If the precious commitments of our people are not remembered again and again, the battles and legacies will be erased from the history books... - MP Yadamini Gunawardena

MP Yadamini Gunawardena stated that if the precious commitments of our people rendered in the past are not remembered again and again, the battles and legacies will be erased from the history books. He said this while attending the 52nd commemoration of the national hero Philip Gunawardena held at the Foundation Institute, Colombo (31.03.2024).

MP Yadamini Gunawardena addressing the gathering stated that,

“When Hon. Philip Gunawardena, who is remembered with respect even today as a national hero of the country who made many commitments for the achievements of the public not only in our country but also in many continents, was to enrol for higher education, Anagarika Dharmapala advised Hon. Philip Gunawardena’s father to direct young Philip Gunawardena to a place where he can gather experience to build a future Sri Lanka that can move forward by breaking down the barriers of imperialism.

Accordingly, Hon. Philip Gunawardena gained experience at a young age in supporting the second revolution in Mexico together with veteran Professor Scott Nearing at the University of Wisconsin. But there was no end to his revolutionary struggles. While he was supporting the battles on the North American continent, he was pursued by the British secret intelligence service of Scotland Yard. That report was released after 40 years of Hon. Philip Gunawardena’s demise. There is more information in that report about how he went to the imperialists and challenged them and carried forward the fight for the freedom and rights of the people of the colonized countries like our country in Asia, Africa and South America. Philip Gunawardena fought fearlessly to fulfil the needs of the people of countries like ours.

Likewise, it is recorded in this secret information that he had participated in the establishment of the first republic of Spain while being in the first revolutionary battle front in Spain. Even though he was educated in his mother tongue from the village temple and Boralugoda Kanishta Vidyalaya, he studied Spanish, French and English and gathered a wealth of experience by supporting the victories of battle fronts through these languages.

He started the Surya-Mal movement in our country and worked with the left leaders to get the grand start of the freedom struggle. In the 1936 election, he contested the Avissawella electorate, which stretched from the far corner of the Kelani Valley to Colombo Port, and was elected to the State Council.

Hon. Philip Gunawardena was the first to command the British to go back immediately stating in the State Council that ’You have no right to acquire the administration and rule this country because the British came as pirates’. That is why there were frequent oppressive incidents in the diplomatic journey he followed. The leaders were imprisoned. After breaking out of prison, they joined hands with the leaders of the Indian peninsula and became strong. Philip Gunawardena played a significant role in the freedom struggle of our country as well as in the freedom of the people of the region. By leading the anti-imperialist struggle, he launched a huge battle for the freedom of our Asian countries.

It is my duty to recall those events. If this is not done, the precious commitments of our country, struggles, and the legacies of our people may be erased from the history book, and buried in the sands of history.

After independence, Hon Philip Gunawardena led the nationalisation movement. He wanted to prove that together with the general public of our country, they can build a national movement that can boost the national economy through their great creativity. Special mention should be made of the Bus Nationalisation and Harbour Nationalisation. Colombo Harbour was 126th port in the world at that time and 25 years after the nationalisation, was ranked 26th in the world. The nationalisation movement highlighted the strength of the people of our country. In the same way, the peasants of the country, who worked hard to transform the country into the granary of the East, had a problem of their rights to continue their cultivation. They had no support from the banking system. There was a period when the ordinary farmers of our country did not have a bank to obtain loan facilities. At that time, banking operations were done with selected persons. Hon. Philip Gunawardena brought to Parliament the bill to create the first national bank that can identify the needs of the ordinary people of the country. The first act is the Co-operative Development Bank Act, even though it is called the People’s Bank Act. This Banking Act is an act that has created an opportunity for the ordinary people of our country to negotiate with the world, to develop their business, and to deal within the struggling economy of our country.

We need to think anew to reach development goals. These matters can be contributed to the way forward with the general public of our country by thinking creatively.”

Prof. Ranil Senanayake, who delivered the Philip Gunawardena Commemoration speech said;
Hon. Philip Gunawardena was a product of a time when the nation had focused on social upliftment as the development goal. That was the goal, not economic development, not the amount of money we can make or borrow. The social well -being was the goal. And this was reflected in the actions of Hon. Philip Gunawardena as he demonstrated to us. He is also remembered as the architect of the Paddy Lands Act, which brought relief to the tenant cultivator. He said that he will work with any group of people who are ready to develop this country, who were ready defend and the independence of this country, who are ready to serve the people of this county. Let it be any group of people.

Most Ven. Itthepane Dhammalankara Thera presided over this event and President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, family members Prasanna Gunawardena, Lakmali Gunawardena, former Speakers Chamal Rajapaksa, Karu Jayasuriya, and Basil Rajapaksa, Ministers and Parliamentarians, Ambassadors of many countries, intellectuals, and party members participated in this event.

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