The Sunday Leader

Rajapaksa Dynasty And Their Education Qualification Saga

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Mahinda Rajapaksa and Brother Basil

In 1999, the Ravaya published an article under the byline Mahinda Rajapaksa which analyses the provincial council elections results. The late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle asked me who wrote that. I said it was Mahinda Rajapaksa, and he laughed heartily. Everyone around us were very curious about that and asked, “Why are you laughing?” He asked MPs and journalists who were in the parliament corridor at that time to come near him and said “listen! listen! Uvindu says that the Ravaya article was written by Mahinda, how could he analyse statistics since he managed to fail even his Ordinary Level maths! Don’t be stupid, I know his capacity he was with me in the Law College, I even know how he passed the law exams,  Karunajeeva or Sunimal Fernando must have written this article for him.”
Now, last week Colombo Telegraph published a story based on WikiLeaks which says; Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa did not complete his advanced level exam. The cable which is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” details biographic details on Sri Lanka’s fifth President Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa. The cable was written on November 21, 2005 by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Jeffrey J. Lunstead.
Mahinda was described as “JUST A COUNTRY LAWYER” by the Ambassador.  He wrote to Washington, “Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa was born on November 18, 1945 in Verukatiya, in the Hambantota District, the third of SLFP founder-member D. A. Rajapaksa’s eight children. (An older brother Chamal is also an SLFP MP, while two younger brothers, Gotabhaya and Basil, had been living in the U.S. but returned to help with their brother’s campaign for the presidency.) He was educated at Richmond College in the southern district of Galle (where his father reportedly had to engage a Sinhala tutor to boost his son’s proficiency in his native tongue), as well as Nalanda College and Thurstan College in Colombo. He did not complete his Advanced Level (“A levels”) education, instead he left his job as a clerk at the library at Sri Jayawardenapura University in the Colombo suburbs in 1970, to run for his late father’s seat representing his native Hambantota in Parliament. …Taking advantage of a decision by the then Justice Minister to allow MPs to enter law school – whether or not they had the necessary educational qualifications – Rajapaksa graduated from Sri Lanka Law College in 1974.”
There are hundreds of comments under the Colombo Telegraph posts, people who are supporting and opposed to the Rajapaksas debating the issue of his education. There are plenty of political leaders who do not have proper educational qualifications. So why should Rajapaksa? That is the main argument from the supporting camp. Yes, it not a problem. But, on one hand does the public know about their ruler’s education? Does he admit his school results, if yes, then it can be a great example of courage and determination. On the other hand someone like him needs good educated advisors. What about his chief advisor? His chief presidential advisor and economic development minister who is also his brother was expelled a couple of times from his college in Galle. Another US Ambassador, Robert O. Blake wrote in confidential cable on May 15, 2007, “According to Embassy contacts, Basil advises the President on an array of topics despite his limited education and lack of relevant work experience…Basil was also educated in Matara and Galle. According to his school friends, he was expelled a couple of times from his college in Galle.” (see for the full cable)
Now what? These are the people who rule the country. Blake wrote, “Fear that Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stalwarts are disloyal has caused the President to lean more heavily on his brothers than on party insiders for support and advice. The President tends to postpone decisions and at times avoids decision making, as well as potential blame for unpopular decisions, by delegating many responsibilities to his brothers… The fact that Sri Lanka has one of the largest Cabinets of Ministers in the world, 53, perversely has contributed to the centralisation of power in the Rajapaksas’ hands because many ministers have overlapped or undefined responsibilities. Successive constitutional changes over the last three decades have concentrated on a progressively larger share of power in the President’s hands…The resulting confusion has meant that most important issues are handled by the President and his advisors, not by the ministers. The President himself holds ministerial portfolios including Finance, Defense, Ports and Aviation. He thus directly supervises over a hundred government departments and administrations. Together with discretionary Presidential spending powers, he personally controls over 60 percent of the national budget. His brothers lived out of the country until just before the election in 2005. As a result, they have a limited understanding of the Sri Lankan public’s concerns and few contacts within the country’s elite. This isolation has meant that almost all important decisions are made by a small inner circle with limited exposure to input and ideas from the country’s public or elite.”
