Sun, 05 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

Chinese elevated above national languages in Sri Lanka?

25 May 2021 12:10 am - 38     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


 Attorney General Dappula de Livera unveils a plaque that was scripted in Sinhala, English and the Chinese language


  • State Minister Vidura Wickramanayka said that omitting Tamil in the plaque violated the official language policy in Sri Lanka
  • The incident came under much criticism in the social media platform and the plaque was removed later
  • “Tamil text is missing, that’s alright! Soon Sinhala will be missing too. Hope Sri Lankans wake up at least then.”

The removal of a plaque made to declare open a Chinese gifted Smart Library of Attorney General’s (AG) Department has come to the limelight. According to reports the plaque did not contain the words in Tamil, instead Mandarin had been included. Controversy revolved around a picture circulating of Attorney General Dappula de Livera unveiling a plaque that was scripted in Sinhala, English and the Chinese language. China’s Ambassador was also present. The incident came under much criticism in the social media platform and the plaque was removed later. In light of these events the Daily mirror spoke to relevant authorities, politicians and activists regarding the incident.

When questioned the AG’s coordinating officer  Nishara Jayaratne said that AG’s department did not wish to comment regarding the issue, adding that a statement had been published regarding the removal of the plaque. She  did not want to comment further on the issue.

Concerns over omittance

Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader and Opposition parliamentarian Mano Ganesan stated in a tweet, the Chinese are “violating language law”. He said the failure to include the Tamil words  was a violation of the official language act. He raised the question as to who really was responsible for this. He  tweeted, “ It appears Chinese learn to ignore Tamil from our government since GoSL’s usage of Official Language Tamil is no better.” He said, “China is not our enemy. Respect us. We respect you. 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.”

‘An inquiry in this regard has to be carried out’- Minister Vidura Wickremanayake

Commenting on the issue, 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 the 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.

In response to a journalist who questioned the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka, the embassy responded, “It’s an internal E-Library in the AG’s Department, funded by the Government and People of China. Chinese language is displayed as a kind gesture towards China, which is highly appreciated.”

Human rights lawyer Ambika Satkunanathan said in a tweet that most surprising aspect about the outrage regarding plaque at AGD with no Tamil inscription was that people were so surprised by it. “ Disregarding language rights is normalised and entrenched in public institutions,” she said.

“This is  unacceptable that this has happened. This indicates a certain mindset where it comes naturally to some government officials  and to private sector to forget that Tamil is an official language,” said Human Rights Activist Ruki Fernando. 

He said It was commendable that the AG’s Department had acknowledged it and  had taken steps to change it.  “That is a positive aspect. It is not something we see often. The fact that it happened is problematic and it is important to check why this is happening. This has happened long before Chinese language has also started appearing on our boards,” he said.

Responding to the question whether there were phrases in Sinhalese omitted in boards in areas which comprised vast majority of Tamil speaking communities, like in the North and the East, Mr.Fernando said, “I have not noticed in the north and the East where national languages are omitted.With regard to court system, there are certain lower courts and magistrate courts that are functioning either in Sinhalese or Tamil based on the majority of the population. He said in that plaque case English and Chinese were elevated above Tamil and Sinhalese This requires a certain degree of sensitivity as to see why really this has happened. He said negligence is involved in omitting the Tamil language, which is a serious matter.

According to media reports, this was the second instance of the Chinese mission responding to tweets flagging Mandarin text in sign boards. Last week, Batticaloa Parliamentarian from Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Shanakiyan Rasamanickam shared on Twitter an image of a sign board of the ‘Central Park’ coming up at the China-backed Colombo Port City, with text in Sinhala, English and Mandarin, and said: “Tamil text is missing, that’s alright! Soon Sinhala will be missing too. Hope Sri Lankans wake up at least then.”

The Embassy said in a tweet on the same day: “We noticed an interim sign in a JV building site not abiding by trilingual rules. Request raised. We respect all three  official languages in Sri Lanka, and urge China companies to follow,” sharing images of other Chinese-built structures that also included Tamil text in their name boards.
Responding, Rasamanickam said “the cat is really out of the bag. 

The Chinese government decides what goes on name boards in SL. This really indicates how little control the SL Govt. has over the situation,” he tweeted. The MP also vehemently opposed the recently passed law governing the Port City and said the country had become Chi-Lanka”.


  Comments - 38

  • Ramesh Tuesday, 25 May 2021 05:46 AM

    If the government says it an accident, no one will believe this. There were many sign boards in various parts of the country where Tamil language was intentionally omitted with the Chinese language replacing the position of Tamil. The intention of the present government clearly shows by it's actions towards the minorities of the country.

