Writing my Life Story
Posted on January 8th, 2023

Dr. .Sudath Gunasekara

 In my school carrier from Kindergarten (1945)-to University Entrance 1958) I had always been the first in all classes,  except twice that is 1950 at Udispattuwa Junior School econd term, after my mother’s untimely death and 1955 first term after I change college to Galahitiyawa Central from  Teldeniya Senior. But even in those two occasions I have bounced back to be the first in style in the next term. I also had been the class Monitor in all classes except at Glahiti[yava Central first term in 1955. Finally at Veyangoda Central College I had the distinction of holding all the following post, UE Class Monitor, President College Buddhist Brotherhood. Vice-Captain Parakarama House, President College Sinhala Literary Association, President College Geographical Association and Deputy Leader College English Debating Team

 All the jobs I did in Public Service from 1962-1997 I have always done better than all my predecessors in those places and none of my successors have been able to even maintain the level to which I had brought them up, in discipline and all round performance.  Throughout my carrier I have never canvased any post and never gone after politicians. All three posts of Secretaries to Health, Education and Prime Minister Mrs B were offered over the telephone to me by President Premadasa, President Wijetunga and finally Mrs Bandaranayaka respectively, the last was offered to me after having called me Home.

Colleges Attended Glahitiyava Central College & Veyangoda Central (Primary Education Meemures School)

University Education University of Peradeniya 1958-62.B.A.(Hons) Passed out in 62 with Second class Hours in Geography

Post Graduate Diploma in Land Management University of Cambridge;

PhD Agriculture University of Peradeniya (Incidentally I am the oldest man to get a PhD by Thesis from Peradeniya)

Professional: Teacher and Educational Administrator as Principle of College.3 years 1962-65 June

Sri Lanka Administrative Service 35 years 1965-1997

 Visiting Lecturer Univ: Peradeniya

Consultant Public Administration Rural Development Agriculture, Settlement Development, Infrastructure Development, Watershed Management, Small industries Development and Education

As a Public Servant 1965- 1997

1 Principal Sanghabodhi MahaVidyalaya Minipe  (1962 may-1965 June 15th)

First Appointment after University. When I took mover it was a typical Minipe village school   I converted it to be the best College all aspects in the Kandy District outside the city with minimum facilities within 3 years.

                        1962 may                                                               1965 may

Students               265                                                                       965

Staff                         7                                                                          38 with 6 Graduates

Exames results: 1963 Dec O/L produced 11 passes out of 12 for the first time in its history. We won the First place, in Kandy District that year.  Within this short period of 3 years the College was brought up as the best in discipline and academic attainments in the region. After 1963 O/Results a large number of children of the colonists who were in other schools in the neighboring areas and even faraway places were brought back and admitted to this college. That was the reason for the remarkable increase in student population during this period. With the success in 1963 O/L results and extracurricular activities I proved that it is not the location of a school what matters but the dedication and commitment on the part of the teaching staff headed by a dynamic and visionary teacher what really matters in the success of a school.

Buildings             2                                                                                                   3

By end of 1963 I got a pipe born water supply installed, a new school building 20X200 and a science building with science teachers by end of 1964

 This was my best job in life where job satisfaction was the highest All three parties teachers, students and parents worked with dedication and commitment as a team.

2  DRO Yatikinda Badulla   (Head Quarters DRO) (June 2nd –May 2nd) 1966 .This was my first CAS  appointment after entering the first CAS batch of 1965 as a cadet

 Badulla GA gave me this station as a special appointment to clean up an Augean mess that was there for 15 years without a permanent DRO. I reorganized the Office with daily job targets for all Officers, brought back strict discipline and work productivity within 2 weeks by activating an old dormant circular   that made it compulsory for each officer to complete a given quantum of every day. Discipline among Grama sevakas was my next target as they formed the live, wire  of a DRO’S Division and also the entire machinery of governance at the grass root level administration in the country. I travelled the whole Division extending up to Mahaweli ganga in the North from Haliela in the South, twice with the GA, first trip after a Division day in Pitamaruwa a remote village, climbed Madolsima ranges 3rd  highest and second tripe climbed Naranagala,  the second highest in the Division. This was done to get to know the area, its people and work I have to do as a public servant, taking a clue from a farewell lecture by our Professor Geography who said one has to learn these 3 things to be a good public servant. But by end of the month I was recalled by Kandy GA under whom I was trained as a cadet to complete an assignment on Kandyan Peasantry Rehabilitation he had given to me and posted me as DRO Udadumbara as the duty station, my home area to my delight. Although I was there only for 1 month all the VC Chairmen of the Division protested against my transfer.

