A Postscript to Independence Sri Lanka is supposed to have got in 1948
Posted on February 13th, 2016

Sudath Gunasekara President Mahanuwara Sinhala Bauddha Jesta Purawesiyange Sanvidhanaya 13.2.2016.

I was just nine years and in grade four in school when Sri Lanka got Independence from the British in 1948. We were told by teachers that we got full independence from British rule and thereafter we will have our own government instead of a government by white people. Later in the sixth std we were taught in the civic class that Sri Lanka has got Dominion status, that is self rule within the Common wealth. However other than studying civics and later, Government and Political theory in later classes in school and the University as a subject for exams we did have very little understanding as to what kind of Independence we got in 1948. Though we had to cram high sounding political theories, at no stage, we were presented with critical analysis of the subject of Independence.

Only many years later I realized what really happened in 1948 was only a change of persons who ran the government. The white people were replaced with natives. In other words only the jockeys have changed but not the horses to put it rather bluntly. The purpose of this note in the wake of the 68th Independence day celebration just concluded is to look at critically as to what really has happened in 1948 and thereafter in this country. We got only dominion status and not full Independence in 1948. It is said what we got is self rule within the British Common wealth. But looking at the form of government the institutional arrangement and the people who manned it and the relationship between the Government in Britain and Sri Lanka in the post Independent period,  did we got self rule at all, is the question I intend to discuss here.

A closer view of the Soulbury Constitution that was a made in Britain’ Constitution by Ivor Jennings clearly reveals that it was craftily designed by the Colonial masters to perpetuate the British way in running this country for ever and never intended to make this country a free and Independent nation. It is a tragedy that none of the then leaders including the golden brains of the left parties or at least S.W.R.D was able to see this trap.

It is true that after 1948 people could elect their representatives to the Parliament                                                                                                                                                 but look at the following limitations imposed by the British when they left.

1 . Sec 45 of the Constitution says  the executive power of the Island shall continue vested in his Majesty and may be exercised, on behalf of His Majesty, by the governor General. The Governor General was appointed by the Queen of England and certain function like making of treaties, appointment of  2 Ambassadors and declaration of war etc were kept with the Queen

2 . The Queen is a part of the Parliament. Sec 7 of the Constitution says ”Parliament of the Island shall consist of His Majesty and the two chambers to be known respectively as the Senate and the House of Representatives

3.  Final appellate power of the Judiciary was vested with the Privy Council

4.  nearly 1 million Indian indentured labour, the British got down from South India to work on their tea plantations were not repatriated and the burden was left to Sri Lanka

5.  As a result the vacant possession of land taken over by the British from the native Sinhala people was not returned to the natives

6.  Katunayaka and Trincomallee air bases were kept with them,

7.  In fact even the Prime minister was also appointed by the Queen as it makes no difference in appointing him by the Governor General who was representing her in Sri Lanka

8. And until 1972 all members of Parliament had to take their oath in Parliament in the name of the Queen of England

9 . Assent to all legislation by the Governor General was also made in her name

10.  The system of Government was Westminster model of Parliamentary Government and the same institutional system that was there under British continued with English as the Official language at least until 1957

11.  Maldives Islands that was a part of Sinhale taken over in 1815 was also not returned

12.  Sec 29 of the Constitution imposed specific ban on the Legislative power of the Parliament to protect the s-called minorities they themselves craftily created to destabilize this Island Nation.  There were no minorities when the country was ceded to the British in 1815.

On the top of all these restrictions British also divided the nation by introducing the concept of many nations to this country by Governor Moor advising D.S. Senanayaka to form a political party called United National Party to form the Government. The Ceylon National Congress, Sinhala Mahasabha, Ceylon Tamil Congress and the Muslim League together formed the United National Party. This move together with the provisions of the Sec 29 for the first time in the history of this country permanently established the notion of the presence of many nations in this country. Thereby British laid the foundation to legitimize communal politics in this country.

The 1948 Constitution also did not restore the name of the country, Sinhale that was there in 1815.

Those who took over the reins were His Majesty’s obedient Servants in everything except the colour of their skin. Besides paying hosanna to the Imperial masters and enjoying the newly got privileges, unlike in India, our leaders also did not have a vision or a national plan to usher in an Independent and vibrant nation.

