The Origins of the Unitary State of Sri Lanka
The Break Up of Sri
"The Sinhalese leadership evinced no
willingness to share power with the minority ethnic groups. The Donoughmore
system, with its divisions into seven executive committees, was designed for
the purpose of providing some opportunities for minority ethnic
representatives to secure election to the Donoughmore executive, the Board
of Ministers... a Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers was elected after the
general election of 1936, thus securing an artificial unanimity of opinion
on constitutional reform. Furthermore, the Pan-Sinhalese Board obtained as
much as it could of the limited available resources and public service
appointments for the ethnic majority.... there was a more fundamental
question at issue. Universal suffrage – and, with it, the rule of the
Sinhalese ethnic majority via territorially-constituted electorates – had
been introduced. How should the representatives of this ethnic majority
satisfy their own constituents while at the same time reassuring and
reconciling the ethnic minorities? This issue was not addressed in the
formative years of universal franchise. Instead, the Sinhalese leaders
justified their actions by claiming that they were endeavouring to redress
an imbalance suffered by the Sinhalese majority due to oppression by
colonising powers since the Portuguese, the first Westerners, arrived in
passed from the dual control of Britain and the British East India Company and
became the first British Crown Colony in 1802. Frederick North assumed office as
Governor on 1 January of that year, and was instructed by the Secretary of State
for the Colonies, Henry Dundas – in addition to the other powers vested in him –
to install a Council of Advisers to advise him on controversial issues. The
legislative powers of the Governor remained intact subject to certain necessary
provisos. The Secretary of State instructed the Governor in his despatch of 13
March 1801 that
'it may . . . be advisable, for the sake of more solemnity and as
affording the means perhaps of giving more satisfaction in the country . . .
that you should consult on all great and important occasions and that some
form should be adopted for the promulgation and execution of all Acts and
measures of this description, by which it might be understood that they were
passed or ordered by the Governor in Council.'
The Secretary of State was however careful to point out that
'the complete legislative power must remain . . . vested in the Governor
alone, subject to revision and confirmation or rejection at home.'
The Governor did not have to put questions to the vote in his Council of five
advisers, or act on their advice; any member who disagreed could enter a minute
of dissent.1 The Council of Advisers thus functioned only as a
consultative body and did not in the least share either the legislative or
executive authority with the Governor.
A change in phraseology also took place at this time, presumably to lend more
weight to the Governor's decisions. Under the earlier dispensation – i.e. when
there was military rule together with the dual control of the British East India
Company and the British government –the orders of the Governor were issued as
'Proclamations' (emanating from only one single authority), but with Crown
Colony status the constitutional terminology was changed.
The decisions of the Governor were issued as 'Regulations, By Order of the
Council' and `By His Excellency's Command'.2 But, despite the change,
the legal and constitutional position was no different: 'The Governor of Ceylon
was still its legislature, but the legislative power was normally exercised by
the Governor in Council of Government, which was a sort of Colonial Privy
Council.' 3 There was therefore no doubt that all central power was
concentrated in the hands of the chief executive, the Governor of Ceylon. The
policy followed was the same for all Governors thereafter till Governor Barnes
The appointment of Thomas Maitland in 1805, in succession to North, further
concentrated power in the hands of a single authority. The Colonial Office
appointed Maitland as Officer Commanding the Troops and Governor and
Commander-in-Chief of Ceylon – North had not possessed this authority, which was
vested in General David Douglas Wemyss, and had complained that he was 'reduced
to the office of cashier of the Treasury'. 4
This set the pace for future Governors. Maitland had little interference from
the Colonial Office; at home the Secretaryship of State for the Colonies was
combined with that of War, with the result that the efforts of the Secretary of
State were concentrated on the prosecution of the war with Napoleon.
Also, the Secretary of State did not have enough knowledge of local affairs
to advise the Governor. Edward Cooke, the Under-Secretary, admitted that no
judgments could be formed on most of the matters submitted to the Colonial
Office, and that he hoped Governor Maitland was right.5 During this
phase, to make matters more complicated, the Secretaryship changed hands at
Governor Maitland further increased the concentration of power in his hands.
He began the system of the grand gubernatorial tour of the island where he
learned things for himself, received petitions and was informed of the actual
state of affairs in the outlying areas. The system of looking on the Government
Agents as the true representatives of the people was begun by Maitland.
During 1808-9, the Governor issued writs and directives requesting Collectors
(the Government Agents of later days) to acquaint themselves with the needs of
the inhabitants in the districts under their control, to undertake circuits at
regular times, and to keep diaries recording whatever they observed or any
intelligence they obtained during their travels. These writs and directives came
to be called the Collectors' Great Guide. Centralisation was thus increasingly
becoming the objective of the colonial government.
The occupation of the kingdom of Kandy in 1815 left matters unsettled till
1831. The Governor governed the Kandyan areas according to Kandyan law, with
modifications as necessary. Rule was by 'Proclamation', not by 'Regulation', and
by 'Order of the Council' as in the maritime districts.
However, in 1831 the Governor, Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, was issued with
a commission which for the first time brought the island under a single
Horton's Commission constituted him as Governor and Commander-in-Chief 'in
and over our settlements in Ceylon' with a consultative Council of Government.
He was given 'full power and authority, with the advice and consent of the said
Council of Government to make, enact, ordain and establish laws for the order,
peace and good government of our said island'. Thus the engines of
centralisation had been set in motion, not for sections of the island, but for
one single unified piece of territory.
Then came the recommendations of the Colebrooke-Cameron Report.*
Lieutenant-Colonel W.M.G. Colebrooke, in his section of the Report dated 24
December 1831, recommended a tighter degree of centralisation. The entire island
was to be administered by the Governor and his Council. The number of provinces
was reduced from sixteen to five, each under a government agent.6
The thinking behind this redrawing of boundaries of provinces was to reduce
the isolation of the Kandyan Sinhalese hill-dwellers. Their separate existence
presented an obstacle to the formation of a homogeneous nation and a uniform
system of administration, as the British envisaged. Britain was determined to
rid the Kandyan Sinhalese areas of the influence of their native chiefs.
The historian Vijaya Samaraweera has emphasised this point. Colebrooke wished
to have the Kandyan Sinhalese and the Low Country Sinhalese assimilated into a
homogeneous entity. This would eliminate the power of the chiefs of the Kandyan
Sinhalese. Thus, a uniform system of government was Colebrooke's remedy. He
argued that the Kandyan chiefs would continue to wield influence if their areas
were separately governed.7
Colebrooke's more noteworthy contribution was his recommendation for
constituting Executive and Legislative Councils. The Legislative Council would
be a nominated body, but in time it was to evolve into an elected legislature.
