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Old 13-12-16, 06:37 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Tribute to Dudley Senanayake : The politician who could not lie

Tribute to Dudley Senanayake : The politician who could not lie


Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 01:00

K Godage



The Tamil political parties wanted all Tamils of Indian origin to be granted citizenship, which was rejected by Dudley. On the language issue, his first effort to arrive at a fair solution/settlement (he came to an agreement with S J V Chelvanayagam) was sabotaged by so called Sinhala nationalists who were, in fact, racists. Dudley thereafter called for a bipartisan approach and said that the issue should be taken out of politics and settled through a roundtable conference of all those with interests. Incidentally, Dudley stated that SWRD Bandaranaike also had made the same appeal and stated that it must be resolved soonest as it was ‘Dynamite’! Sadly he too failed



The unveiling of the new statue of former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, a truly great politician, by President Maithripala Sirisena, brings to mind memories. I had the privilege of knowing the gentleman for many years. In the 1960s I could meet him in his Food Drive which was, without doubt, the greatest contribution made by any of our leaders to improve domestic agriculture in our country.

Agriculture was his first love.

It was he that initiated the policy of giving land to the poorest of the poor. He also provided them with the necessary facilities to engage in the production of paddy / rice and other food crops. It was he who had first advocated a guaranteed price for paddy and the establishment of the necessary organisations (agricultural produce and sales societies) by the Marketing Department and the Trade and Commerce Ministry.

This Paddy marketing system was subsequently improved upon by Ministers Phillip Gunawardena and T B Illangaratne.

Gal Oya scheme

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Dudley Senanayake, as the first Agriculture Minister of the post-independence government, was the inauguration of the Gal Oya scheme in 1948.

The volume of water in the Gal Oya reservoir exceeded the volume of water in all the reservoirs (tanks) in the country. Dudley was responsible for both the Gal Oya and the Walawe irrigation schemes which have contributed immensely to the development of our country.

Over 30,000 families had been settled under these two schemes alone. Dudley was also responsible for the Padaviya and Kanadarawa projects and a number of other irrigation schemes. The Food Drive was not confined to paddy production but was extended to other crops as well. The farming community was benefitted immensely from Dudley’s initiatives. He was indeed an icon and we have yet to produce another leader of his type.

No leader of our country did as much for the peasantry of our country as Dudley Senanayake did. The results of the election of 1970 were a shocker. I shall never forget the day that the results of the 1970 elections were announced, indicating that Prime Minister Dudley had lost the election. I could not believe it. I went to Woodlands to meet the outgoing premier. His personal secretary told me that the premier was in the hall. I walked in and no one else was there. I sympathised with him and inquired as to how this could have happened. He said something like this: “The Marxists have helped the SLFP to fool the people and they have pulled it off. Their campaign was better than ours,” he was indeed depressed for he had done so much in the previous five years and did not expect to lose in this manner.

His life story and the speeches he made in Parliament were indeed inspiring and worthy of emulation. Bradman Weerakoon who served as official Secretary when Dudley was Prime Minister, says this of him in the preface to the book titled as Dudley Senanayake, a Biography: “His kind of politics transcended party, ethnicity, religion, language, class or caste, up-country, low country differences, or any of the many identities which divide our people….” To cite but one instance from his political life; the colonial government had at one time imprisoned Dr NM Perera and Phillip Gunawardena and he took it upon himself to criticise the Governor for his act in the National Assembly though NM and Phillip were from the Opposition. He always stood for justice, democracy, fair play and the rule of law. He was respected and loved by the people this could be gauged from the fact that almost a million people from the four corners of Sri Lanka, from all walks of life, came to Colombo to wish him goodbye, at a time when he was not holding any office. He was indeed a role model politician and politicians of today.

Tamil leaders

I wish now to address another important issue, namely the Tamil issue and how he viewed it. The Tamil leaders at the time wanted a federal form of government but he was for a unitary state. Dudley was a friend of all communities and was committed to the concept of ‘One Country One Nation’. The Tamil parties also wanted the government to stop the settlement of people from outside the province in the new areas that had been opened up under the Gal Oya and other new irrigation schemes. This too was rejected by Dudley, who pointed out that there were over 20 ancient Buddhist shrines in the eastern province where Sinhalese people had lived for centuries until Malaria drove them out.

The Tamil political parties also wanted all Tamils of Indian origin to be granted citizenship, which was rejected by Dudley. On the language issue, his first effort to arrive at a fair solution/settlement (he came to an agreement with S J V Chelvanayagam) was sabotaged by so called Sinhala nationalists who were, in fact, racists. Dudley thereafter called for a bipartisan approach and said that the issue should be taken out of politics and settled through a roundtable conference of all those with interests. Incidentally, Dudley stated that SWRD Bandaranaike also had made the same appeal and stated that it must be resolved soonest as it was ‘Dynamite’! Sadly he too failed.

Dudley always considered the Tamil people as being also ‘our people’ and was prepared to treat them as equal citizens and to have the rights of other citizens in the country and to live in dignity, but the federalists queered the pitch by making unacceptable demands for political reasons.

