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Girdling the globe; the Anchor vs. Nespray competition



Sumi relaxes at Zermatt, her favourite place in the world, gazing at the Matterhorn

Sumi Moonesinghe related to Savithri Rodrigo

When I started on my bucket list travels after retirement, one of my most memorable was the European holiday I had with in girls in 2000. Aushi had just graduated and Anarkali decided to take her annual leave. We decided on the little fishing village of Portofino in Italy but given the touristy nature of the village, the hotels within were shockingly pricey. After some research, we settled on a hotel in the next bay area which was far more affordable and within walking distance from Portofino.

We flew from London into Florence, hired a car and drove, to Portofino via Pisa. As Portofino is located on the coastline of the Italian Riviera, the village began attracting affluent tourists, very evident in the large number of super-yachts lined, up in the harbour. There were plenty of seafood restaurants for us to feed our penchant for seafood, and walking about the 16th century fortress was very relaxing.

Each day the girls slept till 11 am, while I took my habitual walk along the beach, popped into an art exhibition or two and did some window shopping. I only peeked into the high-end boutiques, not daring to go inside because they were prohibitively expensive. But I gave into one temptation. I spied a shop selling Frette linen, the creme de la creme of the world’s bedding. I walked in and purchased a set for my bed.

While in Portofino I joined the tour of Cinque Terre, the five-centuries-old seaside village, which was utterly picturesque with its colourful houses, vineyards, trattorias and harbours. I’ll never forget walking along those cobblestone alleys and being fascinated by the absolutely beautiful buildings overhanging the sea.

After a week of this bliss, we drove to Milan Airport and dropped Anarkali off for her flight to London. Aushi and I proceeded to Monaco to meet a friend at the Cafe de Paris ill Monte Carlo, the open-air restaurant in Place du Casino, which is one of my favourite places. We had lunch, drove to the airport, dropped off our car and flew to Paris, staying at Hotel de Crillon. Aushi and I explored Paris for the next few days.

We would window-shop all morning and stopover for a late lunch of salad and afternoon tea in a cafe on Saint Honore. On our walkabouts, I was most upset to discover a Buddha Bar behind our hotel and called my brother-in-law, Mangala Moonesinghe, who was our High Commissioner in London at the time, protesting against this indignity. However, my daughter looked at me and said, “Buddha is a philosopher, not a god. If it was a statue of Da Vinci, would you object?” She had a point.

When I got home after this trip with my prized set of Frette linen, I asked Daya, who had been the girls’ nanny but remained with us long after they flew the nest, to wash it and put it on the bed that same night. I loved those sheets so much that I didn’t want her to place any other sheets on the bed. So each time she changed the linen, poor Daya had to launder, iron and make up my bed with the sheets, all in one day.

In the weeks and months that followed, she would incessantly ask me to get another set of Frette linen, so she wouldn’t have to perform this linen marathon regularly. I dared not tell her that the reason we had only one set was because it was so expensive and I wasn’t going to buy another set.

Even though I was working throughout the girls’ growing up years, Susil and I made sure we always took them on holiday somewhere abroad. In fact, from the time Anarkali was born and we had to travel even on business, Susil would always take her with us, no matter how difficult it was to have a baby and then a toddler tagging along everywhere we went. He wouldn’t hear of leaving her in Colombo without us, even though my sister Roni, my mother and the nannies could manage very well.

So from their young days, they were used to travel and quickly got into the groove of things. From California to Florida — with Disneyworld and Disneyland thrown in of course — to Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and France, they’ve done the rounds. We would sometimes return home via Hong Kong and Singapore, staying with our friends Primus and Helen, who were like foster parents to the girls when I had to move them to Singapore during the JVP insurrection.

From my girlhood, I have always been fascinated with driving. The moment I turned 18, I wanted to get my licence. When I told my parents, they said, “We don’t even have a car. What do you want to get driving licence for?” When I moved to Colombo, that determination to get my licence deepened. I enrolled for driving lessons at Lionel Learners, learned driving, passed my test and got my licence.

Once Susil and I started dating, I told him about my passion to drive. He took me to the Katukurunda race track. This was where I experienced my first taste of speed on a track. I was in heaven. He would take me to the track often, accompanied by his brother Nimal and his wife Sita because “four is a crowd”. These were the times when our relationship was yet under wraps and Susil and I were not supposed to be seen together as a couple. Therefore whenever we traveled, driving was what I indulged in. I would drive hundreds of miles, never once feeling tired but always absolutely exhilarated.

