The Sri Lankan government on Monday denied a media report that it had decided to disallow a Tamil version of the island nation's National Anthem played in some parts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Lucien Rajakarunanayake , Director, Policy Research & Information (PIRU), Presidential Secretariat told The Hindu that there was no basis to the media report and follow-up reports by sections of the press that the Cabinet had decided to “scrap” the use of the Tamil version of the anthem .
The general discussion at the Cabinet meeting was a continuation of an earlier meeting on the decorum to be followed when National Anthem was played. The Cabinet would also discuss the code to be followed during the unfurling of the National Flag, he said.
The implication of the media report was that if the constitutional provision was implemented in letter and spirit, the practice of a Tamil translation of the National Anthem being played at private functions in the Northern and Eastern Provinces would not be allowed.
A report in the English weekly Sunday Times that the last Cabinet meeting presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had decided to disallow the Tamil version of the National Anthem has triggered a controversy.
A Minister who was present at the meeting told The Hindu that, “The constitutional provision is clear. There was a general discussion in the Cabinet on the need to maintain decorum when National Anthem is sung and nothing more as reported in a section of the press.”
The 1978 Constitution (Article 7) states: “The National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be ‘Sri Lanka Matha', the words and music of which are set out in the Third Schedule.”
Meanwhile, a representative of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) expressed concern over the media report. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said he would seek a clarification on the subject from the government. “At a time when the government is talking about ethnic harmony and national integration, this national anthem is an unwanted issue,” Mr. Premachandran said.