19 May, 2021

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Rajapaksa Dynasty And Their Qualification Saga

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

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.”

One did not complete his Advanced Level and the other was expelled from the school

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.”

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.”

President Rajapaksa managed to place a black mark on his son’s face by providing separate air-conditioned room with internet enabled computer facilities to sit for his examinations

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.”

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.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Supppppperb!!! exactly Uneducated Uncultured rascals. :) :) :)

    • 2
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      So I guess the appropriate way to refer our president is “Dr. Mahinda Rajapaksa LLB (Didn’t complete G.C.E A/L)”

  • 0
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    So that may be true. I heard they killed Jeyaraj. coz he know every thing about MARA and even he went to see Shiranthi with Jeyaraj. oh dear dear ! :(

    • 0
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      To practice law , one must know the law . It’s useless becoming a mere paper lawyer !!

  • 0
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    Athe thiyena panath ussapu ekak vge. :) :) :)

    • 0
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      100% sure!

    • 0
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      Ussapu Pan ganada koheda doubla katha karanne. The reason Basil was expelled I think robbing other’s stuff including pens. That’s why MARA is joking him.

      • 1
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        Rajapaksians will face the same destiny as Gaddafi and Hussains………………………………no 2 words about it…………..mark my word…………..

  • 0
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    “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.’”

    VERY TRUE

  • 0
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    Well done Uvindu

    • 0
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      I agree with you. –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 is 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. —

  • 1
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    Famous Steeve Jobs was a college dropout but he made a name in Apple computer field and so many others scientists,writers, great leaders without any paper qualifications achieved greatness.Society has a tendency for to look for credentials

    • 0
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      There are people with high Intelegence they prove themselfs with invensions, Creations and abilities.
      I don’t think Rajapaksa family have any of this abilities. If some one can get a paper work(Credentials) without cheating he is defineatly a smart person. Unfortunately we see so many politicians without proper credentials making things worse.

  • 1
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    Now come on readers, be fair and objective. Rajapakshas are involved in politics. It is all about having a vision of what they would like to do (good or bad) setting clear objectives and inspiring and mobilising the people to give them the power to achieve their aims. They have demonstrated that they have got enough grey matter in their heads to do just that. Not many educated people could do such feats as this family has done in recent times. Even Mr Kadiragamar or Prof G L Peiris who are considered to be high academic achievers had not sought people’s mandate to represent them; they held their ministerial status through appointment by those who were elected.

    In this setting, the issue of academic qualification is really a red herring floated by US ambassador with mischeif in mind. It is information to be used according to the circumstances. Westerners do this sort of thing in negative diplomacy to create dissension within the nations that they want to control. For example, at the time Idi Amin took over power in Uganda he was hailed by British press as a former BRITISH ARMY corporal, a genius in politics. But when eventually Amin began to act against British interests, the same press denounced him as just an ignorant former British Army CORPORAL. Now you can see how the same words in a phrase have been twisted round to insult a man whom they had already put on a pedestal as an uneduacted genius. It is the way of the world. More recently they have done the same with the former leaders in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and now continuing with Iran. Sri Lanka too has become a thorn in the western eyes because it is beginning to do things with some home made strategies to wriggle out of western dominance.

    It really is not an easy task to hold a nation together. How many educated people can get on well with their neighbours? And how many poorly educated parents with no academic qualifications guide their children to excel in academics and eventually to hold down top level jobs? There are millions like that, right? So, this criteria about passing exams or doing well in schools at that point of time have nothing to do with the future direction of leaders, and who would emerge to take a nation forward.

    That said, we must acknowledge that Rajapakshas did not achieve all these single handed. There were countless war heroes and civilians who scarificed a lot to support in the nations struggle, including the national hero that has been incarcerated in a dungeon. There are more things that Rajapakshas ought to do to bring the nation together, and it would be best if they could get the General and everyone else to work together to march forward as they did during the period of war. It is the intelligence, vision and determination that is required for it, and not academic qualifications.

