Sajith Premadasa

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Sajith Premadasa

සජිත් ප්‍රේමදාස
சஜித் பிரேமதாச
Sajith Premadasa.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
3 January 2020
PresidentGotabaya Rajapaksa
Prime MinisterMahinda Rajapaksa
Preceded byMahinda Rajapaksa
Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs
In office
20 December 2018 – 17 November 2019
PresidentMaithripala Sirisena
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Preceded byWimal Weerawansa
Succeeded byMahinda Rajapaksa
Minister for Housing and Construction
In office
4 September 2015 – 26 October 2018
PresidentMaithripala Sirisena
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byWimal Weerawansa
Minister of Housing and Samurdhi
In office
12 January 2015 – 4 September 2015
PresidentMaithripala Sirisena
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Preceded byWimal Weerawansa
Succeeded byHimself
Deputy Minister of Health
In office
PresidentChandrika Kumaratunga
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Hambantota District
Assumed office
Majority112,645 Preferential Votes
Leader of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya
Assumed office
11 February 2020
Deputy Leader of the United National Party
Assumed office
24 September 2014
Preceded byKaru Jayasuriya
In office
Preceded byKaru Jayasuriya
Succeeded byKaru Jayasuriya
Member of Constitutional Council (Sri Lanka)
Assumed office
03 January 2020
PresidentGotabaya Rajapaksa
Prime MinisterMahinda Rajapaksa
Personal details
Born (1967-01-12) 12 January 1967 (age 53)
Colombo, Ceylon
Spouse(s)Jalani Premadasa (m.1999)
ParentsRanasinghe Premadasa
Hema Premadasa
Alma materLondon School of Economics
University of Maryland
WebsiteOfficial website

Sajith Premadasa, MP (Sinhala : සජිත් ප්‍රේමදාස, Tamil : சஜித் பிரேமதாச) (born 12 January 1967) is a Sri Lankan politician. He is the current Leader of the Opposition of Sri Lanka and Member of Parliament for Hambantota District.[1] He is the current leader of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya[2]

Born to Ranasinghe Premadasa a leading politician, who was the President of Sri Lanka from 1989 to 1993, Sajith Premadasa was educated at Royal College, Colombo and Mill Hill School before entering London School of Economics. He was doing his postgraduate studies at the University of Maryland when his father was assassinated in 1993. Thereafter he return to Sri Lanka and entered politics from the Hambantota District having joined the United National Party. He was elected to parliament in 2000 and was appointed Deputy Minister of Health in 2001, serving till 2004. He was appointed deputy leader of the United National Party in 2011 and was appointed Cabient Minister of Housing and Samurdhi in President Sirisena's national government in 2015. He contested the 2019 Presidential Election in November 2019 as the Presidential Candidate from United National Front, in which he polled second. In December 2019, he was appointed as the leader of the opposition, and act as a member of the Constitutional Council (Sri Lanka).[3] As of January 30th, 2020, he is the newly appointed leader (hence Prime Ministerial candidate) to head a new UNP lead alliance. [4]

Early life and education[edit]

Sajith Premadasa was born on 12 January 1967 in Colombo, to Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was at the time Minister of Broadcasting and a Member of Parliament from the Colombo District and his wife Hema Premadasa. He had one sister, Dulanjali Premadasa. His father was elected as the President of Sri Lanka in 1989, having served as Prime Minister from 1977.

Sajith having schooled at St Thomas Preparatory College and Royal College, he sat for his ordinary (O/L) and advance level (A/L) examination at Mill Hill School, London. Young Premadasa won the A/L prize for politics and business studies and besides being appointed a prefect, a rare honor for any foreign student, also played in the first 11 cricket team for four years, captaining the side in 1986. A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science of the University of London, his degree covered the areas of economics, politics and international relations, an education that served him in good stead later when he launched himself as a grassroot politician.[5]He interned in the Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Larry Pressler, a Republican from South Dakota. Sajith met many other influential senators, including John McCain and former presidential candidate John Kerry.[6]

Early political career[edit]

Premadasa entered Sri Lankan politics after the assassination of his father in 1993. Having joined his father's party the United National Party, he was appointed district organizer of the UNP for Hambantota District in 1994, where He launched several projects for poverty alleviation and housing development. He initiated the youth movement Tharuna Saviya; the People Development Foundation Jana Suwaya for poverty alleviation in Hambantota; and the Sasunata Aruna to aid Buddhist temples[7] and Sunday schools in line with the 2600 Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi celebrations.


