Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Colvin R de Silva

Colvin R. de Silva (1907 - 1987) was a former Minister of Plantation Industries and Constitutional Affairs, prominent member of parliament, Trotskyist leader and lawyer in Sri Lanka. He was one of the founders of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party - the largest Marxist party in Sri Lanka.
Personal life
He gained his PhD for his thesis: Ceylon Under the British Occupation, later published as a book. Dr De Silva died on 27 February 1987. A Sri Lankan news source credits him with coining the famous response to the slogan The Sun never sets on the British Empire: "That's because God does not trust the British in the dark."

Political career
During the Second World War he fled to India, were he became part of the leading nucleus of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India, Ceylon and Burma (BLPI). After the war he returned to Ceylon and became the main leader of the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party. In 1947 he was one of five BSP candidates who were elected to parliament. His constituency was Wellawatte-Mount Lavinia. After the reunification of LSSP and BSP, de Silva became an important leader of LSSP.
In 1952 he lost the Wellawatte-Mount Lavinia seat to a United National Party candidate, but regained it in 1956 and 1960.

De Silva was the main responsible on behalf of LSSP for the liaisons with the Fourth International. He was elected to the International Executive Committee of the International, a position he held until the LSSP was expelled from the International.
In 1964 de Silva had urged against the LSSP joining the government, but unlike others who stood by that line he stayed in the party.
He won the Agalawatte parliamentary seat in a bye-election in 1967 and in 1970. In 1970 he became the Minister of Plantation Industries and Constitutional Affairs in the cabinet of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. His tasks included drafting the new republican constitution of Sri Lanka. He served until 1975, when his party was dismissed from government following a split.
LSSP nominated de Silva as its presidential candidate in 1982. He finished 5th and only polled around 1% of the votes cast, as the election was polarised between the ruling United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party - the latter being backed by almost all the other left parties.

Legal Career
In the court room, he enjoyed an unparalleled reputation as a criminal lawyer of great distinction. He appeared in virtually every high profile criminal trial of his day. In the Sathasivam murder case, his exceptionally brilliant cross-examining skills resulted in the rightful acquittal of his client, while in the Kularatne Murder case appeal, it was his intimate knowledge of the law of circumstantial evidence that saved the accused. With the advent of Fundamental Rights litigation, Dr. de Silva also appeared in many such cases before the Supreme Court, most notably in the Vivienne Goonewardena assault case.

De Silva, Colvin R., Ceylon Under the British Occupation, 1795-1833 First published 1941. Reprint: Delhi, Vedam Books, 1995


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