For the time being, it was to advise the Governor on the governance of the
island. In the final instance, however, the Governor continued to be the
government of the island.
In the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both councils
were expanded. The Legislative Council became more representative. Until the
recommendations of the Donoughmore Commission in 1931, the imperial authorities
introduced the elective principle in stages, but maintained a balance in the
ethnic composition of the Legislative Council as between Low Country Sinhalese,
Kandyan Sinhalese, the Ceylon Tamils of the Northern Province, those of the
Western Province and those of the Eastern Province, the Indian Tamils, the
Muslims, the Burghers and Europeans.
But even with the introduction of reforms in the Constitution by Governor Sir
Henry McCallum in 1912 and by Governor Sir William Manning in 1920 and 1923,
especially those of 1923 which left the colonial government in a minority
situation in the Legislative Council, the Governor continued to be responsible
for the government of the island.
Clause 13 of the Royal Instructions of 1920 enjoined the Governor not to give
his assent to ten types of bills, principally ones of imperial concern. He
retained firm control over the island's public administrative system, and in
addition the Constitutions of 1920 and 1923 vested him with a certain reserve of
power which enabled him in the ultimate instance to legislate for the peace,
order and good government of the country. In effect, if the Governor was of the
opinion that a measure was of 'paramount importance', he could have it enacted
into law with the votes of the minority of twelve Official Members in the
In the years between Colebrooke's reforms of 1833 and the constitutional
reforms of McCallum in 1912,8 several changes had taken place in the
administrative, economic, educational and political spheres. Colebrooke had
recommended a general reduction of posts in the public service. The colonial
government implemented this while at the same time eroding the separateness of
the hitherto isolated Kandyan Sinhalese highlanders by re-demarcating the
provinces so that there were no longer seventeen but five.
However, the larger provinces proved unwieldy for the purposes of
administration since the outlying and the frontier areas stood to be neglected.
So in 1873 the Northern Province was divided and a new North Central Province
was created. In 1886 the district of Uva was detached from the Central
Province and named `Uva Province'. In 1889, Sabaragamuwa became a province in
its own right after being detached from Western Province.
The post-Colebrooke years saw notable changes in the economic landscape.
First coffee and later tea, along with rubber and coconut plantations, became
commercial crops for migrant British planters. Import and export trade followed,
with the capital city, Colombo, becoming the focus of activity. Roads and
railways connected the plantation districts to Colombo.
These developments meant further inroads into the isolation of the Kandyan
Sinhalese. The Great Kandyan Rebellion of 1848 was the last attempt of the
Kandyan Sinhalese chiefs to assert their separateness. By the second half of the
nineteenth century, the administrative and social unification of the entire
country was completed.
The last isolated area in the north of the island – inhabited mostly by
Ceylon Tamils – was linked to the rest of the country with the construction of
the railway line from Colombo to Jaffna, the northern capital of the Ceylon
Tamils, and thence, in 1896-1903, to Kankesanthurai, the island's most northerly
These changes in the pattern of communications meant, first, greater
commercial contact between low-country Sinhalese traders and the Kandyan
Sinhalese population, and secondly numbers of Ceylon Tamils in the Jaffna
peninsula began seeking opportunities as government employees, in professional
occupations or as entrepreneurs in the Sinhalese areas; in particular, the first
and second of these categories congregated in Colombo.
The fact that the Executive Council, the Legislative Council and the Governor
of the Colony functioned in Colombo gave the city increasing importance, which
in turn enhanced the power of the administrative apparatus. This was the
beginning of a trend which led Colombo to develop a vested interest in itself,
and in later years to show reluctance to share power with the peripheral areas.
There were strides in education. A year after Colebrooke's mission, the
island counted 13,891 children in school, but three-quarters of a century later,
in 1906, there were 276,691.9 In 1905 there were 554 government schools and
1,582 state-aided ones. The island's population had risen from 1,167,700 in 1834
to 3,984,985 in 1906. Over the same years, revenue increased from Rs 1,145,340
to Rs 112,516,914.10 The hub of activity of a highly centralised administration
continued to be Colombo; alternative centres failed to develop.
Increasing education and prosperity promoted the growth of religious
revivalism among the majority Sinhalese Buddhists and the minority Hindus and
Muslims. A natural consequence of this multifarious mix of ethnically and
religiously divided groups was the emergence of crosscutting synthetic
nationalist umbrella organisations. Those who involved themselves in these
activities were the propertied and professional classes. The lower layers of
society were not immediately affected.
The countryside escaped this stirring. Instead 'prayers', petitions and
memorials were addressed to the Secretary of State by essentially
commerce-oriented organisations such as the Low Country Products Association
(started in 1907), the Jaffna Association comprising well-to-do Tamils in the
Jaffna peninsula, the Chilaw Association (largely coconut producers in the
Chilaw district north of Colombo) and the Ceylon National Association, the
last-named comprising the professional and merchant classes in the Western
On 17 May 1917 the elitist Ceylon Reform League was inaugurated for 'securing
such reform of the administration and government of Ceylon as will give the
people an effective share therein and of encouraging the study of questions
bearing on their political, economic and social condition'. On 15 December 1917
a Public Conference on Constitutional Reform was convened by the League and the
Association. A Second Conference on Constitutional Reform met at the Public Hall
in Colombo on 13 December 1918.
All these activities culminated in the formation of a broad coalition of
these various English-educated elites belonging to different ethnic groups and
religions. The Ceylon National Congress, as it came to be called, had its first
session on 11 December 1919 in Colombo which, as already indicated, was
conveniently placed to be the centre of all this activity directed towards the
reform of the Constitution.
The underlying causes for agitation by these otherwise divided elites which
had united only for specific purposes were to secure, first, a greater
`Ceylonisation' of the public services; secondly, more powers for the Executive
and Legislative Councils, and consequently a reduction in the powers of the
Governor; and, thirdly, an ethnically-balanced legislature where each of the
ethnic groups (including the religious group of Muslims for our purposes) would
receive an agreed share of representation.
From 1833 till 1931 and even beyond, during the periods of the Donoughmore
Constitution (1931-47) and the Soulbury Constitution (1947-8, the dispute
between the elitists was on the quantum of representation and not on the
structures of government. In effect the competition was a struggle for a share
in the spoils of office and in state employment. Colombo, as the largest
employer, became the nerve-centre of inter-ethnic rivalry.