To conclude, may Dudley Senanayake be remembered in the history of our country as one of the greatest leaders we were privileged to have. I wish to conclude this appreciation with a quote from Bradman’s preface. He reproduces a poem by Gilbert Holland:

“A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts,

true faith and ready hands

Men whom the lust of office

does not kill Men whom

the spoils of office cannot buy

Men who possess opinions

and a will

Men who love honour, men who cannot lie.”
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Old 21-01-17, 09:11 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Tribute to Dudley Senanayake

Tribute to Dudley Senanayake
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Old 19-06-17, 08:05 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Iconic statesman -Dudley Senanayake.

Today is Dudley Senanayake’s 106th birth anniversary : Iconic statesman

Monday, June 19, 2017 - 01:00
Print Edition
Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne

Today, with the return to democracy, we think of the greatest liberal democrat of this country, the late Dudley Senanayake. As the anniversary of his birth dawns, it is inevitable that the thoughts of those of us who knew him well should linger on all that he was and did during his lifetime. Famed throughout our country and beyond our shores, as one who was far above the usual norm of politicians, a statesman who thought of the generations to come, and not of the next election.

All throughout his life, he abhorred violence, lies and deceit. His schooling at S. Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, discipline instilled at home and school, his university life at Cambridge, combined with his skills as a sportsman had ingrained in him a respect for law and order, justice, freedom and fairplay. Other qualities which shone right through his life were his total loyalty to his party at all times, whether in or out of politics. He was a deeply thoughtful, reflective, contemplative person of unchallenged integrity. His entire life was devoted to fighting for freedom and justice with vigour and determination. The way that people switch parties today at the drop of a hat would have shocked and displeased him.

Leading by example - motto

As Prime Minister, he bore the mantle at the pinnacle of power with patience, fortitude and grace. Leading by example was his motto. All his life, Dudley worked hard to achieve ethnic amity, never thinking of his fellowmen in terms of labels and categories.

Today’s society epitomises the dishonest, self-seeking, snatch and grab winner takes it all mentality, which seems to deprive the country of all ethical values. It is filled with divisive labels which seemed to be designed to wound others.

The dialogue today has been replaced by name-calling that is little related to truth. Loose talk and malice in the arena of politics, reduces different issues to slogans and stops us regarding others as worthwhile individuals. Dudley Senanayake always held firm to the belief, that all ethnic groups had similar hopes and dreams. He would have been appalled at the recent attacks on Muslims and their places of worship.

He knew that labels and categories often hide the truth, injure, wound, create fear and manipulate people. He did not believe in the loose talk that so many politicians indulge in today.

Words that make us suspicious of other races can create enemies and adversaries. That is why he refrained from such talk all his life. The great statesman that he was, he knew that any label or category that diminishes the worth of another diminishes the worth of those who use such terms. He was steadfast in his belief that each one should be honoured, according to their own worth, not categorised, penalised or suspected, because of their race, creed or class.

He never clung to power, would have hit out strongly, against those defeated at the pinnacle of power, which still hankers after the grandeur of that position. Their selective amnesia about their record of unprecedented, corruption, abuse of power and extravagance with state funds would have shocked him beyond words. His thinking right throughout was that of a liberal democrat, and the freedom of the individual, to follow whatever path he believed in.

A reluctant politician

Dudley was known as a reluctant politician, who walked the straight path, never deviated from this route and never used power to inflict pain on anyone.

His wit and humour were unsurpassed in parliament although his fellow MPs at the time were some of our political giants. They were in a class by themselves as speakers, most of them educated at British universities. Their standards, values and principles were different to what one sees today. The speeches in parliament in that era were outstanding. The use of language was like music to one’s ears, unlike the speech and behaviour one sees in that most august assembly today.

Even in that era of political giants, Dudley was the colossus of his time from every aspect.

He had simple tastes. He loved music, reading, photography, driving his little Triumph Herald around, even when he was Prime Minister and relaxing with his miniature dachshund at home. His love for food is legendary. He filled a room with his presence, his laughter, geniality and charisma. The added natural charm made him the most loved politician of our time. He loved the good things of life and never made a secret of it.

To me, the most important things about him, which I believe all leaders should possess are his unchallenged integrity and his loyalty to his party, through bad times and good. These qualities are possessed by the present UNP leader too. No allegations of dishonesty ever slurred his name.

His funeral remains today unprecedented in the vast numbers who mourned his loss. Never in the history of our nation, have we seen such a mass of humanity, gathered for a single purpose. It was a crowd that rose above political affiliations. One and all, the people of Sri Lanka, seemed aware that they had lost a national treasure, and that our weeping nation would never be the same again. He lived all his life in his father’s house, never built mansions or purchased any abroad.

I am proud that the UNP leader today also still lives in the house, built for him by his parents, and has not amassed wealth. Integrity is the greatest possession one can have and lives on after death. Dudley Senanayake lives on in the hearts and minds of people because of this and his loyalty to his party. He was alert to the mistakes and consequences of history, believed in a world dedicated to freedom and peaceful co-existence, his life was a mission of goodwill.

He was an unstoppable, immovable pillar of democracy.
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