17th March 2002, Volume 8, Issue 35
of Environmental Affairs Rukman
Senanayake remembers him. But anecdotes and incidents, he can barely
remember. For he was a toddler when the Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake, his
grandfather, was making history in the then Ceylon. But his older brother
Ranjit remembers a few visits he made to his grandfather's, the
broad-shouldered and tall D.S. He remembers as a child being taken to the
farm at Ambewela and being made to drink fresh milk, which he did not like
Senanayakes of today - Devinda, Ranjini, Ranjit, Rukman and Yasmin Nilmini
are children of Robert Parakrama Senanayake, one of the two sons of D.S. The
other son was Dudley Shelton Senanayake who was twice prime minister of
Senanayake married Suwanitha, the granddaughter of D.C. Senanayake and they
have one child, 28 year old Vasantha Senanayake. Vasantha, who cherishes his
ancestry, is however very down to earth and humane in his approach to life.
was fifty years ago this week in March, when The Observer reported "Up
to 3.30 p.m. today over 500,000 persons had filed past the remains of the
late Mr. D.S. Senanayake at the assembly hall of the house of
representatives. At 10. p.m yesterday the queue stretched over three miles.
It wound past along Lower Lake Road, Elephant House and through Ingham
Street in Slave Island to Parsons Road. The end of the queue was opposite
the Regal Theatre. There are tentative arrangements for the funeral
procession of the late leader which is due to start from Parliament House
for Independence Square at 3.p.m. tomorrow.
from all parts of the island will be on duty at various
points on the route.
story speaks of a pace setting party of twelve army, navy and air force
personnel, a gap for women and children and British service commanders and
detachments of the British navy, army and air force in Ceylon and also
Ceylonese military service commanders.
story in The Observer of March 1952 describes the funeral arrangements of
Don Stephen Senanayake, the great statesman of his day, whose death moved
the nation then, as its memory moves the nation today, exactly 50 years
later. He died following a riding accident on March 22, 1952 at the age of
his lifetime, through the giant strides he made, he gave this country the
pride of nationhood -
he gave it independence.
S., a leader of men, born on October 30, 1884, was educated at S. Thomas'
and excelled in cricket and other sports. H.A.J. Hulugalle in his Life of
D.S. Senanayake however states thus:
three Senanayake brothers DC. FR and DS were all educated at STC, which was
then in Mutuwal and their father Don Spater Senanayake had always been
concerned about the education of DS, the youngest of them.
DS's school report showed in a certain class, he had always held the
4th place, and the father was naturally pleased at this, and was lavish with
pocket money for the boy. Later, he discovered from FR (who later entered
Cambridge University) that there were only four boys in that class and DS
his father died D.S. was compelled to give up studies at the age of 18 in
order to take charge of his family estate. Thrown among the peasants he was
quick to understand their plight at first hand and was determined to improve
was Ceylon's first minister of agriculture and lands. It gave him this
gentleman-farmer the authority to implement his plans. Never since the days
of the Sinhala kingdom was there so much irrigation and agricultural
activity in the dry zone. Soon, Minneriya, Minipe, Polonnaruwa and several
other schemes had begun to yield the bounty of the earth.
Senanayake entered public life when Ceylon was a crown colony ruled
by a foreign power that was not concerned with the aspirations of the
people. The masses had no political rights, poverty and disease were
widespread, literacy was low and life expectancy was short. Ruthlessly
exploited for centuries by three foreign powers, the country's economy had
ceased to have any 'blood'
his leadership however, it was possible for the country to cast away all
these adversities and achieve independence. Though he entered the
legislature at the age of 40, his climb to become the dominant political
figure of his time and the architect of great changes in politics and
agriculture was itself remarkable.
had little education and few academic qualifications. He was no great
orator. Yet, at a time when the political stage was adorned by men of great
talent and ability, D.S. rose outstripping his elders and peers. Though said
to be full of common sense and disarming reasonableness, he was governed by
deliberate, sometimes ruthless purpose to direct and shape events.