Another US Ambassador Patricia Butenis wrote in a confidential cable on November 17, 2009, “Sri Lanka’s formal process for economic decision making is focussed on the Finance Ministry, but included input from line Ministries and private sector. The GoSL has over 100 Ministries, and many Ministers hold their office for purely political reasons. If a Ministry plans to change economic policy, it must first seek approval from the National Planning Commission in the Finance Ministry. If approved then it makes a formal request to the Finance Ministry. In reality, economic decisions are often made by President Rajapaksa and his brothers, with input from a handful of trusted economic advisors. A number of well connected business leaders and academics agreed that economic decision making is opaque, but key decision making is made by a very tight circle, usually President Rajapaksa and his two brothers.” (See for the full cable).
Robert Blake wrote, “Embassy contacts say Basil has no close advisors and more enemies than friends in Sri Lanka because he makes a habit of trying to ‘buy people.’ …Basil worked for the Ministry of Mahaweli Development, where he earned the nickname “Mr. Ten Percent” for demanding a ten percent commission on every project. Basil continues to be accused of significant corruption in his current position.”
Ambassador Butenis wrote prior to the presidential election 2010 “President Rajapaksa’s chief opinion pollster Sunimal Fernando – who is a good contact of the embassy on other issues – shared with us the first findings from their initial survey. Many voters saw the Rajapaksa family as corrupt (85 percent) and the president himself as corrupt (80 percent).”
This is the level of international reputation we have. One day if someone is able to hack Chinese Embassy cables we will be able to find ‘shocking stuff’. Under the subheading “Discord Between the Brothers” Robert Blake wrote “Basil and Gotabaya appear not to get along very well. Many have remarked that they rarely appear in public together, seem never to attend the same meetings, and at times offer the President conflicting advice. For example, when the GSL was reviewing bids for construction of a proposed new port in Hambantota, Basil and Gotabaya endorsed different Chinese companies. In the end, the President had to split the work between the two companies to appease his brothers.”
So, how can the country run with uneducated and corrupt people? Although later denied by former president Chandrika Kumaratunga (CBK),  Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis wrote to Washington in a confidential cable,  “President Kumaratunga found the Rajapaksa family involvement in politics very distasteful and called them ‘uneducated and uncultured rascals’. She worried that the political climate since her term had become “vindictive and threatening” and that Rajapaksa had ‘muddied the thinking’ of masses.” Some people simply say CBK’s comments on the Rajapaksas are just aristocratic displeasure. But how can they analyse comments from a subaltern leader like Somawansa Amarasinghe? In another “confidential” cable Ambassador Butenis wrote, “Amarasinghe was very critical of President Rajapaksa, saying he had a very narrow vision and an inferiority complex, which stemmed from the fact that he was not from one of the traditional power families. As a result, he suspected everyone, especially ‘learned people.’”
Blake wrote, “A presidential advisor told us that leaders like the President, who are not from the political elite, have two options. They can either be revolutionaries and try to destroy the aristocratic system, or they can join the system and try to create their own dynasty. The President has chosen to pursue his own dynasty. Namal, the President’s eldest son, is often mentioned as a possible political successor to his father. A separate Embassy contact told that the President is reluctant to call snap elections because he knows Namal wants to run for a seat in parliament.”
But sadly President Rajapaksa managed to place a black mark on his young energetic son and heir apparent Namal Rajapaksa’s face. The scandal of Namal Rajapaksa, receiving favoured treatment by the authorities at the Sri Lanka Law College at his attorneys-at-law final examinations grabbed media attention earlier this year. Thushara Jayarathna, another candidate at the exam, alleged in complaints made to the police, Law College and even the then Chief Justice, that Namal Rajapaksa had been accommodated separately in an air-conditioned room with internet enabled computer facilities to sit for his examinations. In the present political climate of Sri Lanka, the courage of Jayarathna’s decision to go public does not need to be reiterated. He has not only faced physical harm and intimidation for his trouble, but also received no justice either from the Law College or the Sri Lankan courts. The Supreme Court has thrown out his fundamental rights case on technical grounds.

