persons from
the Minister’s District in Matale, 12 of whom were from his own
village ‘Aluvihare’ have been recruited to the Port through the
Matale is the most fertile district in the
entire island. Tea, rubber, cocoa and even coconut plantations
were found in the district whilst cloves, cardamoms and other
spices grew in abundance. The choicest of gems were found in
places like Laggala in the district. Matale produced the finest
dolomite. Matale lime was only second to Akurala quicklime
produced in my district. There was extensive paddy cultivation
too in the district. The average peasant in Matale with their
garden produce of spices, fruits and jack was comparatively
better off than most of their counterparts in the rest of the
island. There was no starvation in Matale.
Unlike the weather beaten southerner, the
workers so ‘planted’ in the port from the salubrious environs of
Matale could not survive in the ‘concrete jungle’. After a few
days of sight-seeing in the big city they vacated post.
My own friends from the port primmed me with all
the information and I first raised the issue of political
‘monopoly’ exercised by the minister at the government group
meeting which Alick artfully dodged.
This then gave me an opportunity to give notice
of a question for oral answer in Parliament.
My question was simple and straight forward.
I only wanted to know how many workers had been
recruited from the Matale district and their addresses.
Alick got his amiable Minister of State M. E. H.
Mahroof who was gunned down by the LTTE to ask for three months
time to answer the question. I took umbrage at this and said it
was no wonder that the port was facing difficulties when the
minister wanted three months to answer such a simple question.
Addressing the Speaker (M. H. Mohamed) I said
‘Sir, I have been in the private sector for over 25 years
handling ‘personnel’ and if my Personnel Manager did not give me
that information which was readily available by way of a
computer print out within 15 minutes I would have sacked the
The Speaker too agreed that three months time
was an unreasonably long period and ordered that the answer be
given in the following ‘Parliament Week’.
Alick himself gave the answer which read ‘25
have been recruited from the Matale district and according to
the addresses 12 are from the village of Aluvihare’.
Asking a supplementary question I asked how many
persons have been recruited from the Ambalangoda electorate
which is by the sea to which the hapless minister stated that
there was no record of a single person recruited from
Ambalangoda for the period in question.
Quoting a sanskrit stanza I yelled.
‘Athee Deergho — Maha Mugdakh
(Those who are very tall are very stupid) and
followed it by saying that ‘people who had not seen the sea have
been engaged in the port!’
This acid remark brought cheers from the
Opposition benches and I well remember the burly Royalist
ruggerite. C. V. Goonaratne (SLFP Colombo) loudly remarking to
the Chair, ‘Sir! coming events cast their shadows!’ and the then
SLFP fire brand now turned UNP Hema Kumara Nanayakkara from when
I learnt the Sanskrit phrase much earlier, jubilant for it was
his weapon that I was using against the minister.
Although the government front bench was visibly
displeased, if not angry, the government back bench was full of
praise. They openly lamented the fact they did not have the guts
to tackle a top rung cabinet minister.
Well, as they say ‘Fools rush in where angels
fear to tread’.
Having said my piece I collected my books and
rushed out for if Alick caught me that day he would have made
minced meat out of me. Whilst rushing out my friend from the
other side Kapila Abeyaratne (SLFP Ratnapura District) asked me
at the ground floor lift ‘Umba Koheda Duwanne?’ I replied
‘Alick! Alick!’ and ran for my dear life. Kapila remembers this
incident to this day’.
The next day in Parliament, Ranil left his seat
and passing mine which was an aisleseat in the last but one row
in the government back bench told me, ‘Buddhika come to any
I followed him to the prime minister’s room and
he said ‘Sit down!’. This was unusual for he knew that I needed
no invitation to sit when ever I came into see him.
He then started to admonish me.
‘Buddhika, yesterday you went at Alick not
respecting his position. He is a very senior member of the
cabinet. You should never have gone at him like that!’
"Ranil! you do that! And I would go at you is
the same way I retorted.
The prime minister then very politely asked me
to leave the room. I stormed out!.