had the gift of making friends and influencing people and Lord Attlee, who
was the Labour Prime Minister of Britain at the time Ceylon gained her
independence spoke of 'his great personal charm," while Sir Robert
Menzies, the Australian prime minister of "his singular personal
John Kotelawala, one of D.S.'s cabinet colleagues, is reported to have made
a forthright comment when he said, "No one was too small for his
attention if he had the time, and somehow, he would find the time. No man
who went to see him can ever forget the sincerity with which he promised to
look into his grievance."
his commanding presence and Stalin moustache, D.S. had been the kindliest of
men, and a great lover of children and poor folk. He made the same
impression on foreigners and fellow-countrymen.
is 50 years since he died, but D.S. has lived in the memory of every Sri
Lanka and has cast a indelible impression that can never erase itself from
the history of Sri Lanka.
vision and his endeavours are for all times. They are true today, as they
were 50 years ago. For him life was about people, about freedom and about a
better life for all.
peace and freedom he strove hard. Then, after the dusty and sometimes bitter
conflicts over communal representation and the balance of power in the
legislature had ended, Senanayake led a united people to the goal of
was able to persuade the State Council to accept the Soulbury Constitution,
by a near unanimous vote. He succeeded in winning over the minorities to his
way of thinking and all these were mere steps to his final destination of
peace and freedom.
years ago, today, leaders with a vision for a better and peaceful Sri Lanka
strove thus, winning over minorities and being architects of great changes.
Lankan was fortunate to have had such a leader in the final phase of her
agitation for freedom. The wisdom of Don Stephen Senanayake and the
political philosophy of the UNP have ushered in the freedom we enjoy today.
is between life and death
the kids at Lady Ridgeway
Children's Hospital, the power cuts are a terrible thing, far worse than it
is for us.
hospital is powered with three generators when the power is out but they
aren't enough to provide electricity to all areas and are sufficient only
for the most important points like the operating theatre, the children's
ventilators, certain other machines and power points. The power cuts are at
the same time as they are for the general public, resulting in the power
being out at the hospital during the late evening cuts too.
power cuts are the biggest problem we have. Even though the generators work
and provide power for the important points, at night the building and its
corridors are in darkness. This creates a very dangerous situation in case
of an emergency. For example, if a generator that supplies power for the
ventilators stops, the ventilators stop too and then we are in a big fix,
running about to do the best we can and get people down to make the
generator start again," said Administrative Officer A. D. E. Bernard.
who runs a day care centre, finds the power cuts a big menace because she
has to look into the needs of a large number of children instead of one or
two as in the case in many homes. She says that the first two morning cuts
are not so bad but the afternoon cuts, when the children are put to sleep or
as they wake up are terrible. The children not only cannot sleep soundly
without the fans but also wake up in bad moods due to the lack of sound
set of persons undergoing a very hard time due to the power cuts are the A/L
students who have to sit for their exams in April. How can they possibly
study, given the times the power is out in the evenings? Many children study
in the evenings and late into the night because they are at school or
classes during the day.
find it difficult in the evenings because the students are unable to study.
Even the hostelers cannot do anything. We continue with normal classes
during the day even though the children are uncomfortable without the fans
but the sound system is down, which is yet another problem.
having an assembly without the power is difficult so we plan around the
power cuts. I feel very sorry for the A/L students who are sitting for their
withdrawal exams right now before A/L exams in April and want to study, but
find it impossible," said the Rector of St. Joseph's College, Colombo
Rev. Father Victor Silva.
an A/L student said, "Even if they cut the power for any number of
hours during the day it is all right because there is light, as long as the
nighttime cuts are reduced or stopped by at least nine in the night, so that
we can study after that."
a housewife and mother of two, said that the morning power cuts made the
children restless and crotchety the whole day because they sweat and cannot
even watch a movie. Additionally, she cannot get her housework done on time.
