Chamal Rajapaksa the Politician
Though he helped his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 1970 General Elections, Chamal Rajapaksa only entered into full-time politics 15 years later when he contested for the Mulkirigala seat on the Sri Lanka Freedom Party ticket at the 1985 By-Elections, and lost by a mere 1,329 votes.
His entry in to politics brought a sense of renewed hope and enthusiasm for the poor and down-trodden people of the Giruwa and MagamPattus of the HambantotaDistrict who were long oppressed by the many governments that that had come in to power over the years. Being the eldest son of the illustrious late D.A. Rajapaksa, the Lion of Ruhuna, Chamal Rajapaksa took to politics like a duck takes to water.
Entry in to Parliament
Undeterred by this initial failure Mr. Rajapaksa decided to contest for the 1989 Parliamentary Elections and gained entry to Parliament for the first time by polling nearly 20% of the total no. of votes cast in the Hambantota District.
Mr. Rajapaksa was once again victorious at the 1994 General Election as the People’s Alliance (PA) swept in to power defeating the United National Party (UNP) after 17 years. This time he polled 63,698 which was almost 26% of the total no. of votes cast in the Hambantota District and second only to his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Deputy Ministerial Portfolios
Mr.Chamal Rajapaksa remained as a normal Member of Parliament until 1998 when he was appointed as the Deputy Minister for Agriculture. Mr.Rajapaksa’s experiences of being brought up on an agricultural background helped him implement many outstanding projects during his short stint.
Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Deputy Minister for Southern and Ports Development in the year 2000 and served as an Opposition Member of Parliament after the November 2001 General Election when the UNP came back in to power for a brief period.
Once the PA came back in to power in 2004, Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries.
After the Presidential Election in 2005, which saw his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa being elected as Executive President, Mr.Chamal Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Minister of Agriculture Development. During that year, he was also appointed as the Chairman of the Hambantota District Development Committee a subject which was very close to his heart.
In 2006, Mr. Rajapaksa was appointed as the Minister of Irrigation & Water Resource Management and undertook several new projects as well as some existing projects that had become stagnated without any progress.
In 2007, Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Minister of Ports & Aviation in addition to his existing portfolio of Irrigation & Water Resource Management and immediately took over some of Sri Lanka’s biggest development projects.
The Hambantota Ports Development project estimated at a cost of US$ 650 million is a landmark among other massive projects launched during his tenure. The HambantotaPort which is in close proximity to international sea routes would provide bunkering facilities to around 10,000 ships annually earning valuable foreign exchange.The port would create over 300,000 direct and indirect job opportunities and will help overcome poverty in the Hambantota District.
Yet another landmark project initiated by Mr.Chamal Rajapaksa is the construction of the second international airport at Mattala, which would promote the tourism industry in the South and would also help create an Investment Promotion Zone in the area.
The Weheragala irrigation project in Hambantota, built at a cost of Rs. 6 billion would help around 5,000 farmer families to cultivate 12,000 acres of paddy lands during the Yala and Maha seasons. The MawuAra, Uma Oya, UduKirawala and Kekiriobada development projects are also among the many other projects that had been implemented by Mr. Rajapaksa.
Election as Speaker
On the 22nd of April 2010, Mr.Chamal Rajapaksa was unanimously elected as the 19th Speaker of the 07th Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. He currently holds this highly esteemed position and commands much respect and honour among all parliamentarians including those in the Opposition, for his impartiality and commitment to maintaining the discipline of the Parliament.Next »