National anthem in Tamil sparks row in Lanka

Wednesday 25th March 2015 06:08 EDT

Colombo: A decision by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to allow the singing of the national anthem in Tamil has sparked a row, with the move coming under attack from his own Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP). “This is nothing but a betrayal. A decision to please just a two million (Tamil) population,” Sarath Weerasekera, who was a senior commander of Sri Lankan navy before entering politics, told parliament.

He said that in India, with over 65 million Tamil population, the national anthem is not sung in Tamil. “It is clear in our constitution that the national anthem must be sung only in the state language,” Weerasekera said.

Dilan Perera, a former senior minister and current SLFP spokesman, said: “That is his private view and not that of the SLFP. We believe in the constitutional provision that Tamil version of the anthem is allowed. It was because of this kind of racist attitude that Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated,” Perera stressed. Former languages minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said there was no harm in allowing a Tamil version.

In what was being seen as a reconciliatory move, Sirisena announced last week that he intends sending a circular to all institutions saying there is no bar on singing the national anthem in Tamil.

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