Sri Lankan plaque scripted in Chinese evokes fury, concern over omission of Tamil language

·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 25 (ANI): Concerns over the elevation of Chinese languages over official languages of Sri Lanka have emerged after a plaque made to declare the opening of a Chinese-gifted Smart Library of Attorney General's (AG) Department was scripted in Sinhalese, English and China's Mandarin language, evoking widespread criticism over the omission of the Tamil language.

Daily Mirror reported that the incident came under much criticism on social media platforms, leading to the plaque being removed later. The AG's department did not comment regarding the issue.

In a tweet, Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader and Opposition parliamentarian Mano Ganesan stated that the Chinese are violating the language law and that the non-inclusion of Tamil was a violation of Sri Lanka's Official Language Act. "It appears Chinese learn to ignore Tamil from our government since GoSL's usage of Official Language Tamil is no better," he said.

He further suggested that the Chinese Ambassador in Colombo should keep in mind that Classical Tamil came to China in the 5th century, taught the arts and was loved by the Chinese people.

State Minister of National Heritage, Performing Arts and Rural Arts Promotion, Vidura Wickramanayka said that omitting Tamil in the plaque violated the official language policy in Sri Lanka.

"As a country, we should not allow these type of things to happen. We talk about co-existence. An inquiry in this regard has to be carried out. This language policy should apply alike throughout the country. But there are instances in the North and the East where Official language policy is ignored omitting Sinhala in some areas. We need to rectify this when talking about language policy in relation to co-existence. We sometimes find plaques written only in Tamil," he said.

Human Rights activist Ruki Fernando said that the incident was 'unacceptable' and indicated a certain mindset where it comes naturally to some government officials and to the private sector to forget that Tamil is an official language, Daily Mirror reported.

Highlighting that English and Chinese languages were elevated above Tamil and Sinhalese, Fernando said the situation required a degree of sensitivity as the omission of Tamil is a serious matter.

Last week, Batticaloa Parliamentarian from Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Shanakiyan Rasamanickam shared on Twitter an image of a signboard of the 'Central Park' coming up at the China-backed Colombo Port City, with text in Sinhala, English and Mandarin, according to Daily Mirror.

"Tamil text is missing, that's alright! Soon Sinhala will be missing too. Hope Sri Lankans wake up at least then," he said.

Rasamanickam also opposed the recently passed law the China-backed Port City Economic Commission law, saying the country has become 'Chi-Lanka'.

The USD 1.4-billion Colombo Port City project is slated to be the single largest private sector development in Sri Lanka amid concerns about Beijing seeking to increase its footprint in the country through contentious infrastructure projects.

Sri Lanka has already leased Hambantota port to the Chinese state-run company for a period of 99 years, a move that has caused concern in neighbouring India. (ANI)

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