Hon. Mano Ganesan, the Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages says that children are the future leaders of this country. The minister points out that “although some leaders mention this, they are never ready to leave parliamentary seat. So, if they do not vacate their seats, how is it possible for the children to take over the country? This is why the younger generation of the country resorts to non-democratic means in attempting to come to power. This situation was evident both in North and South”. The Minister made this remarks attending an awareness programme recently conducted in Colombo by the Official Languages Commission to mark completion of the second year following the president’s assumption of office. The awareness programme had been organized to raise awareness regarding setting up of Language Promotion Circles in schools in line with the 1/2015 Circular issued by the Ministry of Education. 

 The Minister further expressing his views............

“However, though I am not very old, I have no interest in remaining in this politics for a long time. Therefore, at the right time I will leave politics even if the people request me to continue at least for a little while as the Minister. That is because we have to hand over the future of the country to these children. We should make way for the youth. It is when a new generation comes to power that the government is inspired by new visions. Since I am a minister dedicated to work, I will not disregard anyone whether they voted for me or not. Now, we have decided to build up the country as a united and undivided Sri Lanka. That is our vision. In the history, all our Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim leaders made mistakes. Therefore, we will put right our mistakes and move forward. We will not and we can’t let anyone to reverse the forward march of the country now.

Be it Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics or Christians, - be their mother tongue Sinhala, Tamil or English, as Sri Lankans we should give priority to the country. Our ethnicity, religion and the language depend on our identity as Sri Lankans. Our past mistake was that we tried to give the first place to our ethnicity, religion and the language, throwing our Sri Lankan identity away  to the second or the third place. However, there are three languages in this country, recognized by the Constitution. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages while English is the link language. Also, there are four religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. As for the ethnic communities, we have Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims or Maley as sometimes called. But as per the data collected by my Ministry, there are nineteen ethnic communities in this country. In the Puttalam area, there live people of African origin too. The Vedda community is another ethnic group and they live in two communities which are called “Forest Vedda” and the “Sea Vedda”. Also , there are Malayalam and Thelingu communities and three communities of Dutch. This diversity in people’s languages is beautiful and colorful. This diversity itself is our strength.

In this country, there is a population of around seventy five percent whose mother tongue is Sinhala. It is a fact. The community who follow the Buddhism is around seventy percent. It is also a fact. Those facts cannot be denied and no one wants to deny them too. But, at the same time there are people who speak other languages and follow different relegions too. Finally, all of these communities together form the entity of Sri Lanka. The children should understand this truth. It is difficult to change the adults’ mindset. Therefore, we focus our attention on children. I have given the second or third place for my ethnicity, my language and my religion. I will not attribute the first place to them.  Therefore, even if someone balmes me for my stand, I do not care about such blames. I give the first place to our Sri Lankan identity. Only through this manner of thinking can we build up this country. We should understand that truth. We will not let our children to live in a country that is divided or engulfed by extremism, terrorism or separatism. At this moment, our president or the prime minister will not let that to happen too. Even now, some people are engaged in instigating extremism. Such elements are found both in North and East. There are both Sinhala extremists and Tamil extremists. Muslim extremists are also there. I will not care a bit about such extremists. We would like to request these extremists “ stop driving the country towards holocaust or drown yourself in the river or the sea”.

We need this country. There should be a country for these children to live in. Recently, a massive affray erupted in Hambanthota in protest of development proposals. But there is no big problem there. Some elements try to give rise to problems that have no real basis. What is our government headed by the president and the prime minister doing there? Nothing but promotion of industrialization. The country needs this industrialization. The children currently receiving education need to be employed in the future. That is what demands industrialization. We need to create lakhs of job opportunities. It is through these jobs that the people’s income increase. This increase in income is essential for building up the country. If this opportunity for industrialization is unwanted for Hambanthota, we welcome it for Colombo.

There is plenty of space available for this project from Colombo, Kolonnawa, Maharagama, Avissawella areas. We can provide job opportunities for our children by setting up such industrial zones. Therefore, never fear. The country won’t be sold out. We will neither divide the country nor let the country be sold. Therefore, this government will not fear the threats and will not give in to anyone. I bow to the clergy and the leaders only. Therefore, the new generation – the younger generation should develop in them a concern about the country. That is my stand. Therefore,  I shll not ask others to do anything I myself cannot do.

Further, I would like to declare that the Sinhalese should learn the Tamil language and the Tamil people should learn the Sinhala language. We should all learn the English language. English is the door to the world. Some past Sinhala leaders of our country preached an only-Sinhala policy to the Sinhala people while some such Tamil leaders of the North called on the Tamil people to confine themselves to the Tamil language. Having called on the people to do so, the same leaders sent their children to England or America to learn English. This is the reason for weakness in English among the middle class of this country. We can’t let the same mistake be repeated. Everyone should learn the English language – the door to the world. As the minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official languages, it is my responsibility to develop the language education of this country. The duty is not confined to the Ministry of Education. Our ministry will be coming up with a new plan for developing the teaching of the international languages such as Japanese, Korean, French and Chinese. Thus, we will offer the people of this country the opportunity to learn any language they wish to learn. That is my target. As of now, I have been able to make an end to the situation in which only the elites had access to the language education and learning of English.

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