54 Comments for “Rajapaksa Dynasty And Their Education Qualification Saga”

  1. love2beTRAITOR

    wow…lets keep dreaming for the miracle of asia

  2. Mervyn

    Mr. President you should either admit what is written or take these personnel to court for defaming your educational background as well as that of your son’s. I do not how you and your son stomach these glaring humiliations in public.

  3. Mahes

    Always “modaiyas” run the Singala government. Not only taken10% bribe but also 30% tamil blood.

    • A tamil from Sri Lanka

      LTTE took 60% of tamil blood.

    • Nihal


    • deva

      Your parameter to seperate “MODAYAS” from “learned’ is very obscure. To me you are just another puppet of western school of thinking, who has no history apart from a history of licking western boots. don’t insult our president and his family for correcting a historical injustice done to the Sinhalese people.

  4. TOM

    So where does an ordinary Sripala – Soma akka – Mohamed – Rasaih – Perera stand in a country – so called Democratic Socialist Republic of SL………Come next elections these same names will vote once more in favor of the regime.

    • Tom, ( Iam in full agreement with your comment) parliament is an elected body of representatives of the people. Bandaranayake’s or Rajapakse’s dont just walk into the parliament.
      They may be corrupt but like you say it we, the sinhalese, muslims and tamils
      and any other race who elects these people to power and I cannot agree with you more, come next election and we shall see these faces back in their seats.
      By the way, our cricket has gone international and often our playeras are called up for interviews. Thanks to Bandaranayake our boys are struggling to express themselves and in the process are killing the beautiful english language.
      can we ask our players to speak in sinhala or have a translator.

  5. a lawyer

    “Taking advantage of a decision by the then Justice Minister to allow MPs to enter law school – whether or not they had the necessary educational qualifications – Rajapaksa graduated from Sri Lanka Law College in 1974.”

    It is entirely wrong. you can verify by checking the rules of Council of legal education in 1973 which applies to him. I was in Law college then. to do Proctors the requirement was five credits in GCE O/L with English and Sinhala or Tamil’ which he had. 1974 entrants were based on the rules in 1973. A/L requirement enforced only after 1974.
    people have enough things to talk. not rubish. some time back there was serious talk on Premadasa’s school qualifications. D S Senanayake had only class 5. it has no bearing but the ability. all lawyers are not capable of conducting a case properly. but MR was never a bad lawyer but with many brifs daily.

    • yuga

      You seems to know what you are talking about. Thanks. I do not approve the way the country is ruled but this article seems to be aimed maleciosly to sling mud at the rajpaksha family.

    • Lt. Lakmal

      For a supposed lawyer you choose to remain anonymous and cant even spell correctly, another illiterate stooge trying to cover up – AGAIN!

      • gavfla

        Bravo, you hit the nail on the right spot. Its probably his son commenting, another dubious qualified lawyer….

        • hynes


    • archimedes

      thank you sir, for a reasoned argument against rumor. if only more people would stop and think first before believing everything they read.

    • PLP

      There is saying in Sinhala ” Even cats bear witness to ghee( milk)

    • Raymond Punchisingho

      If this is the truth the writer of this article has to answer for the error. The truth is more sacred than patriotism or religion (Rata, Jathiya or Agama). Let the truth be verified, confirmed, snd exposed, whatever it may be. There is no need for punishment, recrimination, defamation cases, thuggery, etc, if we have the courage to admit our mistakes in the pursuit of the truth.

    • ratagiyaatho

      the so called “Lawyer” who’s standing up for his buddy who apparently had many “brifs”. No difficulty in working out who this is. Another bummer who calls himself a Lawyer. Please refrain from embarassing those in this noble profession who are forced to view with disgust the depths to which it has sunk, particularly with the conduct of the buffoon at the helm of the country.