3 DRO Udadumbara  

This was the biggest DRO Division in the District. Access to most villages was mostly on foot and they had to walk long distances often more that 12 miles to the nearest road  the total distance to the DRO Office was more than 25 miles The circuit Magistrate courts was also close to my Office.Within the first few moths my 1 months experience here I introduced a new innovation called the Gamvesiyan Pasdenage Sabhava for each GS Division under the Chairmanship of the Village Priest to keep peace and settle minor disputes in the village without going to courts or coming to my office. The other 4 Members were the GS, Head Master of the village school. Vedamahatataya and another villager of standing selected by the 4. They were given letters of appointment by me for a specific term of office. The arrangement was for them to attend to disputes the GS is unable to settle. Those disputes the GPS cannot settle had to be referred to me. The GS functioned as the Secretary. Instructions were issued by my Office as to how problems are to be handled. The results were surprising. Not eve 2% cases were referred to me.  Going to courts almost became zero Goodwill and togetherness in villages thrived. Money and time wasted were all saved.

Beside attending to my usual Official duties as a DRO I also introduced a new way of Commemorating Independence Day by engaging in some development activity in place of the usual Avurudu utsavaya..

On Feb 4th 1970 the first of that series the construction of the famous Uduwaaheena –Ududaha   5 mile 20 ft wide road with only two bends avoiding the notorious 18 bends on the famous Kandy-Mahiyangana Road was started by shramadana. Jungle clearing of the entire stretch of 20 ft wide 5 miles was done in one day by shramadana, except the section of thick jungle called Roti Ela mukalana where we had to get permission from the forest Dept.  4½ miles on either ends were made jeepable within 3 months. Before the middle section was completed I was transferred to Kandy Kachcheri. It is 2020 now, 50 years gone after I left. But it is a tragedy the road construction is still where I stopped, in spite of the fact there had been 3 Deputy Ministers in Parliament and a Chief Minister from 1987 – 2018.

 1971  Feb 4th started the Ratnella Ela Irrigation scheme to settle 500 farmer families that gave birth to the Hasalaka Gem mining

The philosophy I emulated here was to engage in some development activity or at least a tree planting ceremony or construction of a road instead of indulging in usual merry making by way of Avurudu sanakeli where you indulge in things like climbing the grease pole. Selection of Avuurudu kamari/Kumaraya etc.

1967 Meemure   Pusse Ela settlement scheme under Mahaoya–Heenganga Scheme was inaugurated .

1978 Started the Cardamom planting in Meemure and Kaikaval benefiting more than 100 families. Both these works were in my village Meemure

4 1971-75 Assistant Director Small industries Kandy

A district that was badly neglected and mismanaged was re-organized to be the First place in Handloom production in the Island for all 5 years consecutively from 1971-1975 and resurrected the District Textile Coop Union that was running with an overdraft 150 000 in 1971 to 1.25 m net profit, making coop, by end of 1972 and also opened up a Textile Shop in Colombo St Kandy City for the first time.

Completed stage 2 of Nattarmpota Handicraft colony with 40 new cottages for 40 Craftsmen families with a design Centre and work shop and also got Laksala to decentralize purchasing in Kandy being the most important district in Handicrafts production and renamed it as Sri Veera Parakrama Narendrasingha Kalapuraya to give it a historical importance..

1974 Organized the first Air trip from Katunayaka to Batticalloa for the Instructors who won the first 10 places in Production as a part of a motivational programme.

Opened up 5 Art line Textile Centers at Wegiriya, Menikdivela, Polgolla, .Meegammana and Uda Dumbara the last to revive the only traditional Sinhala weaving pit loom  Talagune Rata. 

