A Reminder of the Past: Mr. P.B.A. Weerakoon

With the dawn of the 20th century a son by the name of P.B.A. Weerakoon was born. Many a person has forgotten this remarkable man who was once a great politician, teacher and more and this is a reminder of his success story.

At the age of 10, with his dad’s passing he moved to Ampitiya with his family where he was enrolled in a missionary school. Mr. Weerakoon excelled in his favourite subject, Mathematics.

After he turned 18, he was invited by the priests to conduct English and Math classes for the younger kids in the missionary. This resulted in all the kids passing their exams with flying colours.

One day, his excellent creation of results caught the attention of the Rev. Bishop at the time. He invited Mr. Weerakoon to join the tutorial staff of St. Anthony’s College. Under his guidance, St. Anthony’s College had the proud record of producing the highest number of London Matriculation passes.

Later on, he bought a land next to the college. Then one day the Principal told him that if the school was to expand in the future it would not be possible if he builds up a house. Without a second thought, he kindly moved to another location and donated the entire land to the college.

After his marriage in 1936 he settled down next to the college and expanded and developed the area. He built a number of houses and boardings for the college kids. The Kandy Municipal Council then named this area Weerakoon Gardens in his name.

In 1944, he entered politics. He represented the Mawilmada Municipal ward for over 10 years in which he was also elected as the Deputy Mayor of Kandy. His main concerns for the welfare of the society were developing road networks, electricity and pipe-borne water.

In 1956, he was invited by the Late S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake to contest the Wattegama constituency which entered him into national politics. He came forward as a SLFP candidate under the leadership of Mr. Bandaranayake’s MEP-SLFP coalition. There were a few who doubted his capability to win, but Mr. Badurdin Mohamed begged to differ. He was proven right when Mr. Weerakoon won by a majority of 3548 votes and was elected Member of Parliament.

Later on, he was called upon to be the Deputy Minister of Education. His batch mate from his teacher training days, Dr. Dahanayake was the Minister of Education. Together they made a flawless education system which flowed smoothly for days to come.

The unfortunate assassination of Hon. S.W R.D. Bandaranayke in 1959, led to Dr. Dahanayake being the Caretaker Prime Minster. He who knew the capabilities of Mr. Weerakoon entrusted him with an additional appointment of the Deputy Defense Minister.

During his tenure as MP for Wattegama from 1959 to 1970 he did a lot of development activities and one such activity was setting up an Industrial Estate and Textile Factory in Pallekele to solve the unemployment in the area.

Mr. Weerakoon bid goodbye to politics in 1970.

Coming to this world on a remarkable day it was just that he left on a remarkable day as well. Mr. Weerakoon died on the 22nd of May 1988, which was National Heroes Day.

That day the country lost one of its great patriots, educationalist, social worker and a politician.

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