J. R. Jayewardene remembered | Sunday Observer

J. R. Jayewardene remembered

18 September, 2022

The 116th birth anniversary of the first Executive President J. R. Jayewardene who was also Sri Lanka’s first Finance Minister and Minister of State, fell yesterday.

J. R. Jayewardene who was born on September 17, 1906 at the Sedawatta Walawwa in Colombo was the eldest among eleven children born to former Judge and State Counsel E. W. Jayewardene and Helena Agnes Wijewardene. J. R. Jayewardene was a lawyer by profession. He entered the State Council contesting the Kelaniya by-election in 1943. He won the Kelaniya electorate at the 1947 General Election and was sworn in as the first Minister of Finance for seven years from 1947.

J.R. Jayewardene won the 1970 General Election and became a Member of Parliament for the Colombo South electorate. Later, he was the Opposition Leader of the National State Assembly till 1977. With the death of UNP leader Dudley Senanayake, he became the leader of the party. J.R. won the 1977 General Election with an overwhelming majority and became the seventh Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He was later appointed as the first Executive President of Sri Lanka with the adoption of the new Constitution in 1978. Former President Jayewardene rendered an enormous service to the country by setting up the National Youth Services Council, Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo Plan and Free Trade Zones. Thousands of people benefited by his initiatives such as the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Scheme, Cultural Triangle, Job Bank System, appointment of cultivation officers and poverty alleviation program. He passed away on November 1, 1996.