Attempts at promoting the revival of local government institutions were
feeble, and anyway proved futile. These were ineffective because of the
indifference of the activists for constitutional reform. On the other hand, the
colonial authorities looked on these institutions more as a means of eliciting
opinion. Municipal Councils were established in Colombo and Kandy in 1866, and
in Galle in 1867, Kandy and Galle being the urban centres next in importance
And in 1889 the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson (1865-72), enacted a law
reviving the age-old institution of the village committee. There were already in
existence other local bodies such as Provincial and District Road Committees and
Local Boards of Health. Local Boards in minor towns had been instituted in 1876.
But none of these produced the expected results. A Government Agent for the
Southern Province, in his Administration Report for 1905, remarked among other
"I am afraid that Ceylon is not yet ripe for anything of the nature of
representative government. It is very seldom that candidates come forward
for election from purely public-spirited motives, and it is certainly not
with the object of securing the best candidate or the man who will best look
after the interests of the people that voters are induced to come forward
and record their votes .. ."
Despite British attempts to create an ethnic mosaic from diverse
nationalities, the years 1920-30 witnessed the first signs of tears. The
competing ethnic groups were at variance over the share which each should have
in the communal distribution of seats.
The minority groups wished to secure their positions through specially
carved-out communal electorates, but the Sinhalese majority demanded territorial
representation as their natural right.
Competition and rivalries became so sharp that in order to hold together the
disintegrating communal mosaic within the unitary polity that the British were
trying to construct, the Secretary of the State for the Colonies, the Duke of
Devonshire, observed in a despatch of 11 January 1923 to the Governor of Ceylon,
Sir William Manning:
"In view of existing conditions and of the grouping of population in the
Colony, representation must for an indefinite period of time be in fact
communal, whatever the arrangements of constituencies may be, and that if
all elected members were in form returned by territorial constituencies they
would none the less be in substance communal representatives .. ."
Earlier, on 1 March 1922, Governor Manning had expressed the view in a
despatch to the Secretary of State that the ethnic composition of the
legislature should be such that 'no single community can impose its will upon
the other communities'. Manning's pronouncement was used as a support base by
the Ceylon Tamils and their principal political instrument, the All-Ceylon Tamil
Congress, in the 1930s and early 1940s to agitate for balanced representation in
the legislature, a communal formula which implied 50 per cent of the seats in
the legislature for the Sinhalese majority and the remaining 50 per cent divided
between the ethnic minorities.
The Sinhalese leadership bitterly opposed any attempt to lessen their
numerical superiority. A Ceylon Reform Deputation enunciated their stand in no
uncertain terms in a memorandum issued on 12 April 1923. The Deputation
condemned Governor Manning's scheme to restrict Sinhalese representation in the
Legislative Council as an attempt to establish a 'balance of power' based upon
no principle, but devised for the avowed purpose of preventing the possible
predominance of Sinhalese territorial representatives in the Legislative
Council, which contingency for some unexplained reason is regarded as a dreadful
evil to be averted even at the cost of justice and fair play.
The net result of this Sinhalese unwillingness to accommodate and to
compromise with the ethnic minorities was the break-up of the Ceylon National
Congress. The founding President of the Congress,
Arunachalam, left its ranks in 1921, condemning it as `one representing
mainly a section of the Sinhalese', adding that it had `destroyed the feelings
of mutual confidence and cooperation between the various communities '.11
Arunachalam tried to fight a rearguard action to come back into his own among
his fellow Ceylon Tamils. He founded a new political organisation in 1923, the
Ceylon Tamil League, and posited as its objective a goal which anticipated later
events in the political evolution of the Tamil community. In the evening of his
life, in an address to the Tamil League, he stated what he thought the Tamil
people should work towards:
'We should keep alive and propagate those ideals throughout Ceylon and
promote the union and solidarity of what we have been proud to call Tamil
Eelam. We desire to preserve our individuality as a people, to make
ourselves worthy of our inheritance. We are not enamoured of the
cosmopolitanism which would make of us 'neither fish, flesh, fowl nor
red-herring'. That does not mean that we are to be selfish and work only for
the Tamil community. We have done more for the welfare of all-Ceylon than
for the Tamils . . . We do object, however, strongly to being under-dogs. We
mean to make ourselves strong to defend ourselves and strong also to work
for the common good. '12
That Arunachalam was standing up for Tamil political solidarity in this
statement, there can be little doubt. But one can only speculate whether, given
the context in which he was speaking of a Tamil Eelam, he can be said to have
actually called for a separate sovereign Tamil state. (These words, as is well
known, constitute the title used at the time of writing for the proposed
separate Tamil state.) In any case, the relative prosperity of the Tamil
community and the continuing presence of a neutral imperial ruler were not quite
appropriate for a separatist demand at this juncture.
A little-emphasised fact in this period is the political role played by
Francis Richard Senanayake (1884-1925), elder brother of Don Stephen Senanayake,
Ceylon's first Prime Minister, in the organisation of the Sinhalese Buddhist
movement in 1918 and 1919, a movement which ironically was prised from the
Senanayakes by their principal adversary, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, in the 1930s.
This movement noticeably paralleled the efforts of the westernised
constitutional reformists to consolidate the various English-speaking groups
into a National Congress. D.E. Smith traces the origins of the powerful
All-Ceylon Buddhist Congress of the 1950s to 1918 and to the efforts of C.A.
Hewavitharne, F.R. Senanayake and Baron Jayatilaka among others.13
They had launched the Young Men's Buddhist Association movement, which in
1924 took the name of the All-Ceylon Congress of Buddhist Associations – and in
1940 became the All-Ceylon Buddhist Congress. Some idea of its original
objectives can be discerned from its stated objectives at the time when the
Buddhist Congress was incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1955:
". . to promote, foster and protect the interest of Buddhism and of the
Buddhists and to safeguard the rights and privileges of the Buddhists."14
All this, while Arunachalam and his fellow-reformists were striving towards a
secular and national polity in convening the Ceylon National Congress.
A year after the Buddhist movement took root, the brothers F.R., D.C. and Don
Stephen Senanayake, along with Baron Jayatilaka, started the Sinhala Mahajana
Sabhas (the Great Sinhalese People's Association) in the Sinhalese villages.
