Rajapaksa family

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The Rajapaksa Family
Ethnicity Sinhalese
Current region Hambantota
Place of origin Medamulana, Weeraketiya
Members D. A. Rajapaksa
Chamal Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
Basil Rajapaksa
Namal Rajapaksa
Traditions Buddhist

The Rajapaksa family is a Sri Lankan family that is prominent in politics. It was one of Sri Lanka's most powerful families during Mahinda Rajapaksa's Presidency,[1] where many members of the family occupied their senior positions in the Sri Lankan state.[2][3] As their political power grew, there were reports suggesting that the country was heading towards autocracy under their rule.[4][5] Following the unexpected defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 Presidential Election, they have been accused of authoritarianism, corruption, nepotism and bad governance.[6]

The Rajapaksas became unpopular among of the minority ethnics over their support to the Buddhist extremist Bodu Bala Sena that attacks on minority ethnics; however, the Rajapaksas enjoy great popularity among majority of Sinhala population because of the victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009.[7]


The Rajapaksas are a rural land-owning family from the village Giruwapattuwa in the southern district of Hambantota. The family owned paddy fields and coconut plantations.[8] One of its members, Don David Rajapaksa, held the feudal post of Vidanarachchi in Ihala Valikada Korale.[8] The family entered the political scene when Don David Rajapaksa's son Don Mathew Rajapaksa was elected in 1936 to represent Hambantota district in the State Council.[9] Don Mathew died in 1945 and at the resulting by-election his brother Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected without a contest.[10] At the 1947 parliamentary election two members of the family were elected to represent both of the constituencies in Hambantota district. Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected MP for Beliatta and Lakshman Rajapaksa (Don Mathew's son) was elected MP for Hambantota.[11] The Rajapaksas continued to dominate politics in Hambantota district for next three decades with two other members of the family (George Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa) also entering parliament. The Rajapaksas were represented in the country's legislatures continuously from 1936 till 1977.[10] The family wasn't represented in parliament after the UNP landslide at the 1977 parliamentary election.

The family re-emerged as the dominant political force in Hambantota district when Mahinda and his brother Chamal Rajapaksa were elected in 1989 Parliamentary election to represent Hambantota Electoral District.[12] They were later joined by Nirupama Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa.

Although the Rajapaksas had dominated politics in Hambantota District since 1936, national politics had been dominated by other families such as Senanayakes and Bandaranaikes. This changed in 2005 when Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president. Since then members of the family have been appointed to senior political positions. Immediately after being elected president Mahinda appointed his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary (the most senior civil service position in the Ministry of Defence).[13] Another brother, Basil Rajapaksa, was appointed Senior Presidential Advisor. In 2010 Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected President contesting against a grand opposition coalition that included UNP, TNA, JVP. At the 2010 Parliamentary Elections, Chamal Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa were elected. Basil Rajapaksa received 425,100 preferential votes from the Gampaha District, the highest by any candidate at the 2010 General election while Namal Rajapaksa obtained 147,568 preferential votes from Hambantota District, the highest majority percentage-wise at the election.[14][15][16] Subsequently, Chamal was elected as the Speaker of Parliament unanimously and Basil was appointed as the Minister of Economic Development.[17][18] Between them the three Rajapaksa brothers are in charge of five government ministries: Defence & Urban Development, Law & Order, Economic Development, Finance & Planning and Ports & Highways. At one point the brothers reportedly directly controlled 70% of the national budget.[19][20] The Rajapaksas denied having control over such amounts.[21] According to the 2014 budget the brothers have been allocated 47% of the national budget (40% of recurrent budget and 57% of capital budget).[22][23]

Numerous other members of the extended family have also been appointed to senior positions state institutions.[24]

The accumulation of so much power by one family has inevitably led to accusations of nepotism.[25][26][27] The Rajapaksas deny the charges of nepotism even though large amount of corruption, such as the censorship of journalists and the family's unwillingness to yield power to recent victorious Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka, exist everywhere the country.[28][29]

After the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration which resulted in the loss of their senior positions, some brothers of Mahinda Rajapaksa have fled from the country to avoid being arrested on their corruption and wrongdoer charges, as they fear because they could have been labelled as fugitive by the Sirisena Government.[30][31]

Political scandal[edit]

Following the 2015 Presidential election defeat Rajapaksa family were accused of misusing public resource during the campaign and including use of Sri Lankan Air Force in the Presidential Election campaign that cost $17,273.28 (Rs. 2,278,000.00) of public fund.[32] Rajapaksa family received numerous of state resource abuse complaint from organisations and election monitors including on their involvement in fraud, misuse of powers and murder – prior to their fraudulent cases are money laundering that said to have taken $5.31 billion (Rs. 700 billion) out of country illegally through Central Bank using Mahinda Rajapaksa's close association Ajith Nivard Cabraal the former governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka.[33][34]

