Dilan is the only son of Marshall Perera, a lawyer and Daya Perera, an English teacher who served in government schools. The politics of the father who was a member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and a mother who was an energetic trade union activist and a social worker, shaped Dilan’s and his only sibling Kisholi’s minds at a very young age on social justice and equality.

Marshall who had his roots in the Western Province, decided to settle down in Badulla in the Uva province with Daya after their marriage as he was directed by the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) to serve people in the Uva province. As the eldest child of the family Dilan was born in April 1962 at the Badulla hospital and started schooling at Uva College in Badulla at the age of four. As a result of displaying his intellectual capacity at a very tender age, Dilan was promoted from primary one to grade 2 of the primary school within a matter of months. Later, Dilan moved to Colombo and joined St. Benedicts College in Colombo to complete his primary education. His secondary education was at Royal College Colombo.

After completing his advanced level studies at Royal College, Dilan entered the University of Kelaniya and obtained a degree in B-Com (special). He joined the Sri Lanka law college in 1981 and became the youngest attorney –at – law in 1984. Throughout his student life Dilan had been involved in sports activities and at the University he was a member of Cricket, Table Tennis and Rugby Teams and he captained the Tennis Team.

Dilan’s first introductions to politics were from his own home where his father was having regular interactions with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) members, plantation workers and lawyers in the area. As a young child and at a later stage as a university student Dilan got interested in various groups that were involved in leftist politics in Sri Lanka. At the tender age of 26 years, this aspiring young man was invited to contest the Uva Provincial Council elections in 1988 and got elected to the Uva Provincial Council as the youngest elected member. He had held many posts within the Uva province including the post of the Leader of the Opposition of the Uva Provincial Council between 1993 and 1994.

Since then Dilan has been searching for ways of addressing issues of inequality that was all around him in the Uva Province and his approach is beyond party political divisions. During the dark days of 1988/89 Dilan was attempting to assist young members of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to protect themselves and to find non-violent paths to achieve their objectives. As a result Dilan had to leave the country in 1989 to protect his life from various forces that were targetting peace loving individuals.

Dilan Perera joined national politics in 1994 as an elected member from the Badulla District in Uva Province. He served as the Deputy Minister of Justice, Constitutional Affairs, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration between 1999 and 2000. With his dedication to promote a society that is above ethnic, religious, caste, class and gender divisions Dilan very much enjoyed his responsibilities at the Ministry. He had been a pioneering leader of many programmes aimed at bringing ethnic harmony and national integration in Sri Lanka. Some of his contributions were highlighted through programmes such as White Lotus Movement, Brick and Book Project which mobilized masses to help build the Jaffna library.

As an active and talented member of Parliament Dilan served in many parliamentary committees from time to time. He was a member of the Parliamentary committee on Public Enterprise as well as Human Rights Committee of the Parliament. He is also a member of the Public Petitions Committee and the Privileges Committee of the Parliament. Apart from these responsibilities Dilan served as Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation, Deputy Minister of Media and Communication, Cabinet Minister of Estate Infrastructure, Minister of Justice and the Minister of Ports and Ports Development. He presently serves as the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare in the current government of Sri Lanka.

Dilan is a good public speaker and facilitator with the ability to handle both Sinhala and English fluently. He has a keen interest in International politics and he reads on wider range of international issues. He had taken part in several international study programmes on Power Sharing, Federalism, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights as an elected member of parliament and has led several study visits as well as election monitoring missions aboard.

Recognizing his love for games and his ability to reach difficult targets he was elected to be the President of the Sri Lanka Volleyball Association in 2005, a post he is still holding with the hope that he would be able to get the due recognition for this national sport of Sri Lanka.

A sports lover

Since 1995, on the invitation of the members of the Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation, Dilan has been serving as the President of the Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation. After assuming duties as the Minister of Ports and Ports Development, Dilan combined his love for sports with this new responsibility and introduced South Asian Ports’ Games. The first South Asian Port Games Competition was held in Colombo in September 2008 with the participation of regional counterparts under theme “Sports Unite Ports”.

Dilan is also the President of the Badulla District Cricket Association and vice President of the National Olympic Committee, which is the highest post held by a person from Uva in any sports body.

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