I can take the children to the park or for a walk in the morning but where
can I take them in the afternoon? And how am I going to get the housework
done and prepare their meals when I have to keep on trying to entertain them
instead? The early morning power cut is terrible because it starts soon
after we get up so I cannot use most of the appliances in the kitchen. The
afternoon cut disrupts the children's sleep and makes them easily irritable.
In the night it is dangerous for them because it is hard to keep your eye
always on two boisterous children so I am worried that they may have some
sort of an accident," she said.
a housewife who has a three month old baby said she was at her wits' end
wondering how to get through the day and finish her work on time because the
minute the power is out, her baby starts to cry and she has to then carry
her and walk around or sit down and fan her for hours.
can't just ignore her when she cries and hope she'll fall asleep because I
am worried that she may choke or stop breathing. The late evening cuts are
terrible and I can't do anything but be by her side," she said.
staffs are not go untouched by it all either. Once they get to work, they
get caught in the morning and afternoon cuts. The 7:30 cut starts the
morning off in a totally inefficient manner because most companies need
their computers and other machines work to conduct their businesses. In the
afternoon, the heat is unbearable and cuts into the efficiency level and
output of all the employees. Above all, time is wasted and projects delayed
repeatedly, resulting in many problems within the office and with customers.
I go to work in the morning, if it is the early cut, I find most of the
office personnel just walking about, talking or generally doing nothing
productive. If power is out in the afternoon, we go out and have lunch and
talk for ages waiting until the power is back on. There is no choice because
we find it impossible to stay in our offices when the power is out,"
said Asanka, an executive.
a sales manager in a showroom said that the power cuts are a menace because
the showrooms need to be well lit in order to display their products
properly. Adding to these problems is the inability to use even the fax
machines in offices when the power is out, thereby delaying work processes
due to lack of certain information which could be sent and received by fax.
Companies that need to correspond by e-mail with other countries or receive
faxes from abroad regarding projects or orders are in dire straits due to
this problem too.
bottom line is that not only do we have to suffer the consequences of the
power cuts, it also becomes a life or death situation for patients in
critical conditions and those who are connected to various machines.
They also reduce the efficiency level and output of all companies
without generators thereby resulting in a loss to the entire country and the
economy. The power cuts, though essential, are obviously setting our country
back even more.
least for the sake of the A/L students, who in many ways are our future, the
reports that the morning cuts will be eliminated during the period of the
A/L examinations is a great relief as it will allow the students to leave
their homes without hassle and sit for their exams comfortably.
unkindest cut of all
better life, a healthy
income and the love for
plants were the reasons for Matara Arachchige Don Karunadasa to take a trip
to Cyprus. But the life he wished for and the salary he expected were only
Karunadasa, who has a vast knowledge of plants and extensive experience
overseas in horticulture, the idea of being employed in Cyprus was a
challenge. Unlike others trying for that dream trip to an unknown
destination, for Karunadasa the opportunity came easy. With his brother
already employed in Cyprus, it was only a matter of time before Karunadasa
got the necessary documents to work in the country.
January 14, 1999, Karunadasa's employer
Mr. Charlambos paid for his air ticket and got him down to Cyprus.
Karunadasa's work was maintaining the horticulture concern selling plants at
the Begonia Garden Centre Ltd. in Cyprus. "I had to work for 1 «
months to pay back my airfare," Karunadasa said.
the future Karunadasa saw ahead of him was not to be. On October 19, 1999
while mowing the lawn at the Begonia Centre his hand got cut by the machine.
"While mowing the lawn I tried to save the machine from going over a
stone. For my bad luck the machine slipped and came forward and ran over my
hand," Karunadasa said.
was then taken to hospital where he was treated by Dr. Alkiviades
Alkiviadous, MD. According to the medical report Karunadasa has lost the
thermal phalanges of the second, third and fourth fingers of his left hand.
Having undergone three operations between October 19, 1999 and October 23,
1999, Karunadasa was entitled a compensation from the insurance company.
