Dinesh Gunawardena

From TobaccoUnmasked


Dinesh Chandra Rupasinghe Gunawardena is a Sri Lankan politician, representing “Mahajana Eksath Peramuna’’ (currently joined with United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA). He is also known as “a trade unionist, a human rights activist and a journalist”. He was elected to the Parliament in 1983 from Colombo District as the leader of Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, a prominent Socialist political party in Sri Lanka.[1]He is a Member of the 9th Parliament of Sri Lanka having been elected from the Colombo District in the general election held on 5th August 2020. Gunawardena took oaths as the Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs on 12th August 2020.[2][3]

Gunawardena, born on 2nd March 1949, obtained his formal education at Royal College, Colombo. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Nijenrode Business University, Netherlands and the University of Oregon, USA, respectively.[4][5]He is the fourth child of a family with a background in politics. His father Philip Gunawardena, was a former Minister and is popularly known as the “Father of Sri Lankan Socialism”. He was the founder of Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, and his mother Kusuma Gunawardena was the first woman Member of Parliament in Sri Lanka.[6][7]

Dinesh Gunawardena is married to Ramani Wathsala Kotelawela, and is a father to a son and a daughter.[7][6][5] His son Yadamini Gunawardena was nominated to the 9th Parliament from the National List of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in the general election in 2020.[8]National list comprises of the specially selected individuals nominated by the respective political parties to a limited number of seats depending on the proportion to the party’s share of the cumulative vote tally at the national level.

Image 1: Minister Dinesh Gunawardena[1]

Political positions held

  • Leader of Mahajana Ekasath Peramuna - 1983 to present[1][4]
  • Member of parliament – 1983 to 1994; 2000 to present[1]
  • Minister of Transport – 2000 to 2004[1][6][5]
  • Minister of Transport and Environment – 2001 to 2004[1]
  • Minister of Urban Development and Water Supply – 2004 to 2007[1][9][5]
  • Deputy Minister of Education – 2004 to 2007[1][9][5]
  • Cabinet Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development – 2007 to 2010[1][10][5]
  • Chief Government Whip - 02 May 2010 to 20 January 2015[11]
  • Minister of Water Supply and Drainage - 2010 to 2015[12][5]
  • Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations – November 2019 to August 2020.[13][14]
  • Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs - 12th August 2020 to date[2][3]
  • Leader of the House of Parliament – 3rd January 2020 to 2nd March 2020 and 20th August 2020 to date[15][16]

Tobacco Related Activities

Participating in a Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) organised event

A housing project was constructed through a sponsorship by the British American Tobacco (BAT) Group, Employees of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) and individual donors at Galagodawatte in Hikkaduwa, Tsunami affected area. Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) is the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary holding monopoly on tobacco manufacturing and sales in Sri Lanka. According to “The Island” newspaper, the government provided eight acres of land for the housing project. As the Minister of Urban Development and Water Supply, Gunawardena officiated the handing over ceremony of the houses to the community on 23rd December 2005. Minister Piyasena Gamage also participated in the event.[17]

Articles 5.3 and 13 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the World Health Organization global convention on tobacco control, recommends to reject sponsorships from the tobacco industry. A government Ministry collaborating with the tobacco industry in a project violates FCTC Article 5.3 as its implementation guidelines suggest to reject partnerships with the tobacco industry.

Opposing the NATA Act amendment on pictorial health warnings

Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, a Member of Parliament, introduced a bill on 10th October 2011 to amend the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Act to implement pictorial health warnings of the cigarette packs. The bill titled “An Act to amend National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act No 27 of 2006 said: "The pictorial health warning contained in the Regulation made or to be made under this Act shall be printed on the top surface area of both front and back sides of every cigarette packet, package, carton containing cigarettes and shall cover an area of not less than 80 per centum (80%) of the top surface area both front and back sides of every cigarette packet, package or carton."

The bill was defeated by a majority margin of 14 votes in the Parliament. Minister Gunawardena, as the Chief Government Whip, opposed the bill saying “The bill is against the law” and he advocated the house to reject the bill.[18]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

The local language translations



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Daily News. Minister Dinesh Gunawardena completes 37 years in Parliament, 18 May 2020, accessed June 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 Economy Next. Sri Lanka President appoints cabinet ministers, state ministers, 12 August 2020, accessed August 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 News 1st. Live Blog: New Cabinet and State Minister, 12 August 2020, accessed August 2020
  4. 4.0 4.1 Manthri.lk. Dinesh Gunawardena, 2017, accessed June 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 peoplepill.com, Gunawardena, Undated, accessed July 2020
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A N Singaravelu. Dinesh Turns Three-Score, Daily News, 2 March 2009, accessed June 2020
  7. 7.0 7.1 R Peiris. Boralugoda 'cub', Sunday Times, 2 April 2000, accessed June 2020
  8. Zulfick Farzan. SLPP announces its National List Parliamentarians, News 1st, 7 August 2020, accessed August 2020
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Government Notifications, 10 April 2004, Accessed June 2020
  10. Daily News. New cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, 24 April 2010, accessed June 2020
  11. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Government Whips, 4 March 2020, accessed 2020
  12. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Government Notifications, 26 April 2010, Accessed June 2020
  13. Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka. Official Website, undated, accessed June 2020
  14. Ceylon Today. MP Dinesh Gunawardena assumes Office, 25 November 2019, accessed June 2020
  15. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, MP, undated, accessed November 2020
  16. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Leaders of the House, undated, accessed November 2020
  17. The Island online. CTC housing project-new start for tsunami victims, 6 January 2006, accessed June 2020
  18. S Indrajith. Govt. defeats Wijeyadasa’s anti-tobacco Bill, 11 October 2011, accessed June 2020