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Sunday, 14 September 2008

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JRJ's 102nd birth anniversary on Sept. 17



A large number of major development projects were commenced by him, thereby
creating jobs to solve the unemployment problem to a greater extent. He set up three major Free Trade Zones. He  pioneered to bring television to Sri Lanka and also helped former  President Ranasinghe Premadasa to introduce garment industries. He also set up the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment to benefit Lankan workers to find employment legally in foreign countries.

The 102nd birth anniversary of former President Junius Richard Jayewardene falls on Wednesday, September. 17. JRJ was born in 1906.

Two brothers, one was a doctor and the other a planter, eight other siblings were engaged in the legal profession.

JR's parents were Justice E.W. Jayewardene and Mrs. Agnes Helen Wijewardene. JR was the eldest in the family and he first received his education at Bishop's College, Colombo. At the age of six, JRJ was sent to primary section of the Teacher's Training School at Thurstan Road and thereafter in 1917, entered Colombo Royal College.

At Royal, he excelled in studies and sports. He was a member of the school cricket and captained the rugger team in 1925. He also represented the school in football, boxing and the cadet platoon.

JRJ entered the Colombo University in 1926 and the Law College in 1928. While being engaged in educational activities, he showed a keen interest in sports during his university career. He passed out as an advocate and practised in the unofficial Bar, for a brief period.

He was married to Miss Elina Bandara Rupasinghe in 1935. Ravindra Vimal is their only son.

JRJ had once said that the most unforgettable incident in his life was the day when he had to defend an accused before his father who was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

However, JRJ did not stick on to his practice but focused much attention to politics. He started his political career at the age of 18 and later contested the Kelaniya seat and by defeating his rival E. W. Perera, entered the then State Council in 1947.

He became the Minister of Finance in the D. S. Senanayake Government and years later in 1978, JRJ became the first Executive President of Sri Lanka.

He believed that firm handling of governance would run a country successfully and bring relief to the masses. During his tenure as the President he tried these objectives.

A large number of major development projects were commenced by him, thereby creating jobs to solve the unemployment problem to a greater extent. He set up three major Free Trade Zones. He pioneered to bring television to Sri Lanka and also helped former President Ranasinghe Premadasa to introduce garment industries.

He also set up the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment to benefit Lankan workers to find employment legally in foreign countries.

He established the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 1950 while he was the Minister of Finance under D. S. Senanayake govt.

JRJ embarked on the Gal Oya multi-purpose project as the Minister of Agriculture in 1952. As the Prime Minister in 1977 he completed the accelerated Mahaweli project within a very short period to improved the livelihood of nearly 50,000 farmer families.

It was during JRJ's period, the Japanese Government constructed the new Parliamentary Complex and the Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital.

The Colombo Plan in which JRJ played a major role at the Commonwealth Conference on Foreign Affairs held in Colombo in 1950 to exchange views on the needs of people in Asian countries has been training thousands of youth in Asia in the fields of technology and Sciences.

The people of Japan highly respected JRJ for the historical speech he made at the Peace Conference held in San Francisco in 1951.

JRJ passed away in November 1996 and the cremation took place on the banks of Kelani Ganga facing the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, according to his last wishes.

According to Prematilaka Mapitigama, the Secretary General of the Jayawardene Cultural Centre, a special ceremony to mark the birth centenary of President Jayewardene will be held on September 17 at the J. R. Jayewardene Centre in Colombo.

There will be islandwide religious ceremonies on September 19 to invoke merits on the former President.

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