by S. K. J. Kurera Pamunugama
W. I. Hugh Fernando
The fourteenth death anniversary of W. I. Hugh
Fernando, a former Speaker of Parliament fell on April 02.
When the controversial press bill to take over
Lakehouse was presented in Parliament in 1964, Fernando as
Speaker used his deciding vote against the government along with
14 government MPs, including Minister C. P. de Silva, which led
to downfall of the Sirimavo Bandaranayake government.
Fernando who entered politics as chairman of
Kammal Pattu village committee became MP for Nattandiya in the
1956 general election defeating Sir Albert F. Peiris, the then
Speaker of Parliament.
He was appointed parliamentary secretary to the
minister of Food and Agriculture. the late Phillip Gunawardena,
who became popular because of his "Paddy Fields Bill," which was
a blessing to paddy cultivators who did not own paddy fields.
He did not contest the 1965 elections, but he
was appointed High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Pakistan by the
When Sir Albert died in 1968, Fernando was
elected MP for Nattandiya again and appointed Minister of Trade
and Commerce in the UNP cabinet.
In 1979 he left the UNP and he was appointed
chief organiser of SLFP for Puttalam District.
An English trained teacher, he served on the
staff of Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa.
A famous theatre actor he played the role of
Pontius Pilate the Governor of Judea, who condemned Jesus Christ
to death, cleverly and became very popular among the theatre
He fell ill and died after admission to
Ratnapura hospital while he was engaged in a protest March (Pada
Yatra) against some undemocratic activities of the then UNP
government, on April 02, 1993.