On 23 January 2015, The Seychelles government announced that would assist Sri Lankan government in search of funds that were transferred by Rajapaksa regime into Port Victoria offshore bank accounts.[35]

Earlier February 2015 India pledged to help the Sirisena Government in tracing the billion of dollars that were taken out of the country illegally.[36] Instantly the Sirisena's government sought help from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in locating this hidden wealth to expose the alleged corruption of the previous regime.[37] Anti-Corruption Unit led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new Cabinet has appointed a high-powered “rapid response team” to look into corrupt land transactions, stock market price-fixing and the abuse of state funds for political purposes by Rajapaksa family and the close association of Mahinda Rajapaksa.[37]

Family tree[edit]

Mahinda Rajapaksa, head of the Rajapaksa family

1. Don David Rajapaksa, Vidane Arachchi (colonial post) + Dona Gimara Moonesinghe

1.1 Don Charles Coronelis Rajapaksa
1.2 Dona Carolina (Carlina) Bandara Weeraman
1.3. Don Mathew Rajapaksa (1896-1945), Member of State Council for Hambantota (1936-45), + Emalin (Emalyn) Weeratunga
1.3.1. Lakshman Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament for Hambantota (1947-52, 1956-60), Member of Parliament for Tissamaharama (1960-65), Member of Parliament for Mulkirigala (1976-77)
1.3.2. George Rajapaksa (died 1976), Minister of Health, Member of Parliament for Mulkirigala (1960-76) + Lalitha Samarasekara Nirupama Rajapaksa (born 1962), Deputy Minister of Water Supply & Drainage (2010-), Member of Parliament for Hambantota District (1994-2000, 2005-) + Thirukumaran Nadesan Shyamlal Rajapaksa (1966-2009),[38] Member of Southern Provincial Council (1999-2004)[39] + Prashanthi
1.3.3. Esther Gurly Rupasinghe
1.3.4. Pearl (Peri) Jayanthi Gunaratne
1.3.5. Kamala Wickramasuriya Anoma Laphir, Co-ordinating Secretary to the President[40] Jaliya Wickramasuriya (born 1960), Former ambassador to the US Prasanna Wickramasuriya, Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services Limited
1.3.6. Neil Kumaradasa Rajapaksa
1.3.7. Ruby Lalitha Rajapaksa + Nandasiri Rajapakse Chithra Kapila Suyama Maneesa
1.4. Don Alwin Rajapaksa (1905-67), Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Government Minister, Member of Parliament for Beliatta (1947-60, 1960-65) + Dandina Samarasinghe Dissanayake* (see Related families below)
1.4.1. Chamal Rajapaksa (born 1942), Speaker of Parliament (2010-), Minister of Irrigation & Water Management (2007-2010), Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries (2004-07), Deputy Minister of Ports Development & Development of the South (2000-01), Member of Parliament for Hambantota District (1989-) + Chandra Malini Wijewardene Shashindra Rajapaksa, Chief Minister of Uva Province (2009-), Member of Uva Provincial Council for Monaragala District (2009-), Basnayaka Nilame of the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya, Private Secretary to the President Shameendra Rajapaksa, Director SriLankan Airlines, Director of Sri Lanka Telecom, Director of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Private Secretary to the Minister of Ports & Aviation, Private Secretary to the Minister of Finance & Planning[41]
1.4.2. Jayanthi Rajapaksa Himal Laleendra Hettiarachchi, CEO of Sky Networks[42] Rangani Hettiarachchi
1.4.3. Mahinda Rajapaksa (born 1945), President (2005-2015), Minister of Defence (2005-2015), Minister of Finance & Planning (2005-2015), Minister of Highways (2010), Minister of Ports & Aviation (2010), Minister of Ports & Highways (2010-2015), Minister of Law & Order (2013-2015), Prime Minister (2004-05), Leader of Opposition (2002-04), Chief Opposition Whip (2001-02), Minister of Ports (2000-01), Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development (1997-01), Minister of Labour & Vocational Training (1994-97), Member of Parliament for Hambantota District (1989-2005), Member of Parliament for Beliatta Electorate (1970-77) + Shiranthi Rajapaksa (née Wickremasinghe)** (see Related families below) Namal Rajapaksa (born 1986), Member of Parliament for Hambantota District (2010-), Chairman of Tharunyata Hetak, Owner of Carlton Sports Network[43] Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Owner of Carlton Sports Network[43] Rohitha Rajapaksa
1.4.4. Chandra Tudor Rajapaksa, Private Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Private Secretary to the Minister of Ports & Highways[44] Chaminda Rajapaksa, Presidential Adviser, Co-ordinator for Hambantota
1.4.5. Lieutenant Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (born 1949), Former Defence Secretary, Chairman of Lanka Hospitals, Chairman of Lanka Logistics Manoj Rajapaksa
1.4.6. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development (2010-), Member of Parliament (2007-), Senior Presidential Advisor (2005-), Chairman of Uthuru Wasanthaya (2009-13) + Pushpa Rajapaksa Thejani Rajapaksa Bimalka Rajapaksa Asanka Rajapaksa
1.4.7. Dudley Rajapaksa Mihiri Rajapaksa
1.4.8. Preethi Rajapaksa + Lalith Priyalal Chandradasa, Member of Securities & Exchange Commission, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Member of Insurance Board, General Secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association, Chairman of PJ Pharma Care (Ceylon) Ltd, Chairman of MED 1 (Pvt) Ltd, Chairman of Employees Holdings Limited, Chairman of National Aquaculture Development Authority, Chairman of Ceylon Fisheries Harbours Corporation[45] Malaka Chandradasa Madhawa Chandradasa Madini Chandradasa Malika Chandradasa
1.4.9. Chandani (Gandani) Rajapaksa + Thusitha Ranawaka Eshana Ranawaka Nipuna Ranawaka Randula Ranawaka