    Lucky gunesena Tuesday, 25 May 2021 06:11 AM

    Ag's department co-ordinating officer not wanting to comment is ridiculous cos all she did during the last two years was to attract media publicity for the slightest thing done by the department. All this required was to accept the folly on their part and pologise, after all ti err is human.

    Punchi Banda Tuesday, 25 May 2021 06:40 AM

    The Chinese will help us shingalese Buddhists maintain our superiority over other peoples in Lanka. However this will result in increasing poverty, backwardness, isolation, opprobrium and contempt in the international community.

    Andrew Silva Tuesday, 25 May 2021 06:43 AM

    Is Dappula de Livera the first Sri Lankan volenters to clean the bottom of the Chinese.

    Peacemaker Tuesday, 25 May 2021 08:34 AM

    Rajapaksas are plunging the country into a dangerous situation where ordinary people have to fight the chinese on their own

    Ranaweera Tuesday, 25 May 2021 08:41 AM

    This is a perfect example how the lower level officers connected to the opposition are creating controversial actions. One of these officers may have given the approval for the text to the chineese people who made thus plaque. May be no one in the higher grade bothered to check it throughly. The strategy is to create a controversial act and then put the blame on the government. The media also has something to report. Otherwise they will be jobless too.

    Mimsid Tuesday, 25 May 2021 11:04 AM

    Wondering what would have been the reaction if a project funded by an Arab country had, in a similar plaque, inscriptions in Arabic, even if it had inscriptions in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

    ka Tuesday, 25 May 2021 11:25 AM

    better chines

    Kamaleshwaran Tuesday, 25 May 2021 02:27 PM

    Extinction of Tamils is equal to Extinction of Sinhalese , we already seeing that in past 12 years 60% of Srilanka is now under China ...

    Thambi Siva Tuesday, 25 May 2021 02:39 PM

    The AG himself has not paid any attention to the missing text, it was after a media enquiry (News First), the Justice Minister Ali Sabri had ordered the removal of the plaque.

    MartinMilton Tuesday, 25 May 2021 09:08 PM

    Absolutely DISGRACEFUL AND the AUDACITY of it all ! Whoever was responsible for authorising this should be severely reprimanded, punished, fined or lose his/her/their jobs at the extreme. Extremely poor show for this GoSL. Is this the way to live in brotherhood in Sri Lanka?? MM

    Angry Bird Tuesday, 25 May 2021 10:54 PM

    Arthur C Clark said about 10-15 years ago that the Sinhala language will be obsolete in 100 years looks like it's going to be sooner than 100 years. Darn government what do they care their pockets are lined sell Sri Lanka, greedy idiots, may they all rot in hell.

    Ramesh Tuesday, 25 May 2021 11:40 PM

    Well said Mr.Mimsid. The government couldn't stand to see the building with Arab features which is in Punani district. They closed their eyes without seeing the dates trees in Kathankudi. The government is giving into Chinese , ultimately it will have to forego the country for the sake of money they borrow.

    Meow Wednesday, 26 May 2021 12:49 AM

    Srilanka is in real danger

    Mandayan Wednesday, 26 May 2021 02:03 AM

    Let’s understand what happened in the Carribians and African countries where Chinese landed:

    JEANNE FERRER Wednesday, 26 May 2021 03:09 AM

    @ Punchi Banda : Your comment that "the Chinese will help us shingalese Buddhists maintain our superiority over other peoples in Lanka". Are you mentally challenged? I suggest that you go back to school and get re-educated on social, cultural and religious subjects before you open your mouth. You do not represent the majority of Sri Lankans. Disgraceful!

    JEANNE FERRER Wednesday, 26 May 2021 03:11 AM

    MartinMilton has hit the nail on the head. We are doomed culturally and politically. It's no wonder the British gave us our independence so willingly - no doubt they could see the writing on the wall. RIP beautiful country, I will always cherish the warm memories.

    Sando Wednesday, 26 May 2021 04:11 AM

    Classic example of a failed administration. The concerned Ministers should resign over this disgraceful incident/s.

    Shan Wednesday, 26 May 2021 05:15 AM

    Is this drama sponsored by the tax payers money or the Chinese Govt? Who approved it and I'd answerable to it?

    Bandu Wednesday, 26 May 2021 10:42 AM

    Mr. Ranaweera If lower level officers connected to the opposition did this, then it shows the calibre of the higher ups this govt has under them to be fooled so easily. Best is even after the deed, the higher ups did not realise it till media spotted it.

