Bradman Weerakoon, British Council, Chanaka Amaratunga, Cold War, David Gladstone, Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Derek Samarasinha, Ed Marks, elections, India, Indo-Lanka Accord 1987, IPKF, J R Jayewardene, John Keleher, Liberal Party, Provincial Council, Rex Baker, Schools Furniture Project, Soviet sympathies, Vadamaarachchi offensive
By the late eighties I was quite heavily involved in politics, and had even stood in the Provincial Council elections that took place in 1988. Rex Baker was quite startled by this, and it seems the British High Commission had asked him, devoted as they were in those years to Jayewardene and his solid adherence to the West, whether this was proper. Rex had dutifully checked the relevant manuals and told me, having called me in to discuss the matter, that in Britain employees of the Council had political rights in common with other Civil Servants, and could contest local elections. He had deemed the Provincial Councils elections to be of this sort, so he saw no reason to stop me from standing.
The question of contesting a general election, he said, was otherwise. I told him then that, if such a situation arose, I would not embarrass him, which pleased him until I said I would of course promptly resign. He had I think assumed that I would refrain from standing, but he took my unexpected reassurance in a positive spirit, and I think it helped him to understand the depth of my feeling about what Jayewardene had done to the country.
It was in that same year that I first stood in an election in Sri Lanka that the work I did changed entirely in character. This arose from the same cause that had prompted my candidature, namely the Indo-Lankan Accord of 1987. In addition to establishing Provincial Councils, the Accord had seemed to restore peace to the country, and the British decided that they should support this. As far as the Council was concerned, the salient part of this decision was a large grant for reconstruction, which was to be devoted to restoring educational facilities.