However due to the callous attitude of his employer Karunadasa says he was
not paid anything.
leaving the hospital about a month later, I was taken by my employer and his
wife to the insurance company to get the compensation due to me. My employer
showed the insurance company officials my hand and claimed the money.
Charlambos and his wife then took the cheque and paid the hospital bills.
The rest of the money they pocketed and I didn't get anything,"
though Karunadasa's contract was for a period of two years starting from
January 14, 1999 he was sent back to Sri Lanka by his employer on July 11,
2000 after depriving him of his earnings as well. "I worked at the
Begonia Centre with only one hand during that time after the accident but I
was sent home without a penny. On numerous occasions I asked Charlambos for
my insurance money. Everyday he used to say he would give it to me, but
never did," Karunadasa said.
then decided to consult a lawyer in Cyprus regarding his problem. But
unfortunately for Karunadasa, Charlambos found out that he was not going to
give up his dues without a fight. "During the summer holidays I was
given the air ticket and told to leave my job within a day and sent back to
Sri Lanka by Charlambos," Karunadasa said.
Karunadasa first signed an agreement with Charlambos his monthly salary was
supposed to be CR 340. However he was paid only CR 240. "I wasn't given
a copy of the contract of employment at the time," Karunadasa said.
returned to Sri Lanka, Karunadasa contacted
the honourary consul for Cyprus. "The honourary consul's
assistant secretary told me that nothing could be done now. I next went to
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These officials were very kind and sent my
documents to Rome and then to Cyprus where Doros Jeropoulos, Consul General
for Sri Lanka in Cyprus contacted me by email," Karunadasa said.
a year hope dawned once again for Karunadasa when Jeropoulos came to Sri
Lanka and met him. On the instructions of Jeropoulos, Karunadasa gave the
power of attorney to him to act on Karunadasa's behalf from Cyprus.
communication between Jeropoulos and Karunadasa took place for a while, and
then came a bolt from the blue. Karunadasa received a letter from Jeropoulos
saying Karunadasa had signed a document stating he has received compensation
from the insurance company on February 6, 2002.
didn't sign any document. This was a forgery and it was set up by Charlambos.
Anybody looking at the letter can see that it is a forgery as there is a
clear black line half way down the page. It is therefore obvious to anybody
that my signature has been cut out of another document and pasted on the
insurance claim letter," Karunadasa said.
then told Karunadasa that he would see if social service organisations could help him out
and also arrange an entry visa for him to come to Cyprus to sort out the
this creates fresh problems for Karunadasa. "How can I afford to pay
for my passage to go back to Cyprus?" he lamented.
great son of Sri Lanka
week we commemorated the
fifty-second death anniversary of
the late George Edmond de Silva . He was the third son of a famous ayurveda
physician who migrated to Nuwara Eliya in the late 1870s to set up a
lucrative practice at Nuwara Eliya. He owned the Orange Tree House on hill
street, Nuwara Eliya at the foot of the Pidurutalagala Mountain. On
March 12, 1950 he died from a stroke followed by two heart attacks,
while playing golf at the Peradeniya golf course with an Englishman. He was
71 years old at the time if his sudden death. He was a very keen golf and
tennis player. His brother Timothy de Silva was the first Ceylonese golf
E de Silva was a very prominent politician in the Donoughmore era of Sri
was a tall sturdily built man, handsome and jovial with a constant smile and
he instantly attracted the attention and friendship of all whom he met. He
began his career as a journalist. He was a reporter to the Ceylon
Independent and later worked as a staff journalist at the Times of Ceylon.
He had been a brilliant journalist in his era having obtained many news
scoops through his contacts. He had a brilliant command of the English
language having been tutored by the famous European scholar at Nuwara Eliya
entered the Law College, from the then famous Lorens tutory in Colombo. He
passed the proctors final exam and
went to Kandy in the 1900s and within a very short period established a very
lucrative practice as a criminal lawyer. Two of his brothers, Timothy and
Gregory were also lawyers of repute.