DRO renamed as d/AGAA

Meanwhile in 1972 Minister Ilangaratna accepted a proposal made by me and re–designated DROO (Divisional Revenue Officers) as Divisional Assistant Government Agents and Grama Sevakas as Grama Seva Niladharis on a proposal made by me and published in the Nov issue of the Journal of the Sri Lanka Institute of public Administratio..

5  Deputy Director Small Industries (Handicrafts) Head Office 1975 July to-end of 1977

1976 Organized the best Handicraft Exhibition for the Non Align Summit Conference which Mrs B used to call the best H /C exhibition she has ever seen in her life, until she died. Negotiated the annual Handicraft Design Survey Scholarship Tour of BENELUX countries for 5 craftsmen in collaboration with the Dept of Commerce which, I think is still operative.

6 1977-1979 Very bad time

Shifted from place to place as a political victim. 1 Deputy Commissioner Rehabilitation. 2 Addl GA Batticalloa 3. Deputy Director Rural Development as a political victim

But I made it a blessing in disguise by engaging on Religious and Social Service as

1 Secretary to Asgiirya Dayaka  Sabha and that illustrious Mahanayaka Thera ever, and

2 As President Mahanuwara Jatika Kalamandalaya an association of all artists industrial and performing. Among important achievements

1 Improving the income of both groups of artists in Kandy and Matale Districts

2 Stopped the construction of Perahera seats in the Mahamaluwa that was a big fraud

3. Also stopped a Dalada Perahera Diva Nilame and Minister of Education Nissanka Wijeratna was planning to parade the Streets after the Annual Perahera was over to show the Commonwealth Education Ministers who were in the country for a seminar, violating the Age old Tradition by pursuading the Mahanayaka Thero to refuse to give  his key of the Dalada Casket for the Dalada Exhibition if he violate the tradition. It was my plan that worked.

7. 1979-1985 Victoria Project Kandy

My role in constructing the 60 odd miles network as the chief Coordinating Officer in charge of new roads and Towns by negotiating with land owners who were protesting against it and having them ready before inundation date of the reservoir prior to formal acquisition was complete.

Completing Tennekumbura Moragahmula Damtop road nearly 24 miles within1 year

Getting  Teldeniya –Udispattuwa-Moragahamula Loop (7 miles) opened up for heavy traffic within  3 weeks, ( a new proposal by me as a deviation  for Kandy-Mahiyangala traffic between Teldeniya and Moragahamula as the construction of the Teldeniya –Moragahamu section of the new road above the old road would have been never possible.

 Location of the New Teldeniya Town at Karalliyadda and preparing the ground plan for the new Town

 B.L.Panditaratna the Chairman of the Mahaweli Auhtority at the end of the Project once said ‘Sudath If not for you we would have to swim the Victoria to the other side” This sums up the role I had played in getting the road network completed in time.

In fact by mid 1983 when I returned from Cambridge the entire construction work of roads and bridges was at a standstill, the constraints being as engineers said were inadequate machinery, men and material. Immediately after I returned I Suggested to Panditharatna to summon a meeting of all stake holder and it was at that meeting I proposed to withdraw machine material and even men from Maduru oya and Uda walawe projects which were considered of less priority compared with Victoria and start three shifts instead of one and make it a 24 hr operational activity. Also I suggested having two-weekly progress evaluating meetings under his Chairmanship to thrash out the problems on the spot. At these meetings 2 weekly targets were given to all, the completion of which was a must. Also I suggested paying an incentive payment to all workers to motivate them. So it was around the clock 24 hr operation. After that not only workers but even engineers were on the road through out more or less day and night. It worked like magic and the work was completed even before the target date.

II was at the last progress evaluating meeting that Panditahratna made the afore said comment ‘Sudath If not for you we would have to swim Victoria tot the other side”

The funniest thing in this episode is immediately after the work was over Gamini Disanayaka un-ceremonially Transferred me to the pool on representations made by M.B, Adikaram, the Manager, against me perhaps saying that I will be a political threat to the UNP.

