Commemorating Panini Ilangakoon:
Patriot from Ruhuna
We have often heard about politicians being bloated with power. But
in our country we have also had political leaders who having achieved
power through the vote of the people, in turn serving the people.
Former Member of Parliament for Weligama, Panini Ilangakoon, can be
deservedly described as one of those benevolent, prominent men of our
land. He is not among us today. Although he passed away 20 years ago,
because of his unassuming, affable, unostentatious and benevolent
nature, his name and deeds echo and resonate in the ears of the people
The late Ilangakoon who held an affable and amiable alliance both
with the people and his friends was known and called by them often
affectionately as Pani. To commemorate such an amiable and benevolent
son of the people, who departed from us on February 10, 1989, on his
death anniversary, is a deed of gratitude.
Panini Ilangakoon was the only son of Gate Mudaliyar Simon William
Ilangakoon and lady Liliyan Augusta Obeysekera. Pani had inborn, kind,
humane and simple qualities which he had inherited from his honourable
parents. It was because he possessed a commanding, kind and pleasant
personality that were necessary to move and associate with the people
that he was so popular.
Ilangakoonís mother, who was a sister of the mother of the late S W R
D Bandaranaike, one of the distinguished political leaders of this
country, had instilled into and bequeathed to her only son Panini
several good and gentle endowments. Pani was born on November 26, 1919
at Weligama. He received his primary and secondary education at S
Thomasí College, Mt Lavinia. Thereafter he continued his education at
Bangalore and in the United Kingdom. Having returned to his Motherland
he entered politics by being without contest elected as independent
member of the Weligama Urban Council in 1947, which was a very
significant event in his political career.
He was an ardent anti-imperialist and a patriotic politician who
never for a moment thought of being segregated from the people.
Ilangakoon was a blood cousin of S W R D Bandaranaike, the founder of
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
He received membership of the SLFP and contested the Weligama seat
under the party banner in 1952, unsuccessfully. But in 1956, he was
elected MP for Weligama. Although he was defeated in the 1960 and 1965
elections, he was again elected as the MP for Weligama in 1970 with an
overwhelming majority. Nineteen Seventy to 1977 was his glorious period
in politics. For it was during this period that he got the Weligama
Central Public Bus Stand, Divisional Asst. Govt. Agentís Office.
Agricultural Service Centre, building built and opened.
He continued further in serving and nursing his electorate and got
school buildings and roadways in the electorate improved. It was on
account of his unrelenting and insatiable desire and determination to
serve his people that the Urban Council Building at Weligama and the
Mirissa Fisheries Harbour have been provided for the electorate.
Which are two mementoes of service he has rendered. Ever since the
establishment of these facilities for its inhabitants his name echoes
and re-echoes not only in the Weligama electorate but also in the whole
of Ruhunu Rata.
To commemorate such a patron of the people who had an innate national
feeling at a time when we are celebrating the 63rd anniversary of
independence would be analogous to the commemoration of a national hero.
He helped the poor, the rich, friend and foe without discrimination.
This outlook of his as a politician is a fitting example to the fact
that there need be no rivalry and antagonism in serving the public and
He never even thought of betraying the trust people had reposed in
him as their representative. It is these characteristics that have
immortalized him in the Southern Province.
He sympathetically endeavoured, listened and understood the problems
of the poor who sought his assistance and voiced their grievances even
in Parliament. Ilangakoon, the popular representative of the people,
having won the hearts of this people and having united the progressives
of the land, died on February 10, 1989 depriving the Ruhuna of a
Today on his 22nd death anniversary we pray that he be reborn amongst
us till he attains Nibbana, the supreme bliss.