Kandy Bar at the time was dominated by many famous Dutch, Burgher lawyers
and they resented the entry of George to the Kandy bar. On the first day of
his entry to the court house, all other lawyers staged a walkout, but the
English magistrate remained and George won his first case. Subsequently he
found it difficult to get a chair in the court house and he got his valet to
bring a chair. In Kandy he met his future partner in life Agnes Nell, the
only daughter of Paul Nell, who was the provincial engineer.
was a very keen ballroom dancer and quite adept in dancing and singing. He
met Agnes at many if these parties and subsequently married her. She was a
very kind hearted lady who championed the franchise for females in the
entered politics as a ward member of the Kandy municipal council and in 1931
he was elected as the member of the State Council seat for the central
province, which extended from Dambulla to Nuwara Eliya. He defeated Sir
Gerard Wijekoon and Albert Godamunne, two well-known figures in Sri Lankan
politics. He was thereafter re-elected as the member for Kandy for 16 years.
He was minister of health for five years and the first minister of fisheries
and industries in the first parliament of Sri Lanka. He was also a Member if
the War Cabinet from 1942. The cabinet at that time comprised only a dozen
racial riots that started in 1915 at Gampola, spread to Kandy the next day
and within a few days it spread to all parts of the country except the North
and East. Many Sinhalese national leaders and professional men from many
areas were jailed and some were tried by the kangaroo courts held by British
planters, who were justices of the peace.
fought valiantly to save the lives of young Hewavithara and D.G.Pedris. He
championed the peasantry who under the yoke of the feudal lords had to
perform compulsory Rajakariya. The Rajakariya systems were abolished and the
depressed class citizens got their due place in society. He established 250
cottage hospitals in rural areas, and got malaria eradicated by the
introduction of DDT spraying. He established the first ayurveda hospital and
gave a great deal of encouragement for the development if ayurveda. He came
from a generation of famous ayurveda physicians of Galle and Matara. His
Excellency J.R. Jayawardene who was a close political associate of George in
a forward to the book Our George authored by Dr. Jane Russel an Oxford
scholar has stated this.
worked with George E de Silva during the war years in the Ceylon National
Congress and came to know him as a patriot and an untiring worker for social
and political reform. His death in 1950 deprived Sri Lanka of a man of
progressive thinking for it must be remembered that together with
A.E.Goonesinghe, George E de Silva had proposed the introduction of
universal franchise in 1931 and supported freedom in 1943. George was
essentially a man of the people. Although he became the minister of health
from 1942-1947 and president of the Ceylon National Congress on several
occasions, he was a man who never lost the ability to feel the articulate,
heartfelt desires of the common man. His championship of the cause of
Ayurveda and rural hospitals proved this.
welcome the writing of the biography of this great son of Sri Lanka.
of Sri Lanka. J.R Jayawardene.
political achievements were innumerable. He was the founding father of the
Bank of Ceylon. He not only moved the motion in the State Council to
establish the Bank of Ceylon, but also went to England and fought very hard
with the colonial rulers
E. de Silva died as a poor man. His tea estate was sold on a mortgage and he
was at one time the co-owner of the biggest coconut plantation in Sri Lanka.
He had built a palatial bungalow in Kandy at Katukelle. The St. Georges,
overlooking the Hantane and Hunnasgiriyn hills. All the wealth he amassed as
a very successful lawyer with the best criminal practice in the Kandyan area
magistrate courts were spent on his political campaigns.
gave a helping hand to many poor students, and his supporters during
illnesses. He looked after his enemies in time of their distress and won
them round. Whenever he got news that one of his enemies was ill he would
visit him with a car load of gifts and alleviate his suffering.