From Oct 10.  1985 I was appointed as Director Private Sector Ministry of Industries. This was again a very bad time in my life. Even before I had undergone such situations .For example I was appointed GA Matale thrice from 1977 consecutively. But the local UNP stalwarts in Matale blocked that, Meanwhile my name was also suggested to Kandy as GA. The then President blocked that too having said ‘He is an excellent worker but politically he will be a dead weight round our necks”   I also got two Commonwealth Assignments as Advisor in Handicrafts in Papua New Guinea and Sierra Lyon. But I dint go for personal reasons. Meanwhile they advertised the post of Registrar Peradeniya University. I applied and was selected first, but again another person low down in the mark list was selected for political convenience. 

8 1986-1992 NADSA Project now called HADABIMA Project

It was at that time the opening at NADSA came up in April 1985.. After I mentioned it to Mahanayaka Thera of Asgiriya he took me to the Minister Gamani Jayasuriya next day. After looking at my Bio=data the Minister said , this Project is to be closed down by end of year and since I was a very senior office he offered the Additional Secretary post in his Ministry. But since I wanted to be in Kandy on personal reasons, he said OK you can come here in next January and appointed me to NADSA. That is how I came to NADSA. But next day Chief Minister Disanayaka CP as usual has protested. When inquiries were made I was told that Disanayaka had asked Weragoda the then Secretary Agriculture to tell the Minister not to send me this side of the Kadugannava as they all will lose even their deposits if I come and work there. When I told this to the Mahanayaka Thera he spoke to the Minister again and mentioned this problem. Then the Minister asked for me and over the phone he said Sudath I am the Minister of Agriculture and I have appointed you. You go there immediately and assume duties and come and see me in few days if there is a problem.

When I met the Minister the week after, in his office and told him that, conceptually  NADSA is one of the best development Projects, if not the best, that have ever being conceived in the post Independent era in this country and therefore it should never be closed down until its programme of the threefold development is complete. Even if you forget settlement development and Agricultural Diversification and concentrate only on watershed management it still remains the no 1 development concept. The Minister looked at my face hard and said ‘Sudath you are the only man who says this. All the other fellows just say the opposite. Either you are mad or all others are mad. But having listened to you, I think there is a slot of truth in what you. OK let us have a run and we see”.

This is how I came to NADSA. Thereafter the Minister accepted my proposal to continue the NADSA that was to be closed down by end of that year and it is still there as HADABIMA Authority of Sri Lanka under the name I gave, for which I got 12.5 m US$ Food aid package from FAO/WFP for 6 years in 1991 and resurrected and expanded its area of operation to cover the entire Central, Sabaragaamuwa and Uva Provinces also in 1991.

My relatioship with Lalith Atulathmudali as Minister of Agriculture

 Lalith in 1991 at his first meeting with Heads of Departments at the Agrarian Services Dept Conference Hall who said Gentlemen you know the best example in the whole World where the poor is made poorer is NADSA”. Probably he also had my name in his pav potha.  Again when he came up with a similar remark next month too I raised my hand and said I beg to disagree with you Sir. Why? He asked me with an Oxford accent? If you give me permission I will explain, I said. Go ahead he retorted. After repeating what I had told Minister Jayasuriya I also said, Sir unfortunately none of the politician or the Officialswho had beenincharge of this Project had understood the value of this Project. Had they at least understood the and at least carried out objective one, Watershed management, and carried that out to its logical conclusion, the story of NADSA would have been something entirely different I said.  ‘Sudath you meet me after the meeting I want to fix up a date to visit your project. Within a weeks’ time In he visited the Project and at a meeting held at the PGRI Auditorium this is what he said.

