New laws considered as name boards appear in Chinese, Arabic

By Indika Sri Aravinda

The Official Languages Commission is considering proposing new laws requiring all local and international private institutions operating in the country to display name boards bearing only the official languages of Sri Lanka.

The Assistant Director of the Commission Sivapragashan Madhivanan told Colombo Gazette that some Chinese institutions operating in Sri Lanka have displayed name boards in Chinese, which is a violation of Article 4 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Under the Constitution, all organizations are required to display name boards prioritizing the national languages of Sinhala and Tamil, and thereafter English which is considered an alternative language.

Madhivanan said that a complaint was filed with the Commission on the displaying of a named board prioritizing the Chinese language for the China funded Aruwakkalu sanitary landfill project in Puttalam under the former Government.

MP Mano Ganesan, who was the Minister of National Languages at the time, had voiced his objections to the authorities. The site was inspected and the management of the organization was instructed to correct the name board, following which it was replaced.

The Official Languages Commission has received a number of complaints of the display of name boards bearing the Chinese and Arabic languages in Sri Lanka.

As private organizations violating the use of national languages cannot be legally held responsible under the Constitution of Sri Lanka, measures are being taken to amend the Official Languages Act in this regard.

Sivapragashan Madhivanan further said programs to create awareness on the National Languages policy were organized for civil society, but were unable to be conducted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The approval of Minister of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government Janaka Bandara Tennakoon has been obtained with regard to the proposed amendment to the Official Languages Act.

Madhivanan said following the amendment, measures will be taken to initiate legal action against private organizations found to be violating the Official Languages Act. (Colombo Gazette)



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