Ban on religious and ethnic political parties

Raja MB Senanayake is correct when he states that what is required at the present time is the building of a Sri Lankan Nationalism. Indeed, as Hector Abhayawardena has been pointing out for at least three decades, Sri Lanka is not a ‘Nation’ in the fullest meaning of the word.

The difference can be seen in Britain. Were there a ban on ethnic and religious parties in that country, both the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru would escape, since they stand for independence for Scotland and Wales as nations, not for the Scots and Welsh as ethnic groups. A Scottish person is a person who lives in Scotland, be they Scots, English or Pakistani. On the other hand, the UK Independence Party and the British Nationalist Party stand very much for a narrow white ethnicity - and are generally recognised as such.

However, RMBS is wrong when he says that SWRD Bandaranaike ‘formed the SLFP with an exclusive appeal to make Sinhala the official language in 24 hours’. The SLFP only adopted the ‘Sinhala Only’ slogan in 1955. Indeed both the SLFP and the UNP went into the 1956 election promising to make Sinhala the one official language - this proposal having originally been made by JR Jayewardene in the State Council in 1944.

With regard to the denominational schools, Mrs Bandaranaike didn’t just take over Catholic schools. What she did was remove government financial support from all religious schools. She took over the schools which the Roman Catholic (or Anglican, or Methodist, or Baptist or Presbyterian) churches were not willing to support fully. The students of these schools were thereafter free to study the religion of their choice.

Vinod Moonesinghe

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