මිත්රවරුනි මම ඊයේ සවස වනතුරු මේ න්ඩ්සා වියාපාරය ගැන,අහලා තිබුණේ දැකලා තිබුනේ කියවලා තිබුනේ ඔක්කොම අසුභවාදී දේවල්. නමුත් මම අද තමා මගේ ඇස්දෙකින් දැක්කේ ඒක මොකක්ද කියලා.මීට මාස එකහමාරකට ඉස්සර කොලඹ  තිබුණ රැස්වීමකදී මම මෙහෙම ප්රකාශයක් කලා  (ඉහත ප්රකාශය සින්හලෙන්) මම අද ඒ ප්රකාශය ඉල්ලා අස්කරගන්නවා. තමුන්නාන්සේලාගේ අධක්ෂක තුමා, මගේ මිත්රයා, සුදත් ගුණසේකර මහත්තයා මොන විස්මකර්ම වැඩක් කරලද මම දන්නේ නෑ. මම අද කියන්වා මේක ලන්කාවෙම තියෙන විෂිස්ඨතම කුඩා ගොවිපොල ව්යාපාරය කියලා” එසේම මෙම වසර අවසාන වන විට ලෝකයේම කෙසේ වෙතත් ආසියාවේම හොදම කුඩා ගොවිපල ව්යාපාරය වෙනවාට කිසිම සැකයක් නෑ” රැස්වීම අවසානයේදී මගේ පිටට අතින් තට්ටු කොට.”Sudath you have done it. My congratulations .After all I am an Oxonian and you are a Cantabrian” කියා කීමටද ඔහු අමතක කලේ නැත. ඒ ලලිත් නම්වූ උදාර මිනිසාය.එවැනි වෙනත් දේශපාලකයකු ඊට පෙර හෝ ඊට පසුව හෝ මම කිසි දිනක දැක නැත.

The same year WFP rated it as the best Small Farmer Project in South Asia.  I made two 35 minutes documentaries 1) The Harita Danavva/Green Habitat (Won an award in 1991 Czec International Film Festival on Environment), 2) The Miracle Basket narrating the wonder, the Food Basket had done to show the progress  to the second evaluation Mission.

Minister Lalith also dropped a proposal made by some agricultural Scientists to grow Girkin in the DZ paddy fields on my advice not to accept that dead rope as the paddy cultivators form the back bone of our society and also the danger of depending on imports for the staple diet of the nation. He also joined hands with Gamini forgetting the differences they had, on my advice to fight their common adversary Premadasa and formed the new Party LPP. The day after I told him that, early morning he rang me up from Colombo and thanked me profusely and said Sudath I told each and every word you told me yesterday to Gamini and we have joined hands to form a new Political Party and both of us have decided to appoint you as the Chief Organizer for the entire Central Province” Had they lived, I would have been a Cabinet Minister in their first Cabinet

9 During President Premadasa’s time   as President SASA (1991-94) I rescued the SLAS from its demise.

In 1992 there was a proposal to amalgamate the Divisional Secretaries Offices with the Divisional Councils and appoint DSS as Secretaries to Divisional Council Chairmen and also appoint outsiders as Div Secretaries.  As the then President of the SASA I summoned an emergency meeting at the BMICH and invited President Premadasa as the chief guest. It was attended by all Ministry Secretaries and over 2000 SLAS Officers working at National, District and Divisional levels all over the Island including the Sec to the President Mr Wijedasa. In addition I also invited few reputed retired Secretaries like Bradmon Weerakoon, Leel Gunasekara and DBIPS Siriwardana. Incidentally that was the first SASA meeting held at the BMICH

In my welcome address explaining the purpose of the meeting I pointed out the dangers of the proposal before the Cabinet in detail and lodge our strong protest against it as the members of SLAS who form the steel frame of the machinery of governance at all levels who carry out the policies and Programmes of the government. I also told him that it will lead to a complete collapse of governance in the country and  if this proposal is accepted there will utter chaos and confusion and no Governance either at the center or in the periphery and therefore requested him to withdraw the Cabinet paper. I also pointed out to him that this in my opinion is a big coup d’tat to destabilize and send the Government Home.  As I came back and sat down President Premadasa turned towards me and said Sudath my congratulations you made an excellent speech” I said thank you Sir. The President made a short speech thanking me and our Association for pointing out that danger about which he had no idea and he concluded his speech granting all four demands I made. The next day morning I got a call from Secretary to the President appointing me as State Secretary to the Ministry of Health straight away from the pool.

