By Chinthaka De Silva –
When I was small my father Mr Richard de Silva, a veteran English journalist, had many close friendships with the political advocates of Sri Lanka at that time. He used to take me to the parliament gallery as I was keen to hear good speeches and political debates in the parliament and he used to mingle with the all politician’s in JRJ era. That is the time I remember.
Then media minister, late Mr Ananda Tissa De Alwis was a very close friend of my father. My father had very big regard to Mr Ananda Tissa De Alwis, as he was considered an excellent media minister, who always respected media freedom and the freedom of speech.
During the era of JRJ, my father was covering the political page of Times of Ceylon. He then later joined the editorial department of the English Island Newspaper, where he was a founding member of Upali Newspaper Group along with Mr Vijitha Yapa and Mr Gamini Weerakoon. After joining Upali Group, my farther had many hopes to support when late Mr Upali Wijewardena was to enter politics. According to my father JRJ was to bring him as the finance minister and to groom him to take over the party leadership later. However there were two big opponents who stood against this move it was Mr Ronnie De Mel and late Mr Ranasinghe Premadasa, then prime minister.
This was the time my father understood about political pressure on journalists, as my father was enticed with perks such as a flat in Colombo, in order to disable Upali Wijewardena’s political move. My father’s refusal to such offers created political enemies to him. Then came the fate of Late Mr. Upali Wijewardena he was presumed dead on 13 February 1983 when his private Learjet disappeared soon after leaving Malaysia en-route to Colombo over the Straits of Malacca. My father was devastated hearing this news.
The real challenge came when my father was head hunted by late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali who was elected to Parliament in 1977 and went on to become the Deputy Minister of Defence and Minister of National Security under President J.R. Jayewardene during the 1980s, where my father, Uncle Premil Rathnayake and Uncle Udaya Manawasinghe, were his media men. My father’s name is mention in an article “Lalith Athulathmudali epitome of a pragmatic politician” appeared on 22nd April 2007 Sunday Observer by Mr. Kesarralal Gunasekera on his death anniversary of late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali
Late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali, Late Mr Gamini Dissanayake, and Late Mr G. M Premachandra and several UNP MPs brought forth a motion to impeach President Premadasa. When that failed, they were expelled from the UNP and began forming a new party, the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). To counter the fierce government propaganda at that time, they had to establish a Sinhala and an English newspaper, The Eagle Eye and The Raja Aliya. My father’s main objective was to ensure that his family was kept safe while propagating the ideologies of the new party through the Eagle Eye.
Late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali announced his candidacy for the presidency but was assassinated by a gunman on 23 April 1993 after an election rally.
When Lalith and Gamini believed that a constitutional change was required, they knew exactly that most powers of the executive presidency needed to devolve to the parliament along with joining hands with other parties. Today, Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe is leading a silent coup within the ranks of the President to create the most formidable candidate to take on this evil regime in similar fashion. I have met Hon. Leader couple of times in London and found to be most pragmatic politician in Sri Lanka today not to the gallery.
Today, we can see the carnage done to our motherland in mega proportions with new constitutional amendment including term of the presidency is repealed and suppressed freedom of speech, rule of law is eroding day by day and corruption is rampant all over the ministries, state departments and state corporations. The President admitted to media a week ago that he hold files of the ministers. It proves who has given leadership to loot the country.
The most contradictory politician whom I know will go down in the history of politics in Sri Lanka will be Tissa Attanayake whom I knew him as the general secretary of the party, while I was appointed to be the UNP UK branch Secretary. However this man did not have the charisma to hold such an esteem post. His acumen of world politics to current affairs was so poor and the advice came from a perjury journalist now a refugee in UK. This is the man, who introduced the political pimp Tiran Alles, to cut a deal with Tissa Attanayake on behalf of the president.
My personal experience with Tissa Attanayake consisted of personal favour to drop his daughter to Newcastle College in the UK and to fund his transport while he was visiting London along with Chandrani Bandara, which I felt obligated to assist with, being the Secretary of UK branch at the time.
One must ponder how he got his last parliamentary seat? He used the internal issues to thrive and manage to put his name from the national list. If he contested the last general election he would have not even got to the fifth or sixth place on the preferential list, which in turn would have meant that he would have lost hands down.
Did he manage to get his electorate win at the last provincial election?
He never had a solid vote base compared to people like Johnston and Dayasiri as they appealed to the voter.
President is a loser by doing tit for tat politics, in my view, with the most hard-up politician doing business like English football. If the President got Harin Fernando to cross over, he can be of immense use for the government at this moment and will be a definite striker.
I believe President has done bad business. This will further distance the real SLFP voters.
Giving this useless fellow, Tissa Attanayake, a ministry is a total and utter waste of public money. This will not please the true SLFP stalwarts.
In the end people do not vote based on these defections. They are not as bankrupt as these politician’s without any principle or moral conscience. President is the loser and Tissa is better off with the windfall he received.
Then he wanted to weaken the branch by creating divisions among the UNP membership in UK. There are videos on YouTube where he was challenged in London by a group of ardent supporters and he encountered the same fate in Italy and in Japan. Tissa Attanayake very soon will be political garbage.
It is a disgrace and a shame to see what has become of so-called politicians in the 21st century in Sri Lanka.