Related families[edit]


2. Samarasinghe Dissanayake

2.1. Dandina Samarasinghe Dissanayake + Don Alwin Rajapaksa (1905-1967), Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Government Minister, Member of Parliament for Beliatta (1947-60, 1960-65)
See Family tree above for descendants
2.2. Nanda Samarasinghe Dissanayake* (d.2012)[46] + Wilbert Weeratunga
2.2.1. Udayanga Weeratunga, Ambassador to the Russian Federation[47]
2.2.2. Ramani Weeratunga
2.2.3. Dayani Weeratunga
2.2.4. Gayani Weeratunga


3. Commodore E. P. Wickremasinghe + Violet Wickramasinghe (died 2008)[48]

3.1. Nishantha Wickramasinghe, Chairman of SriLankan Airlines,[49] Chairman of Mihin Lanka
3.1.1. Dilshan Wickramasinghe, CEO of Asset Networks (Pvt) Ltd/Asset Holdings (Pvt) Ltd[50]
3.1.2. Shehan Wickramasinghe , SLAF Pilot.
3.2. Shiranthi Rajapaksa (née Wickremasinghe)** + Mahinda Rajapaksa (b. 1945), President (2005-), Prime Minister (2004-05), Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development (2000-01), Leader of Opposition (2002-04), Chief Opposition Whip (2001-02), Member of Parliament for Beliatta (1970-77), Member of Parliament for Hambantota District (1989-2005)
See Family tree above for descendants
3.3. Srimal Wickramasinghe, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister at Embassy in Vienna[51]
3.3.1. Tishan Wickramasinghe
3.3.2. Mishan Wickramasinghe

Other relatives[edit]

See also[edit]


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  7. ^ Haviland, Charles (18 November 2010). "Sri Lanka to inaugurate leader with 'biggest rice cake'". BBC News. 
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  11. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1947" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  12. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1989" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
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  14. ^ "Sri Lanka marches towards new era". The Sunday Observer. 8 April 2012. 
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  16. ^ "Results of Parliamentary General Election 2010 Hambantota District". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
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  18. ^ Mr. Basil Rajapaksa assumes duties as the Minister of Economic Development. 30 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Profile: Mahinda Rajapaksa". Al Jazeera. 19 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Perera, Kusal (12 December 2010). "It’s One ‘Oxford’ Salad For Two Racist Calls". The Sunday Leader. 
  21. ^ "‘Mr. 10%’? Prove it, says Basil". Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 30 September 2007. 
  22. ^ "Appropriation Bill 2014" (PDF). Government Press, Sri Lanka. 
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  38. ^ Wijesinha, Sam (11 September 2011). "An endearing personality". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 
  39. ^ "Shyamlal Rajapaksa's funeral tomorrow". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 16 August 2009. 
  40. ^ Singh, R. Bhagwan (29 January 2012). "Love lost to Lankan war". Sunday Chronicle (India). 
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  52. ^ "Crisis in filling vacancies in the Supreme Court!". Retrieved 8 August 2014.