மறைந்த பாராளுமன்ற உறுப்பினர் ஷெல்டன் ரணராஜா அவர்கள் 1977 முதல் 1988வரையான காலப்பகுதியில் ஐ.தே.கட்சியின் சார்பில் தேர்தலில் போட்டியிட்டு வெற்றிபெற்றவர். பிரதி நீதியமைச்சராகவும் கடமையாற்றியவர். அமரர் அமிர்தலிங்கம் அவர்கள் மீது கொண்டுவரப்பட்ட நம்பிக்கையில்லாத் தீர்மானத்தில் அமைச்சர் தொண்டமான் அவர்களுடன் நடுநிலை வகித்தவர். அவரது மறைவுக்கு பாராளுமன்றில் தமிழரசுக்கட்சித் தலைவர் இரா சம்பந்தன் அவர்கள் ஆற்றிய அனுதாபப் பிரேணையையும் சில பத்திரிகை செய்திகளையும் வரலாற்றுக்காக பதிவிடுகிறேன்.
Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committees, I am happy to have this opportunity of saying a few words on the Vote of Condolence moved in this House by the Hon. Leader of the House on the demise of the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja, a Member of Parliament for Senkadagala in the Kandy District.
Sir, I had the good fortune of being able to come to Parliament in 1977, when the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja himself was elected from that Constituency to Parliament
at the same time. He was also appointed Deputy Minister of Justice in the Government of the late President, His Excellency J. R. Jayewardene. The Hon. Shelton Ranaraja
was held in the highest esteem by all his Parliamentary Colleagues irrespective of party affiliations. He was, if I might say so, Sir, a quintessential gentleman, a gentleman not merely in personal life, but also a gentleman, a perfect gentleman with impeccable qualities in his political life. He was held in the highest esteem by all the political leaders of the day whether it was President J.R. Jayewardene, Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister R. Premadasa, the late Hon. Maithripala
Senanayake or the Hon. A. Amirthalingam, to mention a few of the leaders who were also in the 1977 Parliament and whom we saw interacting with the Hon. Shelton
Ranaraja and according him the highest respect. The Hon. Shelton Ranaraja always stood for the truth, for equality and justice. He was a close friend of the TULF. He had a deep appreciation of the legitimacy of the political aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people, particularly the Tamil people. He was a true friend of the Tamil people. He travelled frequently to the North and also to the East, both before the war and during the war, and personally learnt about the true situation in those areas. He did not hesitate to frankly express his views on the basis of the knowledge
he so acquired during those visits.
Sir, I cannot but refer to a few anecdotes that truly display the character of this rare personality, the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja. The Hon. A. Amirthalingam was the
Leader of the Opposition in the 1977 Parliament. There was a Vote of No-Confidence moved by the Government against the Hon. Amirthalingam, the Leader of the
Opposition. I think that was the first time in the history of Parliamentary politics that a Government wanted to move a Vote of No-Confidence against a Leader of the
Opposition. The Hon. Shelton Ranaraja, though a junior Minister and a Member of the Government, refused to vote in support of that Motion. He conveyed his unwillingness to act against his conscience to his leadership and I think his leadership, recognizing the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja’s character, would not permit a compromise against his conviction, relented, and the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja was able to refrain on that Vote though there was a compulsion for all the Government Members to vote in support of the Motion. I can well remember the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja refused to support that Motion and he refrained from voting, much to the chagrin of some of
his Colleagues, who were falling over each other to be even more Catholic than the Bishop and support that Motion. They castigated Mr. Amirthalingam for duly
performing his duties as an elected Member of Parliament of the Tamil people. I can recall that there were some horrible speeches made. They wanted Mr. Amirthalingam
taken to the Galle Face Green. They wanted him dismembered into two pieces by administering some crude punishment that used to be administered by the monarchy in ancient times. The Hon. Shelton Ranaraja stood out with courage and he remained steadfast to his conviction that he could not support any such Motion. There was the anti-Tamil pogrom or perhaps, more appropriately I would call it the anti-Tamil holocaust of July 1983, following which the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution was enacted. When the violence broke out in Colombo, we were in Mannar for our Party Convention. Many of us wanted to come to Colombo. We were advised by the highest people in the Government that it would even be unsafe for us to come to Colombo and we were advised not to come to Colombo. Most of the Members of Parliament of my