A few days later Anura Bastian (UNP-Colombo)
thanked me for finding an answer to give the hundreds of youth
who came in search of jobs in the port. He told me that as they
were all from Wellawatta, they had all seen the sea and jobs in
the port are given to persons who had not seen the sea as
established by the ‘Ambalangoda Manthreethuma’.
I did not even apply for UNP nominations for the
General Elections of 1994 but instead operated from ‘Sirikotha’
attending to various courts throughout the island from the
Primary Court at Palapathwala to the Highest Court the Supreme
Court (my turf is S.C. the C.A., 10 High Courts and at least 20
Magistrates Courts even the L.T. and a few Commissions) looking
after the interests of hundreds of UNP supporters who were
hounded out and persecuted by a revengeful PA government.
The fact that I achieved 100% success in all the
matters I handled was due not because of my cleverness as an
Advocate, but due to the absurdity of the charges. A fisherman
by the name of Pinto in Marawila had both his hands severed for
the ‘sin’ of voting for the UNP and the police filed action
under S:314 of the Penal Code for causing simple hurt until I
moved in and got the case turned into an inquiry under S:300 for
It was during this time that the Party’s Legal
Secretary Daya Pelpola asked me to handle all the political
cases on behalf of the UNP at ‘Matale’.
At that time Matale, was the political fortress
of Nandimitra Ekanayake (now turned UNP) and ‘Nandi’ packed the
police stations in the district with officers who were at the
beck and call of the PA government.
Alick was charged with the robbery of a vehicle
jack valued at Rs. 2500! This case was thrown out by the A.G. of
Alick’s children, only two escaped being charged in courts.
Mahoranjani, alecks only daughter and Sahan the youngest son,
who was a planter —the entire Aluvihare family was at the
receiving end of political violence unleashed on them.
As I am ‘Manda Buddhika’, I do not charge any
fees from the party or the clients. Alick and his sons Ranjith,
Wasantha and Duljith are free to do politics today because of
me. Ranjith is a MP today whilst Wasantha was the Chief Minister
of the Central Provincial Council until recently and now its
leader of the opposition. Duljith was private secretary to the
All in all there were 17 cases filed against the
Aluvihares. In one case Alick was charged for mischief by
throwing stones at a house occupied by a woman! Then son
Wasantha was falsely implicated in a murder by the Matale
I consented to appear on behalf of the
Aluvihares because of two reasons.
One was that Alick was one of the few
politicians who did not amass wealth by engaging in politics.
The other reason was that even Ranil would think
that I declined to handle Matale cases because of the incident
in parliament involving me and Alick.
One day Gamini Athukorala told me, ‘I say you
fellows charge unconscionable fees. For Adhikari’s case (A. M.
S. Adhikari was a suspect in a murder case at Kalawewa and
learned President’s Counsel when the UNP retained got him out at
the M.C. stage itself!) I myself took Rs. 50,000 and gave the
I told Gamini, that the lawyer retained by the
party was worth every cent he charged and asked him the
question,’Well if his charges were unconscionable, how much
should I charge?’
Wanigasekara Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse
Ralahamilage Udawalawwe Alick Aluvihare — simply known as
‘Alick’ was born on 20th December 1926 to an aristocratic family
in Matale. His father William Aluvihare married Seelawathi
Hulangamuwa. The family properties originally extended from
Mandandawala junction to the Aluvihare town. 44 years in
politics has left him with only about one acre of land where his
house now stands.
This was the main reason why I buried the
hatchet and took up residence in Matale. My friends R. K.
Chandananda de Silva, the Gen. Secretary Defence and Rajaguru
then I.G. were constantly awoken in the dead of the night by me
and I remember Chandananda once ask me whether I was going to
contest Matale instead of Ambalangoda.