Apart from the supposed link between them and the Ceylon National Congress, the
Sabhas insisted on the use of Sinhalese in their proceedings. They supported
Buddhist candidates as against Christians in elections to the Legislative
It can be argued that Arunachalam was a single-minded man, and that in all
probability he overlooked the growth and even mushrooming of these ethnocentric
Buddhist Sinhalese groups. But as a senior civil servant experienced in public
life and in the inner councils of government, he should have had the acumen to
anticipate the beginnings of the movement of 'the land, the race and the faith'.
One possible reason is that he never expected Britain to confer universal
suffrage, and consequently an overwhelming territorial majority for the
Sinhalese. Another is that he felt himself to be above these petty internecine
conflicts. But then he did not appear to have done much to ensure adequate
protection for the community to which he belonged. Possibly he was deceived into
believing that designing Sinhalese political leaders placed their faith in him.
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, was wiser and more shrewd. He abandoned the
Sinhalese bandwagon and transformed himself in good time into an indefatigable
exponent of the rights of the Ceylon Tamils. Ramanathan was firm in his position
on communal ratios in representation in the legislature.
He was opposed to the extension of the franchise recommended by the
Donoughmore Commission, because he knew that universal suffrage would mean the
institutionalisation of a Sinhalese territorial majority which, as he well
understood, would be detrimental to the interests of the Ceylon Tamils.
In a 50-page Memorandum to the Secretary of State for the Colonies dated 18
July 1930, Ramanathan dwelt on three features of the Donoughmore recommendations
which he thought would disturb the good relations that existed between the
ethnic communities. He quoted with approval the Despatch of 22 January 1924 by
the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Duke of Devonshire) to Governor
Manning on the claims of territorial and communal representation:
". . . If on the other hand, these Unofficial Members had been elected by
purely territorial constituencies, the Sinhalese community would almost
certainly have been in a majority (disproportionate even to their numerical
superiority in some respects) over all other sections of the Legislative
Council including the Government. It would therefore appear to be clear that
adherence, pure and simple, to the territorial basis of representation would
be strongly opposed by all communities except the Sinhalese, and I am
satisfied that the former are sincerely persuaded that their vital interests
require serious limitation of the territorial basis of representation. . .
In effect Ramanathan was buttressing his case for property and educational
qualifications for the exercise of the franchise; he knew that such a franchise
would benefit the better-off and more highly-educated minority communities in
the legislature, whereas universal suffrage would affect their position
adversely. Ramanathan therefore asked in this Memorandum:
"What then would be the fate of the different races in Ceylon where only
a very small percentage of the people have received elementary education,
where the vast majority of the people have not learnt to manage their own
affairs properly . . ? Universal suffrage for a people who have not been
given universal elementary education and sound training in business methods
will assuredly lead to the filling of the legislature with speculators and
schemers, skilled in robbing Peter to pay Paul." 17
And lastly Ramanathan anticipated the coming into being of the homogeneous
Board of Pan-Sinhalese Ministers which he well knew would damage the interests
of the Ceylon Tamil community. On page 35 of his Memorandum he stated:
"If out of 58 members of the State Council, 35 agree to pull together,
they can determine the composition of the committees in such a manner that
there will be a majority of men belonging to their own circle in each
committee, and when this is done, the Ministers of the Committees will
necessarily be members of that circle, which will control the machinery of
the Government; and if there is a sufficiently strong personality or
triumvirate who could command the return of 30 or 35 members to the Council,
he or such triumvirate will have the mastery of Ceylon."
One cannot but wonder why he did not think of a duumvirate, e.g. Don Stephen
Senanayake and Baron Jayatilaka. Ramanathan's solution for the ills that would
threaten Ceylon, should the Donoughmore scheme take effect, was to ensure a
'balance of power' in the system of representation. He insisted:
"There is also the well–known principle called the 'balance of power',
which the Duke of Devonshire had in view, when he considered the question of
adequate representation needed for the majority and minority communities, in
order that one or two parties may not outvote the rest and dominate them ..
But neither this expression nor the 'balance of power' can be applied to
the Donoughmore Commissioners' scheme. For they have abolished communal
representation, introduced territorial representation universally . . .
There is nothing in this scheme to balance. On the contrary it has destroyed
the final adjustment of political power thought out by Governor Manning, the
Duke of Devonshire and the [British] Cabinet of 1923 and sanctioned by the
King . . ."18
In short, Ramanathan feared unadulterated universal suffrage and its
consequences for his own community. But he and his brother Sir Ponnambalam
Arunachalam had, ill-advisedly, lent their support to the Sinhalese reformists,
who had made use of the two brothers. There is little doubt that the brothers
were flattered by the leadership roles assigned to them, little knowing that
when the Sinhalese reformists no longer needed them, they would be edged off the
In the early 1920s, the Senanayake brothers, Don Stephen the younger and
Francis Richard the elder,** were opposed to the ambitions Arunachalam might
nurture for the future. It is possible from the available evidence that
Arunachalam wished to remain the island's principal nationalist leader. F.R.
Senanayake therefore condemned Arunachalam as 'an egoist who had an exaggerated
notion of his importance and an extremist in politics' .19
It was not only the Ceylon Tamils who were displeased with the Donoughmore
reforms. So was the other segment of the Tamil-speaking population, the Muslims.
T.B. Jayah, the virtual leader of Muslim political opinion (despite his Malay
origins), said when winding up his motion regarding 'the Donoughmore Commission
and Communal Representation' :
". . . I went out of my way to join the Congress at a time when the whole
Muslim community was against the Congress. [. . .] I can tell my honourable
friends that during the elections it was put to me that I could have the
support of my community if I gave up the Congress. If I was actuated by
selfish motives, I would have given up the Congress . . ."20
In addition to Ceylon Tamil and Muslim opposition, there were rumblings among
the Kandyan Sinhalese gentry. The latter joined hands with their Low Country
Sinhalese counterparts. On the other hand, the Kandyan Sinhalese chiefs
suggested in their appearances before the Commission in 1927 a federal polity
consisting of the Tamil areas of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Low
Country Sinhalese provinces (the Western and the Southern) and the Kandyan
Almost a hundred years after the visit of the Colebrooke Commission of 1831,
a special commission on the Ceylon Constitution was appointed Besides the
chairman, the Earl of Donoughmore (it was thus referred to as the Donoughmore
Commission), it had three other members: Sir Mathew Nathan, Sir Geoffrey Butler
and Dr T. Drummond Shields, with Mr P.A. Clutterbuck as Secretary.