    The late Indian philosopher Krishnamurthy has said, “The problem with knowledge is that it is limiting”. ” So if you want to go forward and learn new things, break away from your knowledge and observe the nature”. Rajapakshas seem to have done just that from an early age when most of us are chasing qualifications as part of our status and desire for recognition. Instead menbers of this family; have observed the nature of people in Sri Lanka and found a meandering way round the limitations to reach the top. They may have come from a village, but does it matter. I would say it is real inspiration for all the village boys and girls to come out of their shacles. I would like to see MR mellowing like “Asoka” after his great wars, We have to wait and see, but on the part of the nation too, they must also show him that he is not under any threat, and that there are no local agents working for foreign enemies.

    • 0
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      BEAU, I agree with you. I’m not paid by Rajapaksas but I have to agree with you.

    • 0
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      I agree with you that you do not have to be an acadamic to run a country. Look at Obama, the so called know everything guy. He is messing the USA with his so called vision which is nothing. Therefore, fact does not matter. Only that MR has to Prove that he can do this without much education as they said. I hope he can change to better and not be like one of my Favorite President, Premadasa, who got rid of Lalith and gamini and some others because they are more education than him.. May be they all wrong and Premadasa did not do any killing that they said he did. However, he did not get chance to prove that they were wrong.
      May be we all wrong about the preception on MR. I know he does not give a damn who think what. But, action speak for itself. I see that the way former General Sarath Fonseka get treated.
      Whatever it is, May Triple Gems Bless my country.. Sri Lanka…

  • 0
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    ….The late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle is 100% correct about MaRa. Jeyaraj even admitted he sat for the law exams on MaRa’s behalf etc.etc. No wonder Jeyaraj was silenced!!

  • 0
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    I wonder what US embasador wrote to washington when Cambridge educated J R Jayawardena, and Sorborn educated Chandrika kumaranathunga ruling the country. If Sri Lankan questions these politicians’ education qualifications that is acceptable but why did US embasador write to Washington about those personal matters? There are weaknesses and goods in everybody, but if we look at only weakness on the others that is our weakness too. Rajapaksha government has done good and bad both to country, I hope president Mahinda Rajapaksha will realize his mistakes and find better solutions in developing the country. If president Mahinda Rajapaksha did a favor to Namal Rajapaksha in writing the Law College exam he is very wrong and failure as a father and a leader because he taught his own son how to cheat and how to misuse the power. If Namal took advantage from the situation that is also very wrong he could been honest to himself. Well, it is hard to find that honest people these days.

    @BEAU I like your comment education is important but people learn better from their own experiences.

    • 0
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      Get your facts straight. J.R. did not go to Cambridge, but, got us out of misery in 70’s. I was not even a teenager when I went in those Bread lines from midnight.. Only that his free market system became a misundersting due to many factors including “Greed of all”

      • 0
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        I am sorry for my mistake. J R wasn’t Cambridge educated, still he was more educated than MR. I remember 1987 he could have end the LTTE war but he was afraid of India and pulled our forces back. He wasn’t a gentlemen politician either at last phase of his political life, one example is Lampu kalagedi sellama.

  • 1
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    Former President of Sri Lanka Chandrika has said the Rajapakshas are uneducated, uncultured bastards.The stupid morons who are yelling out for the uneducated, uncultured bastards are even more uneducated, uncultured and bastardly than Rajapakshas themselves because:

    (a) everyone knows that it is a proven fact that as the cables reveal Rajapakshas have not undergone higher education, that Basil has been expelled from school, Mahinda has not passed A/L, Mahinda did not qualify to enter Law College and he did so by a temporary hole in the law and Fernandopulle’s comments proves how he passed law exam. If Rajapaksha acolytes have amnesia and cannot recollect these things the more recent Namal baby’s Law College fiasco would stand proof as to how Rajapakas’ theory of passing law college examination works!

    (b) Their bungling of everything in the country is ample proof that they have not obtained the level of education a statesman should possess to rule a country: from nursery to university, from remotest dispensary to general hospital, from gramaseva division to parliament, from police station to attorney general’s department, from poor farmer to multi-million businessman, from the tiny islet to the whole country they have bungled, deformed, undermined, adulterated, usurped and plundered at the very foundation. The entire democracy has been mutilated, vivisectioned and grafted with moronic Rajapksha dystopian measures and maneuvers. The Oxford fiasco and the hired PR firm’s writing the script for UN speech for MR are a stark instance of the level of education Rajapakshas possess.

