Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena

From TobaccoUnmasked


Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, born in 1945, is a Sri Lankan politician. He was educated at Rahula College, Matara and Thelijjawila Central College. He was an undergraduate of University of Colombo[1]His profession is mentioned as a “Landed Proprietor” in public domains, while agriculture is mentioned as the “most interested field”.[2][3]He first entered parliament in 1983, the First Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, after being elected from Matara District. He was re-elected and is a member of the Sri Lankan Parliament continuously from the year 2000.[4]

Leading to the Sri Lankan Parliamentary Election 2020, Mahinda Yapa joined Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP), the new political party that spun off from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), one of the two prominent political parties in Sri Lanka. He has served as a party member for more than 25 years at SLFP, which later formed the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the ruling political alliance from 2010 to 2015.[2][3] Subsequent to the landslide win of the SLPP, Mahinda Yapa was sworn in as the Speaker with the convening of the 9th Parliament of Sri Lanka on 20th August 2020. Speaker is the presiding officer of the chamber and the third highest ranking officer, after the President and the Prime Minister.[5]

Image 1: Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Source: Sri Lanka Mirror[6]

Political / Government Positions Held

  • 1983 to 1988 and 2000 to present - Member of Parliament[2]
  • 1993 to 1994 - Chairman of Southern Provincial Council[2]
  • 1994 to 2000 - Chief Minister of Southern Provincial Council[2]
  • April 2004 to November 2005 - Deputy Minister of Healthcare & Nutrition[7][3]
  • November 2005 to April 2010 - Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage[8][3]
  • April 2010 to January 2015 - Minister of Agriculture[9][3]
  • March 2015 to May 2015 - Minister of Parliamentary Affairs[10][3][11]
  • November 2019 to August 2020 - State Minister of Irrigation and Rural Development.[12][3][1]
  • August 2020 to present – Speaker of the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka[5]

Tobacco Related Activities

Participating in a Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) event

During his period as the Minister of agriculture, Mahinda Yapa promoted the Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP), a social investment project of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary with the monopoly of cigarette manufacturing and trade in Sri Lanka, by:

  • Participating in the Farmer Appreciation Awards ceremony of CTC in 2014[13]
  • Visiting SADP families to ‘encourage’ them in 2013 (Image 2)[14][15]

In June 2017, another Member of Parliament, Buddhika Pathirana, criticised the involvement of Mahinda Yapa in CTC's "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)" activities during a Parliamentary Debate.[16]

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the World Health Organization global convention on tobacco control, Articles 13 and 5.3 require signatory countries to ban sponsorship, CSR activities and interactions of government officials and agencies with the tobacco industry. NATA Act, the main legal framework on tobacco and alcohol in Sri Lanka, prohibits direct and indirect advertisements on tobacco including ones promoting “manufacturers’ image”.

At the beginning of his term in 2011, he publicly stated that government will ban tobacco cultivation and encourage the tobacco farmers to convert to food crops.[17]However, the proposed ban was never implemented during his term as the Minister of Agriculture or by July 2020.

Image 2: Newspaper article reporting Minister Mahinda Yapa Abegunawardena’s visit to SADP families.[15]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Mahinda Yapa, Abeywardena, Undated, accessed July 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Members, Undated, accessed July 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Facebook, Undated, accessed July 2020
  4. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Past Members, Undated, accessed July 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 Parliament of Sri Lanka. Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena elected as the New Speaker, 20th August 2020, accessed August 2020
  6. Sri Lanka Mirror. | No talks between Mahinda, JVP – Mahinda Yapa, undated, accessed July 2020
  7. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments, &c., by the President, 10 April 2004, accessed June 2020
  8. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 23 November 2005, accessed June 2020
  9. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments &c., by the President, 22 November 2010, accessed June 2020
  10. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments &c., by the President, 26 March 2015, accessed June 2020
  11. Daily mirror. Four SLFP ministers resign, 21 May 2015, accessed July 2020
  12. Daily mirror. Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation & Rural Development, Undated, accessed July 2020
  13. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). CTC rewards farming excellence at Farmer Appreciation Awards, 31 October 2014, accessed July 2020
  14. Daily News. Agri Minister visits SADP, 17 May 2013, accessed April 2020
  15. 15.0 15.1 Daily Mirror. Agriculture Minister Visits CTC empowered Weligama villagers, 17 May 2013, accessed July 2020
  16. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), Official Report, 252(9), 17 June 2017, accessed July 2020
  17. Ada Govt. to ban tobacco cultivation, 18 January 2011, accessed July 2020