17 May, 2022


Sri Lanka: The Brothers’ Grip

By Eric Ellis –

Eric Ellis

In Sri Lanka, power is concentrated – around President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Meet his brothers, sons, other relations and even his astrologer-turned-banker.

Meet Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena. He’s every saver’s dream come true – a bank director who can predict the future.

Abeygunawardena is the ‘working director’ of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest banks, the state-owned National Savings Bank (NSB) – that is, when he’s not being a celebrity soothsayer.

Abeygunawardena’s main claim to fame in Sri Lanka is as an astrologer. With his columns in government-friendly newspapers, a regular star-gazing spot on national television and a lucrative personal horoscope service delivered via SMS with the state telco, he’s one of the country’s most visible faces.

Read more in the The Globalmail

*Eric Ellis is an award-winning journalist who writes about the politics, economics and societies of South and South-East Asia. He has written for a range of international journals; Fortune Magazine, Forbes, the Financial Times, Time Magazine, The Times, The Bulletin/Newsweek, The Spectator,Institutional Investor, Euromoney, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and the International Herald Tribune.

Other stories;

Sri Lanka: How Not To Win A War

Sri Lanka: The Smugglers’ Prey

Sri Lanka’s Army Of Buddhist Power



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Latest comments

  • 0

    This is more like a 5% of the family ruling…. trust me on this, its more than what it seems. From presidency to municipal council, it has spread.

  • 1

    If the astrologer is that invincible and previledged to know the future…why would solicit a political appointment for a position he is effectively unqualified for! This is the kind of subconscious ignorance of Sri Lankan society these political goons capitalize on and feed off of.

    No matter how good the sooth sayers…the “predictions” come parceled with 99 lies.. His Excellency The late Premadasa relied heavily on them…but to an end that left him like a thrown out like loaf of bread! A good man he was but the foolishness led to a wasted end…the arrogance factor in the current men of the kings’court will lead to their disgraceful downfall..to add yet another chapter to the long history of this small island…so that men of wisdom and humility may reflect and live good lives!

  • 1

    Rajapakse Family background and other realted info.

    Rajapaksa is a ‘name’ that the British Raj gave to people that did a good job in Negombo/ Seeduwa area, close to Katunayake. The same way the British did, give fancy names to people in the Hill country and South, that did a good job!

    Rajapaksa’s are born Catholics of Malaccan origin (this explains the strong ‘gob looking’ Mongoloid phenotype features in all of them). His father’s name was Don Alwin Rajapaksa. His son (the President now) is Percy Mahinda. They ‘converted’ their Religious belief’s to gain Political mileage.

    This was no different to SWRD and JRJ, who were all from strict Christian backgrounds and converted to exhibit Sinhala Buddhist Extremism to gain Public Popularity. (Goes to show the basic insincerity and the manipulative methods used to gain power!)
    The Rajapaksa family is now one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful families in the land. Led by President Mahinda Percy Rajapaksa, all his ‘kith and kin’ now occupy senior positions in the Sri Lankan state. The family controls around 70% of the national budget.

    The Rajapaksa family, originally from Seeduwa/ Negombo later migrated with their Malaccan Catholic ancestors to the villages of Sippukulam and Giruwapattuwa in the southern district of Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota). Their Malaccan relatives were banished by Islamic Rulers of Malacca for helping the Portuguese conquest of Malacca.

    They were feared, and known for their brutality and ruthlessness.((nothing seems to have changed!) The Malaccan family forcibly possessed fertile paddy fields and coconut lands belonging to natives, (nothing seems to have changed!) by enforcing their brutality though rape and murder.(nothing has changed!) Some of the residuum of the Malaccan Catholic relatives remain in the Seeduwa/ Negombo area, such as the Lansa Family (no relation of Mario Lansa??!!) of Negombo who are cousins of the Rajapaksa’s.