  6. Nishanka

    So I guess the appropriate way to refer our president is “Dr. Mahinda Rajapaksa LLB (Didn’t complete G.C.E A/L)”

  7. HUD

    Still these “un-educated” people have done more good to Sri Lanka than so- called educated people. That’s why they get votes. That’s democracy. Sounds familiar?

    • Lt. Lakmal

      Yes and soon bread will be 100 because even greater good has been done, what yokums you guys are!!!

  8. Sellam

    Mr. Rajapaksa

    It is a shame for you to be the President of Sri lanka from where many learned and intelectuals have born. Please admit and resign from your postion. I heard your speech at the United Nations. It was horrible.

    • mohamed wadood

      You should be shame of convicted ,convict rajaratnam and the entire ealam tamil diaspora ,who supported the suicide killing field of tamil tigers and the one who has committed scam ,credit card fraud, extortion, human , drug , weapon trafficking.
      Our President is much better statesman than biased, prejudice Navavi pillay & nambiar.His speech to the united nation, one of the best in a decade.Today the entire srilankans are free from terrorism .thanks to President Rajapaksha and the valiant ,brave men and woman in uniform who routed the ruthless tamil terrorist tigers from the den of srilanka.

    • Bhoomiputra

      Have you ever questioned the academic qualifications of Prabhakaran?

      • love2beTRAITOR

        ha? so MR n Prabhakaran r in same league?
        wats ur educational qualification first?
        prabhakaran is terror leader
        MR is president of a country

      • Lt. Lakmal

        No point same as MR. But I gather his daughter is more educated than Namal!!!

    • Kumari

      @ Sellam, why are you planing to be the president of the country. It seems you have problems with understanding english properly. President speech given in United Nations one of his best speech. Majority of Sri Lankans voted him, and his education was never problem to them. It was a problem only to US Embassy, LTTE supporters, and some some Sri Lankans who are with full of jealosy Rajapaksha family.

  9. Sri

    Thuggery counts much more than education. Jayawewa!


    I can believe that most, if not all. of the information in the above article would be true. It is also conceded above, that many of world’s leaders were and are not persons with high education levels or qualifications, including in our Sri Lanka. And worldly wisdom, knowledge of human nature, ambition, courage, perseverance, ability to organise, lead, persuade and control people, love for one’s country are all some more important qualities required in leaders, apart from education. Most of all, it is persons who contest elections and win who become leaders. Also, people’s verdict has to be accepted, until the next elections. Of course, honesty and integrity are of paramount importance, one needs, to maintain his or her leadership position, and reputation in history. I feel I have a greater duty to comment on this, and maybe a right too, since I was and perhaps am talked of, among educated folks, as one of the highest qualified persons in Sri Lanka, with 4-degrees from Bachelor’s to Doctorates, 5-engineering and 1-management charters, and a few other professional fellowships. Why I do mention these is to justify that high qualifications and education alone are insufficient to lead organizations and countries. Certain other personal skills, familial support & co-operation, and good luck, are all needed, and health must contribute too, in the correct proportions to make great and effective leaders. I do feel sad that the above debate is taking place at all. I feel we should concede due respect and credit for leaders in office.

    • Well said I honour you .We have to respect our leader.there have been educated leaders in this country but what have they done did they truly love this country.our president has given us peace .and so be grateful where would we
      have been.a failed country with no developement, no nothing at all.

    • I agree with you Sir, First I have to say I am just a A/l passed person to reply you. I agree everything you said. Some time persons show their ability to lead With other qualification without education. Question is our leader in Sri Lanka proves that. When you have a country without law and Order,2000 something rape cases in 2011.Drug dealers in Action in defense ministry, leader’s jumbo size cutouts displaying every roundabout on the street spending millions of people’s money, millions of tax payers money spending on elections to promote their siblings, leader who is practicing nepotism non like in history spicily when you have a country inflation is going up day by day and not ordinary people can have piece of bread while government supporters spending 25 thousand rupees for 31st night dinner dance, who has ministers messed up exam results destroying two hundreds odd student’s future. When we have tourist kill in Tangalle by who has photograph right next our leader. So I can go on and on. Sir but I think this enough to understand education help with other qualities. Problem is here in our leader missing everything. He only has a desire to be in power to the day his die. Just because of he won the war (supporting the war while in Air condition room) we cannot let him ruined the country for ever. Pardon for my English since it is not fluent like yours.

