C. Suntharalingam

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C. Suntharalingam
Chellappah Suntharalingam.jpg
Minister of Trade and Commerce, Ceylon
In office
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Vavuniya
In office
Succeeded by T. Sivasithamparam, Ind
Personal details
Born (1895-08-19)19 August 1895
Died 11 February 1985(1985-02-11) (aged 89)
Vavuniya, Sri Lanka
Political party Unity Front of Eelam Tamils
Alma mater St. John's College
St. Joseph's College
University of London
Balliol College
Profession Academic, teacher, lawyer
Ethnicity Sri Lankan Tamil

Chellappah Suntharalingam (also spelt Sundaralingam) was a Sri Lankan Tamil politician, Member of Parliament and government minister. Suntharalingam was one of the first proponents of an independent Tamil state.

Early life[edit]

Suntharalingam was born on 19 August 1895. He was the son of Chellappah and Meenachchi from Urumpirai in northern province of Ceylon. He was educated at St. John's College, Jaffna[citation needed] and St. Joseph's College, Colombo.[citation needed] In 1914 he entered the University of London from where he graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in mathematics. He then went onto Balliol College, Oxford from where he was awarded a double first in mathematics tripos. After graduation he returned to British Ceylon where he joined the Indian Civil Service but resigned in 1920. He was called to the Bar from Gray's Inn in 1920, becoming an advocate and practising law in Ceylon. He later served as Vice Principal of Ananda College, Colombo and Chair of Mathematics at the Ceylon University College.

Suntharalingam hailed from a distinguished family and had four eminent brothers: C. Nagalingam, a Supreme Court judge, was acting Governor-General of Ceylon in 1954; C. Panchalingam was a medical doctor; C. Amirthalingam was Director of Fisheries; and C. Thiagalingam was a leading lawyer.

Suntharalingam married Kanagambikai Ambal, daughter of M. Kanagasabi. They had two sons (Gnanalingam and Sathyalingam) and four daughters (Lingambikai, Lingavathy, Lingamani and Lingeswari).

Political career[edit]

The first Cabinet of independent Ceylon. Suntharalingam is on the far left.

Becoming interested in politics, Suntharalingam retired in 1940 and entered politics. He tried unsuccessfully to enter the State Council during by-elections in 1943 and 1944. He stood as an independent candidate for Vavuniya at the 1947 parliamentary election. He won the election and entered Parliament.[1] He was persuaded to join the United National Party government and on 26 September 1947 he was sworn in as Minister of Trade and Commerce. He supported the controversial Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 which deprived citizenship to 11% of the Ceylon's population but when division was called on the second reading of the Indian and Pakistani Residents Citizenship Bill on 10 December 1948, Suntharalingam walked out of Parliament. Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake asked for an explanation but Suntharalingam resigned from his ministerial position instead.

Suntharalingam resigned from Parliament in 1951 as a protest against the adoption of the Sinhala kodiya (flag) as the national flag. He was the only candidate in the ensuing by-election and consequently returned to Parliament.[2] He was re-elected at the May 1952 parliamentary election.[3] Suntharalingam boycotted Parliament from August 1955 as a protest against the attempts to make Sinhala the sole official language of Ceylon. After three months of absence he forfeited his seat in Parliament. He won the ensuing by-election and returned to Parliament.[2] He was re-elected at the April 1956 parliamentary election.[4]

Suntharalingam founded the Eela Thamil Ottrumai Munnani (Unity Front of Eelam Tamils) in 1959. At the March 1960 parliamentary election Suntharalingam, contesting as an independent as the Eela Thamil Ottrumai Munnani wasn't a registered party, was defeated by T. Sivasithamparam, another independent candidate.[5]

Suntharalingam published Eylom: Beginning of the Freedom Struggle; Dozens Documents in 1963 in which he became one of the first Ceylon Tamils to call for an independent Tamil state, which he called Eylom:[6]

Suntharalingam contested the March 1965 parliamentary election as an independent but came in third.[7] At the May 1970 parliamentary election he contested in Kankesanthurai as an independent but again came in third.[8]

Later life[edit]

Suntharalingam spent his later years in Vavuniya where he died on 11 February 1985.


  1. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1947". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  2. ^ a b "SUMMARY OF BY -ELECTIONS 1947 TO 1988". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  3. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1952". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  4. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1956". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  5. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 19 March 1960". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  6. ^ "The Prophesy of Mr. C. Suntheralingham". Ilankai Tamil Sangam. 
  7. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1965". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  8. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1970". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 

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