My thrill for speed was fueled watching all the Grand Prix races, sitting glued to the television until I saw the final chequered flag and the medal ceremony too. When Lewis Hamilton arrived on the track, I became quite obsessed. I watched each and every race and also bought his book and read it from cover to cover.

So when my friends Christina and Ong Beng Seng, who knew only too well of my obsession with the Grand Prix got the franchise for the Singapore Grand Prix, they asked me if I would like to come to Singapore. I was elated. I asked them to reserve a box for Friday, Saturday and the grand finale on Sunday.

We visited Tara in Australia before making our way to Singapore for the Grand Prix. I had invited my friends Bri and Ramani Ponnambalam, both of whom were ardent racers and race enthusiasts, as well as Duke and his family from England. Anarkali and Aushi invited their friends too. All this excitement was for Lewis Hamilton, whom we only got a glimpse of because we were close to his pit-stop – but it was a great three days at the track.

I have always vacationed with Susil, or the girls or one or a few of my girlfriends. But there came a time when I decided to travel on my own. The girls didn’t encourage this sudden streak of independence but I was rather fixed on a solo trip. The idea came about when I was visiting former Country Head of Nestle, Andreas Schlapfer, who later became worldwide Chairman of Nestle.

Andreas was married to Sandra who was American and they had one daughter. I would visit them often while in Switzerland, staying at their lovely home which overlooked the Nestle headquarters. Some may find it strange that I had cultivated this strong friendship with the head of my main rival in the milk powder business, but it was actually because of this competition that we became such good friends. He always called me “Sumi Dearest”.

Andreas was stationed in Colombo with a firmly established No 1 status for Nespray, when, in 1984, I came into the milk powder market with Anchor, vowing to push Nespray off that pedestal. I would meet him often when he was in Colombo and he would joke that Anchor was no competition for the might of Nespray. While the big battle between Nespray and Anchor was gaining momentum, Andreas moved to Nestle in Thailand.

Andreas had already left Sri Lanka, when in just two years since Anchor came into the market, Anchor triumphed in the Great Battle of the Milks. The twin forces of having Rosy Senanayake as the face of Anchor where the entire country knew her as the ‘Anchor mother’, and a slogan hyping “From the fresh pastures of New Zealand”, pushed Anchor into the No 1 slot in 1986. For years after, Andreas would jokingly say, “Sumi Dearest, ‘if I was in Colombo, you would never have beaten Nestle.”

And in hindsight I know that he would never have allowed the company I founded to be sold to the New Zealand Dairy Board either – not after I had captured 70% market share. Hence, it was while staying with them in 2018 that I decided to go on this solo trip, reliving a memorable trip that we, as afamily, had taken way back in 1988.

Anarkali and Aushi were not to be moved with their decision that I could not and would not travel alone. I was 73 years old and they kept trying to dissuade me, talking of illness that could befall me and every travel horror story they could drum up. But I wasn’t to be shaken. This was the first trip I was taking by myself and I wanted to feel that sense of independence and freedom. The girls finally relented because I assured them I would text four times a day and also had insurance for all eventualities. They were placated.

Next I told Andreas and Sandra of my plans – I wanted to travel to Zermatt, take the Glacier Express from St. Moritz and cut across to Lucerne, Interlaken and Geneva, then get to London for my return Colombo. Andreas listened patiently to my itinerary and said, “No Sumi Dearest, you are not doing the trip that way. Let me organise it for you.”

Andreas got to work. His itinerary included the very efficient Swiss rail system which traveled through the Gotthard tunnel, the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world linking northern and southern Europe. It had just been opened and he wanted me to experience traveling through that tunnel. He also made sure I wouldn’t be encumbered with my luggage; it would be delivered directly to the hotel.

I started off on my trip, really excited and full of joie de vivre that I was doing this trip totally on my own. After having travelled through the bowels of the earth in the Gotthard tunnel, I took the boat on Lake Lucerne and then went to Interlaken by train, which winds its way down and takes multiple steep bends.

When I got to Interlaken, I visited Jungfrau – the highest railway station in the world located about 2,500 metres above sea level with its majestic backdrop of ice, snow and rock. I stayed at the Hotel Beau Rivage where we had stayed previously and held many memories for me. When I revisited each of the places we had been, I took photographs and sent them to the girls, hoping they would also relive this trip vicariously through me.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 



Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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Marked stress on Asia in US foreign policy



US President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea May 20, 2022

US President Joe Biden’s recent tour of some Asian powers is indicative of a renewed and enhanced interest the US is beginning to take in the Indo-Pacific region. In this his first Asian tour the President chose to visit Japan and South Korea besides helming a Quad meeting in Tokyo and there is good reason for the choice of these venues and engagements.