Alick wanted to be a Sub-Inspector of Police in
1947 when his paternal uncle Sir Richard was the first Ceylonese
Inspector General of Police. However another uncle Bernard who
was elected to represent the Matale district in the 2nd State
Council in 1936 wanted Alick to succeed him in politics. Alick
then gave up his ambition to join the police. He thus became the
understudy to his uncle who was elected to the State Council
with a host of freshers that included Dudley, M. D. Banda,
Francis de Zoysa, E. A. Nugawela, Razik Fareed, R. G. Senanayake,
P. B. Bulankulame and W. Dahanayake.
Bernard Aluvihare was the secretary of the SLFP
and just on the eve of the 1956 general elections he did a
Rohita Bogollagama and joined the UNP. With the uncle, the
nephew too joined what our ‘W’ termed ‘the Uncle Nephew Party’ (UNP).
This resulted in a celebrated Pieter Keuneman remark "normally
rats jump off sinking ships. This is the first rat who jumped
With the ‘stabbing behind the back by his own
General Secretary, S.W.R.D. was in a quandary and had no one to
pitch against the mighty Bernard. He had gone to Matale to
assess the damage caused by the great betrayal and accompanying
him was a young journalist from the Lankadeepa — Nimal
Finding no suitable man from Matale who was
willing to challenge the colossus in Bernard, S.W.R.D. turned to
young Nimal and said ‘Nimal’ you contest Matale! Nimal
Karunathilaka thus became the M.E.P. candidate for Matale.
The main accusation against Nimal Karunathilaka
was the fact that he was a rank outsider with no roots in
Matale. He hailed from Kegalle.
Not to be outdone Nimal conceded that he was a
stranger to the area but vowed, that if elected he would become
their relation by taking a ‘Kethalen Mallak’ (meaning Matalen
Kellek). The M.E.P. landslide in 1956 started with the election
results of Matale which shocked and rocked the nation of a rank
outsider little known except in journalistic circles becoming a
Nimal kept his word and married a Miss.
Ratnayake from Matale. However Nimal’s best gift to the nation
and to the profession he so colourfully represented is his son
Coming back to Alick, his father was approached
by Dudley Senanayake, A. C. L. Ratwatte, E. L. Senanayaka, M. D.
Banda and the Matale Bus Magnate — Mant to request that Alick be
released for political work. William Aluvihare ‘offered’ Claude
his other son who being the VC Chairman of Matale was already in
politics. But Dudley and company would have none other than
Alick. Ultimately they had their man.
Alick was a good volleyball player and a
champion boxer in his Wijaya College days. As a student he beat
a better known boxer by the name of Khan, representing the
government railway. Perhaps he would have used me as a punching
bag had he got hold of me that day in Parliament.
Alick never ran away from a fight though
occasionally he would start one. One such instance was when a
UNP propaganda meeting in Matale during the SLFP regime of Mrs.
Bandaranaike was teargassed, he held the HQI (Ronnie Gunasinghe)
by his collar which earned him a full blast of a teargas shell.
He went to the hospital and returned soon after to the
tumultuous cheers of the vast crowd. Over an incident that took
place during a procession in Mandawala he was remanded in the
Bogambara Prison for 13 days.
In the height of the 1971 and 1987-89
insurrection, he never sought refuge in safer climes unlike most
other politicians of the day. He would stand bare bodied with
his sarong tucked up by his gate like a lion protecting its den.
This instilled confidence in his supporters.
Alick, though a giant in physical appearance is
a man with a kind heart. Ramya Siriwansa, who retired as GA
Matale speaks of his experience with Alick.
Siriwansa during his Peradeniya days was the
President of the Students’ Union representing the L.S.S.P. When
the post of A.G.A. for Ambalangoda fell vacant the then Minister
of Public Administration appointed Siriwansa as the Ambalangoda
A.G.A. without extending even the courtesy of consulting me as
the base MP. I had therefore thoroughly screened his background
and found that he was an honest and efficient officer. To this
day I do not know whether he still is a leftist or given away
the bad habits that usually one acquires during undergraduate
Siriwansa indeed proved to be an excellent
public servant and the two of us got on very well. I told him
that it was very easy for me to work with people who did not
follow my political ideology for as things stood then and more
so now a public servant had to change the colour of the ties he
wore according to the colour of the party in power. Siriwansa
knew that I was a UNP MP and therefore he was constantly on the
alert. If he had come with political patronage then he would
ride the high horse and would run to his political master
whenever he disagreed with me. This way I could get the best out
of an official who has political leanings opposed to me.
