Mahinda Rajapaksa

From TobaccoUnmasked

Background

Image 1: Mahinda Rajapaksa. Source: NEWS.LK website [1]

Mahinda Rajapaksa, born on 18th November 1945, was active in the Sri Lankan politics for the past five decades. He was elected to the parliament as the youngest Member of the Parliament in the history of Sri Lanka in 1970 at the age of 24. He served two terms as the 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2015. He was the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), one of the two main political parties in Sri Lanka, from 2005 to 2015 and then became the leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the new political party that spun off from the SLFP. With the win of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Elections 2019, an interim government was formed on 21st November 2019, of which Mahinda Rajapaksa became the Prime Minister. He was also appointed as the Minister of Finance, Economy and Policy Development, Minister of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs and Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities. The interim government is to be in power until April 2020, which is the announced time line for general elections as of December 2019.[2][3][4]

He was the second son in a family of six sons and three daughters. He started education at the Richmond College in Galle, and later transferred to Nalanda and Thurstan Colleges in Colombo.[4] Mahinda Rajapaksa comes from a family with a background in politics. His father, D. A. Rajapaksa, was a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.[4] Three of his brothers, Chamal Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa are active in politics. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former Defense Secretary when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President, was elected as the 7th Executive President in Sri Lanka in November 2019. Chamal and Basil served as members of parliament during the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Presidentship, in which Chamal was the Speaker of the Parliament and Basil was the Cabinet Minister for Economic Development.[2][3][5][6]

Mahinda is married to Shiranthi Wickramasinghe and is the father to three sons: Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha. Namal Rajapaksa, the eldest, is also active in politics, currently serving as a Member of the 8th Parliament of Sri Lanka.[7][4]

Political Positions held

  • 5th Executive President in Sri Lanka (2005-2015)[3]
  • Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (2004-2005; 26 October 2018 – 15 December 2018; 21 November 2019 - present)[4][8][9][2]
  • Minister of Finance, Economy and Policy Development (November 2019 to date)[2]
  • Minister of Finance (November 2005 - November 2015)[2]
  • Minister of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs (November 2019 to date)[2]
  • Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities (November 2019 to date)[2]
  • Minister of Highways (2004–2005)[4]
  • Minister of Ports, Shipping and Fisheries (2001)[2]
  • Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development (1997-2001)[4]
  • Minister of Labor (1994-1997)[4]
  • Leader of the Opposition (2002-2004; 2018 to November 2019)[4][2]
  • Member of Parliament (1970 – 1977; 1989 – 2005; 2015 – to date)[2]
  • Chief Opposition Whip (2001)[2]

Tobacco related Activities

Positive involvements in relation to Tobacco Control

During his tenure as the 5th Executive President in Sri Lanka, following national level positive initiatives were implemented to control tobacco and related harm:

Enactment of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Act

National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Act, the legal framework to control tobacco and alcohol in Sri Lanka was enacted in 2006, during his 2nd year of tenure as the President of Sri Lanka.[10][11]

Taking over the Thriposha Programme Management from Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC)

The Thriposha programme, a nutrient supplementation programme for pregnant women and under-nourished children, funded by the public tax money, was earlier managed by the CTC as one of their corporate social investment projects. During President Rajapaksa’s tenure, it was taken over by the government and handed over to the Ministry of Health.[12]

CTC is the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary of Sri Lanka with a monopoly of cigarette manufacturing and sales within the country. Please refer to Tobacco Industry Country Profile – Sri Lanka and the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) pages for more details.

