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The Daily Mirror published a not quite complete version of the following article, which first appeared some years back. It is published here in full.

(Text of an article published in June 2004)

Felix Dias Bandaranaike (1930 - 1985)

Felix Dias Bandaranaike died 19 years ago, on June 26th. He was not yet 55 at the time, which seems astonishing since he had loomed large on the political stage for as long as I could remember.

I first saw him in action in 1965, and it is difficult to think now that that enormously impressive figure was not yet 35 at the time. The occasion was my avid attendance at the debate on the first Throne Speech presented by the Dudley Senanayake Coalition government elected that year. My father had recently become Secretary General of Parliament, and I found the whole process of politics quite fascinating. Though my family claimed that I was more interested in the teas that were served to guests, my continuing interest in politics, and more importantly personalities in politics, assures me that greed alone was not the motivating factor.

The personal element was indeed glorious in those long ago days. I had been moved the previous year by the clarion calls for press freedom that had brought down Mrs Bandaranaike’s first government. It was only later that I realized that bribery had had much more to do with what had happened, as was the case nearly four decades later, in 2001. But in 1964, as in 2001, I had naively assumed that the end result was better for the country, not understanding that perverting democracy produces an inevitable reaction.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2010
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