    Members of one section the of the Southern migrant Malaccan family’s later converted to Islam to blend with the Muslims of Malay and Arab descent, in order to receive trade benefits and credit from Muslim traders who monopolized the southern trading ports of Galle and Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota). (p.s. History repeats itself- this time, with the ‘Chinks’ as well??!!)
    The others entered into Village politics. One of its members- Don David Rajapaksa, held the feudal post of Vidanarachchi in Ihala Valikada Korale. The family entered the political scene by first feigning their Religious beliefs aligning more to the majority inhabitants beliefs of Theravada Buddhism!
    Thereafter, Don David Rajapaksa’s son Don Mathew Rajapaksa was elected in 1936 to represent Hambantota district in the State Council. Don Mathew died in 1945 and at the resulting by-election his brother, Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected without a contest. At the 1947 parliamentary election two members of the family were elected to represent both of the constituencies in Hambantota district. Don Alwin Rajapaksa was elected MP for Beliatta and Lakshman Rajapaksa (Don Mathew’s son) was elected MP for Hambantota. They yet maintained the subtlety of their staunch Catholic beliefs but appearing to be Buddhists on the outside!

    The Rajapaksas continued to dominate politics in Hambantota district for next three decades with two other members of the family (George Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa) also entering parliament. The Rajapaksas were represented in the country’s legislatures continuously from 1936 till 1977. The family wasn’t represented in parliament after the UNP landslide at the 1977 parliamentary election.

    The Indo-Lanka Accord shed light on the Rajapaksa family to adopt a more headlined’ Sinhala Buddhist’ policy. This helped the Rajapaksa family to re-emerge as the dominant political force, in Hambantota district, when Mahinda and his brother Chamal Rajapaksa were elected in 1989 to represent Hambantota Electoral District.
    They were later joined by Nirupama Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa. Although the Rajapaksas had dominated politics in the Hambantota district, Nationally, politics were dominated by other families (Senanayake’s, Wijewardena’s and Bandaranaike’s – also hypocrites of Christian origin).
    With the country having faced more than two decades of war (made even worse by the ‘Hoodlums of the JVP), the Presidential Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa opted to take the more radical Sinhala Buddhist extremist path. He was opposed to Ranil Wickramasinghe, who had already created resentment from the Sinhala Buddhist majority and was considered to be ‘light veined’ and pro- Western.

    This paid off well in 2005, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President. There are claims that in the 2005 and consecutive Presidential Elections his Victory was bequeathed by the sordid tales of manipulation, thuggery and corrupt malpractices. None of these allegation were proved, leaving them only as ‘tales of the disappointed’, although many still believe the contrary!

    Since then, members of his family have been appointed to senior political positions. Immediately after being elected President, Mahinda appointed his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary (the most senior civil service position in the Ministry of Defence). Another brother, Basil Rajapaksa, was appointed Senior Presidential Advisor and later Minister of Economic Development. Between them the three Rajapaksa brothers are in charge of five government ministries: Defence & Urban Development, Economic Development, Finance & Planning, Highways and Ports & Aviation. This means that they directly control 70% of the national budget.

    None of these relations had the decency, honour or self respect to decline accepting these ‘high offices’ if only to squash the obvious embarrassing ‘accusations’ that followed by the thousands. They went on to acquire colossal amounts of wealth.

    The Rajapaksa’s deny having control over such amounts!( Naturally!) Numerous other members of the ‘extended family’ have also been appointed to senior positions of the state. The entire family seems ‘set for life’!!

    After the successful ‘wiping out’ of the murderous Northern terrorists (also known for their brutality and ruthlessness), he empowered his Military brother to be in charge of Defence, and begin to infiltrate into the ‘Urban Development Authority’ (UDA), which has inexplicable ‘Land powers’, to override even the Judiciary of the country!

    The accumulation of so much power and wealth by just one family, has inevitably led to the belief of blatant nepotism. Incidentally, the UDA was formed initially, by the former President Premadasa when he was Prime Minister, and placed under his direct purview a notoriously corrupt civil servant named Paskaralingam! (pundi koottee)

    Since then, the UDA has always been a powerful ‘control weapon’ of the Head of state. Now the majority of the country, completely ignorant of facts and honest information, act like ‘lambs to slaughter’, under the command and discretion of the Rajapaksa family. To enhance their so called ‘power’ they have recruited former menials,ex-cattle thieves, illicit alcohol brewers and ‘father unknown’ village thugs, to execute matters of ‘law’ summarily! All this whilst the country enjoys a reputation of having the’ best Police Force in the world- that money can buy’ !!