The first phase of these bridge-strengthening efforts by the US began in late August last year when US Vice President Kamala Harris visited South-east Asia in the wake of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Besides being driven by strong economic compulsions, the US intention was also to ensure that too much of a power vacuum did not open up in the region, following its pull-out from Afghanistan, since China’s perceived expansionist designs are a prime foreign policy concern of the US.

However, the US President’s recent wide-ranging tour of East Asia seems to have been also prompted by some currently intensifying trends and tensions in the wider stage of international politics though the seeming power vacuum just referred to has a significant bearing on it. The immediate purpose of the US President’s tour seems to have been to bolster his country’s backing for Japan and South Korea, two of the US’ closest allies in East Asia. This is necessitated by the ‘China threat’, which, if neglected, could render the US allies vulnerable to China’s military attacks on the one hand and blunt US power and influence in the region on the other.

While Taiwan’s airspace has reportedly been frequently violated by China, sections in Japan have reasons to be wary of perceived Chinese expansionist moves in Japan’s adjacent seas. Moreover, many of China’s neighbours have been having territorial disputes with China, which have tended to intensify the perception over the decades that in the Asian theatre in particular China is a number one ‘bogey’. For historical reasons, South Korea too has been finding the increasing rise of China as a major world power considerably discomforting.

Accordingly, the US considers it opportune to reassure South-east Asia in general and its allies in the region in particular of its continuous military, economic and political support. Though these are among the more immediate reasons for Biden’s tour of the region, there are also the convulsions triggered in international politics by the Russian invasion of Ukraine to consider.

Whereas sections of international opinion have been complacent in the belief that military invasions of one country by another are things of the distant past, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine in February this year proved them shockingly wrong. We have the proof here that not all authoritarian rulers are prepared to adhere to the international rule book and for some of China’s neighbours the possibility is great of their being attacked or invaded by China over the numerous rankling problems that have separated them from their economic super power neighbour over the decades. After all, China is yet to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is increasingly proving an ‘all weather friend’ of Russia. Right now, they are the strongest of allies.

The ‘China threat’ then is prime among the reasons for the US President’s visit to East Asia, though economic considerations play a substantive role in these fence-strengthening initiatives as well. While South-east Asia is the ‘economic power house’ of the world, and the US would need to be doubly mindful of this fact, it would need to reassure its allies in the region of its military and defense assistance at a time of need. This too is of paramount importance.

President Biden did just that while in Tokyo a couple of days back. For instance, he said that the US is ‘fully committed to Japan’s defense’. Biden went on to say that the ‘US is willing to use force to defend Taiwan.’ The latter comment was prompted by the perceived increasing Chinese violations of Taiwan’s air space. After all, considering that Russia has invaded Ukraine with impunity, there is apparently nothing that could prevent China from invading Taiwan and annexing it. Such are the possible repercussions of the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, North Korea is reportedly carrying on with its development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. On this issue too, South Korea would need to have US assurances that the latter would come to its defense in case of a North Korean military strike. The US President’s visit to South Korea was aimed at reassuring the latter of the former’s support.

However, as mentioned, economic considerations too figured prominently in the US President’s South-east Asian tour. While being cognizant of the region’s security sensitivities, bolstering economic cooperation with the latter too was a foremost priority for the Biden administration. For example, the US is in the process of formalizing what has come to be referred to as the Indo-Pacific Trade Treaty. The US has reportedly already inducted Japan and South Korea as founding members of the Treaty while, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are mentioned as prospective members to the treaty.

The perceived threat posed to Western interests in South-east Asia by China needs to be factored in while trying to unravel the reasons for this region-wide endeavour in economic cooperation. It needs to be considered a Western response to China’s Belt and Road initiative which is seen as having a wide appeal for the global South in particular.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having a divisive political and economic impact on the world, international politics will increasingly revolve around the US-China stand-off on a multiplicity of fronts in time to come. Both sides are likely to try out both soft and hard power to an exceptional degree to exercise foremost influence and power in the world. As is already happening, this would trigger increasing international tensions.

There was a distinct and sharp note of firmness in the voice of the US President when he pledged defense and military support for his allies in Asia this week. Considering the very high stakes for the US in a prospering South-east Asia, the US’ competitors would be naive to dismiss his pronouncements as placatory rhetoric meant for believing allies.