    (c) The uncultured bastardliness is vividly evidenced in the incidents of harboring drug dealers like Mervyn, Duminda, Lansa etc, rapists like Vidanapathirana, pardoning convicted criminals and rapists, willful ruining law and order in the country, criminalization and politicization of the whole structure of the entire country. The misappropriation of tsunami aids and the nickname “Mr 10%” earned by Basil at Mahaweli Authority are good examples reflecting their horrendous pedigree.

    (d) Even though she later denied the story, the wording of denial is constructed in such a way as to both reaffirm her stance and at the same time gives fake denial to “uneducated” Rajapkshas and the morons desperately trying to whitewash Rajapskshas to be satisfied who would fail to read between lines.

    Chandrika even though not very far from the negative attributes of Rajapakshas has spoken the truth and nothing but the truth in calling them “uneducated, uncultured bastards”. With kings and kith and kin like these Sri Lanka is well on its way to become not the miracle of Asia but the abysmal dystopia of the third world where no one except the corrupt ruling family is uncertain of tomorrow’s existence. This is an “edawela tours” government!

  • 0
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    Put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and what we get is a picture of a corrupt, uneducated man with an inferiority complex who distrusts the learned and who is drunk on power. So here we have it: the end result of a race to the bottom, a dumbed-down Sri Lanka ruled by its own Papa Doc… aiyo!

    • 0
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      Hey Rory , how’d you then analyze undemocratic regime of JRJ

      • 0
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        JR was no angel but that is in the past. This is the present. It is true that SL politics have deteriorated from bad to worse over the last fifty or so years.

    • 0
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      ‎”To be a politician, you don’t have to go to school.” Prof Rohan Gunaratne Dec 2011.Unfortunately, nor do you need to have a brain to vote. :-(

      • 0
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        To be a successful politician all you have to be is an accomplished gangster…

    • 0
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      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.

    • 0
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      Hey RORY,Can you name the alternate.

  • 0
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    IF NAMAl can sit LIKE A NORMAL LAW STUDENT sit at ANY ONE OFof the law papers in the law finals and get 40 percent marks for that paper let along all papers i will bet all my wealth over 1 million dollars.Father also did not have basics qualifications to enter the law college and he entered through political influence and son repeats it again for our counties shame. shame Namal, Study and pass not through the back door..

    • 0
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      It’s time the de facto “Prince” of Banana republic got a haircut and stopped wearing alice bands…at least to “look” like a lawyer..let alone be qualified

      • 0
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        Like father like son, Both idiotic thugs. Bet hes not qualified O/Ls. All lies, Not a single genuine act!

  • 0
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    When they(The Rajapakse clan) can turn court verdicts, to favor their Govt: and cronies,passing a law exam is peanuts!!

  • 0
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    You don’t have to sit for any exam or pass that to practice “Law” in the lawless land of Sri Lanka. Some guys are just “jealous”. Even majority of the parliamentarians & ministers haven’t passed much of anything related to good education. No fuss please!

    • 0
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      OK……….he has to be fed by his Mama? Does he take a bottle still? what’s the point of passing exams if a guy cannot feed himself ):

  • 0
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    I enjoyed reading the comments. I am wondering whether any of the Rajapakses read these!!! If they had, and still continue to do what they do, they must be having “thick skins” Shame!!

    • 0
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      With so much wriiten about him in the media about the law exam, how can he face the world society? Shameless thick skin instead of changing the system, making it worse. This is what is called Miracle of Asia!!

  • 0
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    Has this family not heard of the saying “never try to bring anything through the back door that does not fit through the front door”?