It was from the Hambantota district he contested the 2000 general election and entered parliament gaining 83 percent of the UNP preferential votes. He won 82 percent of the preferential votes in the 2001 general election, 84 percent in the 2004 general election, 89 percent in 2010 general election and 86% in 2015 general election.[8][9]

Deputy Minister of Health[edit]

He was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Health under the premiership of Ranil Wickramasinghe in 2001 and remained till 2004 when the Wickramasinghe government was dissolved by President Chandrika Kumaratunga.[5]

Party leadership[edit]

For the fourth general election in a row, Sajith Premadasa won the highest percentage of preferential votes out of all United National Party candidates, which was just under 90 percent of United National Party votes in the Hambantota Electoral District.[9] Premadasa was elected as the deputy leader of the United National Party in 2011 and then removed from the position in 2013. However he was reappointed on 24 September 2014.[10]

Minister of Housing and Samurdhi[edit]

Following the 2015 Presidential Election, Premadasa was appointed Minister of Housing and Samurdhi in the new cabinet formed in January 2015 by President Maithripala Sirisena.[11] As housing minister, he initiated several national housing projects for lower and middle income families. These include Gamudawa, Jalthara Green Valley residencies, Homagama Mount Clifford. As samurdhi minister, he increase the samurdhi payment by twofold. With the addition of construction to his port folio, he initiated the Shelter For All 2025 objective and provided over 65,000 houses to low income families and initiated 2500 villages.[12][5]

2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election[edit]

The United National Party didn't field a presidential candidate in both 2010 and 2015 elections and supported a common candidate.[13] Even though they won the 2015 election and elected Maithripala Sirisena through their support, relations between the president and the UNP was shaky from the beginning. The power struggle between the president and UNP prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe led to the 2018 Sri Lankan constitutional crisis.[14] In the aftermath of the events, most of the UNP members publicly expressed their regret supporting a common candidate in 2015 and promised to field their own presidential candidate in 2019 elections.[15]

Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was the obvious choice for the candidacy and he reportedly expressed his intentions to run for the presidency in a meeting with other senior members. Meanwhile, several rebel MPs including Mangala Samaraweera, Harin Fernando, Ajith Perera, Harsha de Silva, Sujeewa Senasinghe wanted deputy leader Sajith Premadasa as the candidate and organized a rally in Badulla where Premadasa himself openly expressed his intentions to be the UNP candidate[16]

With the growing support for the deputy leader Sajith Premadasa and party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe refusing to make a move, Speaker of the parliament Karu Jayasuriya released a statement signalling his intention to run for presidency to end the confusion and avoid a rift within the party[17] However the Sajith faction gained strong support from the fellow party members through another two successful rallies in Matara,[18] Kurunegala[19] Matugama.[20]

He was defeated by Gotabaya Rajapaksa who campaigned on a pro-nationalistic, economic development and national security platform in which Rajapaksa gained 6,924,255 votes, which was 52.25% of the total cased votes and 1,360,016 votes majority over Premadasa who gained 42% of the total cased votes. Rajapaksa won a majority in the predominant Sinhalese areas of the island which included the districts of Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Monaragala, Ratnapura, Badulla, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Gampaha, Kandy, Matale, Polonnaruwa Colombo, Kegalle and Anuradhapura, while Premadasa gained a majority in areas dominated by Tamil and Muslim minorities, which had been effected by the civil war.[21] Following the election Premadasa stepped down from all ministerial portfolios and posts including the post of Deputy Leader of the United National Party.[22]

Leader of the opposition[edit]

On 5 December 2019, he was nominated as the leader of the oppostion, and was officially named by the speaker on January 3,2020.[23][24] With the appoinment as Leader of Opposition, he was automaticly given a seat as a Member of Constitutional Council (Sri Lanka).

Prime Minister Candidate and leader of Samagi Jana Balawegaya[edit]

Premadasa was selected by his party as the Prime Minister of the United National Front on 30th January 2020. He was named the leader of the alliance after a majority of party front liners back him over its leader Ranil Wickramasinghe.[25] [26][27]. He was appointed as the newly formed Samagi Jana Balawegaya led by the United National Party to contest the election.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sajith Premadasa Appointed As Sri Lanka Opposition Leader". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ New Cabinet Ministers were sworn in
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c "About Sajith Premadasa".
  6. ^ Book on Sajith Premadasa out next month
  7. ^ "Over 1000 Buddhist temples to be built under "sasunata aruna"".
  8. ^ "General Election 2015 : Hambantota district preferential votes announced".
  10. ^ Sajith Premadasa appointed UNP deputy leader
  11. ^ "Ministry of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs".
  12. ^ "Min. Sajith Premadasa attends event to distribute funds".
  13. ^ "UNP presidential candidate".
  14. ^ "Sri Lankan democracy under threat – Ranil Wick".
  15. ^ "Sajith Premadasa urge President to resolve the constitutional crisis".
  16. ^ "Sajith Premadasa stakes claim for Sri Lanka UNP candidacy". EconomyNext. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Karu Jayasuriya : PM's new pawn to secure his seat as the Opposition Leader in 2020 - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 17 September 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Sri Lanka : UNP Deputy Leader avows to 'definitely contest' presidential election at Matara Rally". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Sajith's Kurunegala rally draws mammoth crowd". Sunday Observer. 7 September 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Sajith Premadasa's Controversial Speech At Mathugama Rally Causes Ripples Among Working Committee Members Ahead Of Crucial Meeting". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Sri Lankan Tamils Prefer Sajith Premadasa To Lead Main Opposition". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Sajith Premadasa steps down as UNP Deputy Leader - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 17 November 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  23. ^ admin (5 December 2019). "UNP decides to nominate Sajith as Opposition Leader". Colombo Gazette. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  24. ^ Srinivasan, Meera (5 December 2019). "Sajith Premadasa named Opposition leader in Sri Lanka". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^

External links[edit]