- Dudley Senanayake-a statesman and a visionary, who saw far beyond his time
We have had our share of both, although the latter has always been the majority. While I reflect in retrospect, I think that our first Prime Minister the late D.S. Senanayake and his brother the late F.R.Senanayake were great statesmen. They both saw beyond the next election, to the future generations which are among the attributes of statesmen. Then came the late Dudley Senanayake, son of the late DS and the second Prime Minister of independent Ceylon. Again a statesman and a visionary, who saw far beyond his time. He too was a great statesman, the qualities he possessed of both head and heart were rarer than one in a million. He was totally against the Executive Presidency and his foresight in this respect must be applauded now more than ever.
After the late JR Jayawardene’s tenure of office, this has proved to be a disaster and the bane of this country. The late JR was also a statesman, who brought honour to our country internationally, as his speeches in Japan and in the US are still remembered with great respect. My interest in politics was nurtured by the late JR while still a schoolgirl, I took part in election campaigns. His wife and his son Ravi were his greatest strength. I would call him my mentor in this interest. The late Elena Jayewardene is a lady I respect greatly and I had the privilege of being on the committee of seven which planned the Seva Vanitha movement under her leadership and later I served on the working committee. All statesmen I have mentioned were men of stature,who led simple lives. They were all born with wealth, but there was no flaunting of their privileged birth, or wastage of public funds for their own advantage. I got to know the late Dudley Senanayake well through my late husband Chandra to whom he was a mentor and someone he respected and admired more than any other.
He was at his bedside when he died, from a fatal heart attack, The late Dudley was extremely sensitive and couldn’t take the harassment by a group within his own party. In the present day, I would say that the only two statesmen are Ranil Wickremesinghe and Karu Jayasuriya who proved his worth during the time of the constitutional coup last October. Ranil placed the party above himself and decided to step aside from contesting for the Presidency to prevent a split which would have been detrimental to the party. He too is another who never told lies as a passport to victory, but always stood firmly by his belief in democracy, justice, freedom of expression, freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice in peace and adherence to law and order through all situations. Cheap publicity of any sort has never been his forte. His knowledge in any field at all is vast,history of the world and our own,history of music, names of composers, their places of birth and work, family trees of most families including his own are at his fingertips and it is both enthralling and most informative to listen to him talk expansively with every minute detail. He is greatly misunderstood and I think he will be appreciated later on, when it will be too late to remedy the situation. Perhaps this will be when future leaders are slandered the way he has been and will not take it like him by turning the other cheek.
He has stood loyally by all past Leaders and stood firmly like a rock behind the late President Premadasa during the Impeachment crisis. This again was to prevent a split in the party and to put the party before self and any personal agenda. He was responsible for the peaceful transition to power after the tragic assassination of the late President Premadasa, which could have erupted into violence but he brought the situation swiftly under control before any violence erupted. People who slander him should recall these instances of his steadfast loyalty to the party and all its Leaders. He was responsible for building up a strong second line of leadership by bringing young educated people into the party and giving them the opportunity to rise, shine and prove their worth, I too believe like him, that loyalty to party and to the Leadership must go hand in hand. Discussions on issues should be private with in the precincts of the party not in interviews to the media and so on which are detrimental to party unity and give the public a bad image of the party. The recent results of the Elpitiya election show that the UNP could have increased their vote with more concentration by MP’s particularly in the South, working in this area, showing people what the government has done rather than getting involved in other issues which caused dissension in the party. I hope the damage already done can be rectified and that better sense and unity will prevail for victory and for the nation, as priorities, putting these before personal agenda’s for self advancement. Ministers and MPs must get back to their electorates and explain to the people the vast strides made by the Government in a myriad fields. Education, Health, Housing, Returning land in the North to their rightful owners,increase of salaries of government servants,increase in pensions, increased employment, an Independent Judiciary, Freedom of Speech are among them.
Recovery of the economy from the dire state it was in when they took over the government. It seems to me that far too much time has been wasted on causing friction within the party rather than in promoting and spreading the word about the work done by the government. Some tend to compare us unfavourably with Singapore. Surely they must be aware that Singapore is a one city state which does not have a rural population and therefore the task of maintaining discipline, law and order and good governance is much easier.
‘You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.
’ Winston Churchill