Nick Name: Maithri, MY3
Birthday: September 3, 1951
Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena
Born in: Sri Lanka
Famous as: President of Sri Lanka
Spouse/Ex-: Jayanthi Pushpa Kumar
father: Albert Sirisena
children: Chathurika Daham Dharani
education: Maxim Gorky Literature Institute
Who is Maithripala Sirisena?
Maithripala Sirisena is a Sri Lankan politician who became the 7th President of Sri Lanka in January 2015. Prior to contesting in the presidential elections, he held a number of offices in Sri Lankan politics including that of the Minister of Health. He also served as the Acting Defence Minister on several occasions. The son of a World War II veteran, Sirisena hails from a family of farmers with no political background. The simple man from a rural background seemed like an unlikely candidate to end the 10-year-rule of the popular Mahinda Rajapaksa who he defeated in the presidential race. Sirisena’s rise from a low-profile minister to that of the president came as a surprise to many in Sri Lankan politics. He is indeed an unassuming man who does not speak English and is always seen wearing the national dress, but he undoubtedly is a man of great character and integrity. He has pledged to abolish the executive presidency and return the country to a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy and establish the police, the judiciary, and the civil service as independent institutions. He is also known for his courage as he has survived several attempts on his life so far. He has promised to lead the country on a path of economic growth and development and stated that national security will remain his top priority.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 3 September 1951 to a middle-class farming family, as the son of a World War II veteran, Albert Sirisena.
He received his primary education from the Lakshauyana School and later went to Topawawa Maha Vidyalaya, both in Polonnaruwa.
He joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party's (SLFP) youth league in 1967 and was jailed during the 1971 Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Insurrection.
He studied at Royal College, Polonnaruwa before moving to the Sri Lanka School of Agriculture, Kundasale, where he studied for three years, getting his Diploma in Agriculture in 1973. He then went to Russia where he studied Political Science at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute and earned a Diploma in 1980.
Over the years he rose up the ranks in SLFP eventually becoming the president of the All Island SLFP Youth Organization in 1983.
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He contested the parliamentary election in 1989 as one of SLFP’s candidates in Polonnaruwa District and became a member of the parlieament. Five years later he was re-elected at the 1994 parliamentary election, this time as a People's Alliance (PA) candidate.
In 1994, he was made the Deputy Minister for Irrigation in the new PA government led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The president promoted him to the Cabinet in 1997 and made him the Minister of Mahaweli Development.
He was elected the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in 2000 and the next year he was appointed as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, a post he held till 2014, making him the longest serving secretary in the history of Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
He signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with Mr. Tilvin Silva, the secretary of JVP, which led to the birth of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in 2004.
In 2007, he served as the Cabinet Minister for Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development. During his tenure he introduced the agricultural cultivation drive of the ministry, “API WAWAMU – RATA NAGAMU” program and the Moragahakanda – Kalu Ganga project under the Mahaweli Master Plan.
He was appointed Minister of Health in April 2010. He presented the “Sri Lanka – National Drug Policy Act” to the Cabinet, fulfilling the need of a National Drug Policy Framework for Sri Lanka. He worked hard to introduce pictorial warnings on tobacco products in order to educate the masses about the ill-effects of smoking.
As the health minister, he was selected as one of the four Vice-Presidents of WHO World Health Assembly 2014.
In November 2014 he announced that he would challenge incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election as the common opposition candidate.
He won the election and assumed office as the 7th President of Sri Lanka on 9 January 2015.
Awards & Achievements
He received World Health Organization ‘World No Tobacco Day Award 2013’ for the steps he took to stop tobacco smoking in his country, making him the first Sri Lankan to be honored with this award.
The Harvard Ministerial Leadership in Health Award was conferred upon him by the Harvard School of Public Health & Kennedy School of Government, United States of America in 2013 for the innovative leadership role he played in his tenure as Minister of Health in Sri Lanka. Again this was the first time the honor had been bestowed upon a Sri Lankan.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Jayanthi Pushpa Kumar and the couple has three children—two daughters and one son.
The LTTE made many attempts on his life including a suicide-bombing attack in 2007 and a major assassination attempt in 2008 from which he had a miraculous escape. But nothing could dampen his spirit to serve the country and he actively continues to work for the country’s progress.