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A Majoritarian Constitution



1972 Constitution in Retrospect – II

By (Dr) Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel

In this the second part of a three-part article on the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka becoming a republic, the writer submits that the 1972 Constitution paved the way for constitutionalising majoritarianism in multi-cultural Sri Lanka.

The unitary state

Although Tamil parties expressed their support for the Constituent Assembly process, they were to be disappointed by the substance of the new constitution.

Basic Resolution No. 2 proposed by the Government called for Sri Lanka to be a unitary state. The Federal Party (FP) proposed an amendment that ‘unitary’ be replaced by ‘federal’.

In a memorandum and the model constitution that it submitted to the Steering Committee of the Assembly, the FP proposed that the country be a federal republic consisting of five states made up as follows: (i) Southern and Western provinces, (ii) North Central and North Western provinces (iii) Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces (iv) Northern Province and the districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa and (v) Ampara district. The city of Colombo and its suburbs were to be administered by the centre. A list of subjects and functions reserved for the centre, with all others going to the states, was included. Interestingly, law and order and Police were to be reserved subjects.

However, Assembly proceedings show that the Tamils were clearly for a compromise. Dharmalingam, who was a main speaker of the FP under Basic Resolution No. 2, stated that the existing constitution had failed as it was not designed for a multi-ethnic country. He pointed out that in ethnically heterogeneous countries where unitary constitutions had been in operation, concessions to the federal principle have been made to meet the demands and aspirations of the minorities. Where there has been a refusal to concede the federal principle, there have been movements for separation. The FP distanced itself from secessionists such as C. Sunderalingam and V. Navaratnam, referring to them by name, and stated that it was not asking for a division of the country but for a division of power.

Dharmalingam made it clear that the FP’s draft was only a basis for discussion. Stating that the party was only asking that the federal principle be accepted, he suggested that as an interim measure, the SLFP, LSSP and CP should implement what they had promised in the election manifesto, namely that they would abolish Kachcheris and replace them with elected bodies. He stated: “If this Government thinks that it does not have a mandate to establish a federal Constitution, it can at least implement the policies of its leader, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, by decentralising the administration, not in the manner it is being done now, but genuine decentralisation, by removing the Kachcheris and in their place establishing elected bodies to administer those regions.”

Sarath Muttetuwegama of the Communist Party, the first political party in the country to propose federalism, in 1944, followed Dharmalingam and stated that ‘federal’ had become a dirty word not because of the federal system of government but because of what the FP had advocated. He was clearly referring to the FP’s association with the UNP and the conservative policies it had followed, such as voting against nationalisations, the takeover of private schools and the Paddy Lands Bill. Seemingly oblivious to the offer that Dharmalingam had made, he asked why the FP had not used the phrase ‘regional autonomy.’ Speakers from the UF who followed Muttetuwegama made it clear that the UF was in no mood to consider the FP’s offer to settle for much less.

Consequently, Basic Resolution No.2 was passed, and the FP’s amendment was defeated in the Steering and Subjects Committee on 27 March 1971.

Dr Nihal Jayawickrama, who was the Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, under the UF Government, and played an important role in the constitutional reform process, has said that the first draft prepared under the direction of the Minister of Constitutional Affairs did not contain any reference to a ‘unitary state’. However, Minister Felix Dias Bandaranaike proposed in the Ministerial Sub-Committee that the country be declared a ‘unitary state’. The Minister of Constitutional Affairs did not consider this to be necessary and argued that while the proposed constitution would have a unitary structure, unitary constitutions could vary a great deal in form. Nevertheless, the proposed phrase found its way to the final draft. ‘In course of time, this impetuous, ill-considered, wholly unnecessary embellishment has reached the proportions of a battle cry of individuals and groups who seek to achieve a homogenous Sinhalese state on this island’ Dr Jayawickrama observed. ‘Reflections on the Making and Content of the 1972 Constitution: An Insider’s Perspective’ in Asanga Welikala (ed), The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice vol 1 (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2012) 43.

It is significant that the FP continued to participate in the Constituent Assembly even after its amendment was rejected. Records show that its leader, S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, regularly attended the meetings of the Steering and Subjects Committee.

With the advantage of hindsight, it could be said that acceptance of the FP’s proposed compromise for a division of power would have proved to be a far-reaching confidence-building measure on which more could perhaps have been built later. Moreover, such an acceptance would have ensured the continued participation of the FP in the Constituent Assembly. Even had the FP, as the UNP eventually did, voted against the adoption of the new constitution, their participation in the entire constitution-making process would have resulted in greater acceptance of the 1972 Constitution by the Tamil people.

