Sri Lanka has scrapped the Tamil version of its national anthem at official and state functions, a move likely to further alienate the ethnic Tamils in the country.
Now the national anthem can only be rendered in the majority Sinhala language at official functions, the Sri Lankan cabinet decided.
The decision was taken at the last cabinet meeting headed by the President Mahinda Rajapksha, who pointed out that no country in the world uses the national anthem in other than one language, the Sunday Times reported on Monday.
The move will mean that the current Tamil version will no longer be played at any official or state functions. The Sinhala version is widely used across the country except for the north and east where a majority speaks Tamil.
"A directive to use only the Sinhala version is to be sent out by the Ministry of Public Administration. All government establishments will be called upon to adhere to this decision" the paper added.
President Rajapaksa told ministers that in no other country was the national anthem used in more than one language. He cited an instance where one time Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, had walked out of a function in the north where the national anthem was played in Tamil.
He said there could not be two national anthems and that it was a shortcoming that must be rectified. "We must all think of Sri Lanka as one country," Rajapaksa was quoted as saying by Sunday Times.
Minister Wimal Weerawansa supported President Rajapaksa's proposal. He said that even in neighbouring India, where around 300 languages were used, the national anthem was only in Hindi.
However, two Ministers voiced their dissent. National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said the move would not be a suitable one.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne also endorsed the same view. Later, the Cabinet decided to adhere only to the Sinhala version of the national anthem.
Karunanidhi criticises the move
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Monday condemned the Sri Lankan government for scrapping the Tamil version of its national anthem.
"If the reports in this regard are true, it is strongly condemnable. This will further dishearten Tamils (in Sri Lanka), who are already suffering. I condemn it," he said in a statement here.
Sri Lanka had scrapped the Tamil version of its national anthem at official and state functions after the cabinet decided at its last meeting, that the national anthem can only be rendered in the Sinhala language at official functions.