    Now, the UDA is alleged to be forcibly acquiring Private and State Property and transferring them on to questionable tri-p t agreements to their own family members and their ‘foot and mouth’ soldiers!! Re-living their ancestral history of conquering the deep south, and now the whole nation!

    Let us all sincerely hope that the ‘wheels of Karma would turn slowly, but surely’!

    ‘Anicca wata sankarra’! ( p.s. None can escape that one ! Not even you!)

    • 0

      Hampanthottam (now known as Hambantota)

      Surely this is not the correct etymology “Hampanthottam”. I must have been “Ampenttotam”.

      • 0

        Or “Ambandodam” :D

        • 0

          or “Hambayage Dodam” gediyas
          or “Hambaa Tatte” udin
          or “Ambattayage Tattoo” waya

      • 1

        There is a another school of thought that Hambantota evolved etymologically from ‘Sampantota’ (garden of Sampans).

        Sampans are boats that peoples of the Malay peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago utilised for sailing. It has been noted that the Southeast of Sri Lanka was the destination for migrants from present day Malaysia and Indonesia a few millennia ago.

        As previously intimated by readers the Rajapakse’s may have Malay ancestry, however only a genetic test can attest the veracity of such a statement. As I have said in my earlier comments, the Sri Lankans are a unique blend of many races quite unlike our neighbours in India and it makes a mockery of the claims of racial superiority that is often seen in these columns.

      • 1

        Sampan tota = The word “sampan” comes from the original Cantonese term for the boats, 三板 (sam pan), literally meaning “three planks”, although this term is no longer used in modern Chinese.

        Sampans are still in use by rural residents of Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam.

    • 0

      SUBJECT: Re: Fw: Fw: Cool story bro

      Did you learn all you history from blogs and chain mail spam? That would explain a few things :-)

      • 0

        It looks like you learn only via Mahavamsa story. I read books, blogs, etc. Not limit to one source.

    • 0


      Thanks for the History and Summary.

      Need the Abbasid Solution.

      anicca vata sankhara chant –
      Anicca vata sankhara
      Upada vaya dhammino
      Upakituva nirujihanti
      Tesang vupasamo sukho

      English –
      All conditioned things are impermanent
      Their nature is to arise and pass away.
      To live in harmony with this truth
      Brings the highest happiness.

  • 0

    This is what happens when a Jungle Monkey given a Grenade…….

  • 0

    A good resume of the Rajapakses.
    President Premadasa also created the new Ministry of Buddha Sasana and thereby gave political power to the Maha Sanga – which now has violent groups,which have forsaken the teachings of Lord Buddha.
    Thus the new breed of ‘political monks’ is born.
    They add to the chaos which is advantageous to the autocratic regime.

  • 1

    Anpu-It is mind boggling.If you are a singhalese what are you and your singhala brothers who are mourning and griping over this treacherous game of the Rajapakse’s doing about this? NOTHING.
    Disgracefull.Now I can say that I have respect for the Tamil youth who learnt over the years that their MP’s who tried valiantly to speak in Parliament were shouted down.Then they performed Satygraha on Galle face green when the singhala only bill was passed.Singhala MP’s came out of parliament lifted their sarongs and pissed on the Tamil MP’s who sat peacefully performing satyagraha.The on lookers were your ancestors – did nothing.
    Reading your article I admire that the Tamil youth took to fighting against regimes,who are openly stamped as murderers,hooligans,
    rapists,used religion to hoodwink a singhala race and above all gold diggers and money hoarders that the Tamils wanted nothing of this.
    After the murderous regime informed the war was over and now Peace ??
    There is no Peace anywhere in th country.
    One important factor to take note. THE TAMILS ARE STILL CRYING FOR FREEDOM
    So what went wrong.The Tamils are crying daily to be released from this treacherous government,and the singhala people.

    It would be an excellent solution to consider to go back to our own hoemlands- The singhala south and the Tamils and Muslims to the North and East.

    There will no more headaches for the singhalese,they can live in Peace having got rid of the Tamils.Peace and Freedom for the other ethnic races too.

