British occupation altruistic?
Posted on April 12th, 2016

George Rupesinghe Sydney, Australia 

Wijeratne appears to be starstruck and nostalgic in his lavish praise for the British occupation of Sri Lanka (‘Conquering the paradise isle’ on March 31 Daily News).

An unsuspecting reader, with little knowledge of the country’s history, will be forgiven for thinking that the aim of the British occupation was altruistic. The truth is very ugly. The discord they sowed with their divide and rule policy is still evident in the social and political legacy they left behind, not only in Sri Lanka but in all their other colonies in Asia and Africa.

Yes, the construction of railways, roads and an administrative system were put in place. But all these were primarily to serve their own purposes. Growing tea, for example, filled their coffers, while rice, the staple food of the people, was imported from Burma and India.

Let us also not forget the problems caused by importing hundreds of thousands of indentured labour from South India to work in the tea plantations.

With the exception of the Colombo Academy, later Royal College, how many schools did the British build?

None. This task was left to the Catholic and Protestant Christian missionaries to the utter neglect of the majority Sinhala Buddhists.

If not for the efforts of patriots and visionaries like C. W. W. Kannangara, Sri Lanka would have been in a similar position to India when Jawaharlal Nehru became prime minister of India in 1947: 99 per cent illiteracy and crushing poverty. A situation that India is still grappling with despite great strides in education and economic development.

A system of occupation that alienated some 80 per cent of the population who could not gain access to education, the administration and the legal system because nothing was conducted in the local language is not a system to admire but a recognition of the jackboot of British oppression.

The social and political revolution of 1956 was a manifest expression of the democratic will of these people to rectify this injustice. Their aspirations were thwarted by those Anglophobes, the militant leftist political groups and of course, the Tamils, who refused to accept the democratic will of the majority peoples. This in itself is ample testament to the cancerous British divide and rule policy.

I also take grave exception to Mr. Wijeratne referring to his countrymen as natives – a perjorative term that conveys such people are of a lower social state. And it brings to mind how such people were also referred to as sarong johnnies” by those who were schooled in the Christian and British puiblic school tradition and thought they were a cut above the rest.

George Rupesinghe
Sydney, Australia 


Courtesy:  Daily News

8 Responses to “British occupation altruistic?”

  1. Dham Says:

    British altruistic occupation, if ever existed, must have been throughout the world ( No civilized being will argue altruism can only be applied to selected group).
    It should be the same altruism that they committed genocide of original inhabitants of Tasmania.

    Selfish and “low self esteemed” people like Wijeratne who are proud being treated better by British are fools.

  2. Christie Says:

    How many British are left here? Hardly any?

    Indian colonial parasites under the cover of British guns started coming from 1792.

    We have been occupies by Indian colonial parasites.

    Please visit Fiji.

  3. Senevirath Says:


  4. SenaD Says:


    You can get it by going to the daily news website and searching ‘Conquering the paradise isle’ using the search facility on their site.

  5. SenaD Says:


    Additionally there are plenty of decendents of McCauley’s children who try to continue their legacy. That article is a good example.

  6. SenaD Says:


    Here is the link for that article.

  7. dingiri bandara Says:

    The British were in our country and all the other countries they occupied was only for their benefit. They, however, left in 1948. It is the leaders since independence who are responsible for the current situation of our country. Take the case of Singapore which had strong and loyal leaders.
    It is still not too late loyal, capable, knowledgeable Sri Lankans to take over country, especially the Sinhalese Buddhists ( People of other faiths are dictated to by their respective religious organizations.)
    Come to think of it, why is it that at least now the the Buddhist chapters like Asgiriya and Malwatta are do not set up schools to not only to teach true Buddhism but to handle general education. The Muslims are organizing Madrassas in Sri Lanka and all over the world which one of the causes of fundamentalism.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    When we put Colonial occupation period (nearly 500 yrs), especially the British & Portugueses periods, on a balance sheet and put the pros and cons, what do we get ?
    We get heavy losses for Lanka for the Sinhala people especially. Basically, the Sinhala people have almost lost their say in their own Motherland due to Colonization, Cold War politics & Tamil Caste Wars on Lanka soil.

    The greatest loss is Self Reliance. Even then, we must strive to keep our Self Respect as a Nation even in adversity. Can we do that and also survive these hard times ?

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