Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa’s 69th birthday falls on
A people-based politician
There are two categories of politicians in Sri Lanka. Those who
become popular due to politics belong to the first category and the
second are those who popularize politics for the welfare of the masses
with the intention of helping them.
They are rare and unique.
This is particularly true of Chamal Rajapaksa (the present Speaker of
Ruhunu Giruwapathuthu is situated in the South coast of Sri Lanka
which was known as Ruhunu Magam Paththu or Rohana Puraya in the early
days and even now.
Kings of fame such as Gemunu Tissa and Wijayaba were born in Rohana
A land of diverse terrain comprising of rich farmland, hills,
ravines, beaches and bountiful of flora and marine life is paradise to
most beings and beasts.
On October 30, 1942, a son was born to the chief occupant of
Medamulana Mahagedara D.A. Rajapaksa and his loving wife Dandina
Samarasinghe Dissanayake. It was their first born and was named Chamal
Jayantha Rajapaksa. He saw first light at his maternal grandmother’s
residence, the Dissanayake Walawwa in Palatuwa, Matara.
Son of the soil
Chamal was exemplary and a loving brother to eight younger siblings,
namely, Jayanthi, Mahinda, Chandra, Gotabhaya, Basil, Dudly, Preethi and
Gandhinie. Together with them he romped the field, hills and ravines of
As a son of the soil, he observed and learned about the beasts and
beings in his surroundings. He saw the ups and downs in the conditions
of living of the different communities of Ruhuna. He felt the pulse of
these people even at his young age.
This was when the voice of D.M. Rajapaksa known as the ‘Lion of
Ruhuna’ thundered and echoed in the house of Parliament against the
oppression and hardships faced by the people of Ruhuna and specially of
Following his elder brother’s footsteps, Chamal’s loving father D.A.
Rajapaksa was elected to Parliament by the people of Giruwapaththu and
hence Chamal was aware of the numerous problems faced by the people as
he overheard and observed these topics being discussed at his home.
Little Chamal learnt ABCs at the Kusum convent in Tangalle and later at
the Convent in Matara.
In 1948, he was admitted to Richmond College, Galle. He passed his
Ordinary Level Examination in 1960 and Secondary level Examination in
The Socialist Party Leader Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara was a
teacher at Richmond College at that time and Chamal was guided by him.
Chamal was instrumental in forming the Mahinda-Richmond socialist
On completion of his advanced education Chamal joined the Police
force by entering the Sri Lanka Police Training College, Kalutara in
1963. He passed out as a Sub Inspector of Police in 1964 and took up
duties at the Bandarawela Police station.
In a letter from his father he remembers the words, ‘even though the
bees build a hive on a bitter taste tree like Margosa (Kohomba) the
honey produced does not taste bitter’; ‘likewise a child who grew up
with a loving and caring family background will not change his good ways
in whatever occupation he takes up and whoever he associates with’.
Major irrigation projects
In 1972, he left the Police force and joined the State Trading
Corporation (STC) as its Assistant General Manager.
During this period he met Chandra Malani Wijewardane and on January
3, 1975, they got married. The couple was blessed with two sons.
The present Chief Minister of the Uva Province and Basnayaka Nilame
of the Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya, Shashindra Rajapaksa is the
eldest son of Chamal and Chandra.
The second son, Shamindra Rajapaksa is a reputed engineer and
Chamal Rajapaksa was elected to Parliament from the Tissamaharama
electorate in 1994.
Through the years until today, he held positions as Deputy Minister
of Agriculture (1998), Deputy Minister of Southern and Port Development
(2000), Minister of Agriculture Development (2005), Minister of
Irrigation and Water Management (2006), Minister of Port, Aviation,
Irrigation and Water Management (2007) and finally elected unanimously
as the 19th honourable Speaker of the seventh Parliament of Sri Lanka
and holding the post up to date.
He took steps to develop the infrastructure and general living
conditions of his constituents in every possible sphere.
The agriculture of the area was boosted by major irrigation projects
like ‘Maw Ara’, Weheragala, Uma Oya, Walawe left bank and ‘Kakiri
Obada’. He was instrumental in setting up a coconut research station at
Middeniya. The ‘Bata Atha’ Technical Park of Agriculture Mayurapura post
harvest development unit at Waligatha, Magampura.
Fisheries were developed by providing boats, nets and other equipment
at concessionary rates. Also constructing the fish market, rest rooms
and ice plant in Hambantota and developing the Kirinda, Kudawella,
Welipatanvila and Kalamatiya fisheries harbours were historical. The
Vocational Training Centre at Bandagiriya was also established at this
As the chairman of the District Development Committee of Hambantota
he took steps to accelerate the development of Tissamaharama,
Suriyawewa, Hambantota new town, Weeraketiya, Angunukolapalassa,
Ambalanthota and Walasmulla towns. The hundreds of kilometres of roads
were carpeted as well.
The ‘Ran-Eliwata’ and ‘Kusum Niwasa’ are also two housing projects
which have received his blessings.
The construction of the Tzu chi National School in Hambantota, the
Ruhunu Wijayaba College in Beliatta along with the ‘Sisura’ educational
scholarship scheme funded by the D. A. Rajapaksa foundation are some of
the educational development projects which received the guidance of
Chamal Rajapaksa for the betterment of the children’s education.
The Hambantota District Hospital which had only four resident doctors
at one time was upgraded to a Base Hospital. With the service of more
than 200 doctors and ultra modern equipment and facilities.
Rural hospitals in Kirinda, Debarawewa, Ambalanthota, Lunugamwehera,
Suriyawewa, Beragama were modernized. More than 200 nurses pass out from
the Nurses Training College annually which was opened in Hambantota, are
some of projects initiated to uplift the health sector in the area.
The new Court Complex in Hambantota, the oil refinery, the garment
factories in Weerawila and the industrial zone in Hambantota will come
into operation in the near future providing benefits to the country and
The Hambantota Ports Development Project being built at a cost of US
$ 650 million is a landmark among other massive projects launched during
his tenure as Minister of Ports Development and Aviation for the
well-being of the entire country.
The port would create over 300,000 job opportunities direct and
indirect and help to overcome poverty in Giruwapaththuwa and the
Another pioneering work initiated by Chamal Rajapaksa is the
construction of the second International Airport at Mattala, which would
promote the tourist industry in the South and also create an investment
The profound author Leonard Wolf’s book ‘Baddegama’ – ‘The village in
the jungle’ reveal the tale of the woe where humans struggle for
survival. But the land Leonard Wolf’s saw is developed greener pasture
Good health and strength
Hambantota will be a leading economic hub, not only to Sri Lanka but
to the whole of the South East Asia with the development of the
Magampura Harbour and Airport at Mattala.
Chamal Rajapaksa who has been prominent in all these development
manoeuvre is a leader of our time who has illuminated not only the
Giruwapaththuwa but the whole of Sri Lanka.
He is the 19th speaker of the seventh Parliament of Sri Lanka and has
earned the trust and love of the people of Ruhuna Giruwaya.
In the shadows of his footsteps his younger brother President Mahinda
Rajapaksa received the guiding light and the support from Chamal to
achieve this without hindrance.