His worst enemy in the Kandy Bar was the late Cox Sproule, the famous lawyer. He had been arrested and detained at Diyatalawa, military camp during the martial law era. He was to be shot dead like many other prominent Ceylonese in that era that spoke against the military excesses of the British Raj. His wife came and fell at George's feet and appealed to him to save his life, and George being an Anglican was able to save him through his influence with the British rulers. It was a memorable day for George to take the risk of traveling all the way to the Diyatalawa camp and get his life long enemy released from certain death.
a mother killes her babies...
in the Meegaspitiya area in Dodangoda are left in dreadful horror
with the news of a mother killing her two children, aged just 5 and 3
by setting fire on them and herself as well.
to The Sunday Leader, OIC, Dodangoda police, D. A. Karawita, who is
currently conducting investigations into this murder suicide said, "It
is different when a mother kills her children. It is not like other
to understand the mother's state of mind ; what would drive her to that ?
Was it insanity ? As a mother why did she fail in her primary responsibility
- protecting her children?. Was it because she was an unfeeling,
irresponsible mother or did the circumstances drove her in to such
desperation ? These questions leave anyone baffled with a lot of doubts, but
only a few answers.
the neighbours around Meegaspitiya area where the family lived, they just
looked like the average family. Father, Chandrasiri Samarasinghe, 38, works
at a hotel in Colombo. The mother, 35 year old Udula Ratnaseeli cared for
the two children and looked after household affairs. "There was nothing
unusual about them. Both loved their children very much." said one
is the case with most of these stories what is important is what lies
beneath the details of the crime and the devastation it has left behind.
Most people fail to realise that rarely addressed issues of domestic
violence and other family conflicts that go unnoticed in our busy everyday
lives leads to most heart
wrenching situations such as this.
to police evidence unearthed so far, the mother had killed the children as
revenge against their father. "This is a family dispute that went out
of hand and at the end, led the mother to an act so much against human
nature it is almost not comprehensible" said OIC Karawita.
March 7, was a special day for Udula and Chandrasiri. They had the 'akuru-kiyaweema'
for their youngest son. Relatives from both sides of the family gathered for
this happy occasion when little Dhanuka was first taught the alphabet at the
their happiness ended when the husband started yelling at his wife for not
serving lunch to his younger brother. He started accusing her of neglecting
people from his side of the family. As the accusations got worse the verbal
abuse turned physical. In the husband's police statement, he admitted that
he hit his wife. He then threatened to come back and take it up with her
again the next day, once he returns from work.
had never been any complaints to the police of violence in the Samarasinghe
family before this. However, apparently the husband's threat made Udula
panick. As she later admitted to police, in her statement, she feared for
her life and the children's as well.
Friday, 8, she took the two children and went out to the town in a three
wheeler, after Chandrasiri left for work.
to boutique owners in the town she had attempted to buy rat poison. Rat
poison had not been available in the shops at that time, Udula just bought
two bottles of fizzy drinks and went home. On her way home, she went and
settled some money that she had earlier borrowed from a friend of hers.
mid day, 19 year old Anusha Priyadharshani, a neighbour of the Samarasinghe
family noticed smoke emanating from the house. She entered the house through
the back door and by that time the front room of the house was up in flames
and there was heavy smoke inside the house.
neighbours who rushed to the scene helped rescue Udula, but failed to reach
the children on time. Their charred bodies were later found lying inside the
room by Dodangoda police.
funerals of the two children took place on Sunday, 10. Udula Ratnaseeli who
was warded at Nagoda hospital died the next day. According to the police,
after his wife's funeral, the distressed husband
had tried to take his own life by jumping in a well. However, the
relatives were able to stop him and there by prevent another tragedy from
is most difficult to fathom, is the amount of frustration the mother must
have felt in order to carry out the unthinkable ; infanticide.
couple had been in love for seven years before marriage. The two children
were the result of further seven years of marriage. The children who brought
so much love and joy to the family in their innocence, too young and weak to
defend themselves were killed by their own mother, leaving behind a father
to deal with the dreadful horror of this all.
Here, in this story lies not a question of how sick the society is becoming. But rather, why do domestic violence related incidents go unheard in close knit communities such as ours. It also stresses on the need to 'leave families to lead their own lives' without the interference from in-laws that we so commonly hear of. These issues definitely require much deeper attention so that this doesn't happen to anyone else again.
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