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Lankan Premier attends Jaffna event where national anthem was sung only in Sinhala

Dec 28, 2010 3:07:59 PM- transcurrents.com

By P.K .Balachandran

COLOMBO: Ignoring the Tamil community’s protest against the reported bid to ban the singing of the Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil, officials saw to it that it was sung only in Sinhalese at a function in Jaffna on Sunday to mark the sixth anniversary of the tsunami disaster.

Sources in Jaffna told Express that the authorities had insisted that the anthem be sung in Sinhalese only because it was a Central government function presided over by Prime Minister D M Jayaratne.

The authorities’ move has received much flak from the Jaffna media over the last three days. The media had reported that when the organisers, authorities and the army joined together and insisted that the choir from the Tamil-medium Hindu Ladies College sing the anthem only in Sinhalese, the girls and their parents protested vehemently.

The girls complained that it was hard for them to pronounce the Sinhalese words, as they did not know the language. They had always sung the anthem in Tamil, they argued. But their protests fell on deaf ears.

When Douglas Devananda, the lone Jaffna Tamil in the Lankan cabinet, was asked for his views by the Tamilmirror website, he said it was an established practice to sing the anthem only in Sinhalese in the presence of top leaders like the President and the Prime Minister.

When the government agent (District Collector) of Jaffna, Imelda Sukumar, was asked, she said it was a Central government function and that she had no option but to carry out the orders of the Centre.

Though the Lankan anthem Sri Lanka Maatha was originally written in Sinhalese — the language of the majority community in the island nation — an authorised Tamil version of the song, beginning with the words Sri Lanka Thaaye has been sung in Tamil-speaking areas and Tamil-medium schools in the country since 1952.

The bilingual anthem stirred a hornet’s nest when the cabinet recently discussed the question of making it compulsory for all Lankans to sing it only in Sinhalese. On hearing about this discussion, Tamils across the political spectrum protested, while Sinhalese nationalists endorsed the move and slammed the Tamils for dividing the nation on linguistic lines.

Though the cabinet refrained from taking a decision on the matter, reports from Kilinochchi and Jaffna suggest that the army has been successfully enforcing the diktat that the anthem be sung only in Sinhalese.

Courtesy: Express News Service