party did not attend Parliament after July, 1983. I had not attended Parliament from June 1983, on account of some events that took place in my own district. It was at this time that India’s good offices were offered to resolve the conflict in Sri Lanka. Such good offices have been accepted and the late Mr. G. Parathasarathy came to Sri Lanka for the first time as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Special Envoy in the last week of August, 1983. Mr. Amirthalingam and I who happened to be in India also came down from India and to ensure our security, we were accommodated in a high-security bungalow somewhere around Wijerama Mawatha. I can vividly recall that our good Friend, the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja came to see us. He was gravely concerned that the threemonth period of absence was running out and that I, not having attended Parliament from June 1983, would probably lose my Seat in a few weeks unless leave was applied for me and thereafter for the others too. He wanted to be sure that we would continue to be represented in Parliament despite the Sixth Amendment and offered to apply for leave on my behalf and later on for the others. I declined. I refused to give him my consent. Consequently, I lost my Seat in a short while
thereafter and so did the other Members of Parliament of the TULF in due course.
The Hon. Shelton Ranaraja continued to be in touch with us. He was concerned that the Tamil people in this country of the North and the East in particular had been
denied their representation in Parliament and they were without their duly elected representatives in Parliament. After the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution and when there was the need to appoint a Governor for the North-Eastern Provincial Council, our good Friend, the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja was our nominee
for the post of Governor of the North-Eastern Provincial Council. He would have been the most suitable Governor, a Governor who would have been widely accepted by all the people in the North-East. In fact, President J.R. Jayewardene and the Government were inclined to appoint the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja as the Governor of the North-East. But, no sooner hostilities commenced between the Indian Peace-Keeping Force and the LTTE,
the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja declined and would not accept the position of Governor. He was not interested in the office of Governor, but he was interested in accepting that
office to be able to be of some service to the people of the North-East and help to consolidate the new Constitutional arrangements which have come about. It is unfortunate that hostilities broke out and the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja was not able to become Governor of the North-East because under his stewardship as Governor of the North-East, I think much progress could have been achieved in the matter of restoring permanent peace in this country. Since then, as everyone knows, the North- East has had a history of military Governors, very much unlike the civilian Governors appointed in other parts of the country, where I think, I would not be wrong if I say - that all other provinces in the country have had civilian Governors but not the North-East. We have been burdened with military Governors, who have been totally
insensitive to the feelings and aspirations of the people of the North-East.
I remember, Sir, I used to once in a way go to Kandy and spend a long weekend with my good Friend, the Hon. Shelton Ranaraja and one day when I was so with him doing a morning walk around the Kandy Lake, I recall his telling me, “Sam, when the JVP insurrection was on and many politicians were crouching under their beds, I used to freely walk around the Kandy Lake. I had no problem at all”. That was the man, Shelton Ranaraja. Not even the young rebels of the Sinhalese community saw him as an enemy or a foe or as an unfriendly person. While many politicians had to go into hiding, the late Hon. Shelton Ranaraja was able to walk around the Kandy Lake without any fear. That was the man, Sir. His life was an indication of the opportunities that always existed for genuine goodwill and harmony amongst the different peoples who inhabit this country. We held him in the highest regard, in the highest esteem, as I said before, as a quintessential gentleman, a gentleman to his fingertips. We have lost a genuine Friend. This country has lost a very valuable citizen, a type of person who cannot be too easily replaced. I join the House, Sir, in expressing my deepest condolences to Mrs. Shelton Ranaraja, whose hospitality we have enjoyed
several times, and to his children and family on their grave loss which, I am sure, they will find difficult to cope with. I would request, Sir, that a record of the proceedings of this House be sent to the family. Thank you.
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