During the second half of the nineteenth century there emerged a small caucus of Sinhalese, Ceylon Tamils, burghers (the descendants of Dutch extraction) and other small minority groups who attempted to create a ‘Ceylonese’ national identity, encompassing all the ethnic and racial groups. A semi-political campaign to achieve constitutional reforms for the island was enthusiastically initiated resulting in the formation of the ‘Ceylon League’.1 The pioneering reformists had realised that the existing practice of electing representatives on the basis of communal and racial differences to the Legislative Council (LC) would have a baneful influence on harmony among the inhabitants of the island. The appointment of the unofficial members to the pre-1912 LC was underpinned by communal differences, as is shown in Table 5.1.2

Predictably, every governor between 1900 and 1921maintained the composition of the LC on a communal basis. When the constitutionalist reformists proposed that the elections of the representatives to the LC be appointed on a non-communal basis, it was vehemently opposed by Governor Sir H.E.McCallum. Having noticed that some elements of the Tamil leadership in the Jaffna Association were interested

in maintaining communal representation, he suggested, in his despatch of 26 May 1909 to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl of Crew KG, that the existing system of communal representation should be maintained. His justification for communal representation was that ‘The races inhabiting this island are numerous and divisive.’3 Therefore, ‘he was strongly of the opinion that, in the best interests of the country, and especially those of the bulk of the native inhabitants, appointments to seats upon the Legislative Council should continue to be made, as at present, by means of nomination, and not by recourse being had to popular franchise.’4 The Governor’s approach was considered prudent by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In his correspondence with the Governor on 24 December 1909 he wrote: ‘I consider, therefore, that the members who are to represent these communities must continue to be nominated until Ceylon is ripe for a wide extension of the franchise on democratic lines.’5