    If the Tamils are still crying for freedom then surely the singhala civic minded people must think that there is surely something wrong with
    The DECLARED PEACE of 4 yrs ago.

    • 0

      hanna you [Edited out] ,

      you terrorist loving bitch wo doesnot know any history . love fucking terrorist bitches who blew up yout cunt

      • 1

        You Moda Abhaya,
        You are a living proof that Tamils in SL should have separated country or at least independent administration. Siri Lanka has no future because huge percentage of Sinhalayas are Modayas like you.

      • 1

        Are you ‘Abaya’ = No Fear or ‘Abhaya’ = The one into ‘hiding’?
        Suggestion _ Fix a K in front and call yourself ‘Kabhaya’, suitably appropriate.

  • 1

    Belief in astrology and mythologies of sorts (bali, sooniyam, washee, gurukam, thovil etc)have risen over the years among even urban masses, whereas practice of religion (ie Buddhism) has fallen correspondingly to the following of mere cultural rituals not amounting to what religious leaders prescribed.

    This indicates regression in civil society, quite amenable to exploitation from myriad opportunists.

  • 0

    Eric Ellis I reproduce your quote below.

    ‘Elsewhere, the military runs a security company, a hotel chain, a catering service, golf resorts, cricket stadiums, whale watching tours and a zoo on land where Tigers once roamed –‘

    Tigers are not indigenous to Sri Lanka, leopards are. If inaccuracy is the hallmark of your blog, then would I be mistaken in casting aspersions on the rest of your observations!!

    • 1

      lol the tigers he refers to are the two legged kind !!!!! so much for your reading ability

    • 0

      Eric said ”where Tigers once roamed”.
      Eric didn’t say: ”where tigers once roamed”.

      Can you see the difference?

      • 1

        Thank you, I stand corrected. The context of the ‘whale watching and Tigers’ in the same sentence threw me off the relevance. My apologies.

        • 1

          Could it mean “a crouching whale and a hidden tiger”?

      • 1

        Eric said: “Where Tigers once roamed”
        i.e. “Where Tigers once roamed” not “twice” roamed.

        I can imagine the difference, do you smell it?

    • 1

      …where two legged tigers once roamed, now roam two legged imbeciles whos mahawamsa history/fairytale book tell them that they are decended from a lion.
      Nothing has changed for the Tamils except that they fell from the tiger frying pan into the lion frying pan while millions of jackasses in the south shout jayawaywa at the jackal family that rules them and plunders their land. :(

    • 2

      Don’t you see, it is a jungle game of Lions vs the Tigers, to claim territorial rights to the land to live. hunt and breed. In reality we never had either of these animals and should have had nothing to do with these carnivores in the first place.

    • 0

      Tigers are Native to Northern India. So why did the LTTE originating in Southern India, take the Tiger as their symbol?

  • 1

    Dear Mr.Eric Ellis, Colombo Telegraph, CT readers, Human Right Advocacy Groops and Lawyers.

    We, all Sri Lankans do not approve what Social Affairs Minister Mervin Silva said in the Main Stream Media, proposing marriage to UNHRC High Commissioner Dr.Navaneetham Pillai.

    Here’s what the Citizens say about Mervin Silva.


    I think you all of you herd about the Marriage Proposal that Minister of Social Affairs Mervin Silva brought on UNHRC for Human rights Madam Navaneetham Pillai.

    Here’s what he said in the Derana News Report.


    As you are aware what Mervin Silva Proposing Marriage to an already married lady Dr.Navaneetham Pillai who is a Representing the UN world body in the open Media is a Sexual Harassment and Grave offense under Criminal Law.

    Mervin himself is a notorious Thug, a Rowdy and a criminal from notorious area of Beliatte. Beliatte is a criminal’s paradise where also Rajapakses are coming from. They both supress, harass and intimidate anybody who are against their policies and harass them through supressive means.

    Mervin Silva also represents Sri Lanka and through this disgraceful act, he brought disgrace to all of us Sri Lankans.H

    Harassing a respectable world renound Lady with filty language is a Sexual Harassment againse women, and it is punishable under law.

    What he said in the Main stream Media is not appropriate, indecent, vulgar and does not represent us the Sri Lankans. Infact he brought disgrace to Sri Lanka.

