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A.B Damunupola was a true ‘public servant’

29 December 2018 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Damunupola (Right) pictured with  JRJ

 

At a time when politicians are calling on public officers to act according to the law, it reminds me of a “Public Servant” who discharged his duties in keeping with the law. He was non other than A.B.Damunupola who passed in 1988.


Damunupola was an Administrative Officer who served in different offices in the administrative sector. He was the Government Agent in the Central Province, a Special Commissioner in the Kandy Municipality, served as Post Master General and also in the capacity of Secretary to the Minister.


Damunupola was a student of St.Anthony’s College, Katugastota and later graduated from the University of Peradeniya. He was also educated at Cambridge thanks to a scholarship offered to him by the Government on the merit of obtaining the highest marks at the CAS examination.  

 

Damunupola had said that President Jayewardene without realising the consequences took over the land that was gifted to Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Pallipanne Chandananda

 

He did a Degree in economics at Cambridge. On his return he was at Anuradhapura as a Planning officer and continued to serve the Public sector until his demise in 1988.


He was public officer and would say “No” to a minister because he had no obligations to them.


I recall of an incident when a Senior Minister of State met the Late Damunupola at his office where I was present. The minister wanted him to withdraw a permit issued by him as the Government Agent.  He refused.   

 
The Minister did and he was transferred within a few hours by not a lesser person than the President himself.  Damunupola who left his seat wanted to resign from the public Service, but it was Minister E.L.Senanayake who advised him against resigning. 


Damunupola was later appointed as Post Master General by Minister D.B.Wijetunge. 


He was very well connected to President Jayewardene due to Udawattekelle where the President had an abiding interest.  Yet Jayewardene was the very person to transfer Damunupola following the protest by the Senior Minister.   Damunupola told me in his own style “LB , he had to decide between taking the word of his Minister or that of a poor public servant like me. I do not blame him for that.  But I as the Public Servant saved him from International shame.”


Damunupola had said that President Jayewardene without realising the consequences took over the land that was gifted to Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Pallipanne Chandananda. The Thera was spearheading the campaign on behalf of Madama Sirimavo Bandaranaike against the “ her civic right issue “.


President Jayewardene did not realise then that the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan were due within the next three months and the prime event was to worship the Sacred Tooth Relic.


When he realised this the President had asked him as to who was having the key to the casket in which the Sacred Relic was kept.  When he was told that the key to the Casket was with the Mahanayke of Asgiriya, he was silent for a few moments, during he telephone conversation.  Then the President asked him whether he would come when the Crown Prince arrived at the Maligawa.   He had said he would.


In fact, Damnupola said “ I went to Asgiriya and checked with the arrangements for that day without telling the Thera that the President was jittery regarding the matter. The only thing that the Mahanayake said was that they are not safeguarding Jayewardene or any other Politician, but the Sangha was bound only to safeguard the Relic of The Buddha.The Thera added that it is their duty to allow the Prince and Princess to worship the Sacred Tooth Relic”


This bit of information was conveyed to the President and he only said “We will see”.


When the day arrived the Mahanayakes were there and everything went well. When His Excellency was walking out of the gate behind the Prince and Princess, he had called Damunupola and said “Give that land back”.


There is much to be said about Damunupola. He was not only a Government Agent, but as a Special Commissioner of the Kandy Municipality.


Damunupola has a son (Arjuna) and daughter (Manori).  Manori is married to the Basnayake Nilame Seevali Nugegoda.

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