dated June 14, 1957: Status of Tamil in Ceylon

Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, Ceylon's Governor-General, declared on June 13 that his Government would take early steps to give concrete shape to Prime Minister Bandaranaike's proposal to ensure reasonable use of Tamil. He gave this assurance in his opening speech to the second session of Ceylon's new Parliament elected last year. Coming as it did in the wake of the tension caused by the passage of the Official Language Act, which made Sinhalese the sole State language ending the status of Tamil as an official language, the assurance was greeted with applause by members of both Houses of Parliament. The Governor-General said, "My Government is convinced that this is the only practicable method by which this vexed question (of language rights) can be solved satisfactorily in the paramount interest of harmony and co-operation." The Prime Minister, Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, in a broadcast to the nation, appealed to the Federal Party "to refrain from plunging the country into misery and chaos." He said he was making this appeal at "a time when our dear motherland seems to be on the brink of catastrophe and disaster." He also appealed to the Sinhalese to desist from counter campaigns and try to assure the Tamils that their fears were unjustified.

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