  • 0
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    Namal sat exams specially tailored for him. Now he took his oaths in months after joining the law college, he is also undertaking a Mphil which he will complete tomorrow – Morale: in the land of crooks the biggest despot is the winner

  • 0
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    Hon Namal Rajapakse ,You are setting an excellent example to your fellow countrymen by becoming a professional through the backdoor and I muat say a Brilliant future is ahead of you as long as your corrupted father reings the country.It is a shame that guardians of our legal system watching and applauding all this nonsense.Surely cannot they have a better backbone.Shame on You people for giving to these goons.

  • 0
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    so my dear, what’s the point? do you think you know politics more than Rajapaksas? You are wrong. LOL get a life.

  • 1
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    What are the basic academic qualifications required to become a MP, a Minister or the President? Did President Rajapaksha and his brothers lie about their educational qualifications when they forward their nominations for elections? Did people questions about their educational qualifications when they vote? If educational qualifications are not mandatory to hold the current position that they are in why pointing fingers at them now just because US Embassy wrote gossips to Washington? If they are not good enough to hold those positions only thing people can do is choosing a proper educated leaders next elections. The funny thing is there are Ministers who are university educated and experienced, they create problems and make big crisis in their ministries and unable to find solutions and finally they all go to uneducated president to find solutions.

  • 0
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    Writing about the personal life of public figures with defamatory intent will not help our country to get out of present dilemma. The entire political culture where people are lured into vote for unworthy persons (whether UNP, SLFP or JVP) needs to be regulated through the establishment of powerful democratic institutions run by true educated patriots who are not politically biased..

  • 0
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    MR did not sit the Law College entrance test in 1973 as a candidate for the Proctor’s course (which required 5 credits at O/L) or for Advocate’s (which required 3 A/Ls). Minister Felix Dias said any MP could enter without the usual qualifications. But only MR made use of Felix’s offer. The 2 courses were amalgamated in 1974.

  • 0
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    Lal, do not misrepresent facts. This is not defamation but actual fact, and you cant get out of a dilemma by being voluntarily blind to facts. You must face and understand the fact to overcome it. You know, even to piss properly you have to have a proper education as to how to do it decently-you don’t piss into kitchen sink or flower vase. But we have witnessed astray dogs pee and shit on roads. Some uneducated astray beggars do the same thing as astray dogs! When a country is ruled by uneducated, uncultured bastards which is not a mere myth or a defamation but an actual fact proved by concrete evidence beyond any doubt, can’t we imagine the tarnished respect we deserve as citizens of that country who have voted these people to these supreme positions in the country! As a nation Sri Lankans are so dumb, half-witted, moronic and blunt that they think Rajapakshas are great worriers, politicians and statesmen!

  • 0
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    Is it not funny that people talked so much about Premadasa not having qualifications but ignored the fact that the Rajapaksa’s are far worse? At least Premadasa did not finish the judiciary off like this current ones are unmentionable in terms of what they have done to destroy the systems

  • 0
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    Such a lot of wrong has been done, By all great Rajapaksa’s , The sad part is that they have no education to read these and atleast get rid of the wrong doings. That time it was only o/L qualifications to join the Army. So there goes Gota also to the same catagary. No wonder these guys avoid there last class Mates and the Masters eho taught them as they know the best.

  • 0
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    Just for the record:
    JRJ University College, Colombo, Law College, Colombo
    Lalith Jesus College, Oxford, Grays Inn, London, Harvard, Educator Singapore/Israel/Edinburgh/Allahabad
    Gamini Law College, Colombo, later Cambridge
    Cyril Mathew, Landed Proprietor
    Elle Gunawanse, Sri Lanka Vidyala (Ode Pansala), under the tutelage of Ven. Baddegama Wimalwansa Maha Thero

    • 0
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      Ranil Colombo University, Law College, College

  • 0
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    Just for the record:
    JRJ University College, Colombo, Law College, Colombo
    Lalith Jesus College, Oxford, Grays Inn, London, Harvard, Educator Singapore/Israel/Edinburgh/Allahabad
    Gamini Law College, Colombo, later Cambridge
    Cyril Mathew, Landed Proprietor
    Elle Gunawanse, Sri Lanka Vidyala (Ode Pansala), under the tutelage of Ven. Baddegama Wimalwansa Maha Thero
    Ranil Colombo University, Law College, Colombo

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