Alfie Moragoda, Clarrie Gunawardena, Esmond Wickremesinghe, J R Jayewardene, Jaffna Library, Lakshman Wickremesinghe, Ravi John, Richard de Zoysa, Romesh Soysa, Sarath Muttetuwegama, Tissa Jayatilleke
Thirty years ago then was a fallow period , as I came to terms with the realities of a rigid regime. The position I had hoped for at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies vanished into thin air, and the editor of the ‘Sunday Times’ was compelled to stop my weekly literature column. All this was the more upsetting in that Colombo still assumed that all was well with the government and the country, and it must be one’s own fault if one was treated by the government as an enemy of the people, characterized by someone on the UNP Working Committee, as my uncle Esmond entertainingly described it, as a bearded Communist.
I was reminded then of the delightful Art Buchwald satire I had read many years ago of a country that received a lot of American aid, because it had a small Communist party. The aid had a beneficial effect and the country advanced into prosperity, with the Communists too benefiting. But when they gave up their old ideology, the Americans decided that aid was no longer necessary – so that the government had to beg them to keep the party going, to ensure further inflows of aid.
That story had a more preposterous incarnation in Sri Lanka two years later, when Jayewardene permitted appalling attacks on Tamils, and then claimed that this was the understandable response of the Sinhalese to efforts to divide the country. He therefore introduced legislation which in effect led to the elimination of the TULF from Parliament. That however proved too much for his Western allies, so before long the government reversed its stand and claimed that the attacks had been launched by Communists. The old Stalinist Communist Party was proscribed, along with Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s Revolutionary Trostskyists and the JVP which Jayewardene had revived after he came into power.