13th February 2000
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New Legislative Council Member

by Media Man
The Governor, Sir Joseph West Ridgeway announces the appointment of Mr. S. C. Obeysekera as the representative of the low country Sinhalese in the Legislative Council in place of Mr. A. de A. Seneviratne whose appointment ceases on February 15. James Peiris (later Sir) was the other contender.

Commenting on the appointment of Mr. Obeysekera, the Ceylon Independent says: "We believe no wiser selection could have been made nor one more acceptable to the Sinhalese community as a whole".

Congratulating the Sinhalese community and Mr. Obeysekera, the Ceylon Observer says: "In regard to the opposition, it is a pity that a great deal of time should have been wasted in the matter. Many public meetings have been held on behalf of Mr. Peiris and we regret to find that at none of them was any motion made nor resolution drawn up and forwarded to His Excellency Sir West Ridgeway asking that His Excellency might obtain the leave of a second Member to represent the low country Sinhalese community. As our recent figures showed, there is ample room for the additional councillor and an excellent opportunity of its kind has been allowed to slip by".

A brilliant scholar, Mr. Obeysekera is a Proctor but does not practise, being busy looking after his properties. His hobby is agriculture and cattle breeding and he is prominent in the movement for the establishment of an agricultural society.

Burgher seat
The Governor offers Mr. F. C. Loos the Burgher seat in the Legislative Council in place of Mr. H. L. Wendt whose appointment ceases on February 15 "by effixion of time".

Mr. Loos is the Senior Crown Counsel for the island. 

The laws of the country are made by the Governor "with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council". The Council consists of official (principal executive officers) and unofficial members. The unofficial members (up to eight) are nominated by the Governor, mostly on a racial basis. Representatives are selected from the low country Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Kandyan Sinhalese, the Burgher and the European communities. The planting and mercantile interests are also represented.

Emotional scenes
The departure of the 125 strong Ceylon contingent for South Africa to take part in the Boer War is given wide coverage in the newspapers. The contingent led by Captain Ruthefield leaves by S S Umkuzi. The scene at the jetty is described as "the saddest of the afternoon with the men of the contingent themselves being visibly moved". 

"One young fellow tore himself away from the family circle with great difficulty and as the old father exclaimed, 'there goes my baby' Strong men found it difficult to keep away the tears", a news report said.

They leave at a time when the British troops are not faring too well in the war.

"If good wishes, deeply and sincerely felt, and heartily and enthusiastically experienced, can avail to cheer the spirits and increase the courage of men setting out on an arduous and dangerous enterprise, the men of the Ceylon Contingent leave us for the seat of war under the very happiest omens," says an editorial in The Ceylon Independent titled 'Farewell'.

"Our parting wish is that they may have the opportunity of rendering their fellow subjects within the Colony proud, not merely of their loyalty and self-sacrificing energy but proud also of deeds of honour and of gallant services rendered by them to the service of the great Empire to which we belong and the Sovereign whom we love and revere," the editorial ends.

Drill in school 
The Government Board of Education discusses the introduction of physical exercises and drill into the Grant-in-Aid curriculum. The board is unanimously in favour and a definite scheme is to be prepared. 

The Board of Education comprises of the Director of Public Instruction S. M. Burrows, Bishop of Colombo Rev. Fr. Collins, Mr. E. Human, Mr. E. R. Gunaratne, Mudaliyar, Galle and Mr. A. Van Cuylenberg, Inspector of Schools (Secretary).

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