    • suren soysa

      The logic in your write-up is plainly evident, when you read many others who write for the sake of writing & because their candidate did not win at the 2010 presidential elections! The artical itself is based on what notorious Wiki leaks & scavengers of the US Embassy in SL has to say, which is not necessarily the Gospel truth. Mahinda wins because the people who voted him to power think like Prof.Kopan Mahadeva!

  11. tissa


  12. Ambassador ‘s are coming to country for Diplomatic relationship but USA Ambassador came to Srilanka for search education qualification’s ha….ha.. (ballage wede buruwa koranawa) Is Mr. Bush educated man ?.

  13. Asitha

    Pls read the lawyers comment as well.

    One and only decision he made for the country is incomparable and is more than enough. He never claimed he has A/L?

    We know there are terrorist elements and others with ulterior motives to discredit him and the country……..Dont bother……

  14. Sumanapala Balasuriya

    Doesn’t matter what credentials has he got. If he can lead the country in the right direction. No body here is interested in the well being of ordinary SL citizens. we have highly educated and skilled Sri Lankans if the president wants to use for the beterment of the country.

  15. Viraj

    John Major former Priminister of UK only had G.C.E. (O/L) and was suitable to be one. All what an American says is true. Covert operations calling deplomacy.
    You have to understand the capitalist mind. Most are motivated for personal gains. Blake ‘s agenda is aginst the interest of SriLankans. All what he wanted was to be the Rambo end of the day. That failed . Blake and Butainus can only be negative about our little mother land. M.R.was the only choice poeple had in a crisis situation. Chandrika wanted peace with terrorists to Educate her Children in UK. Ranil just to be in power. People to live without the menace of suicide bombs. Of course what public expected is not happening. Frustating.!

  16. halaya

    This is new line. May be this writer thinks democracy is not the way to appoint the leader of the counry. Only their educational quallifications?

    So throw away democracy and let the person with best educational results govern the country.

    Rajapaksha as done better to the country than any other so called well educated people. The people who lives with NGO money wouldn’t admit that and they would like to keep this anti Rajapaksha campeign live to earn their livings. Not a bad way to earn money.

  17. mohamed wadood

    Education,Educated and Street smart.
    To be a great ruler, conquerer , politician ,enterpreneur you dont need to be a rocket scientist. Some are blessed .So the rajapakshes. Dont be jealous about Our President and his family !!!!!!!!!
    Educated folks are short sighted too, look at our universities our undergrads and grads behaving like infants ? Ranil saga ? JVP retards ? So we need a iron fisted leader to govern and impliment democratic reforms , values and to respect the judiciary. We are lacking leaders to govern but Our opposition in a total disarray. Quote ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know’,

  18. If not for the RAPAKSEA, Sri Lanka would have been in the same peril & disaster as during the last 30 yrs period.When these VULTURES have nothing to pen against thje Great Leader President Mahinda Rajapakse and the Rajapakse Family, they talk of something very IRREVELENT.Has the writer written any thing criticising Barack Obama or Ranil wickremasinghe or EVEN the First Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mr. D.S.Senanayake????? No No No!!!
    Why? They are all from the same camp called the Unpatriotic, West worshipping KALUSUDDAS!!!

  19. We had a war for 30 years . JR, Premadasa , Ranil or Chandrika could not do nothing. Rajapaksa did impossible ( every one thought). Even in USA President Reagan was an actor. Not a well known actor either. He did great as a president.
    They called Reaganomics as his economic policies.
    Steve jobs of Apple computer is drop out of university. Formal education is nothing to with ability of the person to accomplish a task.
    Lot of people in Sri Lanka always 3C’ s. Because of J
    Means Criticize
    Because of Jealousy.