Although they discontinued participation at a later stage, Federal Party MPs nevertheless took oaths under the new Constitution. Tamil parties soon united under the banner of the Tamil United Front (TUF), which later became the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). At the famous Vaddukoddai conference of 1976, the TULF embraced separatism and adopted a resolution calling for a separate state called ‘Tamil Eelam’ in the Northern and Eastern provinces. At the 1977 elections, the TULF contested on a separatist platform and swept the Tamil areas.

The place of Buddhism

According to Dr Jayawickrama, Dr. de Silva’s original proposal called for the guarantee of freedom of thought, conscience and religion to every citizen. However, the Prime Minister requested that this proposal be added with a provision for the protection of institutions and traditional places of worship of Buddhists.

Basic Resolution No. 3 approved by the Constituent Assembly was for Buddhism to be given its ‘rightful place’: ‘In the Republic of Sri Lanka, Buddhism, the religion of the majority of the people, shall be given its rightful place, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddhism, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Basic Resolution 5 (iv).’

Basic Resolution 5 (iv) referred to read: “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have and adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

But by the time the final draft was approved, the proposal had undergone a further change. Article 6 of the 1972 Constitution is as follows: ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster Buddhism while assuring to all religions the rights granted by section 18 (1) (d).’ Section 18 (1) (d), in the chapter on fundamental rights, assures to all citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

To the question of whether constitutionally guaranteeing special status to Buddhism not available to other religions of the land might adversely affect the non-Buddhists, Dr de Silva retrospectively responded in the following manner: “The section in respect of Buddhism is subject to section 18 (1) (d) and I wish to say, I believe in a secular state. But you know when Constitutions are made by Constituent Assemblies they are not made by the Minister of Constitutional Affairs. I myself would have preferred (section 18(1) (d)). But there is nothing…And I repeat, NOTHING, in section 6 which in any manner infringes upon the rights of any religion in this country. (Safeguards for the Minorities in the 1972 Constitution (Young Socialist 1987) 10.)

Dr Jayawickrama has been more critical. ‘If Buddhism had survived in the hearts and minds of the people through nearly five centuries of foreign occupation, a constitutional edict was hardly necessary to protect it now’, he opined. (‘Colvin and Constitution-Making – A Postscript’ Sunday Island, 15 July 2007).

Language provisions

Basic Resolution No.11 stated that all laws shall be enacted in Sinhala and that there shall be a Tamil translation of every law so enacted.

Basic Resolution No.12 read as follows: “(1) The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala as provided by the Official Language Act No. 32 of 1956. (2) The use of the Tamil Language shall be in accordance with the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act No. 28 of 1958.”

Efforts by the FP to get the Government to improve upon Basic Resolutions Nos. 11 and 12 failed. On 28 June 1971, both resolutions were passed, amendments proposed by the FP having been defeated. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam informed the Constituent Assembly that they had met with both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, and while the meetings had been cordial, the Government had refused to make any alteration to the Basic Resolutions. He stated that the FP would therefore not attend future meetings. “We have come to the painful conclusion that as our language rights are not satisfactorily provided in the proposed Constitution, no useful purpose will be served in our continuing in the deliberations of this Assembly. By taking this step, we mean no offence to anybody. We only want to safeguard the dignity of our people.” There was not even a dramatic walk out. ‘We do not wish to stage a demonstration by walking out’, he added.

That Dr Colvin R. de Silva, who prophetically stated in 1955, ‘one language, two countries; two languages, one country’, should go so far as to upgrade the then-existing language provisions to constitutional status has baffled many political observers. In fact, according to Dr Jayawickrama, the Prime Minister had stated that it would be unwise to re-open the language debate and that the better course would be to let the ordinary laws on the subject operate in the form in which they were. By this time, the Privy Council had reversed the decision of the Supreme Court in A.G. v Kodeswaranthat a public servant could not sue the Crown for breach of contract of employment and sent the case back for a determination on other issues, including the main issue as to whether the Official Language Act violated section 29 (2), as the District Court had held. Dr. de Silva did not wish the Supreme Court to re-visit the issue. ‘If the courts do declare this law invalid and unconstitutional, heavens alive, the chief work done from 1956 onwards will be undone. You will have to restore the egg from the omelette into which it was beaten and cooked.’ He had, however, resisted a proposal made by Minister Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike that Sinhala be declared the ‘one’ official language of Sri Lanka.

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