ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 23, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 17
Funday Times - Our Heritage funday times logo

First cabinet had only 14 ministers

The first Cabinet under the parliamentrary system of government in Sri Lanka. (From left) C. Suntharalingam, George E. de Silva, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, T. B. Jayah, Governor-General Sir Henry Monk Mason Moore, Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake, Sir Oliver Goonetilleka, Chief Justice Sir John Howard, Dudley Senanayake, J. L. Kotelawela, J. R. Jayewardene, A. Ratnayake and L. A. Rajapakse. C. Sittampalam & R. S. S. Gunawardena are not in the picture.

The month of September witnessed several events connected with the first Parliament which was established a few months prior to the gaining of Independence on February 4, 1948. This marked the beginning of the Cabinet form of government.

The first Cabinet comprised 14 Ministers.

After the first parliamentary general election ended on September 20, 1947, the leader of the political party with the highest number of seats, D. S. Senanayake of the United National Party (UNP) was invited to form the government by the Governor General Sir Henry Monk Mason Moore.

Having being sworn in as Prime Minister on September 24, D. S. Senanayake formed his Cabinet of Ministers and the swearing-in ceremony took place two days later, on September 26. The ceremony took place in Queen's House, as the present President's House was then called. (It was named Queen's House because it was the official residence of the representative of the British monarch and at the time it was established, Queen Victoria was the Queen of England).

The ministers and their portfolios in the first Cabinet were:
1 D. S. Senanayake (MP for Mirigama) – Prime Minister/ Defence & External Affairs
2 S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike (Attanagalla) – Health & Local Government
3 Sir Oliver Goonetilleke (Senator) – Home Affairs & Rural Development
4 J. L. Kotelawela (Dodangaslanda) – Transport & Works
5 T. B. Jayah (Colombo Central) – Labour & Social Services
6 L. A. Rajapakse (Senator) – Justice
7 George E. de Silva (Kandy) – Industries & Fisheries
8 C. Suntharalingam (Vavuniya) – Commerce & Trade
9 J. R. Jayewardene (Kelaniya) – Finance
10 C. Sittampalam (Mannar) – Posts & Telecommunications
11 Dudley Senanayake (Dedigama) – Agriculture & Lands
12 Major E. A. Nugawela (Kadugannawa) – Education
13 A. Ratnayake (Wattegama) – Food & Cooperatives
14 R. S. S. Gunawardena (Gampola) Minister without Portfolio

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was named Leader of the House.

R. S. S. Gunawardena was appointed Chief Government Whip.

Two ministers – George E. de Silva and R. S. S. Gunawardena were unseated on elections petitions.
C. Sittampalam was given the additional portfolio of Industries & Fisheries and A. E. Goonesinghe was made Minister without Portfolio & Chief Government Whip.

The juniors to the ministers were called Parliamentary Secretaries. They were not designated Junior Ministers or Deputy Ministers. A feature of the first Parliament was that all ministries did not have Parliamentary Secretaries. Only nine were appointed. They were George R. de Silva (Justice), M. S. Kariapper (Home Affairs),
A. E. Goonesinghe (Labour),
P. B. Bulankulame (Agriculture),
M. A. Ismail (Food),
H. de Z. Siriwardena (Industries),
Simon Abeywickrema (Transport),
A. P. Jayasuriya (Posts) and V. Nalliah (Health).


Opening of Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital

The Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children is the best known children's hospital in Sri Lanka. Established by public subscription in 1895 as the Lady Havelock Hospital for Women and Children, it was christened the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children on September 23, 1910. The names were to recognise the services of two distinguished ladies. Both were the respective wives of successive British Governors in Ceylon – Sir Arthur Havelock (1890-95) and Sir Joseph West Ridgeway (1895-1903).

It is a tertiary care children's hospital with a bed-strength of over 800 and is considered to be one of the largest, if not the largest – children's hospital in the world. In addition to several medical and surgical units, it has specialized units in Cardiology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Neonatology, Intensive Care, Orthodontics, Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Plastic Surgery and ENT Surgery, apart from radiology and pathology services.

The University of Colombo Paediatric Medical and Surgical Units, where undergraduates of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo undergo their final year rotations, are housed in the hospital. It also functions as a training centre for students of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medicine of the University of Colombo.


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