The Government told Parliament today that administrative districts would not be carved out on the basis of enthnicity.
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne gave this assurance during the committee stage of the budget debate when he responded to a question asked by United National Party (UNP) UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who criticised the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which demanded a separate administrative district consisting of the three Muslim majority electorates in the Digamadulla District.
Mr. Rajapakshe, who referred to the Daily Mirror lead story headlined 'SLMC renews demands', said it was unethical for any party to demand administrative demarcations on ethnic lines.
He said such demands would promote separatism in the minds of Muslim youth.
Mr. Rajapakshe said similar ideas were advocated by some Tamil leaders like A. Amirthalingam and Yogeswaran and it ended up in the advent of Tamil militancy led by Velupillai Prabhakaran demanding a separate state.
The Prime Minister in his response said the views expressed by the UNP warranted attention and pointed out that most Tamils and Muslims outside the North and East lived among the majority community in peace and harmony.
He said this population scattered throughout the South outnumbered the entire Tamil and Muslim population in the North and East and as such the demand for a separate administrative district based on ethnicity was not valid.
Commenting on the formation of SLMC, the PM said it was he who had mooted the idea first to late Minister A.H.M. Ashraff.
"I made this suggestion. In fact, it was not the late Mr. Ashraff who took the initiative in this regard. I fielded Sinhalese youths from my Gampola electorate on the SLMC ticket at that time. I did it to encourage Muslim youths to join a political movement. I believed at that time that a political leadership was needed for the Muslim community in the greater interest of the country," he said.(KB & YP)