Rumpus over national anthem

Retired Rear Admiral condemns move

The government came under fire in Parliament yesterday over President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to allow the national anthem to be sung both in Sinhala and Tamil.

The trouble erupted when a retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, MP strongly objected to the government’s decision.

UPFA parliamentarian Weerasekara said that to allow the singing of the national anthem in Tamil was against the Constitution.

"If the national anthem is to be sung in Tamil then approval of 2/3 majority of Parliament must be obtained and it will have to be approved by the people at a referendum. If not, it will be a betrayal of the country and its Constitution" Weerasekara said.

Democratic National Alliance MP Sunil Handunetti asked that as the National anthem had been written in Tamil as well, how it was to be sung only in Sinhala.

Leader of the New Left Front, MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara interceding at this point said that the national anthem written in Tamil was the same as the Sinhala one.He suggested that the anthem be sung in Sinhala where the populace was a Sinhala majority and in Tamil where the majority was Tamil.

"It can be sung alternatively in either Tamil or Sinhala depending on the majority of the populace in the relevant area. However, when it comes to state and National functions it must be sung in Sinhala" MP Nanayakkara suggested.

He added that he had earlier proposed that the verses of national anthem be sung in both Sinhala and Tamil alternately as in South Africa but his proposal had been rejected.

Media Spokesperson of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, MP Dilan Perera, affirmed the party’s position saying that one of the foremost aims of the SLFP was to follow and uphold the nation’s Constitution and therefore the Party supported the singing of the National anthem in Tamil.

"The SLFP fully supports the decision to sing the national anthem in Tamil. Only racists and extremists oppose this. The former President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the Presidential election because of those members in the party that follow racist and extremist ideologies. Racism and extremism are the preserve of the Bodhu Bala Sena" Perera said.

Deputy Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion, Eran Wickramaratne, said that the United National Party appreciated the stance taken by the SLFP regarding the decision to sing the national anthem in Tamil.

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