We got on so well, that Siriwansa long after I
ceased to be an MP (of my own volition) consulted me when a
former colleague SLFP’s Nandimitra Ekanayaka, then a Deputy
Minister invited him to accept the post of G.A. Matale.
Siriwansa told me that he had been a government
servant all his life and had not made a red cent illegally and
therefore being the father of three daughters was impecunious.
If he accepted the post of G.A. then he would at least get an
I told him that having worked with ‘Nandi’ as a
R. D. O. Siriwansa would know the man’s pluses and minuses. I
also told him, that every politician has three deadly enemies,
first is the wife, next is the private secretary and last is the
driver. If a politician could veer clear of these three, hazarts
then he would survive in the political arena. I believe in the
case of ‘Nandi’ his ‘Maraya’ happened to be the private
secretary who having broken bread with Nandi joined Ranjith
This man was the Key witness in the murder case
in which Wasantha Aluvihare, then a UNP Provincial Councillor
was falsely implicated. I reduced the man’s evidence to pulp in
the MC and the man had the audacity to send word through Ranjith
Aluvihare that he could change his evidence to suit the defence.
I admonished Ranjith for tolerating such an
unreliable man and later told Alick of this overture and Alick
in typical style said ‘Buddhi the b.... also sent me word that
he wanted to meet me I told the fellow who brought the message
to tell the S.O.B. that I would break his legs if ever he
stepped into my garden.
Siriwansa says that having assumed duties as G.A.
he never went to see Alick and had no dealings with him other
than accepting nomination papers on election days. ‘Alick never
interfered with the duties of the G.A.’ says Siriwansa.
When however after the 2001 General Elections
Alick as Minister of Home Affairs became Siriwansa’s Minister,
he paid a courtesy call on Alick at the latter’s Aluvihare
Walawwa. Alick received the G.A. warmly and asked him how his
health was as the G.A. had suddenly taken ill on the day of the
Siriwansa says that Alick was a righteous man
who did not spare even his own supporters if they did anything
illegal. He goes on to mention how a prominent UNPer from
Moratuwa with the connivance of both the AGA and the Grama
Sevaka had felled a huge ‘Kumbuk’ tree making false
representations that it was on private property whereas the tree
stood on State Land. Alick waded knee-deep in the mud to inspect
the scene as he had been spoken to by many UNP high ups.
The person in question also telephoned me to put
in a word to ‘Uncle Alick’ as I was now more or less a member of
the Aluvihare household (Wasantha Aluvihare’s house has a room
which he and his charming wife Samanthi the 2nd calls ‘Buddhika
Alick told me, ‘Buddhi, it is a crime. The girth
of the tree was so big that 10 people could take cover without
being seen’. He instructed the police to file action and when
Mr. Eardley Perera PC spoke to Alick he told Eardley, I am sorry
Mr. Perera the matter is now in the hands of the police!’ He
also asked Siriwansa to initiate disciplinary action against the
A.G.A. and the G.S.
Wasantha Aluvihare speaks of an incident where
Alick was deprived of having his nominees to contest the
Yatawatta Pradeshiya Sabha election. On a directive by Ranil,
the General Secretary Senarath Kapukotuwa was asked to delete
some of the names recommended by Alick and substitute them with
candidates of the C.W.C. and the S.L.M.C. Alick blew a fuse and
tore the nomination papers in the presence of Sirikotha
officials thundering that he was the district leader and he
would not sacrifice his men to outsiders.
He, according to Siriwansa handed over only the
Matale Municipal Council nominations and the Matale Pradeshiya
Sabha nominations with no sign of Yatawatta being contested by
the UNP. However just before the closing time the Yatawatta
nomination papers arrived by special courier and at the ensuing
elections, the UNP won all 3 elections. The Matale MC, the
Matale P.S. and the Yatawatta P.S.
My ‘walking mate’, Frank Wickramasinghe who was
at one time the Chairman of the Ports Authority narrated the
story of how a strong supporter of Alick had submitted an appeal
to the G.A. (not Siriwansa) and the supporter came back and
reported to Alick that the G.A. tore his appeal which had the
endorsement of the MP and dumped it in the waste paper basket in
his (supporter’s) presence.