The terms of reference issued to the Commission on 6 August 1927 was 'to
visit Ceylon and report on the working of the existing Constitution and on
difficulties of administration which may have arisen in connection with it; to
consider anyproposals for the revision of the Constitution that may be put
forward and to report what, if any, amendments of the Order-in-Council now in
force should be made'. The Commission left England on 27 October 1927, arrived
in Ceylon on 18 November, remained in the island till 18 January 1928, and
produced its Report on 26 June 1928.
In a way the Donoughmore Commissioners tended to look the other way on the
problems caused by multiethnicity. They termed it the canker that was eating
into the very vitals of the body politic. On page 31 of their Report they
"Not only is the population not homogeneous, but the divergent elements
of which it is composed distrust and suspect each other. It is almost time
to say that the conception of patriotism in Ceylon is as much racial as
national and that the best interests of the country are synonymous with the
welfare of a particular section of its people. If the claim for full
responsible government be subjected to examination from this standpoint, it
will be found that its advocates are always to be numbered among those who
form the larger communities and who, if freed from external control, would
be able to impose their will on all who dissented from them. Those on the
other hand who form the minority communities, though united in no other
respect, are solid in their opposition to the proposal .. ."
The rational way out of this tangle would have been for the Commissioners to
have provided for (a) reserve powers for the Governor in the event of
discriminatory legislation being introduced, which they did; (b) weightage in
representation for the smaller minorities – on this they made the egregious
blunder of providing for only a limited quota of members to be nominated by the
Governor; and (c) an independent public service commission which would ensure
fairness in selection – a task only partly executed.
However, when it came to the implementation of the Donoughmore proposals, the
actual working of the scheme left much to be desired. Centralisation was no
doubt maintained, in that power was in the end concentrated in the hands of the
Governor and three British 'Officers of State' with key portfolios: the Chief
Secretary in charge of the public services, external affairs and defence; the
Financial Secretary who was responsible for the budget, accounting and financial
affairs; and the Legal Secretary who controlled civil law and order, justice and
the drafting of legislation.
The legislature – the State Council – was divided into seven executive
committees. Each committee elected its chairman who became minister in charge of
the departments assigned to it. The Commissioners seemed to have made a blunder.
Whereas they were severely critical of the workings of the Finance Committee
throughout the 1920s, particularly the inquisitorial examinations and
humiliations to which it subjected public servants, they now created seven
'finance committees' in the seven executive committees proposed; a number of
public servants complained bitterly of the treatment meted out to them in these
The chairmen of the executive committees (who became ministers) did not
function as if they belonged to a single team of like–minded men collectively
responsible for major matters of policy. Each went his own way, anxious to
create an edifice for which he would be remembered; there was considerable
overlapping and duplication of functions.
The seven ministers and three Officers of State constituted the Board of
Ministers, though without control of the overall budget; as Governor Caldecott
wrote in 1938, the Board of Ministers merely wielded the blue pencil. Towards
the last years of the Constitution, the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry
Monck-Mason Moore, began to look on Don Stephen Senanayake, the Leader of the
State Council and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Ministers (the Chief Secretary
was Chairman of the Board, ex officio), as a kind of prime minister.
These constitutional changes heralded a further accretion of power to
Colombo, and meant that constituents who wanted things done in the departments
of state had to make the journey there. It is true that members of the
legislature nursed their constituencies, usually with weekend visits, but
Colombo was where things could be done with reasonable speed.
The system of delimitation of constituencies gave the south-west quadrant,
with its largest concentration of Sinhalese population, the most seats. The
Donoughmore Commission recommended a re-demarcation of constituencies so as to
make the population of a constituency between 70,000 and 90,000. This meant that
the greatest cluster would be in and around the south-western quadrant.
Once again the importance of Colombo – being, as it was, in this quadrant –
was enhanced. What in effect was an internal colonialism had developed, in which
the peripheral areas were increasingly exploited by the merchants and middlemen
of Colombo. In other words the politically unitary importance of Colombo had not
merely been stabilised, but the city's economic tentacles had spread so far and
wide that it was difficult for any outside force to challenge it. No wonder the
Donoughmore Commissioners remarked:
The primitive character of the provincial government, as against the advanced
system of central government, is very noteworthy . . . The great gulf fixed
between the rural worker and the educated and Westernised classes of Colombo
forms a dramatic contrast.22
As a counter to this excessively centralised polity, the Donoughmore
Commissioners suggested that attempts should be made to explore the possibility
of creating coordinating bodies through the medium of Provincial Councils 'to
which certain administrative functions of the Central Government could be
delegated'. They stated that consideration should be given as to 'whether there
should be large [my emphasis] powers with regard to public works and
communications, irrigation and agriculture, medical and sanitary services,
education and finance, and general administration'.
However, they noted that these powers should be subject to 'the Ordinances of
the Island and the rules and regulations made by the Central Government under
the authority of [those] Ordinances. They recommended, further, that the Centre
should provide finances from the general revenue, while the Provincial Councils
should also be given powers to raise 'a substantial part of their revenues by
In addition, the Commissioners felt that it was desirable for the Ceylonese
legislators to get acquainted with the physical and mental conditions of the
various multi-ethnic groups in the country. For this purpose they proposed
another federalising feature, namely that meetings of the legislature should be
held in Kandy (the chief city of the up-country Kandyan Sinhalese) and Jaffna
(the principal city of the northern Ceylon Tamils). This would enable members to
keep in close contact with the people. Neither of these federalising suggestions
–Provincial Councils or legislative sessions in Kandy and Jaffna – was
implemented. They could have helped to mitigate the island's later ills.
The Sinhalese leadership, on the other hand, evinced no willingness to share
power with the minority ethnic groups. The Donoughmore system, with its
divisions into seven executive committees, was designed for the purpose of
providing some opportunities for minority ethnic representatives to secure
election to the Donoughmore executive, the Board of Ministers. After the first
general election of 1931, two representatives of the ethnic minorities, an
Indian Tamil and a Muslim, were elected to the Board of Ministers. The Tamils of
the Northern Province had boycotted the general election of 1931; therefore, no
candidates contested the four seats allocated to the Northern Province. The
boycott was called off in 1934.
It is said that had the Northern Province Tamils participated, at least one
Tamil from the Province might have found a place in the Board, but this is open
to question because the two Tamil seats in the Eastern Province returned
members; there were therefore two Eastern Province Tamils available for election
to the Board. Neither was elected as a minister.