    Lasith Wednesday, 26 May 2021 11:38 AM

    Human rights lawyers don't jump up and down when Sinhala is missing from boards etc in East and North of our country. WHY?

    Hari M Wednesday, 26 May 2021 02:01 PM

    Vermins invading Srilanka, dividing the country and imposing their culture on us. Modern colonization and time to kick them out NOW!

    Sokrates Wednesday, 26 May 2021 02:20 PM

    @ Punchi Banda. First of all, your term Sinhalese Buddhist is completely wrong. Lord Buddha was never in Sri Lanka in his life and the Sinhalese language did not even exist in his lifetime. Furthermore, the Sinhalese-speaking population who believe in Buddhist teaching has no superiority over other peoples in Lanka. (As you can see from your racist ideas, not even intellectual). The only ones who ever had a superity in this country were the colonial powers. Before you spread such racist nonsense you should find out about your roots. You will learn that the genes of the mayorite Sinhalese population group correspond to 70% of those of the Tamils. While the Tamils ​​are a homogeneous ethnic group, the Sinhalese do not. They are a mixture of many different ethnic groups from Asia, Africa and Europe. The first Sinhalese men from northern India took Tamil women from southern India with them on their way to Sri Lanka. Even their descendants could no longer be pure Sinhalese.

    Sokrates Wednesday, 26 May 2021 02:22 PM

    Soon we will have a Chinese Only Act in Chi Lanka

    Sammy Wednesday, 26 May 2021 04:07 PM

    There was a big hue and cry made when Notices were placed in Arabic script, in the Eastern Province and these were told to be removed. Why is it different with Chinese?

    Jayasiri Watagedara Wednesday, 26 May 2021 07:13 PM

    Let SL official language be Mandarin! No Sinhala, Tamil or English will be allowed to use in SL from 2030. This is a wonderful news to the world!

    Ven. Megalle Gunananda Thursday, 27 May 2021 04:44 AM

    This is not a mistake, this was purposely done to annoy Tamil people living in Sri Lanka. This is a good example that China is interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal matters. I guess that can do what ever they wants, because Sri Lanka is their slave nation.

    sunil Thursday, 27 May 2021 10:28 AM

    IF what Ranaweera says is true (6th from the top) then it means the Opposition is running this country and not the government. Then credit for all things good should also go to the opposition

    D.A.I.Jayasuriya Thursday, 27 May 2021 03:47 PM

    Appalling. It doesn't take a genius to know that the art work is given in every plaque to be approved not just once but several times until confirmed. Who ever responsible for this had either been completely negligent or has done it deliberately cos this is not just a solitary word omitted but several sentences.

    Jef Thursday, 27 May 2021 09:57 PM

    Chinese will provide a better life for all of us when time to come sri lanka wiil be like Malaysia i think that would be a smart moove for the future of our kids

    Ranjan Silva Friday, 28 May 2021 03:54 AM

    Watch out - Now it is Tamil that is taken out of the plaque, how long will it take to remove Sinhalese in Chi- Lanka and replace with Mandarin?

    Angry Banda Friday, 28 May 2021 07:09 PM

    Feel sorry for Sri Lankans living in Sri Lanka, always betrayed by politicians and other so-called terrorist leaders.

    Vikas Indian Saturday, 29 May 2021 12:29 PM

    I as per my opinion, Srilanka is now on the path of become Chinese colony. Don't trust these chinese. They firstly make friendship then offer loan that can't be repay. Lastly , they demand land of other county on lease. It is time to decide srilanka they want be a chinese colony or wanted to be a independent. Think fast. If times passed no one will save you.

    Senagi Attygalle Saturday, 29 May 2021 07:17 PM

    Scrap Sinhala

    A.Ratnayake Sunday, 30 May 2021 02:52 AM

    So many are concernerd over the the chinese words how come nobody commented when a massive board was unveiled by miniter bathudeen in Mannar displaying only English,Tamil and Arabic for some work done by Qatar

    Kamal Sunday, 30 May 2021 10:15 AM

    Mistakes made in 1956 should not be repeated. However there are instances name boards are in Arabic too. Interestingly some people who are quite vociferous keep mum about it.

    Tamil Language Sunday, 30 May 2021 06:24 PM

    What you give is what you get in return. Today you will push down the minorities by removing Tamil language, tomorrow you will see Sinhala language is also gone and Chinese will be on the top. Then you might be too late to fix.

    Mokan Sunday, 30 May 2021 07:14 PM

    In the History of SL , the current leaders and government will go as the worst.

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