“Bringing Prosperity and Development to the Village” Towns and villages referred to as border villages during times of the civil war that plagued the country for over 3 decades experience a level of success and harmony never before thought possible, thanks to the initiative of his Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksha. This is how Minister Duminda Dissanayake the current Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister of Education Services reflects on the end of the war and the benefits brought by it to our communities.
Minister Duminda always looks up to his father as his role model. Keeping in tune with his father’s philosophy of being connected with the public, Minister Dissanayake is a simple, down to earth individual who enjoys the simple perks of life, family, friends and music. The following is a glimpse at the two personas of Duminda Dissanayake, the politician and the man behind the politics.
Born on March 28, 1979 to the late Berty Premalal Dissanayake a prominent businessmen at the time, who would later go on to be the driving force behind the Sri Lanka National Freedom Party success in the North central Province as well as the Chief Minister of the North Central Province and to Jayani Tissera Dissanayake, a teacher of mathematics by profession, Duminda Dissanyake was the eldest in a family of four boys.
Growing up in Anuradhapura Minister Duminda and his younger siblings were exposed to Sri Lanka’s historic cultural and spiritual background on a daily basis. This instilled morals and traditional values in him that the honourable minister brought along with him to his workings in Diyawanna Oya.
After a brief romance, Minister Dissanayake married Senani Lanka Jayarathne, daughter of current Prime Minister, D.M. Jayarathne on 29th beautiful daughter.
Beginning his education journey at the young age of just 4 years old at Hatharaswela Maha Vidyalala, Anuradhapura young Duminda sat for his grade 5 scholarship examination while studying at Walisinghe Harischandra Vidyalaya. Upon passing the scholarship exam, Duminda was promoted to Anuradhapura Central College where he sat for his G.C.E. Ordinary Level examinations.
In order to study for his G.C.E. Advanced Level examinations Dissanayake entered the prestigious Royal College, Colombo where he studied in the Science stream with his parents intention of seeing Duminda becoming a doctor; however, Duminda had other plans in mind. With the strong urge to enter into politics and serve his country, Duminda had his sights set on becoming a lawyer.
Following a path he set out for himself Minister Dissanayake travelled to Australia in order to do complete a degree in Information Technology. Upon returning to his motherland in 1999, the lack of local A/L’s proved to be a hindrance to his ambitions of being a lawyer. As a solution, with just 3 months to prepare, Dissanayake sat for G.C.E. A/L’s in Arts stream and obtained the qualifications to attend Law College.
Incidentally this father-son duo are the only politicians in Anuradhapura to have been born in the city itself.
In his leisure time, Minister Dissanayake likes to indulge in his long time hobby of playing Pool or as some would refer to it, billiards. A habit he picked up during his stay in Australia, the Minister claims that he makes some time in his busy schedule to play billiards as it helps him relax from a hard days work. He also enjoys meeting his friends during free time for an informal chat.
Contesting in the 2000 general election as a candidate for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Duminda Dissanayake became the youngest person to be elected as a member of parliament in Sri Lanka, a record previously held by the current Sri Lankan President, his excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksha.
Minister Duminda Dissanayake had been exposed to politics and the workings of parliament from a very young age due to the patronage of his father, the late honourable minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake, a charismatic and influential individual in his own right. Therefore, it didn’t come as a surprise when young Duminda just 21 years of age was elected to represent the people of Anuradhapura as a member of parliament.
Stepping into the place where all the country’s important decisions are made as a stakeholder in the said decision making process at such a young age would have no doubt been a daunting task for anyone. For Dissanayake it was like another day at home, since most of the members of parliament were his father’s equals and were people that Duminda had known since he was a boy.
While serving as a backbencher in the opposition from 2001 to 2004, Minister Dissanayake took an active role in the country’s youth affairs, later becoming its Vice President. His first parliamentary appointment was as Deputy Minister of The Skills Development, Vocational Training and Technical Education Ministry alongside Minister Piyasena Gamage who served as a close friend and mentor to the young Minister Dissanayake.
Another milestone in Minister Duminda Dissanayake’s political career was reached when he was appointed as the Deputy Minister for Port and Aviation in 2007 under Minister Mangala Samaraweera, to have reached such a prestigious position in so short a political journey speaks volumes of the Minister’s character and drive for success. Due to Minister Samaraweera being unavailable for a majority of the time from his duties as Foreign Minister, Dissanayake had to take on the burden of serving as acting minister, from which he amassed a wealth of experience.
Minister Dissanayake served in various other departments and ministries of the government, from being appointed as the non cabinet minister for Petroleum Resources, where he initiated the exploration for oil around the Sri Lankan sea as well as the introduction of bio fuel as an alternative to fossil fuels.
As Deputy Minister for Posts and Telecommunications and later being appointed as Deputy Minster of Youth Affairs and Skills Development to his current position as Cabinet Minister of Education Services, Minister Duminda has gained a huge amount of experience and knowledge in his 13 year career in politics so far. He plans to utilise all the knowledge gained to better his public service and help drive the country forward on its vision to be the miracle of Asia.