    Here’s the Websites that tell on UN Sexual Harassment Laws.



    Therefore I request if Mr.Eric Ellis, CT, CT readers or any Human Rights groups or Lawyers to bring a Lawsuit against Mervin Silva on Sexual Harassment charges against Dr.Navaneetham Pillai. This is a crime under both International and Sri Lankan Law which is punishable. He also should publicly apologise to Madam Navaneetham Pillai for uttering filth against her.

    He should be taught how to talk,behave and respect in the civilised world, and not to act as the usual criminal thug beast who represents Rajapakse Government who always protects his gang of Criminals, Rapists, Murderers, Thugs, thieves and Drug Dealers.

    Please bring Justice to UNHRC High Commissioneer Dr.Navaneetham Pillai by bringing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit against Mervin Silva.

    • 1


      “We, all Sri Lankans do not approve what Social Affairs Minister Mervin Silva said in the Main Stream Media, proposing marriage to UNHRC High Commissioner Dr.Navaneetham Pillai.”

      It looks like Murderer Rajapakse approves thug Mervin Silva. Otherwise he would not have a minister post

      • 1

        This is another MARA families foolish idea to turn the attention of majority Buddhist people. So, Champika, Wimal, Mervin etc….will be used for that. Actually these three are dogs of MARA’s. We call it in Sinhala PONNAYA.

  • 0

    Commercial Bank of Ceylon is a Private Limited Liability Company according to it’s website. From where did Ellis get hold of the ‘government connection’?

    Looking at the Board of Directors of the Commercial Bank it seems to have a very diverse and professional set of people.

    • 1

      Study Palmistry, the mystery could be dissolved.

      • 0

        Please let us know the Astrologer who advises the Rajapakse family. He seems to give very good forecasts, and auspicious advice. See how nothing seems to shake the Base of the Family!

  • 0

    How about the over 500 Rajapakse family Croney Business cartel who are in control and have monopolised the business deals and investments in Sri Lanka.

    These Rajapakse cronies have monopolised all the Business projects and Business deals including investment deals in Sri Lanka. No other businessmen or investor other than who are connected to Rajapakse Family are offered Business contracts, Investment opportunities and new Projects.

    According to the following Belarussian news web. Rajapakses are planning to invest in many projects in Belaruse which we are not been notified to us. It is similar to the 150 Million US dollars given to Uganda without any documents or signed contracts. This is how the cheap Mafia Basta…ds do their business deals. All in hiding.

    Please read the following web.


    By Alesya Vysotskaya: The visit of Sri Lanka President once again proves the genuine interest of this South Asian republic in Belarus.

    It says……..A couple of months ago, a large Sri Lanka delegation worked in Minsk; then it was declared about the country’s readiness to invest in Belarusian projects.

    According to this report a large Sri Lankan Rajapakse Croni Business delegation team had gone to Belaruse A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, TO SEE THE POSSIBILITIES OF INVESTING IN BELARUS……., which we were never informed or notified by the media.

    We need to know who are these Businessmen who are funding these Business ventures in Belaruse……and CT should look into this.

    Who is providing money to invest in Busines projects in Belarus is questionable. Where these foreign exchange came from. CB Governer and Treasury secretary should answer to above question.

    Please read the following webs to see who are some of the Rajapakse Family Business Billioneer cronies who Monopolise Sri Lanka’s Business mafia and Trade cartel.


    [Edited out]





    Therefore either CT or some Investigative Journalist or opposition party members or a Law Firm should investigate Rajapakses and their Crony Business Mafia Cartel who monopolise Sri Lanka’s business empire and should be brought to Public attention.There should be transparency in Rajapakse Business dealings and we citizens have a right to know.

    Therefore this is an urgent request for some Patriot to investigate Rajapakse Family mega Businessoperation and their Goons Business Cartel Empire.

  • 0

    We Tamils are idiots. We had good places in the Island, houses and all we wanted. Now we have to clean and cook for the white man or sell heroin and own a shop that another white man will burn down.
    We should be like the Jews soon and live in all the countries with social benefits and retire to peaceful Sri Lanka.

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