Comrade, William: Silent William
In October 1942, an executive committee meeting of the LSSP was held
at the residence of D. W. J. Perera in Panadura around 11 p.m. Lawrence
Perera (later he became a doctor), Edmund Samarakoody and P.H. William
de Silva, all under Police warrant for political reasons participated at
Eruption of infightings at and conclusions of dissident meetings in
chaos and confusions, so surreptitiously held in secret location was a
common observation among revolutionary movements. In repeating this
phenomenon the above meeting which ran up to 2 a.m. ended up in chaos
and confusions, fist fighting and name calling. Near pandemonium reigned
and upturned tables and broken chairs bore witness to that sorry state.
The trouble makers at the meeting were the individuals who were
responsible for bringing in the dissidents. Only two of the dissidents
agreed to go back along with those individuals, but the other remained
motionless. He remained unconcerned as to what would happen if some
outsiders dropped in to inquire about the commotion underway.
The final outcome of the commotions saw the two of the consenting
dissidents in police custody on the following day. It was in latter part
of 1943 about a year after the other dissident who remained unconcerned
was arrested in Gampola. It was P. H. William Silva who joined the LSSP
at its inception.
He contested the first general election in 1947 from the Ambalangoda
- Balapitiya seat as a member of the Bolshevik Leninist Party. He won
the election and entered chambers as one of the first batch of MPs.
LSSP which was formed under a red banner split into two factions in
1940, Dr. S. A. Wickremasinghe formed the pro Russian Communist Party.
Continued criticism levelled by the Trotskyites against the Stalinist
ruling in Russia paved the way for this split.
LSSP leaders who entered the prison cells as members of a single
party came out of the cells five years later divided into two camps. One
camp consisting of members who came from India shouldering the vision of
Indian Bolshevik Leninist Party formed a illustrious party under the
name 'Indian Bolshevik Leninist Party - Ceylon Branch'. Colvin was its
leader and William Silva was one of the leading members.
In 1950 there was union between the LSSP of NM and Philip and the
dissidents who broke away from Colvin's Bolshevik-Ceylon Branch.
In 1952 William Silva contested from the Ambalangoda-Balapitiya
electorate, representing the New LSSP. William and his clique remained
vigilant and pondering amidst the numerous conflicts and clashes that
erupted within the New LSSP. They lost patience with the new LSSP and
joined the Revolutionary LSSP of Philip who has then forged an alliance
with the Communist Party of Dr. SA. Philip's preparations to join Dr. SA
raised the eyebrows of many. A number of them had decided to follow
Philip and join the Communist Party. Some others weighted the pros and
cons associated with revolutionary, leftist ideologies and decided find
refuge in SLFP. William remained unperturbed and kept on measuring his
steps. He persisted with Philip reaped the fortune of netting the
ministerial post of Industries and Fisheries in the Bandaranaike
government. But his fortune did not last long; its duration was short.
Just three years marked his tenure in office.
He contested the general election in March 1960 from the Ambalangoda
electorate. Balapitiya had then been carved out as a separate
electorate. He represented the MEP under the leadership of Philip and
entered the parliament by defeating five candidates including some
heavyweights from UNP and SLFP. But the general election in July 1960
marked his downfall; he lost his seat.
William remained unperturbed. Surely but slowly he measured up the
developments and then joined SLFP. As the Ambalangoda electorate had an
SLFP incumbent, he was assigned with the Devinuwera electorate. William
contested the 1965 general election from Devinuwera electorate and gave
a sound beating to former MP P P Wickremasooriya who was a member of the
ginger group which joined the opposition along with C P de Silva and
brought down the then government. In 1966 he had to vacate the seat in
accordance with ruling delivered under a election petition. This
signalled his departure from the political arena.
William was a voracious reader; he read almost all the weeklies in
addition to two Sinhala dailies and one English daily newspaper. Even
the trade union leaders of his time were quite content with reading one
English daily newspaper. But William firmly believed that reading of
Sinhala newspapers was a must in order to feel the pulse of the ordinary
A newspaper report on struggles, work stoppages and confrontations in
any part of the island drew William's attention and interest like a
magnet. Reading them rang as honey in his ears. He was pushed to see
them from different angles and analyze them deeply. He had an urge to be
there, to be involved and become a part and parcel of those struggles.
It became a common occurrence that where an election or a by-election
was held William happened to be there. He was deep in the thick and thin
of the affairs. He had no time for him but, but had time in abundance
for such errands. His tea factory was situated just a few yards away
from his home. Just, a parapet wall separated him. But it is a common
secret that he had never paid visit to the factory. In spite of that the
tea factory continued to be his main source of income.
He was never a business minded. Numbers of stories have been woven
around the business activities of numerous people, prominent in the
society. But no word, no question were raised against William and his