Had I not taken that bold decision that day and made that historic but risky speech on that day on behalf of my Service SLAS ,definitely that would have marked the end of SLAS in this country. I am proud that I could

10 Mrs Bandaranayaka accepted my proposal on 23rd  Nov, made at Rosemead Place in the presence of Getambe Loku Hamuduruvo and Visva Warnapala to get down Chandrika  in 1993 from UK to reorganize the Party in place of Anura and they won all subsequent elections and got elected twice as President of this country.  

11 It was my secret plan as Secretary to Mrs B that worked on 10th Sept 1994 that appointed Mrs B as the 12th Prime Minister in this country.

12 Finally  it was my plan and strategy that compelled Chandrika to Appoint Mrs B as PM in Sept 1994 in  place of Chandrika’s favourite Anuruddhda Ratwatte which might have led to the collapse of the Government as there were five contenders. I still remember Mrs B calling me home on Sept 10th from Office and how she showed me the letter signed by all 5 contenders with trembling hands and tears in her eyes saying Sudath now look at this letter all these fellows who wanted to be Prime Minister are now asking me to be the PM” and at 11.30 next   day she was sworn in as PM. She didn’t know how it happened and who the architect was behind that miracle that bore results within a matter of 24 hours.

 It was my strategy and I who prepared that letter together with another addressed to Chandrika to be signed by all 5 aspirants asking Chandrika to appoint Mrs B as Pm and none other, and the other to Mrs B requesting her, to ask Chandrika to appoint her as PM to avoid the imminent collapse of the Government for 6 reasons I have highlighted in that letter. In both letters I wanted Mavellage to get Anuruddhas Signature as the first, as he was Chandrika’s favorite, so that it will have an impact on others as lessor beings.  The messenger was Keerthi Mavellage that dynamic young Private Secretary to Mrs. B from Galle. I also wanted him to get the signatures of the 5 men on the 10th afternoon and hand over the letter to Chandrika at 10 AM next day and to Mrs B at 10.30 AM the same day. At 10.30 Am next day I think it was 11th of Sept Mrs B was sworn in as the 12th Prime Minister of the Republic of Sri Lanka against the wishes of Chandrika, dispelling all frustrations of that Great Lady and misconceptions of Sunetra, her elder daughter. Meanwhile  Chandrika replaced me with her chum Hemasiri Fernando as the Prime minister’s  Secretary. That is how this ungrateful woman treated the man who brought her in to politics in Dec1993 and paved the way for her to be the President of this country for 11 years.

Even on the 8th of Sept evening when I asked Mrs B Madam now who is going to be the Pm, this was what she said ‘Sudath Chandrika will never appoint me as the PM. She will appoint someone whom she wants. Then she paused for a while and said with a drawn face probably Anuruddha”.

When I asked the same question from Sunethra the same evening this is what she said. Sudath do you think this woman who had snatched my husband also, will ever appoint Ammi as PM” When I said no, Sunethra, somehow or the other we have to get her appointed as the PM. If that happens the Sun will rise from the other side she said. By that time I had my plan ready.

The matter was discussed thereafter confidentially under locked doors at Rosmead with the Atulkattale attended by Mrs B’s loyals, including Keerti Mawellage Private Sec , Girty Dunuvila, Mrs Lanerole, Yatawara, that loyal office aid of Mrs B and Atukorala another Mrs B’s  confidante. They all were thoroughly disappointed and disgusted about what is going to happen. But they all were clueless. I told them I have a plan Keerthi you see me in office tomorrow morning. I did not divulge the details. But I got one assurance from all who were there, that is not to divulge anything to anybody on this subject until 12 o’clock next day. When Keerthi met me next morning I gave him two letters. One addressed to the President and the other to Mrs B. Letter to be given to Chandrika was a request made by the 5 Aspirant PMM requesting her to appoint Mrs B as PM for the reasons outlined in that letter to be signed by them The second letter was addressed to Mrs B requesting her to demand Chandrika that she should appointed her as the PM for the reasons outlined in that letter. I presume even before Mrs B made up her mind what to do next she got a call from Chandrika that she has decided to appoint her as the Prime Minister. That is how a bona fide secret coup d’etat hatched in good faith in the name of the country made that Great Lady once again the12th Prime Minister in this country on Sept 11th 1994 and by good luck she could have a State funeral as the PM.

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