ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27
Kandy Times

Publishers only after profits, laments Wijetunga biographer

By L.B. Senaratne

Biographer Ms. Menike Sumanasekera who authored the biography of former President Dingiri Banda Wijetunga this week disclosed that not a single publisher in Sri Lanka was ready to publish the biography.

The book titled "The Humble Statesman" was launched at the Earl's Regency Hotel in Tennakumubura. Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara presided, while a host of politicians of all parties were present.

Ms. Sumanasekera said the publishers’ main argument was that this biography would not sell and therefore the publishers were only worried about profits. This trend should stop she said.

She also said that writers were not rich and that they had limited resources and when one wrote a book on an eminent and humble statesman, they should have given due consideration to this fact alone.

Ms. Sumanasekera said it took her two years to write the book and she did so since she knew Mr. Wihetunga from her childhood when she was schooling at Deherananda Vidyalaya at Pilamatalawa and also while she was attending the University. She said that a number of persons helped her to fill the gaps while writing this book and one of them was the Private Secretary of the former President A. Wilson. She said she was happy that this book was published at last with the help of the Polonnaruwa Parliamentarian Earl Gunasekera, a friend of the President after hearing of the difficulties she was undergoing to publish the biography.

In the keynote address W.J.M. Lokubandara said that he learnt much from the former President. He said that he was a vociferous member of the Party after he joined the UNP. He said that his main attack was on Party leader J.R. Jayewardene. Having seen his antics at Party meetings, he said that one day, President Wijetunge called the Speaker and said, "If you want to be in the same place, attack the Chairman Jayewardene or if you want to rise, refrain from doing so".

Mr. Lokubandara said that he had asked another question, "Would you like if you were attacked in this fashion by your voters?” He said that that was when he realised where he was. So he said that he called on the late Mr. Jayewardene by appointment and said that he wanted to speak to him. He had readily agreed and Mr. Lokubandara went to his home. Then he had questioned whether he had any objections in seeking answers at Party meetings. He said that Mr. Jayewardene told him that he should ask more questions since he wanted to attack Armithalingam. This was the situation during Mr. Jayewardene’s term.

Speaking further, Speaker Lokubandara said that he was unruffled and was a patient man at all times. He waited for his term and never tried to outwit another he added.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, contributing to the messages said that when he entered Parliament as a young man, he was called by Presdient Wijetunge, given Rs.15 000 and asked to buy clothes. He said the former President told him that he should be neatly and properly dressed. Around a week later, he was called again and asked whether he had made his dresses. Mr. Attanayake had said 'yes' and then President Wijetunga had aksed him as to how many suits he had made.

When told a few, he had thrown a 'fit'. When he told him the truth that he had bought only a few shirts, the former President had said that he should be neatly dressed and that was how one could earn the respect of his colleagues and the public, said the newly appointed UNP General Secretary.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.