So in sum, other than the National flag, the Throne and the Crown that were returned on that day by Duke of Glousester, I do not see anything the people of this country have got in 1948 that could be called Independence in its real sense. One can imagine the degree of brain washing they have carried out over the years when you see how we have been unable to produce a single patriotic Sinhala Leader who could assert the true Sinhala Buddhist leadership in this country even after 68 years, to steer back the nation to its original    form like what Indians and Burmese have done after Independence. Even our manners, the way we eat, dress, behave and think and the values we adore ad cherish are all western. Now you see what kind of Independence we have got in 1948. The western Imperial powers have been working hard to destabilize this country and destroy its native culture religion and all what is native from 1505 alternatively. It is against this trend Anagarika Dharmapala fought a single handed battle in his whole life.

When you look at what the British continuous to do even today, one can clearly see the British intentions and designs they had in the back of their minds way back in 1948. Isn’t it a shame that even after 68 years of independence we have not been able to make a constitution of our own? Instead we are struggling to get out of the divisive and communal trap cleverly set by the British Vikings.

2 Responses to “A Postscript to Independence Sri Lanka is supposed to have got in 1948”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Sudath
    Please enjoy the bit of freedom and good governance left by the British that began from the year 1815.
    Being in Kandy likes of you seem to tolerate and even glorify the work of past Indian tyrants who ruled from Kandy and the evidence is the devalas that are there in Kandy.Sadly likes of you are hostile tho Christians and churches in Kandy,the very people that saved us. For your information Buddhism had nothing to do with god worshiping devales in Kandy and surrounding areas.
    Suddas like Doyle and Manning gave Buddhist religion it’s proper place.They deliberately installed the budhist statuesin every devale in the area.
    Let me tell you a bit about the history of Kandy.
    You are aware of the murderous indian king who murdered Ehalapole’s children there by his wife killed her self by jumping herself to Bogambara lake.
    Colonials tried to bring a pleasant situation in the country by filling up that lake by building the present lake.
    They sanctified the present Maligawa with bringing in the relics in 1824 or 19828 where with the greatest difficulty celebrated the first perahara for the people, where these noble institutions have been hijacked by criminals to make money and even to control the humble people.
    It had made our town divisive with unjust rules to the benefit of a few.So open your eyes and find out for your self that some are more equal than the majority.
    Close of the road by maligawa is absurd and it is chocking people to death with very high pollution and several of my friends and family members have died of respiratory diseases.
    People were were very honest during those days.
    Good example was my father moved the electricity dpt(DGEU) from the previous sites in Peradaniy and Irriagama to the present place,almost 5 acres.He bought it from the Army for mere Rs 5.00.That place was known to us until late 60s as RE yard(Royal Engineers).We moved into that place in 1947 where behind that premisus was the Bihrawa Kanda live an old English man,may be over 80 years old.He lived in a sort of government bungalow as he had the same paint on the doors as the government houses.
    We as youngsters went in there to find out what he was doing. He told us that task given to him and his parents, long gone by then was to find the finest unadulterated clay to make the Buddhist statues in places of the devales and install them.We as youngsters jumped on the sand and he was furious and took over a week to wash them.
    I remember a huge army truck coming there to pick up the cleaned soil and sand and this truck went up the sandy small road,now a well tarred road behind the present Pushpadana school.
    This truck was struggling and making a horrible noise by bellowing air out like a monster and we clung on to our maids.
    This old gent or the government got down mara seeds from Brazil and boiled to a specific temperature and he planted them in hundreds and when the plants were big enough small army trucks would come there with prisoners and plant them along the main roads so that bare footed people could walk safely on the newly tarred roads.
    They too did much and we saw that in Miriharna where I was born .
    They not only made our perahara,was the instigators of the Dansalas and Pandols where the business people were ask to contribute.
    They too made it compulsory for people to install and maintain drinking water pots and they constantly checked for purify of waters.
    Why do we Sinhalese glorify past tyrants and the good ones who did so much for us. Last rulers must be so good for our hypocrites to go and live there and free enough to write rubbish.
    Very busy and no time to correct, sorry.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    The British HAD to give up the Empire after WW II, as Britain as well as Europe were war weary and broke as well.

    It was never a genuine Independence for any of the countries of the Empire. The systems left behind ensures that the ‘divide & rule’ principle continues. Thus, the Tamil Leaders Separatism.

    PM Cameron stated a few years ago that : ‘most of the troubles in the world today is due to Britain’. Surely true. In the earlier times, before Colonisation of Lanka, there were internal troubles, but confined to within Lanka, and the stronger and the more able rulers usually came to the fore, and governed mostly by the principles of Buddha’s Teachings.

    Now we have confusion and division.

    * Best teach PATRIOTISM TO ONE AND ALL, EVEN AT THIS LATE STAGE.
    * Have an Oath of Allegiance for all school children and all other govt and private organisations, offices, etc.

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