Mathata Thitha Initiative

Mathata Thitha (translating to “full stop to drugs”) was a main strategic area mentioned in his Presidential Manifesto in the run up to the Presidential Elections 2005, and was subsequently implemented from 2005.[13][14]

Negative Involvements in relation to Tobacco Control

Influencing Tobacco Control Policies

His successor President Sirisena, publicly stated following his ascent to the president’s office in 2015 that President Rajapaksa objected to implementing pictorial health warnings (PHWs) covering 80% of the surface area of cigarette packs. According to the media reports, President Rajapaksa had allegedly questioned about the need for 80% PHWs from the then Minister of Health Sirisena in the presence of the CTC representatives at the official residence of the President Rajapaksa (Temple Trees).[15][16]

CTC later took legal action against the then Minister of Health Sirisena, and Supreme Court subsequently ruled to reduce the PHWs to 50% - 60% of the surface area of the cigarette packs. The issue was a major point of political discussion in the run up to the 2015 Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka, of which former Minister of Health Sirisena emerged victorious defeating President Rajapaksa.

Obtaining Sponsorships from CTC

CTC was one of the sponsors of the Api Wenuwen Api (Be Together For All) housing project, a concept of Mahinda Rajapaksa to build 50,000 houses for members of Sri Lankan Armed Forces. CTC made a financial donation to the project in the presence of Mahinda Rajapaksa on 15 February 2008 as reported by LKVideos.com.[17] “as a request made by the President from business community” [18]

Participation in CTC Activities

Rajapaksa was present in the ceremonial event to commemorate the recruitment of the 10,000th Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP) family in November 2011 according to the CTC annual report 2013.[19] Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP) is the main corporate social investment project of the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC). Please click on the link for more details.

Image 2: Excerpt of the image of CTC annual report 2013[19]

Appointing CTC Directors to Government Positions

According to the Constitution of Sri Lanka “all public officers required by the Constitution or other written law [are] to be appointed by the President, [including] the Attorney-General and the Heads of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Police Force”.[20]. Following appointments were made during the presidential period of Mahinda:

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

The local language translations

TobaccoUnmasked_Sinhala
TobaccoUnmasked_Tamil



Notes

  1. NEWS.LK. Mahinda Rajapaksa: a record of unwavering leadership, 7 April 2014, accessed March 2019
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Parliament of Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksa, undated, accessed November 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA. Mahinda Rajapaksa, 11 August 2018, accessed March 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 The Famous People. Mahinda Rajapaksa Biography, undated, accessed March 2019
  5. Facebook. Basil Rajapaksa, undated, accessed November 2019
  6. Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Biography, undated, accessed November 2019
  7. Parliament of Sri Lanka. Namal Rajapaksa, undated, accessed November 2019
  8. YouTube. Ada Derana Prime Time News Bulletin 06.55 pm - 2018.12.15, 15 December 2018, accessed November 2019
  9. NDTV. Mahinda Rajapaksa Takes Oath As New Sri Lanka Prime Minister, 21 December 2019, accessed November 2019
  10. Samarasinghe N. Politics of tobacco control policymaking in Sri Lanka, 5 April 2017, Daily FT, Accessed June 2019
  11. PARLIAMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA. NATIONAL AUTHORITY ON TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL ACT, No. 27 OF 2006, 1 September 2006, Accessed June 2019
  12. Dinamina. Thriposha Beda Harima Saukya Amathyanshaya Yatathata, 26 June 2010, Accessed June 2019
  13. De Silve L. Marked drop in alcohol, tobacco use, 29 July 2009, Accessed June 2019
  14. Asian Tribute. Mahinda Chinthana -Vision for the Future, undated, Accessed November 2019
  15. Subasinghe K. Amathiwarunge Balathala Araliyagaha Maduren Uduragath Yugaya Awasanayi, 12 February 2015, Divaina, Accessed June 2019
  16. Madugamuwa I. President proposes maximum vat on fags, 1 June 2016, Daily News e-paper, Accessed June 2019
  17. LKVideos.com. Api Wenuwen Api, Undated, accessed March 2019
  18. YouTube. High response for “Api Wenuwen Api”, Undated, Accessed March 2019
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2013, 2014, accessed May 2017
  20. The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Public Officers, Undated, Accessed June 2019
  21. The Island online. SEC, BOI and CEA get new heads, 12 May 2010, The Island online, Accessed June 2019
  22. The Island online. Susantha appoints to SriLankan Airlines Board, 29 December 2011, Accessed June 2019