The two minority ethnic representatives in the Board of Ministers were not
cooperative with their Sinhalese colleagues in presenting to the Secretary of
State for the Colonies a unanimous request for a further reform of the
constitution. These two ministers wished to be certain that in any future
reformed constitution proper safeguards for the minorities would be provided. To
avoid such dissentient opinions, a Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers was elected
after the general election of 1936, thus securing an artificial unanimity of
opinion on constitutional reform. Furthermore, the Pan-Sinhalese Board obtained
as much as it could of the limited available resources and public service
appointments for the ethnic majority. For Whitehall these actions were not
adequate evidence of partiality.
However, there was a more fundamental question at issue. Universal suffrage –
and, with it, the rule of the Sinhalese ethnic majority via
territorially-constituted electorates – had been introduced. How should the
representatives of this ethnic majority satisfy their own constituents while at
the same time reassuring and reconciling the ethnic minorities? This issue was
not addressed in the formative years of universal franchise.
Instead, the Sinhalese leaders justified their actions by claiming that they
were endeavouring to redress an imbalance suffered by the Sinhalese majority due
to oppression by colonising powers since the Portuguese, the first Westerners,
arrived in 1505. A studied effort at `consociationalism' between the elites of
the two major ethnic groups could have prevented the frictions and bitterness
that lay ahead, but on the contrary, every attempt in the direction of
'segmental autonomy' was fiercely resisted by the elite of the majority ethnic
An unsuspecting and unimaginative governor, Sir Andrew Caldecott, did not
demur when the Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers deplored the necessity which had
led them to constitute an ethnically uniform team. The British Government, they
said, had declined to concede the demands of the preceding Board of Ministers
(1931-6) because of the absence of consensus and unanimity among them.
The Soulbury Commission stated that 'the action of the majority could be
represented as indicating a policy on their part of using their power to the
detriment of the minorities',24 while Sir Frederick Rees, a member of
the Commission, remarked some years later that `the minorities were naturally
more convinced than ever that the Sinhalese aimed at domination'. 25
And Sir Ivor Jennings, who functioned as Don Stephen Senanayake's constitutional
adviser, wrote: 'It is difficult to imagine anything less persuasive than the
Pan-Sinhala Ministry of 1936.'26 All of which makes it difficult for
us not to accept Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan's view, expressed when the Ceylon
National Congress disintegrated in 1921:
When these [Sinhalese] leaders saw the possibility of self-government
with Ministries, plump salaries and abundant patronage, they attempted to
exclude the minority communities from an adequate share of representation
Sir Frederick Rees wrote accurately in 1954:
'The Donoughmore Commissioners decided in favour of territorial
representation perhaps without fully realizing the effect of the impact of a
Western idea on a traditional structure. '28
Despite the mass of evidence pointing to the impending upheaval in the
proposed unitary state, the imperial arbiter preferred to maintain a cool
indifference. Governor Caldecott had in November 1937 been requested by Ormsby
Gore, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to look into (a) the special powers
of the Governor with a view to their further clarification, (b) the Executive
Committees and the State Council, (c) the minority communities and their
representation and (d) the franchise –among other things.
Caldecott at this time had to face the full impact of the campaign for
balanced representation (`fifty-fifty' as it was called)*** launched by G.G.
Ponnambalam and his Tamil supporters. Ponnambalam believed that this was the
only way by which the 'fury' of the ethnic Sinhalese majority could be stemmed.
Neither Caldecott nor the Soulbury Commissioners were impressed with the logic
of the demand. Nor were these imperial arbiters willing to suggest a tangible
way of holding in check the arrogance of power. A charter of freedoms and the
maximum safeguards to maintain the independence of the judiciary could have been
useful checks. But Caldecott and the Soulbury Commissioners thought differently.
Caldecott recommended the , replacement of the executive committee system with a
modified form of cabinet government. He declared his total opposition to the
demand for balanced representation.
Instead he was the first of the post-Donoughmore constitution-makers to come
up with the idea of weightage in representation for the ethnic minorities as a
compromise to replace the fifty-fifty demand. Caldecott's suggestion was taken
up and modified by Sir Ivor Jennings when the Board of Ministers was asked to
draw up a constitutional scheme. Britain had agreed to implement the scheme if
it came within the framework set out in His Majesty's declaration of 26 May
1943, and if it obtained the support of 75 per cent of members of the State
Council, excluding the Officers of State and the Speaker or other presiding
The Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers had meanwhile undergone a change when
Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka, Minister of Home Affairs and Leader of the State
Council, resigned in 1943 to become the Ceylon Government's Representative in
New Delhi. Arunachalam Mahadeva, a Ceylon Tamil (son of Sir Ponnambalam
Arunachalam) and Member of the State Council for the premier Ceylon Tamil Jaffna
constituency, was elected in his place. Mahadeva's election was no evidence of a
change of heart. The Board was anxious to deflect the charge of racial
The Board of Ministers now proceeded to frame a constitution within the
parameters set by the Declaration of 26 May 1943. Sir Ivor Jennings functioned
as adviser and draftsman.
The significant features of the Ministers' Draft Scheme, as it came to be
called (Sessional Paper XIV, 1944), are that it contained various safeguards for
the minority communities by way of independent bodies responsible for the
recruitment and appointment of public servants and judges, a rigid constitution
which required a two-thirds majority for any amendment to the constitution to be
enacted and a scheme of representation which provided weightage for the
representation of ethnic minorities. The envisaged weightage would have given
the Ceylon Tamils 12-14 seats, the Indian Tamils 10-8 and the Muslims 6-4 in a
House of 101 members.
However, within a few months of independence, the government of Don Stephen
Senanayake (1947-52) enacted the
Citizenship Act of 1948 and the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship)
Act of 1949, both of which completely changed the representational picture.
The Sinhalese political scientist I.D.S. Weerawardena, in an article entitled
'The Minorities and the Citizenship Act', quite rightly observed that the
disfranchisement of the Indians was 'a broken pledge to all the minorities'. And
he added: 'The moral basis of the Soulbury Constitution has been wiped away. '29
But this was only a beginning of the growing tentacles of the unitary state.
While this was Weerawardena's realistic assessment of the developing
political situation, the Soulbury Commissioners themselves had been deceived
into believing that with weightage in representation, the minority communities
would fare even better. In paragraph 270 of their Report, they wrote:
"We were furnished with statistics to illustrate the working out of this
scheme, and we investigated it with the assistance of a number of witnesses
who came before us. Its advocates estimate that the result would be that, of
the 95 elected seats, 58 would go to Sinhalese candidates, Ceylon Tamils 15,
Indian Tamils 14, Muslims 8, making with the 6 nominated seats a minority
representation of 43 in a House of 101."
