'Referendum Needed To Change National Anthem' : Champika Ranawaka

Jathika Hela Urumaya General Secretary Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka stated that a referendum is required to change the National Anthem of Sri Lanka.

Taking part in the political talk show ‘Sathyagaraya’ on ITN last evening, Ranawaka said that the National Anthem is included in the Constitution and it could not be changed even with a 2/3 majority in parliament.

However, since there was a Tamil population living in the country and a national feeling could not be generated in them when the anthem is sung in Sinhalese, there is nothing wrong in singing the Tamil version regionally, he added.

In national events, the Sinhalese version should be sung first according to the Constitution of the country. Then, if needed, the Tamil version could be sung, he explained.

Ranawaka added that in the past, he has allowed the singing of the Tamil version of the National Anthem in national events he had taken part in the north.

He also said that different countries have different traditions pertaining to national anthems. India, home to hundreds of languages, has a Bengali anthem. However, in Spain, there are no official lyrics and people in regions such as the Basque region have adopted their own lyrics for it, he said.

In a significant move towards reconciliation, President Mathripala Sirisena is expected to send a circular to all institutions saying that there is no bar on singing the Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil.

Speaking to 'Asian Mirror' recently, Democratic Peoples’ Front (DPF) leader Mano Ganesan said that the president made this announcement on March 17 at the National Executive Committee meeting when he had raised the issue.

In 1951, Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, adopted Ananda Samarakoon’s Sinhalese-language song “Sri Lanka Matha” as the national anthem. Simultaneously, a Tamil version, “Sri Lanka Thaaye Nam Sri Lanka”, composed by the Lankan Tamil poet, M. Nallathambi, was also adopted.

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