Colombo, Politics and Governance, Post-War

The legacy of Chanaka Amaratunga and the future of liberalism in Sri Lanka

Download a PDF of this special edition here.

The 19th of April was the 52nd birthday of  Dr. Chanaka Amaratunga, the founder of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka. Groundviews invited leading political commentators to contribute to a special edition commemorating Chanaka’s role in politics and the liberal movement in Sri Lanka. Essays in this series included:

  • justitia

    “For forms of government, let fools contest; whatever is best administered is best” – Alexander Pope.
    We dont need Oxbridge or other breeds of ‘intellectuals’ to tell us how to govern.
    Even Sirimavo Bandaranayake who had only primary education, ran this country – into the ground, some say – and was even elected to lead the Non Aligned Nations. Headlines said that ‘she was leader of two thirds of the world’.
    Earlier, D.S.Senanayake became the ‘Father of the Nation’ also with the same level of education, and “liberated” us from the “yoke of british imperialism” & we all know what happened subsequently.

    Are we being administered in the best way possible? Are those administering this nation doing so, ensuring social justice, equality for all, freedom of expression & freedom from fear, holding absolutely free and fair elections, and implementing all provisions of the constitution, without unfair advantages, perks, privileges, power and prosperity for themselves?
    When that day dawns, we will have the best government, liberal or whatever you wish to call it.

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Well done GV. Very stylish.

  • ordinary lankan


    Not a poem
    I believe this is what you call prose
    Read on…

    I want to help
    The western educated and western influenced
    To understand two mistakes
    First they problematize life
    Then they bring up a solution
    Every professional does this
    To exploit the common man
    The moment you problematize something
    You abstract it
    Make it a separate thing
    You take it out of life
    And you take it out of YOU
    Just engage the ‘problem’
    The solution is also there
    In fact they are both in your mind
    And in your life
    The only ‘real’ problem
    Is how you disengage from reality,
    From YOU!

    Look where you are going
    Not where others are going
    If you follow this rule when driving
    Why not do it with your life?

  • ordinary lankan

    Dont get me wrong. I am all for liberalism. I wish the soul of late Dr Chanaka and his living frineds lots and lots of peace. All I am saying is to plant your seeds in our own soil. You can bring any amount of nice seeds from other countries. But plant them here.

    my point is found in the following para taken off the Ordinary lankan’s declaration of independence – 2005

    The message for our western educated intellectuals is this. You cannot judge or transcend what you don’t know. Unless you know and experience your religion and race – unless you immerse yourself in it 100% you cannot walk towards that desired state of objectivity. Instead you will allow prejudice to take over what you don’t know. Race, like suffering must be experienced and understood to be overcome.

  • niranjan


    Mrs B had educated people in her cabinet. They ran the Government for her. We may disagree with their policies but they had an education.
    JRJ also had an educated cabinet even though he himself was an educated man who called the shots.
    It is important to have a group of intellectuals in any cabinet in any Government.