Enraged by this information Alick got the panic
striken supporter to accompany him and strode straight into the
G.A.’s room. G.A. promptly got up and paid his courtesies of
which Alick took no notice. He picked up the waste paper basket
and emptied the contents on to the G.A.’s table whilst a puzzled
G.A. looked on. He then tediously went through all the contents
so emptied but couldn’t find the appeal said to have been
submitted to the G.A. and turn to smithers. Realizing that he
had been duped he gave a resounding slap to the man who went
When he was minister in charge of the Port, the
then president, D. B. Wijetunga called up Alick and introduced
some prominent businessmen who wanted some land from the Beira
Lake area. The president indicated that he was very keen that
the request of his friends was met. Alick promised that he would
look into the matter.
When he conferred with his officials, he
realized that the land requested for by the President’s friends
could not be released. This was in turn conveyed to the
businessmen in question. That very Sunday when Alick was in his
usual attire (bare bodied except for the sarong) the Colombo
businessmen arrived in a luxury car with one of them carrying a
large leather bag. Alick asked them as to why they came all the
way to Matale, when they could have conveniently met him in
Colombo. The man with the bag said ‘No Sir, we brought a small
present for you!’ This infuriated Alick who chased them away
using some choice Sinhala epithets. The men beat a hasty retreat
nearly knocking down Alick’s parapet wall in the process of
reversing their vehicle.
This story was narrated by my ‘Guru’ Thomian
friend Bindu (Lakshman) Seneviratne MP and later I got
confirmation from Alick. It had later transpired that there had
been Rs. 2.5 million in the bag. Alick also told me something
more about this incident which I being the lawyer I shall
refrain from putting in print!
One day I walked into ‘Sirikotha’ and Alick who
was in the company of UNP stalwarts like M. S. Amarasiri, Festus
Perera, Wijepala Mendis and Harindra Corea seeing the bonhomous
manner in which Alick, greeted me remarked ‘Ah now the two seen
to be great pals’.
I replied, ‘of course! So much so if I were to
contest Ranil, Alick would readily support me!’
Alick quipped to the amusement of those present
‘Buddhika, not only, would I support you! But I shall even
propose your name!’ — So Ranil had better be careful.
After the UNPs defeat we had the Exco-Meeting in
A man approached me and asked me whether I was
the youth leaguer from Ambalangoda during the Dudley Senanayake
days. When I answered in the affirmative the man said that the
Matale traders were mostly from the low country and they were
jubilant over the attack I made in parliament against Alick. He
then said that I should have lunch with the southerners and I
I mentioned this incident to Mr. P. B. Kaviratne
who confirmed that there is a ‘cold war’ between the up-country
people and those who hailed from the low-country.
Kaviratne’s wife is a southerner from Weligama
and he said at every election, the ‘southern block’ en-masse
voted for him.
After the National Executive Committee meeting
referred to above I witnessed a scene I had never seen at a
Party convention anywhere before.
Men, women and children fell prostrate at
Alick’s feet to take his leave to go home.
Then there was a time when the leader of the UNP
decreed that no two persons from the same family should be
nominated to contest for public positions. At that time Alick
who was in Parliament had his elder son as the Mayor of Matale
whilst yet another son was in the provincial council. Renuka
Herath was in Parliament whilst the husband was in the
Provincial Council. Similarly Adhikari and Festus were in
parliament whilst their wives Rani and Larine were in the
Provincial Councils of Anuradhapura and N.W.P. respectively.
Meanwhile former first lady Hema Premadasa was eying the Colombo
district whilst son Sajith was politically active in the deep
I considered this decision most unfair and told
Ranil, ‘Ranil I hope that Alick had about 10 sons to do politics
in the Matale District’.
Without the Aluvihare’s, UNP would be history in
the Matale district.
And this coming from the Lilliputian who
challenged the mighty, Gulliver from the floor of the House is
indeed more than a compliment!