From Colony to Dominion
At 7.30 am on February 4, 1948 His Excellency Sir Henry Moor, who had just vacated the office of Governor of the Colony of Ceylon, took his oaths as Governor-General of the Dominion of Ceylon before the Chief Justice Sir John Howard.
An Indian Poet Dr. S. N. Sashtri wrote the following lines to a commemorative issue by Indian Government on Ceylon’s Independence, 71 years ago…
‘Mighty is the land of Bharata;
And, likewise, mighty is the Lion’s Land.
Rejoice! For this day’s bright dawn
Sees the Lion Island Free.
Victory to those who lead their people’s ever beloved.
Victory to Senanayake, leader of government,
And victory to India’s gem of Gems.’
[Courtesy JRJ Centre-Ref. –MFN7854]
Independence/National day events are characteristically exciting with the Lion flag flickering majestically in the calm wind and the ceremonially dressed soldiers display to the supplementary melodies creates feelings of patriotism. This year in addition to the worthless ‘pomp and pageantry’ the government has already announced a ‘National day bonanza’ to the suffering people by way of an enhanced ministry portfolios. What have we achieved over the 71 years of freedom?
Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, handed over a motion to Parliament that the parliament decided the number of Cabinet and non-cabinet ministers increased to 48 and 45, respectively. This act of UNF government we believe is consistence with its policy of more relief measures to the people. An extra-large Cabinet of 48 new Ministers each costing 8.5 million will overwhelm the first official celebrations held on February 10, 1948, under the auspicious of Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. The competition with a growing China and its presence in the Indian Ocean has led India to think of widening its area of authority downwards, to be firmly rooted and converting it from a field of persuasion to an attitude of acquisition and possession. Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern provinces, the obvious choice! Badly indebted to the world through unplanned and haphazard borrowing by successive and irresponsible governments, supported by invitations to acquire tens of thousands of acres of land in addition to perilous treaties, 99-year leases, trade pacts and agreements, all signed during the 21st Century segment of the past seventy one years.
A message by Indian PM Nehru to Indian magazine named, “Ceylon Souvenir” issued by Indian Authorities in end January 1948 to commemorate attainment of freedom by Ceylon, says, “… and now comes the turn of Ceylon or Lanka of ancient fame. No country can rejoice more at this change than India which has been and is like an elder brother…India and Ceylon stands in the centre of South Asia. Indian Ocean washers their shores. Great trade routes pass by them. Inevitably there is going to be a closer union of these countries of Southern Asia. More specifically of South East Asia, and of common ideals and common objectives furthering peace and freedom in the world.” - [Courtesy JRJ Centre-Ref. –MFN7854]
Both the above message and the poet’s version at the beginning carries statements to surmise that they hint on India’s superiority. Nehru says..like an elder brother, while the poet put it as… India’s gem of Gems. Prime Minister Modi’s speech in Colombo during Vesak last year favouring a change of Sri Lanka’s status to a federal state also needs thorough analysis.
"An extra-large Cabinet of 48 new Ministers each costing 8.5 million will overwhelm the first official celebrations held on February 10, 1948, under the auspicious of Duke and Duchess of Gloucester."
Wijeweera’s 3rd Lecture
They always think in terms of an India, which expands incorporating Lanka, the ‘little brother’, or the ‘India’sgem of Gems’. JVP ideology was contained in five lectures-- ‘Panthi Paha’. These five lectures, prior to the 1971 insurrection, were devised during 1967-69. The groundwork was prepared by Wijeweera himself after his removal from the Communist Party [Mao] in 1966. The original lectures were titled 1.”The Economic Crisis,” 2. “Independence, a Neo-Colonial Stratagem,” 3. “Indian Expansionism,” 4. “The Left Movement in Sri Lanka” and 5. “The Path to Socialism in Sri Lanka” and were delivered by senior leaders. The purpose was to educate the youth with Marxist principles and attract and indoctrinate cadres or potential fighters.
On February 4, 2019, we commemorate the 71st anniversary of gaining independence from colonialists. Signs of a prospective developing nation following a 443-year foreign domination are only a distant dream. This thrice-blessed nation, has a recorded history of more than 26 centuries, and a proud tradition. The leadership in the trail for independence, in the form of F.R. Senanayake, DS Senanayake, Sir Ponnamabalam Ramanathan, Sir Baron Jayatilleke, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, SWRD Bandaranaike, T.B. Jayah and D.R. Wijewardene were among hundreds of others who worked together effectively with great insight and refinement so as to accomplish freedom.
