The Bandaranaike legacy


SWRD Bandaranaike

The evil that men do lives after them, said the Bard. Mr. Leo Fernando, in his letter in your issue of 5.1.2018 forthrightly says that the SWRD Bandaranaike regime was a national disaster. When he took office at the Galle Face parliament, a mob invaded the chamber, and a hoodlum even sat on the Speaker’s chair, and the discipline in the country broke down. The switch over to the Sinhalese language for administration was mooted by J.R. Jayewardene previously, but he did not pursue it. Mr. Bandaranaike was in a hurry to win the election and he wanted it in 24 hrs. The country has paid heavily for that rash decision. At a later date, Mrs. Bandaranaike talking to Professor Rohan Guneratne said that all the problems ware as a result of the language decision. The professor pointed out that it was her husband who en acted it. She said it was true, but facts must be faced.

After Mr. Bandaranaike was installed in office, journalist asked him if he would nationalize the tea estates owned by Europeans at the time, he said he would not kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Then Mrs. Bandaranaike when she was the prime minister nationalized the estates. After more than 50 years this is the grudge that the British have against us. These experienced planters went to Kenya and planted tea there, and today that tea is competing with ours. After all these years of selling tea to Russia, they have found a single beetle in a pack, and what a furor it caused? With the Indian prime minister promising to put up houses for the Plantation workers, the day is not far off when we will be importing tea from Assam.

After returning from Oxford and breaking in to politics in 1927, Mr. Bandaranaike advocated the federal form of government and the Tamil population was about 12%. He went to Jaffna and aired it, but no one took notice at the time. When he became the Prime Minister, Mr. Chelvanayakam, a schoolmate of his, asked for federalism. He made a pact with the latter (B-C Pact), and when the Buddhist monks got to know of it, they stormed his residence at Rosmead Place, and he tore it up. Now there are rumblings of it again.

Late Mr. Amirthalingam, in parliament, said that there are 13 countries with a sizable Tamil population, but wha the did not say is that the Sinhalese have only this country. And the flower of youth defended the integrity of the country with their life and limb.



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