Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says Tamils overseas are not investing enough in the north and east of the country.
Speaking at an international Buddhist conference in India, Rajapaksa said that many highrise residential buildings have come up in Colombo in the past two decades.
He says the condominium boom in Colombo was in fact started by Tamil people resident overseas, who spent enormous sums of money buying up flats in Colombo even at the height of the war that was waged to carve out an independent Tamil state in the north and east.
“Even after the war, the Tamil people resident overseas have not invested in the north and east to the extent they have in Colombo. I see this as a case of voting with one’s feet. The condominiums in Colombo are not cheap. Property values in Colombo are almost the same as in some Western capitals and nobody would invest large sums of money in Colombo if they thought it was not possible to live among the majority Sinhala Buddhist population,” Rajapaksa noted in his speech.
Rajapaksa says the city of Colombo, where the majority of the population does not belong to the majority community in the country, is an example to the entire world of the co-existence of religions and ethnic groups.
“In Sri Lanka Hinduism also finds acceptance within the fold of popular Buddhism. Every Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka features shrines to certain Hindu gods, particularly Lord Vishnu, who is seen as one of the guardian deities of Sri Lanka,” he said.
He said the majority of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka permanently live outside the north and east, among the Sinhala people and the tolerance and peaceful nature of Buddhism gives the nation this strength.
Rajapaksa also noted that the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, has gone on record opposing any move to deprive Buddhism of the foremost place accorded by the Constitution and to turn Sri Lanka into a secular state.
He says apart from being the religion of the vast majority of the population, the ethos of Buddhism also keeps the country together by providing all other religions an environment of tolerance and coexistence.