Major language controversy as Mandarin Chinese replaces Tamil in Sri Lankan billboards


New Delhi: Sri Lankans are holding a major debate in the country after two back-to-back incidents in which Mandarin was included on billboards omitting Tamil from government plans. Now people are wondering if China is starting to impose its cultural hegemony on the island nation.

This week Sri Lanka’s Attorney General Dappula de Livera unveiled a plaque written in Sinhala, English and Mandarin. This caused controversy on two points – that Tamil was not included and Mandarin was. This goes against the trilingual official language policy in the country where Sinhala, Tamil and English are used.

Controversy erupted after China offered a smart library to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Social media platforms were buzzing with the development. In the face of criticism, the plaque was removed. The attorney general’s office declined to comment.

In an attempt to control the damage, the Chinese Embassy tweeted: “We noticed a temporary sign at a JV site that did not follow trilingual rules. Request raised. We respect the three official languages ​​of Sri Lanka and urge Chinese companies to follow ”. He shared images of other structures built in China that included the Tamil language in their panels.

This controversy erupted in the wake of another similar controversy.

Last week, the central park under development in the Chinese-backed port city of Colombo replaced Tamil with Mandarin. After the news went viral on Tamil groups and in social media circles, the port city of Colombo released a statement saying the photo in circulation was of an old sign.

The news website Colombo Page released a statement from Port City Colombo, posted on its trilingual header, stating that the project is under construction and that the signs installed by the contractor are for employees and to authorized visitors. He added that temporary notice boards do not necessarily have to be in all three official languages.

The clarification said that due to a majority of local employees, the Sinhala language was used while English and Chinese were used for the sheer number of foreign workers at the site. He added that, “… When opening the doors to the public to visit, all signs in all public spaces will be erected in accordance with government regulations for these signs,” said the port city of Colombo.

The controversy generated by the signage and the plaque refuses to go out.

Minister of State for National Heritage, Performing Arts and Promotion of Rural Arts Vidura Wickramanayka told Sri Lankan newspaper The Daily Mirror: “As a country, we must not allow this genre to happen. of things to happen. We are talking about coexistence. An investigation in this regard must be carried out… ”

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Batticaloa MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam said China decides what to put on billboards in Sri Lanka. He added that Sri Lanka had become “Chi-Lanka”.

The language controversy comes not long after massive opposition to the port city of Colombo, which almost all of the cross section of Sri Lankan society had opposed with the exception of the ruling party of Sri Lanka. president Rajapaksa Gotabaya – Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. Even powerful Buddhist monks had opposed Chinese control over the port city of Colombo, saying it would make Sri Lanka a colony of the communist giant.


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