While awaiting the charges and the inquiry, I did a little investigation, aided by a wonderful lady called Glencora Perera, who had decided to support me enthusiastically. I had met her through the English Association, of which Ashley Halpe, its long-standing Chair, had asked me to become Secretary while I was at Peradeniya. Glen had known my uncle Lakshman in her youth and thought I took after him: though a solid supporter of the UNP, she was very positive about my resignation, unlike most of the elite in Colombo.
Interesting, I was told by one of them, when I started having problems at S. Thomas’, that one rumour being spread was that I was not really interested in S. Thomas’, but had wanted to make a mark there so that I could then go into politics and rival my cousin – Ranil Wickremesinghe then being Minister of Education. This was a preposterous idea, though I did think that Ranil, though a relatively good Minister, was weak on some matters. I had called him about restarting English medium, and he told me flatly that it was illegal. When I pointed out that he was permitting English Medium to be started in the guise of International Schools, he said that those did not come under him, but belonged to another Ministry. He himself had sent the papers to the Attorney General, to have them prosecuted.
That brought home to me the bizarre nature of the Jayewardene Cabinet. It was Ranasinghe Premadasa, the Prime Minister, who had taken the Colombo International School under his wing, when its Principal, the redoubtable Elizabeth Moir, had a row with the Investors who had set it up. Ironically, the Vice-President of the S. Thomas’ Old Boys Association, when I first started having difficulties, told me that the existing education system was beyond repair, and asked me to join him and some other Old Boys in starting an International School. I turned the offer down, which may, in addition to my response to Alex Wijesinha, that I did not see being Head of a School as a permanent career, have contributed to the rumour of my other ambitions.
But the point was, I thought it better to try to reform the system from within. I did in fact prepare a long paper, in which I pointed out how we could legitimately conduct English Medium classes in terms of the existing regulations but, in the animosity that had developed against me, the paper was never put to the Board.