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D.S. SENANAYAKE

D.S. SENANAYAKE : IF YOU DID NOT KNOW HIM, THESE ARE THE IMPRESSIONS
OF A MAN WHO MET HIM

Some profound observations on DS by Soulbury

Sent by an Old Timer

A gentleman who could be trusted implicitly I first met D.S.-as I
shall always think and speak of him in Colombo at the end of December,
1944 after the arrival in Ceylon of the Commission of which I was the
chairman. The dispatch of that Commission was at the time regarded by
the political leaders of Ceylon as a breach of an undertaking given by
the Government of the United Kingdom some eighteen months earlier, and
the relations between that Government and the Ceylon ministers were
somewhat strained.

(I have extracted a few paragraphs from an article written by Lord
Soulbury in the nineteen fifties so that the reader can use it as a
benchmark to help when judging our contemporary leaders)

Soulbury’s statement: " In short, it is the great man who makes
history; D. S. Senanayake was a great man and if he had not lived, the
history of Ceylon would have been very different", would make the
reader ask the question "Is there such a man in our midst today?". I
leave it to reader to ponder on this and to answer that question for
him after very careful thought.)

"Some people consider that history is shaped by impalpable, immaterial
forces to which they apply such terms as 'Time Spirit,' 'World
Tendency,' 'Mass-Consciousness,' 'Evolution,' 'Progress' and other
abstractions. There is an element of truth in that. No man who plays a
notable part in the affairs of the world can be independent of the
past or the present, for what he does or intends to do should fit on
to what has been done. "Everyone, "said Lord Morley, "has all the
centuries in him." But the germ that gives life and concrete
expression to those abstractions comes from the individual. It is his
genius that awakens the latent semiconscious impulses of a nation and
formulates and guides them. History is the impact of the individual
man of mark upon his contemporaries. In short, it is the great man who
makes history; D. S. Senanayake was a great man and if he had not
lived, the history of Ceylon would have been very different.

A gentleman who could be trusted implicitly I first met D.S.-as I
shall always think and speak of him in Colombo at the end of December,
1944 after the arrival in Ceylon of the Commission of which I was the
chairman. The dispatch of that Commission was at the time regarded by
the political leaders of Ceylon as a breach of an undertaking given by
the Government of the United Kingdom some eighteen months earlier, and
the relations between that Government and the Ceylon ministers were
somewhat strained. Consequently the coming of myself and my colleagues
was by no means welcome. The ministers held aloof from us and there
was more than a possibility that we might be boycotted and deprived of
the opportunity to carry out our terms of reference.

That such a step was not taken was largely due to the strength and
wisdom of D. S. and to the good judgment and tact of Sir Oliver
Goonetilleke. But it was also due, as in most human affairs, to the
impression that one man made upon another, and I can remember, as if
it was yesterday, how much impressed I was by D. S. at my first
meeting with him.
For I found to my great relief that I had to deal, not with an adroit
and subtle politician or hair-splitting intellectual, whose every word
would have to be weighed in case there was a catch in it, but with a
man whom, if he had been born and bred in my country, I should have
described as the best type of English country gentleman, able, shrewd,
practical, good-humoured, kindly and modest. It was also clear to me
that he was a man filled with that spirit of intense patriotism and
love of his homeland which is characteristic of the members of
long-settled and ancient families. From the very first I felt that I
could trust him implicitly-so that as the saying goes-I could "put my
shirt on him". I have no doubt that he soon trusted me, for had it
been otherwise no progress could have been made in the negotiations
upon which we were engaged. When mutual trust is absent eventual
failure is inevitable……"

A profound knowledge of human nature and a first class political instinct

"He had an uncanny gift for the correct timing of his decisions and
actions. His well-known dictum "Hemin, Hemin" was not prompted by
irresolution or procrastination, but by a profound knowledge of human
nature and a first-class political instinct. His memory was
remarkable. He never made a note during our conversations, but I never
had to repeat a request for information or remind him of a promise,
and only once did I see him really disturbed. A misunderstanding had
arisen between us about something which he had agreed to do. I forget
what it was, but I remember that he came to see me at once in order to
convince me that he had not broken his undertaking; and it was obvious
that the mere possibility that I might think him guilty of a breach of
faith had filled him with consternation. I have never met a man more
scrupulous in keeping his word or more careful of the truth. It is not
to be wondered at that I relied implicitly not only upon his wisdom,
but upon his integrity.

It was my duty in accordance with constitutional usage to accept and
act upon his advice, but he was always ready to listen to advice from
me, though of course he did not always take it nor didI expect him to
do so……."

"….Many years ago an English writer-Sidney Smith-declared the "Great
men hallow a whole people and lift up all who live in their time."
These words are absolutely true of D. S., for those who lived in his
time were lifted up by the example of courage, kindliness, moderation
and modesty with which his people were hallowed".

 
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