It is a great shame many claim that Royal College has failed miserably to provide quality politicians in the last 40 odd years starting with JR, this is far from the truth for Royal has produced many successful politicians for the country, as other leading schools in the country. What is more Royal has produced many Governors, Prime Ministers and a famous Buddhist revivalist who served not just Sri Lanka, but also other countries as Australia and Maldives. However this situation has gradually changed over the years and today schools like Royal are sharing the task of producing successful citizens and among those some have taken to active politics.
Well as to JR he was a product of the pre-independence era, when English was spoken by less than about 8% and there weren’t many public schools styled under the then British system in the country like Royal. It was this system of education led to the formation of an elite referred to as Western Oriented Gentlemen (WOG) in the early post independent era; owing more to their silver spooned backgrounds, that produced a breed who thought they are the best and the brightest. Thus JR having learnt of books and men did learn to play games like the rest at Royal was at independence among the successful politicians in the country; attributed to the fact he was able to play politics, by changing the rules as he went along, so much so the present constitution that he master minded has been called a Draconian Constitution was amended nineteen times. Most of these amendments were done to retain his power, confirms how he changed the rules in policies.
Incidentally, JR had converted from Christianity to Buddhism in his youth and on completing successfully his schooling at Royal entered the University College, Colombo for the Bachelor of Arts degree award by the University of London, then entering the Colombo Law College passed out as an advocate to practice in the unofficial bar. Then gave up his legal career to become an activist in the Ceylon National Congress (CNC), was later elected to the colonial legislature, the State Council in 1943 by winning the Kelaniya by-election is credited for his use of an anti-Christian campaign against his opponent, the nationalist E.W.Perera another Royalist. In 1944, JR moved a motion in the State Council that Sinhala alone should replace English as the official language, which contributed to the anti-Tamil campaign. Sadly, this natural superior and more importantly astute politician JR, opted to pick the ‘Sinhala Buddhist supremacy campaign’ to retain his top position in politics. It was these pro Sinhala Buddhist sentiments that had prevented him from becoming a statesman in Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.
What all politicians both past and present failed to realize is the simple truth that with the ‘one man one vote’ democracy in operation both Sinhala as the language of the majority and Buddhism as the religion of the majority would have surfaced to the top after independence, without anybody promoting it. All these politicians have done is to create fear in the minds of the majority community and that in turn dragged the Holy Buddhist clergy into politics for their own personnel advancement in politics; that began all forms of discrimination against the minorities and the whole world knows the consequences, that have today left the country heavily in debt to many foreign nations.
Thus although credit went to JR as Executive President, for the introduction of a complete turnaround economic policy as previous policies had led to economic stagnation; opened heavily state-controlled economy to market forces and was credited for the subsequent economic boom. It opened up the economy and introduced more liberal economic policies emphasizing private sector led development.
However, the economic boom bubble did not last long to benefit the country, due to corrupt activities and worse still was the uncontrolled exclusive policies practiced by JR with erroneous thought to divide the inclusive society that country was trying to build. This misuse of power led to a system of exclusive rule to protect his interests that prevented giving fair opportunities to all. Thus the state was unable to sustain the boom and the social instability resulted led to the emergence of insurgencies in the South and North that eventually led the country to a bloody and cruel civil-war that lasted three decades.
It was only with lot of international help the later rulers continuing with the same exclusive policies managed to silence the guns of opponents and suppress the insurgence at a heavy cost to the nation in terms of human lives and loss of properties; with all the issues that caused the civil-war and new issues from the war still left unresolved. What is needed urgently is for the rulers to resolve leftover problems of these people with an all-inclusive policy based rule, introduce tri-lingual education and a merit based employment system before venturing into any economic activities. Only then it will be possible for a student going to a village school to compete on equal terms and facilities with students from City schools in any part of the country to study and gain meaningful employment with a merit based system in operation. Would certainly prevent a recurrence of what has happened from the days of JR rule, spilling into MR rule.
One should not forget that JR was given more than two third majority in parliament by the votes cast by the citizens and that was exploited to his advantage; something voters must remember at the forth coming General Election. For there will be checks and balance only with government and opposition equally poised made up of quality law makers to make balanced decisions. Then country will survive and return back to prosperity in no time and there will be no more uninvited foreign intervention in the internal affairs of this little island nation, as it is happening now. Thus people must select quality legislators from the political party they select out of over one hundred political parties that are expected field candidates at the next polls.