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Saturday, 29 October 2011

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Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa’s 69th birthday falls on Oct. 30:

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 Parliament).

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa

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 Puraya.

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 Medamulana.

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 Giruwapaththu.

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 1962 creditably.

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 students’ organization.

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 administrator.

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.

Scholarship scheme

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 time.

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.

Job opportunities

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 its people.

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 suburbs.

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 promotion zone.

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 now.

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.

 

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