MR warns against experimenting with official language

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned the Constitutional Assembly against ill-advised experiments with the official language in the country.The former President notes that one of the principal recommendations of the Constitutional Assembly Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights is that both Sinhala and Tamil be recognised as the official languages of Sri Lanka. He notes that in 1957 S.J.V. Chelvanayagam proposed to make Tamil the language of administration in the North and the East with ‘reasonable provision’ for the use of Sinhala for the Sinhala minority living in those areas. This was same the policy that S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike applied to the whole country with Sinhala as the official language and reasonable provision for the use of Tamil especially in the North and East. He says during the last Presidential election campaign, the two main constitutional reforms promised to the people by the Government were; the abolition of the Executive Presidency and reform of the electoral system.“Neither of these two key issues have been dealt with by the subcommittees appointed by the Constitutional Assembly,” he said.Rajapaksa says the fact that the Government sent an SLFP delegation to mislead the Mahanayake Theras (Chief Prelates) about the Constitutional reform proposals shows that they are trying to use the nationalistic credentials of the SLFP to deceive the Maha Sangha and the people to push through a Constitution which will divide the country without using the word ‘division’. He also has accused the Government of misleading the Chief Prelates on the proposed new Constitution.Rajapaksa called on the Government to act more responsibly in the all important matter of Constitutional reform and to take up the two main electoral reform pledges they gave the people first, before dealing with matters that are of interest only to separatists and certain interested foreign parties. “In India too, Hindi – the language of the largest linguistic group – is the official language while reasonable provision has been made for the use of other languages like Tamil, Malayalam etc. These are arrangements that should not be disturbed with ill-advised experiments,” he said. “I request all members of the SLFP serving in this Government not to allow their enslavement to the UNP to go so far as to betraying every principle that the SLFP has stood for in the past six decades,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)

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