is heartening to see that Dr. Neville Fernando, who once moved a
Motion of No Confidence against the then Leader of Opposition,
(A. Amirthalingam) at the behest of his erstwhile leader J. R.
Jayewardene, has at last begun to realise the colossal political
crimes committed by his former leader, the results of which the
country is experiencing today—(The Island of 4th April 2007).
At the time he moved the motion of No Confidence
against the Leader of Opposition, he would have not realised
that it was the first time in any Parliament that a motion of No
Confidence was brought against the Opposition Leader. For, the
Opposition Leader is a person who has failed to win the
confidence of the people to come to power or share power.
As an addendum to Dr. Neville Fernando’s
aforementioned revelations, I wish to briefly state the numerous
acts of commission and omission perpetrated by the UNP leaders
and other vested interests, since Independence.
After the 1947 Election, which resulted in no
party gaining a majority to form a government, D.S. formed a
coalition with the Northern Tamil leaders and Muslims. In the
1947 Parliament, there were 7 members representing the estate
workers, who were mainly representing left - oriented unions.
(Ceylon Workers’ Congress and the Indian Workers’ Congress).
What D.S. did was to disenfranchise the whole population of
estate workers who enjoyed equal rights with local citizens,
without introducing any alternative measures to safeguard their
political rights. The Indian and Pakistani Citizenship Act,
which was passed by Parliament to bring some sort of relief to
the Indian workers, did not bring in adequate relief. And after
a few years it died a natural death.
In 1956, both S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Sir
John Kotalawala, the two contenders for premiership, advocated
Sinhala Only policy. However, the people had more faith in S. W.
R. D. and returned him to power. When S. W. R. D. brought
Sinhala Only Act, it had an intrinsic clause to allow the
reasonable use of Tamil language for those whose mother tongue
was Tamil. But it was very unfortunate that S. W. R. D. had to
withdraw the reasonable use of Tamil clause in the face of the
fast unto death staged by Dr. F. R. Jayasuriya and K. M. P.
Rajaratne, under the portico of Parliament.
The next attempt by S. W. R. D. to accommodate
Tamil aspirations was the Bandaranaike–Chelvanayagam Pact, which
aimed at the establishment of Regional Councils, to which the
Federal party had also agreed. This also had to be shelved in
the face of JR’s so-called Pada Yathra to Kandy, which was
resisted by a crowd at Balummahara led by S. D. Bandaranaike.
Ultimately, S. W. R. D. had to tear off the B – C Pact in the
face of opposition by some extremist monks.
Next stage was the Dudley-Chelvanayagam Pact,
which was also resisted by extremist elements from both sides.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Youth were being encouraged to rise up for
their rights. However, under the Sirimavo Bandaranaike regime,
nothing serious happened except for a local protest rally held
in Trincomalee when communal clashes flared up with the bringing
of Chelvanayagam’s ashes to Trincomalee. Madam Bandaranaike was
however, able to nip it in the bud with the able assistance and
support extended by the then GA Trincomalee, Eric J. de Silva.
Then came 1977, with J. R. appearing as Messiah
to solve all problems under the sun and he promised the Tamil
community that he would find a just and reasonable solution to
the ethnic problem through a Round Table Conference. The Tamil
community, having earlier experienced broken promises from both
sides, however, placed confidence in JR. He won with a five
sixths majority partly due to parting of ways by SLFP and
leftist parties, which together had established a firm
foundation for the development of the country up to 1976.
However, JR after coming to power reneged on his
promise and went on to become a dictatorial leader and turn the
country into a lackey of the west, mainly the US, thereby
antagonising the neighbouring India and reversing to a
western-oriented Foreign Policy. It was at this stage that JR
got Dr. Neville Fernando to present a motion of No Confidence
against the Leader of the Opposition. This was unique as it had
never happened in any other democratic country, Hansard copies
of the parliamentary debate dealing with the No Confidence
motion were distributed all over the estate areas by Cyril
Mathew, thereby bringing forth the second backlash of anti Tamil
riots, the first being the anti-Tamil riots that occurred soon
after 1977 General Election.
Thereafter, JR brought in the most obnoxious
Constitution in the world in February 1977, by using his
steam-roller majority and also getting all his party MPs to sign
undated letters of resignation. It is appropriate and noteworthy
to mention here that JR after becoming the Leader of the party,
amended the Party Constitution in such a way that the Leader of
the Party got the power to appoint all members of the Executive
Committee, thereby, doing away with any semblance of democracy
that prevailed in the Party.
The next thing JR did was to introduce the 6th
Amendment to the Constitution to expel the Representatives of
the Tamil people from Parliament, which they had graced since
1947. When this happened, the Tamil youth though there was no
alternative to rebelling against the established government.
Several rebel youth organisations sprang up to fight for their
rights and ultimately their traditional political leaders had to
give in to the youth.
In the 1980s, JR offered District Development
Councils to pacify them. However, the DDC elections held in
Jaffna were disrupted by UNP political goons, culminating in the
burning of the Jaffna Library, an important Centre for academic
research in the Asian Region and the burning of 17 ballot boxes.
By the way, it should be recalled that it was the Jaffna Library
that bought up the full collection of Dr. Senerath
Paranavithana’s books, when no one was willing to accept that
It was against this background that JR sent his
relative General Weratunga to quell the uprisings in Jaffna.
This made matters worse, culminating in the massacre of 13
soldiers in Jaffna. What happened next is too well know to merit
repetition. The manner in which those dead bodies were cremated
at Kanatta triggered a backlash ably aided and abetted by J S S
and President J. R. Jayewardene, who allowed the hooligans and
thugs to massacre Tamils and plunder their wealth for over two
days continuously. It was only after allowing the goons to
ransack the Tamil homes and boutiques for two days that he
brought in the emergency powers to quell the anti-Tamil riots.
This situation resulted in India sending ships to remove Tamil
refugees to safety. India later became the breeding grounds for
armed terrorists. Now, why blame India for creating terrorism as
it is we who created the conditions for that.
J R violated and went against his own
constitution by holding the notorious Referendum on 23rd
December, 1982, to extend the term of Parliament by six years on
the false pretext of preventing the so–called Naxalites from
coming to power. In his heart of hearts he knew that, if
elections were held according to his own Constitution, he would
never secure an overwhelming majority under the Proportional
Representation System. He used the unsigned letters of
resignation of his M Ps to coerce them to win the Referendum by
hook or by crook. A campaign by the Pevidi Handa
Sanvidhanaya against the Referendum was ruthlessly
crushed, using Police goons who were later given double
promotions by J R, The Report on the Referendum prepared by the
Commissioner of Elections but published in a cyclostyled form
long afterwards, contain telling evidence as to how it was held.
This was J R, who resigned from his seat in 1967 in protest
against the extension of Parliament for only two years, which
was done with the consent of Parliament.
Now when you look back to see what happened to this
resplendent island, you only feel ashamed of what type of
leaders we have created. It is only dauntless and forthright
statesmanship that we need to get over this long drawn national
crisis. People have suffered enough and it is the bounden duty
and responsibility of all parties to arrive at a reasonable
solution to this national crisis, before any global powers get
directly involved in the running of this country, as happened in
Afghanistan and Iraq.