Under such a scheme, it could certainly be argued that if legislation hurtful
to minority interests was introduced, the minority groups could hang together
and obstruct attempts by the ethnic majority to favour itself. It could then
have been difficult for the Sinhalese majority to obtain the support of
two-thirds of the membership of the legislature if the minorities decided to act
This, however, did not happen. In the decades since independence, there has
been evidence of Sinhalese-oriented 'national' parties (by which we mean parties
contesting seats in a majority of constituencies) winning majorities after
disfranchising the Indian Tamil population, annexing the 8-14 seats that would
have gone to them, and then enacting legislation that provided favoured
treatment to the ethnic majority.
This was not the only method. The Soulbury Commission provided for prime
ministerial government. A prime minister has patronage at his disposal including
cabinet portfolios and important appointments to the public services and the
public sector. He is also the fountain of honours and titles. There was no
better way of co-opting leading members of the ethnic minority into the ranks of
The provision for additional seats for the minority ethnic groups went awry
various acts against the Indian Tamils and disturbed the atmosphere of
reconciliation that might have evolved with a harmonious working of the
Constitution. There were also four other factors around which the Soulbury
Commissioners hoped that the island would make a success of their adaptation of
the Westminster model:
Section 29(2) of the Constitution was taken from the Minister's Draft
Scheme, and reformulated by the Commissioners to provide additional protection
to the minorities. Section 29(2) was, on the whole, an attenuated version of
what a bill of rights should be. Broadly, it prevented the Ceylon Parliament
from enacting discriminatory legislation against a particular ethnic or
religious group to which all other groups were not subjected.
A powerful Buddhist pressure group, the Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya, alleged
that the proviso to Section 29(2)(d) 'was slightly amended in the final drafting
to meet the views of the Roman Catholics'." Section 29(2) was finally removed in
1972 when a new republican autochthonous constitution was enacted. A
statement of 'Fundamental Rights and Freedoms' was put in place in Chapter VI of
the new Constitution, but its value was diminished by a blanket statement
"The succeeding 1978 Constitution also vested the Supreme Court with
similar powers (sections 120-6). The Court, in theory, is more free from
political interference than the Constitutional Court of 1972-8. In
substance, however, the decisions of the Court are left open to argument. In
effect, the Supreme Court of the land has become politically controversial."
2. The Soulbury Commissioners were hopeful that the leader of the majority
group would act in an accommodating way towards the ethnic minorities. In fact
they had reason to believe that Britain was planning to transfer power to Don
Stephen Senanayake, and knew that he was a safe bet for British interests in
Ceylon. They wrote thus in their report:
"We are . . . strongly of the opinion that, until parties develop in
Ceylon on lines more akin to Western models, the leader of the majority
group would be well advised, in forming a government, to offer a proportion
of the portfolios to representatives of the minorities and, in selecting
those representatives, to consult the elected members of the group or groups
to which they belong."31
Not even Senanayake could find representative Ceylon Tamils to take their
places in his Cabinet. He appointed two loners representing constituencies
(Mannar and Vavuniya*****) outside the Jaffna Peninsula which contains the
majority of Ceylon Tamils, to take up portfolios. In 1948 he was successful in
securing the services of the leader of the All–Ceylon Tamil Congress, G.G.
Ponnambalam. But there has not been a single elected Ceylon Tamil from the
Tamil-dominated Northern Province in any Ceylonese government from 1956 to the
3. The Soulbury Commissioners hoped that 'the growth of left-wing opinion
already constitutes a potential solvent of racial or religious solidarity.'32
Nothing has helped towards the realisation of their hopes. Parties have tended
to coalesce more on ethnic and religious lines – the best examples of this being
the United National Party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the Tamil Federal Party
(now a component of the Tamil United Liberation Front), and the trade
union–based Indian Tamil political organisation, the Ceylon Workers' Congress.
There are many minor parties as well, all coloured by ethnocentricity. Even
left-wing parties have adopted pro-Sinhalese Buddhist stances; these include the
Trotskyist and Communist parties which were at one time liberal in their
attitude to the ethnic question.
4. Finally, the Soulbury Commissioners expected that the Public Services
Commission, the Judicial Services Commission and the second chamber, the Senate,
would – given the discretionary powers assigned to the Governor (in a limited
framework of internal self-government) –have appointees who could be relied on
to be independent. But then Whitehall decided that Ceylon should have dominion
status, and the Governor therefore became a constitutional head of state. He had
to act on the advice of his prime minister, who came to be guided by political
Thus the unitary state envisaged by the Soulbury Commissioners, hemmed in by
restrictions which could have contained the flood of attempts by the ethnic
majority to claim rights for itself based on incorrect analogies from history,
was stripped of its safeguards. In its place was substituted the dictatorship
first of the Cabinet (1948-77) and later of the Executive President (1977–),
placing the Ceylon Tamil ethnic minority in particular at the mercy of an ethnic
majority unaccustomed to the exercise of power.
The historical origins of the unitary state are, at the social level, the
supposed homogenisation of language and the recognition of religious
majoritarianism. This was so when the unitary state emerged in Britain. But that
concept has varied with time. The unitary state has in many instances adopted
the secular idea and accommodated multilingualism instead of a single language
or a state-recognised majoritarian religion. In fact the concept of the unitary
state has in certain circumstances been transformed into the substance of the
federal state. The primary objective that states have striven for is the
maintenance of national unity.
For convenience of the imperial ruler, Ceylon was consolidated into a
centralised unitary entity. With its many 'races' and religions, such an entity
could be held together under the supervision of an outsider such as a neutral
imperial power, but once the imperial power withdrew, the primordial concepts of
'race', language and religion of distinct groups began to reassert themselves.
Statesmanship and political accommodation would be essential if the
superficial national unity left behind by the departing power were to be
maintained. But instead the group to which power was transferred and its leaders
preferred to go back in time to the days of the Sinhalese kings, using modern
homogenised Britain as a model. Historical myths and legends were re-created to
reinforce this idea.
However, primordialism is many-faceted, and just as the Sinhalese Buddhist
ethnic majority sought to revive the past in modern garments, so the Tamil
minority in its turn began to take refuge in the fact that in Ceylon there had
once been a separate Tamil kingdom.
