Cricketing legend and spin bowling wizard Muttiah Muralitharan who is part of a movement to promote national unity said yesterday if the communities in the country desired a Sri Lankan identity and live as one nation devoid of mistrust they must bridge the language gap.
Addressing the representatives of all communities and the media as a prelude to the Conference on National Unity scheduled for April 7 at the BMICH, Muralitharan said focusing on past mistakes and keeping alive thoughts of malice and hatred among communities will bring only mistrust.
“We must be determined to work towards communal harmony and narrow the language, cultural and social gaps among the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and other communities living in Sri Lanka. We must not think and act as a Sinhalese, Tamil or a Muslim but as Sri Lankans who have made Sri Lanka their motherland. Living with bitter memories of the past will bring nothing but hatred and anger. Therefore, we all must forget the past and begin to think afresh,” Muralitharan said.
He said the best way to create communal harmony among communities was to attend to the basic needs of under privileged people of all communities. The affluent Sinhalese in the South can help their Tamil or Muslim brethren in the North and East and vice versa and added that the Muttiah Muralitharan Foundation has so far distributed 5,000 bicycles among the needy in the North and East.
Muralitharan said he had never thought of himself as a Tamil but as a Sri Lankan and those inter-racial clashes would not occur if we think and work as Sri Lankans.
National languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who chaired the meeting, said Sri Lanka had reached the stage where the whole country had to be mobilized to pursue the task of promoting racial harmony and narrow the language, social and cultural gaps.
“The people who have been kept segregated for over 30 years have now started touring the country in thousands enjoying the freedom won. On one hand, the efforts made by a number of establishments including my Ministry to enter the world as one Sri Lankan Nation has strengthened hearts and minds. The process has started bearing fruit,” the minister said.
The Convention for National Unity is being organized by the National Languages and Social Integration Ministry in collaboration with several social organisations.
The event was also addressed by prominent film star turned politician Malini Fonseka, Eastern University’s former Chancellor Jezima Ismail, retired District Secretary Sivanesan Nesiah, Social activist Kumar Rupasinghe and vocalists Bhatiya and Santhush. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)