Waste and Corruption across-the-board had swept into the body politics unconditionally snatched a good portion of the 71 years. Allegations of scandals and scams running into billions during successive Governments of the two main political parties, who fooled us and driven our country to worst indebtedness in the history are competing for power. The Government has got into dire financial straits due to the robbery and plunder of state property by the politicians, and their Cronies and Acolytes who have been ruling the country especially during the past two decades.
"Waste and Corruption across-the-board had swept into the body politics unconditionally snatched a good portion of the 71 years"
‘Soulbury’ Constitution? From History of Freedom struggle
Sir Susantha de Fonseka, who my parents voted for, was the member representing Panadura in the State Council. He moved a resolution in November 1944 calling for a dominion-type constitution for Ceylon. Subsequently, ‘Free Lanka’ Bill was introduced on January 10, 1945.
“…most of the agitation for independence by others have been on the wrong lines. The British getting the fullest support for the war effort from the State Council headed by Senanayake, Dominion status was promised soon after the war. Not breaking the word, there came to be appointed a Commission under Viscount Soulbury. ‘Soulbury Constitution’ it was called, but the fact is that it was produced by Mr. Senanayake”- Sir Ivor Jennings, co-author of 1947 Constitution and former Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya University –[courtesy National Archives]
The Dominion Constitution was evolved with but slight modifications from that devised by Lord Soulbury, Sir Federick Reed and Sir Fedrick Burrows. The Legislator under the new Constitution, enjoy supreme power, untrammeled by any subservience to British Government.
In the post-independence era, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had a jumbo cabinet with the highest number of members
February 10, 1948
The Duke, on Feb. 10 dressed in his ceremonial official attire, and seated received the throne speech from DS Senanayake, then he wore his cap and read, “Ceylon has now achieved independence as a fully responsible member of the British Commonwealth of Nations…and with the attainment of the status of Dominion you met today in the enjoyment of all rights and privileges pertaining to that status…” His Royal Highness ended King’s speech then he stood up, uncovered his head and read a message from His Majesty the King to people of Ceylon, “…I am confident that you will carry your new responsibilities ably…and I pray that Ceylon will enjoy peace and prosperity in full measure. May God bless you all and guide your country through the years that lie ahead” DS Senanayake, the PM making his reply said, “Today we shall celebrate a momentous event in the history of Sri Lanka. It will mark the birth of our freedom. In the long history of our lsland, the attainment of political freedom is, perhaps, only second in importance to the message of spiritual freedom which Gauthama Buddha delivered 2500 years ago.”
"Allegations of scandals and scams running into billions during successive Governments of the two main political parties, who fooled us and driven our country to worst indebtedness in the history are competing for power"
Strong and United Opposition
Releasing a message to Information Department’s souvenir on the first Anniversary celebrations held in 1949, the G-G commended the performance of his government saying “a stable government based on the principle of cabinet responsibility and the party system has emerged…”, and ended with the remark… “…but a strong and united opposition has yet to be formed.”
Devolution of Power
Recognition of the aspirations of every Lankan of all communities to reach a negotiated devolution of power to regions and communities should not be delayed any further; in this regard it is crucial that the root causes of unrest are dealt with and a way out found. Protecting rights of all our people, preserving the unitary nature of the nation and sovereignty of its people is a must. The solution should lie within a democratic framework.
More than half the population suffer below poverty level. The economy is depending on poor women who leave in search of greener pastures in Middle-East deserts and engage in tiresome house maid jobs. Violence and crime are increasing in all parts of the country. Extremist group activity causes racial and religious disharmony; co-existence is threatened. Universities cannot take even half of young men and women who qualify. Education and health care services are in a mess.
70-100 years ago, the freedom struggle was carried out by Muslim, Tamil, Sinhala and Burgher the national leaders. Race, creed, religion never played a role towards equality and peace. When Sir Ponnmbalam Ramanathan returned from England in 1915 after successfully placing the agitations on behalf of National leaders who were unfairly jailed accused of racial riots, the leaders, DS Senanayake, FR, DB Jayatilake and a host of others released the horses from the chariot and pulled their hero by themselves through the streets.
However, after 71 years, the nation is in shambles ruined by power hungry Politicians, Bank robbers, nationalists, racists and religious bigotry; lies and vituperative politics create misunderstandings among the communities.
Will there be a 72nd celebration?
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