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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

A Genuinely Tri-lingual Sri Lanka would be Amazing to Behold: Dr. Rajakapse

Dr. Chula Rajapakse, domiciled in New Zealand, reminiscing after a recent visit to Sri Lanka states "As a student at Royal College in the late fifties and early sixties I learnt Sinhalese, English, Sanskrit, Pali and Latin. The latter three have not been of any earthly use to me for nearly half a century there after. I often lament how much more meaningful it would have been for me to have been afforded the opportunity to learn Tamil. However, what I find inexplicable is why, even fifty years later, the opportunity for Sinhalese students to learn Tamil (and possibly vice versa especially in the north), still does not exist.

I believe that making Sri Lanka a genuinely tri-lingual nation, where every school leaver is competent in Sinhalese, Tamil and English, would disadvantage none and go a long way to forging a Sri Lankan Nation. There is no better way to secure a solution to the ethnic conflict and secure ethnic harmony.

This is also imperative if Sri Lanka is to make use of the tremendous opportunities that now lie at it’s door step with it’s closeness to the two fastest growing and largest ‘to be economies’ of the world, China and India.

Multi media, TV and Cyber space could be put to good use for an incentive driven program to encourage (not compel) the acquisition of competency in Tamil (and vice versa) for those already in the public service and other adults. I have just completed a three week visit to Sri Lanka & wish to make some observations that may be of interest to your readers.

Here is Dr. Rajapakse's letter to Asian Tribune:

During my travels I covered over a thousand Km in the West, South and Centre of Sri Lanka. I was delighted by the excellence of the roads south of Colombo through to well past Matara and from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy. The street lines, zebra crossings and road surface were a treat to behold. Against this it was mind boggling to explain the dire state of the Kandy roads. Even a more concerning was whether the late Minister of Transport Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was a significant contributor to the excellence referred to and weather his void would be adequately filled.

Also pleasing was to witness the extent and vibrancy of political debate witnessed both through the news papers and through the many free to air TV channels. The quality of information available through these media on a wide range of issues also compares well with that of any where else in the world

Most citizens of all ethnic groups and political persuasions seem united in their support of the government’s liberation effort from Tiger Terror, which they look forward to in earnest and quickest time possible. The critiques of the effort seem anything but loud.

The cost of living is high but complaints of it or signs of want are sparse if any.

Though Sri Lanka is often subjected to ridicule by the international media for lack of integrity, speaking to senior public servants and academicians reveal a different story regarding audits and checks and balances in their services.

Following the assassination of Minister Fernandopulle, I found myself reflecting on the fact that if the security forces with all their vigil, understandably, could not prevent this tragedy, how could they prevent the alleged abductions of business persons by the Karuna fraction. The failures to do so had international agencies and NGO’s accusing the security forces of complicity with these abductions.

However, the ill of Tiger terror continues, striking when least expected as happened to Minister Fernandopulle. The Tiger justification for such terror is alleged discrimination against Tamils.

In my view, the main and perhaps the only major discrimination the Tamil community suffers is their inability to communicate with their government in their language. This is because of the lack of competency in Tamil of most government servants. .This should not be the case had the provisions of the “Reasonable use of Tamil” act of the late 50’s and the “Official Language Act” of the “80’s making Tamil a state language on par with Sinhalese, been properly implemented.

As a student at Royal College in the late fifties and early sixties I learnt Sinhalese, English, Sanskrit, Pali and Latin. The latter three have not been of any earthly use to me for nearly half a century there after. I often lament how much more meaningful it would have been for me to have been afforded the opportunity to learn Tamil. However, what I find inexplicable is why, even fifty years later, the opportunity for Sinhalese students to learn Tamil ( and possibly vice versa especially in the north), still does not exist.

I believe that making Sri Lanka a genuinely tri lingual nation, where every school leaver is competent in Sinhalese, Tamil and English, would disadvantage none and go a long way to forging a Sri Lankan Nation. There is no better way to secure a solution to the ethnic conflict and secure ethnic harmony.

This is also imperative if Sri Lanka is to make use of the tremendous opportunities that now lie at it’s door step with it’s closeness to the two fastest growing and largest to be economies of the world China and India.

Multi media, TV and Cyber space could be put to good use for an incentive driven program to encourage ( not compel) the acquisition of competency in Tamil (and vice versa) for those already in the public service and other adults.

Sincerely,

Dr.Chula Rajapakse
Lower Hutt , New Zealand.

- Asian Tribune -

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