Sunimal Fernando, President’s Adviser for the propagation of English, vented his spleen against “certain” corporate managers, as well as at an accountancy institute set-up by an Act of Parliament “for aping the West” at a function in Colombo on Monday (see the business lead story on page 33).
He said that managers of certain blue chip firms (he neither named those firms nor its managers, wonder whether this was a figment of Fernando’s fertile imagination?) expected their subordinates to play the “Englishman’s fiddle” (not in so many words, but the imputations were such) even after office hours, which he, quite rightly said was wrong, if such subordinates are indeed compelled to act as such, as alleged by him.
Fernando’s other grievance, which he vented at the tail end of his speech was at that semi-Government accountancy institute itself, namely the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL), for having on display a banner, advertising a course on financial English, where the pictures of those youth captured in that poster, were all dressed in Western garb.
Taking Fernando’s first allegation, that certain corporate managers wanted their subordinates to ape the West even after office hours, “some,” as it ipso facto means, does not mean “all.”
One always gets square pegs in round holes, and that should not bother Fernando too much, that breed, if indeed Fernando’s accusation is true, is a fast diminishing breed in the 21st century and will very soon be confined to the dinosaur era.
Fernando, if his mandate is to popularize English so that Sri Lanka would have that competitive edge in the international arena, should first look at the public sector, without trying to find fault with the country’s private sector which has been the lynch pin of the island’s economy, especially during the harsh and brutal period of its recently concluded 26 year old war.
As reported in these pages last week, where, at a regional forum held in Colombo on January 17, where this reporter was also present, the inability of the island’s public sector officials, either through ignorance or due to their difficulty to articulate in English, in providing answers to questions raised by certain of those comprising the Indian delegation at that meeting, to explain Sri Lanka’s position in regard to various aspects connected with the illicit transport of endangered species, was indeed seemingly shocking.
It was left to a lawyer (not attached to the public sector) to articulate Sri Lanka’s position to the Indian delegation in regard to the issues raised, thus apparently saving the situation and the day for the country.
Those are the problems that Fernando should put his best efforts to solve, and not try to pick holes about a few unnamed “weirdos” allegedly occupying seats of power in some of the country’s top private sector organizations, in Fernando’s own words.
We are reaping the sins of the “Sinhala Only” policy introduced by Fernando’s mentor, late Premier Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike’s husband S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1956 that is eroding Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in at least that aspect in the international arena, that is the issue that needs to be addressed, and not its symptoms.
The other controversial part in Fernando’s speech was calling the youth shown in that ICASL banner as parrots (an obvious reference that they are parroting the West because of their Western attire), and castigating the Institute for depicting such banners in their promotional work, and urging them to carry localized ones instead.
The funny thing is that Fernando for all his anti-Western diatribe, was, among other things, prior to making his speech at the podium, was introduced by the announcer as a Royalist who had his higher education at Cambridge.
Royal is a premier education institute in the island which was set-up by the British, our former colonial masters, to churn out clerks, conversant in the English language, so that communication with the natives would be possible, to do their bidding.
Similarly Cambridge, one of the world’s oldest education institutes of higher learning, was also instituted by the British during feudal times in their land to give its aristocracy a sound education, and with the passage of time to the commoners as well, and, subsequently, during the empire building era, and afterwards, to natives such as Fernando.
The information that the announcer made to the audience about Fernando’s educational background wouldn’t have been plucked from the air. It would have had been supplied by Fernando or by his office.
Fernando who was dressed in the “national” never disowned his educational background, so he must be quite proud of his “rich” educational heritage, built and nurtured by the British, our former colonial masters, who by innuendo, Fernando seemingly tried to decry in his speech.
Fernando, also seemingly happily posed for a group photograph in front of that larger than life banner, which he had found fault with (see picture on page 33).
Look at the Dick Whittington type of success made by the swabasha educated Mahinda College schoolboy in the international financial arena because of English (see page 33).
Fernando may be doing good work in taking English to the village, but don’t try to make politics out of English, this country has suffered enough since 1956, it cannot afford to be sidetracked once again.
T20 World Cup