  20. Herby Padmaperuma

    Follow dispassionately without prejudicse the learned comments of ” a Proctor” and Prof.Kopan Mahadeva. The comments of other half baked blokes have to be dismissed as bullshit.The US Embssy is enjoying political immunity to belittle and disparage Srilanka when ever and where ever possible and our idiot hell bent to disgrace the Rajapaksh family licks such poonac with gullible relish. .Certainly education is essential in certain vocations, but in politics world over the popular moblity, integrity, sharp presence of mind, pruidence acumen integrity and audacity should suffice until gaining experience and maturity. DS is the best example. So why fret over , when we can Vote in and Vote out politicians.

  21. Lt. Lakmal

    Why are fake professors who live in high British society bothering to talk so much about the value in absence of education??? The present situation in Sri Lanka purely highlights what happens when an uneducated, ruthless despotic thug is given power – continuous ascension of their family members to heights of power, nepotism, despotism and kleptocracy.

  22. Bruz

    No matter what, Mr Rajapakse is our President, elected by people and due respect should be given for the position he holds. Education is a different thing as not all the educated people can be successful politicians. The only thing lacking is, he is not
    keeping educated advisers around or listening to them, but totally depending on his not so educated siblings. The fact remains, he is the President & no one has any say so long as he stays in that seat. We should not talk so openly or argue about his education as it is distasteful, demeaning and disgraceful in general.

  23. Educational qualifications? Ha Ha what a joke. Do we really need educated people to run our Banana Republic? We all know about rajapakses qualification. School reject Basil is now Economic & development minister. Petrol station attendant from USA is now Defence Secretary. Drug delaer is another minister. Dubai returned warehouse clerk was CEO of Mihin Air and so on. There are so many other crooks and clans is holding top job in this government. Thanks to Mahinda Chinthanaya.

  24. SinchoAPPU

    Having read many of the comments and the contents made, I REALLY dont think that a country leader must have degrees offered by western elite universities. Former Malaysian PM was graduated from a local university and he is not from any elite families in that country. But he is one of good leaders that asia ever had. And there many other leaders on this world who have done their jobwell even if they are not well qualified. Even if I dont respect the current regime, I would not look down upon academic qualifications of a country´s leader.

    And the fact as it is there are also universities in Newzealand one can study a degree course without having Alevels. This was shared to us from a NZ mate at the time I was doing my graduate courses:

  25. Can anybody write the biography of Rajapakse dynasty including the education, family history and how the cabinet, internal and foreign affairs ect..etc.. are made and how the country is run…(for me it is run like a b—- den) . The book can be a good seller as people are curious to know the truth.

  26. Roy

    Very soon Sri Lanka will be a Banana Repiblic Cabrall has sold all gold reserves last week to pay the commissions to Basil Gota MR and his BIL Wickreasinghe

  27. Dinuk

    Thanks! but you have left out Gota the Goon’s qualifications: he has an IT certificate from somewhere.. Oh vow!
    Keep up the good work and call for reduction of the Cabinet to 20

  28. Dinuk

    Please investigate Namals Sports business – car racing, drag racing, Carleton Sports chanel, Rugby Sevens, cricket etc. beach games in Hambantota etc. We need an expose on the sports business that is being done by Namla to fund himself and transfer public assets into private hands

  29. Nimal

    I Am no supporter of the President but give him the respect he deserves afterall he is the proffered candidate of the majority and duly elected President.Sling mud at him is treacherous while the criminal diaspora is trying to reenter the country to create another era of murder and strife.
    Give him a chance to further consolidate the North so that the island have a stable future.there no doubt that there is malpractice and corruption in the trying to destabilizing the country gives in to the enemies of the country.
    Those opposition people must join with the government do some positive work to develop the country.because we are divided he is not accountable for any misdeeds commit get together to make sure the country develops and guard against the external threat of the separatist lobby.Who knows if this very paper may be batting for them and that’s a shame.

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