Leo Fernando

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Hon. Sir

Leo Fernando

Member of the Ceylon Parliament
for Buttala
In office
Preceded byConstituency Created
Succeeded byGladwin Kotelawala
Personal details
Warusahennedige Leo Fernando

(1895-11-18)18 November 1895
Pandura, Sri Lanka
Died30 November 1954(1954-11-30) (aged 59)
NationalitySri Lankan
Political partyUnited National Party

Sir Leo Fernando, CBE (18 November 1895 – 30 November 1954) was a Ceylonese businessman and politician. He was a Member of Parliament for the Buttala Electoral District.

Warusahennedige Leo Fernando was born on 18 November 1895. He developed a considerable ownership in the transport sector, having established the Panadura Bus Company and owning transport lorries. He also owned many Tea and Rubber plantations in Ceylon, the Gikiyanakande and Meddegedara estates among them. The Gikiyanakande estate was owned previously by Queen Elizabeth's cousin, Lord Elphinstone. The signing of the deeds at the time of purchase by Fernando were done at Buckingham Palace in 1950. He also owned significant shareholdings in Associated Motorways (AMW), Central Hospitals and the Southwestern bus company. The Panadura Bus Company was later nationalised in 1958 to form the Ceylon Transport Board.[1][2] At the time of his death in 1954, Panadura Motor Transit (PMT) owned more than 350 buses, 200 lorries and more than 10,000 acres of tea and rubber plantations, apart from his significant investments in several top companies in Ceylon. He donated the college hall of Sri Sumangala College in his home town of Panadura.[3]

Fernando was elected to the Parliament of Ceylon at the 1st parliamentary election in 1947 representing the Buttala electorate, securing over 77% of the vote.[4] He retained the seat at the subsequent parliamentary elections in 1952, with a healthy 70% of the vote[5] and remained in parliament until his death in 1954.

He and wife, Irene, had three daughters and a son. They are Kusumalatha, Mallika, Ranjith and Kanthi. His daughter, Mallika (member for Matara (2001-2003)), married Ronnie de Mel, a civil servant, member for Devinuwara (1969-1988), member for Matara (1994-2000), National List member (2001-2004) and Minister of Finance (1977-1988).[6]

Fernando owned a custom built Ford Lincoln Cosmopolitan on which his name was engraved on all the accessories of the car, including the seats. He also owned three Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts.

He was appointed a Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1951 and Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1953. The day before his death he was appointed Knights Bachelor on 29 November 1954[7]


  1. ^ "When bus services were nationalised". Sunday Times. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  2. ^ Ladduwahetty, Ravi (28 November 2011). "I prepared my own budgets, budget speeches". The Island. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  3. ^ Wijenayake, Walter (3 March 2010). "Sri Sumangala College, Panadura, 101 years old". The Island. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1947" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1952" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  6. ^ Cooray, Methsiri. "Mallika Lakshmi De Mel". The Island. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  7. ^ The London Gazette OF FRIDAY, 3ist DECEMBER, 1954