20 September, 2019

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WikiLeaks: MR Did Not Complete His Advanced Level

“JUST A COUNTRY LAWYER”

By Colombo Telegraph –

“He did not complete his Advanced Level (“A levels”) education, instead leaving his job as a clerk at the library at Sri Jayawarendapura University in the Colombo suburbs in 1970 to run for his late father’s seat representing his native Hambantota in Parliament.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeak database. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL”  details biographic details on Sri Lanka’s fifth President  Percy Mahendra Rajapakse. The cable was written on November 21, 2005 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead.

Under the subheading “JUST A COUNTRY LAWYER” Ambassador Lunstead wrote “ Percy Mahinda Rajapakse was born on November 18, 1945 in Verukatiya, Hambantota District, the third of SLFP founder-member D.A. Rajapakse’s eight children. (An older brother Chamal is also an SLFP MP, while two younger brothers, Godabhaya 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 leaving his job as a clerk at the library at Sri Jayawarendapura University in the Colombo suburbs in 1970 to run for his late father’s seat representing his native Hambantota in Parliament. When he won at the age of 24, he became the youngest MP in Sri Lanka’s history to enter Parliament–a record that still stands. 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–Rajapakse graduated from Sri Lanka Law College in 1974.”

Below we give the relevant part of the confidential cable;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 001981

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2015
TAGS: PINR PGOV CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA:  BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ON PRESIDENT
MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE

REF: A. COLOMBO 1853

     B. COLOMBO 1975

Classified By: AMB. JEFFREY J. LUNSTEAD.  REASON:  1.4 (B,D).
-----------------
MEET THE NEW BOSS
------------------

1.  (SBU) Percy Mahendra (aka "Mahinda") Rajapakse was sworn
in as Sri Lanka's fifth President on November 18, 2005--his
60th birthday.  Like his predecessor and rival Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Rajapakse has the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party (SLFP) in his blood, with his father, D.A. Rajapakse,
joining Chandrika's father S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to form the
SLFP in 1951, and an uncle serving as a Cabinet Minister in
the 1970 government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Chandrika's
mother.  With his sterling SLFP credentials and with a
brother and cousin also involved in politics--and with three
young sons possibly contemplating political careers as
well--Rajapakse is widely considered to represent the only
real challenge to the Bandaranaike family's dynastic grip on
the party.  The left-of-center economic policies endorsed in
his campaign manifesto, as well as the quasi-nationalist
sentiment in his anti-federalist stand on the peace process
(Ref A), may reflect a conscious effort by Rajapakse to move
the party away from the centrist positions espoused by
Kumaratunga over her 11 years as president and back toward
its original Sinhalese socialist roots.  Rajapakse has a
reputation for astutely outflanking domestic political
rivals--his longevity within the corrosively internecine SLFP
bears indirect testimony to this talent--but his experience
on the international stage is limited.  Although clearly
indebted to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for his
narrow victory at the November 17 presidential polls,
Rajapakse will likely try to limit the former Marxists'
influence in his administration.  How successful he is in
doing so will be one of the most important tests of his
legendary political savvy.

---------------------
SOUTHERN STRENGTH:
ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL
----------------------

2.  (SBU) Hailing from a politically prominent family from
the southeastern district of Hambantota, Rajapakse is the
first Sri Lankan president not from Colombo or its environs.
(Late President Ranasinghe Premadasa's family is from the
south, but he himself grew up in and was elected from
Colombo.)  Rajapakse identifies strongly with his rural
southern Buddhist base (which, incidentally, is the same base
eyed by the JVP), even though his family's wealth, education
and political prominence obviously distinguish him from the
typical Sinhalese farmer.  With southern Sinhalese voters,
the admiration appears to be mutual; Rajapakse won handy
majorities in the six southern districts of Kalutara, Galle,
Ratnapura, Moneragala, Kurunegala, Hambantota and Matara.

-----------------------
JUST A COUNTRY LAWYER
-----------------------

3.  (U) Percy Mahinda Rajapakse was born on November 18, 1945
in Verukatiya, Hambantota District, the third of SLFP
founder-member D.A. Rajapakse's eight children.  (An older
brother Chamal is also an SLFP MP, while two younger
brothers, Godabhaya 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 leaving his job as a clerk at
the library at Sri Jayawarendapura University in the Colombo
suburbs in 1970 to run for his late father's seat
representing his native Hambantota in Parliament.  When he
won at the age of 24, he became the youngest MP in Sri
Lanka's history to enter Parliament--a record that still
stands.  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--Rajapakse
graduated from Sri Lanka Law College in 1974.
LUNSTEAD
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