Birthday: June 23, 1924
Nationality: Sri Lankan
Died At Age: 68
Sun Sign: Cancer
Born in: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Famous as: Third President of Sri Lanka
Spouse/Ex-: Hema Premadasa
father: Richard Ranasinghe (Ranasinghe Mudalali)
mother: Jayasinghe Arachchige Ensina Hamine
children: Dulanjali, Sajith Premadasa
Died on: May 1, 1993
place of death: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Cause of Death: Assassination
City: Colombo, Sri Lanka
education: St. Joseph's College, Colombo
Ranasinghe Premadasa was a Sri Lankan politician, who served as the third President of the island nation. Prior to that, he had also served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Like many of the important political leaders of Sri Lanka, he was not born in a privileged family and belonged to a lower caste. He started working for the poor and downtrodden classes of Colombo from an early age. He had prepared to attend the prestigious University of London after completing his high school education but decided against it and joined the Sri Sucharita Movement. After making a mark in local politics in Colombo, he joined the United National Party and following an unsuccessful bid in an election, he finally became a member of parliament. He remained a member of parliament from Colombo Central for many years. During his political career, he introduced a range of welfare schemes for the poorer section of the population. He was instrumental in building affordable homes for the poor and that remains one his greatest legacies. He had also faced opposition from within his own party after he was named the President but he managed to survive the opposition.
Childhood & Early Life
Ranasinghe Premadasa was born in Dias Palace, Colombo 11, Sri Lanka, on 23 June 1924 to Richard Ranasinghe and his wife Jayasinghe Arachchige Ensina Hamine. Although his family did not belong to the privileged class in Sri Lanka; his father owned a fleet of rickshaws that gave them a good living. There were 5 children in the family and he was the eldest.
He studied at various schools during his childhood. Having first studied at the Harvard Girls’ High School in Colombo for his primary education, he moved to St. Joseph’s College in the same city for his secondary education.
He was a good student and had satisfied all the conditions for admission into the University of London for his university education. However, he decided to abandon further education and instead devoted his time to social service that focused on the plight of the poor sections of Sri Lankan society.
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He became a member of the Sri Sucharita Movement aimed at the economic and social upliftment of the poor people in Colombo. Subsequently in the year 1939, he was made the organizer of the group and his area of work was the community development project.
His earliest foray into politics started with his alliance with the Ceylon Labour Movement leader A. E. Goonesinghe and in 1949 he became a member of the Ceylon Labour Party. A year after joining the Ceylon Labour Party, he became a part of the local government in Colombo.
He ran for parliament from Ruwanwella constituency in the 1956 elections as a representative of the United National Party (UNP) but he was defeated by his opponent Dr. N. M. Perera. Four years later he entered the parliament but lost his place after losing in a snap election that was held after four months.
He became a member of parliament again when his party, the UNP, won a majority in the general elections held in 1965. His party appointed him as their chief government whip. Concurrently, he acted as the Parliamentary Secretary of Local Government and later on he was made a minister of local government. He was responsible for overseeing the building of a million affordable homes.
He was elected to parliament from Colombo Central in the 1970 elections but his party could not form the government. He retained his seat from Colombo Central in the elections that were held seven years later and was made the minister of local government. On 23 February 1978, he became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and remained in the post for roughly a month short of 11 years.
After having served as the Deputy Leader of the UNP, Premadasa was elected as the second executive president of Sri Lanka on 2 January 1989 after his predecessor had decided to step down from the post. Earlier the same year, he was instrumental in helping his party, the UNP, win the general election. During his presidency, he continued his efforts to lift Sri Lankans out of poverty and financial problems.
His most important work during his political career comprised of several welfare schemes including a million affordable homes scheme.
Personal Life & Legacy
On 23 June 1963 he got married to Hema Wickramatunge. They had two children, a son, Sajith and daughter, Dulanjali.
He was assassinated by a suicide bomber belonging to the militant outfit LTTE on 1st May 1993 in Colombo. He was 69 at the time.