As early as the time following the general elections of 1947, the All-Ceylon
Tamil Congress sent a telegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies
demanding, among other things, the right
of self-determination for the Tamil people.33 The demand took a
more articulate form in November 1947 when S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, the emerging
leader of the nationalist wing of the Tamil Congress, stated that only under a
federal form of constitution was it possible for the demands of the Tamil
community to be satisfied.
The Tamil Federal Party was formally inaugurated in December 1949. At its
first National Convention on 13, 14 and 15 April 1951 at Trincomalee, it was
explicit in its demands, hardly three years after Ceylon had obtained
independence. In its first resolution, the Convention drew attention to Canada,
India, Switzerland and the Soviet Union as successful `multinational and
multilinguistic states' which had solved their 'complex problems' by the
establishment of a federal system of government; it therefore stressed 'the
Tamil people's unchallengeable title to nationhood and proclaims their right to
political autonomy and desire for federal union with the Sinhalese'.34
Don Stephen Senanayake had some twenty-seven months to live, and a new party,
albeit influential, had emerged to challenge his concept of sovereign unitary
*Colebrooke confined himself to recommendations on the
civil administration; Cameron concentrated on judicial reforms.
**The elder Senanayake died prematurely in the 1920s; if
he had lived, he would have become the first Prime Minister of Ceylon.
***It implied 50 per cent of seats in the legislature
being allocated to the Sinhalese majority and the remaining 50 per cent
distributed among the minority communities.
****This matter is discussed further in Chapter 3.
*****Both these Ceylon Tamils were mavericks, if not
******In the 1965-70 government, the Tamil Federal Party
nominated M. Tiruchelvam to serve as Minister of Local Government when they
entered into a coalition with the United National Party led by Dudley
Senanayake. Tiruchelvam was not an elected M.P.; he was appointed to the
Senate to enable him to take his place in the cabinet.
1. Sir Ivor Jennings, 'Notes on the Constitutional Law of
Colonial Ceylon, Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series,
vol. 1, p. 59.
2. This formula came into operation on 19 November 1805.
The 'Proclamations' continued to be issued till 13 September 1804, but the
latter since 23 June 1802 had the same wording, i.e. 'By Order of the
Council' and 'By His Excellency's Command', tacked on to it.
3. ibid., p. 60.
4. Lennox Mills, Ceylon Under British Rule, 1795-1832
(London, 1933), p. 47.
5. Colonial Office Despatch 55D62, Cooke to Maitland, 11
6. G.C. Mendis (ed.), The Colebrooke-Cameron Papers:
Documents on British Colonial Policy in Ceylon 1796-1833, vol. 1 (London,
1956), p. 52.
7. V. Samaraweera, 'The Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms', in
K.M. de Silva (ed.), University History of Ceylon, vol. 3: From the
beginning of the 19th century to 1948 (Colombo, 1973), p. 81.
8. See A.J. Wilson, 'The Crewe-McCallum Reforms,
1912-1921', The Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies, vol. 2, no.
1 (January 1959), pp. 84-120.
9. A. Padmanabha, 'Reform of the Ceylon Legislative
Council', The Ceylon National Review, Vol. II, No. 16, May 1908, p. 174.
10. Ceylon: Report of the Special Commission on the
Constitution, referred to also as the Donoughmore Report (Colombo, 1928), p.
11. M. Vythilingam, Ramanathan of Ceylon: The Life of Sir
Ponnambalam Ramanathan, vol. II (Chunnakam, 1977) p. 538.
12. loc. cit., pp. 540-1.
13. D.E. Smith, 'The Sinhalese Buddhist Revolution' in
D.E. Smith (ed.), South Asian Politics and Religion (Princeton, 1966), p.
14. loc. cit. Emphasis added.
15. K.M. de Silva, A History of Sri Lanka (London, 1981),
16. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, The Memorandum of Sir
Ponnambalam Ramanathan, K.C., C.M.G., M.L.C., Ceylon, on the Recommendations
of the Donoughmore Commissioners appointed by the Right Honourable the
Secretary of State for the Colonies to Report upon the Reform of the
Existing Constitution of the Government of Ceylon (1924-1930) (London,
1930), p. 24.
17. op. cit., p. 20.
18. loc. cit., p. 47.
19. Vythilingam, op. cit., p. 533.
20. Hansard (debates of the Legislative Council of Ceylon)
1928, p. 2004.
21. Donoughmore Report, pp. 105-6; also the Ceylon
Independent, 31 Jan. 1927,17 Nov. 1927.
22. This and references immediately following: loc. cit.,
p. 105. See also Sir Frederick Rees, 'The Soulbury Commission (1944-45),
Ceylon Historical Journal, vol. 5, nos 1-4 (July 1955-April 1956).
23. Arend Lijphart, in 'Conception and Federation:
Conceptual and Empirical Links', Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol.
XII (1979), p. 500, advocated federalism and consociational democracy as
solutions to the problems of plural societies. He defined consociational
democracy in terms of four principles - 'all of which', he insisted,
'deviate from the Westminster model of majority rule: grand coalition,
mutual veto, proportionality and segmental autonomy.' But for any of these
principles to become operational, the political elites of the rival parties
would have to cooperate, not compete. This did not happen.
24. Ceylon: Report of the Commission on Constitutional
Reform (London, 1945); also referred to as Command 6677 and more often as
the Soulbury Report, para. 57.
25. Ceylon Historical Journal, vol. V (1955-6), nos 1-4,
'D.S. Senanayake Memorial Number'.
26. op. cit.
27. Ramanathan, op. cit., para. 61.
28. As quoted by Jane Russell, Communal Politics under the
Donoughmore Constitution 1931-1947 (Dehiwela, 1982), p. 18.
29. Ceylon Historical Journal, vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan. 1952).
30. The Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya, Catholic Action: A
Reply to the Catholic Union of Ceylon (Colombo, 1963) p. 122.
31. Soulbury Report, para. 261.
32. op. cit., para. 262.
33. Ambalavanar Sivarajah, 'The Strategy of an Ethnic
Minority Party in Government and in Opposition: The Tamil Federal Party of
Sri Lanka (1956-1970)' (unpubl. M.A. thesis, University of New Brunswick,
1978), p. 34; the author quotes from Appapillai Amirthalingam, 'In the High
Court: Trial At-Bar No. 1 of 1976', unpubl. typescript, 1976.
34. The Case for a Federal Constitution for Ceylon:
Resolutions Passed at the First National Convention of the Ilankai Tamil
Arasu Kadchi (Colombo, 1951).