Breaking a long-standing tradition of singing only the Sinhalese version of the Sri Lankan national anthem at official functions, President Maithripala Sirisena allowed the singing of the Tamil version at the Independence Day celebrations held at the Galle Face Green here on Thursday.
“Sri Lanka Thaaye”, the Tamil version of the anthem written by Pulavar Nallathambi of Vaddukkottai in 1951, and officially endorsed by the then government of Ceylon, was sung at the end of the military parade by students of the Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College. The Sinhalese version was sung at the beginning of the function.
President Sirisena took the decision to break the practice of singing the anthem only in Sinhalese, after the Cabinet Sub-Committee on National Coexistence unanimously recommended on January 27, that the anthem should be sung in Tamil also to promote post-war ethnic reconciliation.
A visibly happy Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief and Leader of the Opposition in parliament, R.Sampanthan, told Express: “ This is a welcome step. I am sure the vast majority of Sinhalese people will also welcome it. However, the Tamil question will not be solved by such steps.”
The Cabinet Minister for Coexistence, Mano Ganeshan, said: “ It goes a long way forward. It’s a victory for our journey towards coexistence.”
Till late Wednesday, there were doubts whether the government will allow the Tamil version to be sung because Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that the cabinet could only go by the constitution which had authorized the Sinhalese version only.
Putting pressure on the government not to yield to the demand of the Tamils, the Joint Opposition leader and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said that government was going to allow the singing of the anthem in Tamil “only to please India”. Another opposition MP, Udaya Gammanpila, threatened to move an impeachment motion against President Sirisena if he broke the constitution on the anthem issue.
But the Tamils had been saying that when Ananda Samarakoon’s “Sri Lanka Matha” was officially adopted, its Tamil translation “Sri Lanka Thaaye” was also accepted as an authorized version and was sung in Tamil schools and in the Tamils areas till 2010 when the Rajapaksa government put an unofficial bar on it on the grounds that the constitution had not authorized it.
Pledge To Protect Military
In his I-Day oration, President Sirisena pledged to work for ethnic reconciliation but did not indicate any new or concrete plan to bring it about.
However he assured the Sinhalese majority that his government will protect the dignity of the Lankan military while implementing the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on rights violations during the war against the LTTE.
Courtesy:New Indian Express